Knowledge Centre Blog

Keeping A Sponsorship Fresh

Messiaen at Smock Alley part of the KBC Great Music in Irish Houses Festival

The success of the long term partnership between KBC Bank Ireland and KBC Great Music in Irish Houses was reinforced in 2011 when festival organisers made a number of changes. by Linda Daly

Even long term relationships can remain fresh with continued growth and development. The rebranding of KBC Music in Great Irish Houses to KBC Great Music in Irish Houses was a stroke of genius not least for its subtlety but also because it highlighted the continued meeting of minds between the two stakeholders and their commitment to keep innovating.

KBC has sponsored the Great Music in Irish Houses since 2001 and became title sponsor in 2003. The main attraction of the festival for the bank was its quality, according to John Reynolds, CEO, KBC Bank Ireland.

“It had very prestigious national and international performances in environments that were quite special.

“What we need to evidence to our marketplace is an ability to provide a quality of service and capability. By being associated with something that we see as being prima facie, first class, it reflects well on KBC,” says Reynolds.

In the past decade, the chamber music festival has grown from a niche event to one with a broad programme, extending its reach across Ireland.

In 2012, the festival underwent a number of changes. Chief among them was the re-branding, which aimed to reflect the ever-rising standard of music at the festival and open up the possibility of using more modern buildings.

A social media campaign was launched with the support of KBC, increasing the audience share.

Laurie Cearr, general manager, Great Music in Irish Houses, says the innovations could not have been possible without the backing of KBC.

“They’ve been the lifeblood of the festival for a number of years, not just because of their willingness to finance it but because of their willingness to engage with us,” she says.

The longevity of the relationship between both parties has been due to the fact that KBC’s sponsorship involves more than just writing a cheque, according to Cearr.

Engagement has been paramount, agrees Reynolds.

“We think that we’ve been able to make a significant contribution beyond money to the festival. At times we’ve encouraged it to branch outside of Dublin. We’ve supported outreach programmes and provided educational initiatives in the community,” he says.

The landscape of the economy has changed dramatically since KBC took up title sponsorship in 2003, and at a time when resources are tight the firm has re-examined its marketing strategy.

“We had to look at everything with a different eye and have a robust conversations about the values we saw in the association with the festival and if they were still valid. In 2011 we came to the conclusion that what the festival was doing was very much in line with what we recognise are necessary elements to get the country moving.”

Cearr adds that in turn KBC has been an integral element of the festival, enabling it to maintain programmes, attract national and international artists and to remain in existence.

“When you lose an artistic endeavour it’s a big loss to a lot of people. It’s a loss to the entire community. Trying to maintain a festival like the KBC Great Music in Irish Houses is hugely important, and with the support of KBC we are able to exist and evolve without losing value.”

KBC Bank and KBC Great Music in Irish Houses were winners of the Best Long Term Partnership at the 2012 Allianz Business to Arts Awards

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