Sunday 17 December 2017

In defence of the 'prawn sandwich brigade'

Keano may have sneered at corporate hospitality, but it can play a vital role

AS Dublin prepares to host its annual sponsorship summit in Croke Park in two weeks' time, an events organiser has defended corporate hospitality's marketing role.

CSL's Joanne Keegan says we've come a long way since Roy Keane took a swipe at those watching Manchester United Champions League games from the executive boxes.

Keane's outburst resulted in the phrase 'prawn sandwich brigade'.

Since the slaying of the Celtic Tiger, hospitality has been in the firing line from ever-shrinking budgets. Keegan says the media love to zoom their cameras at 'jollies'.

Fat-cat executives sipping Champagne are seen as a symbol of those who brought the country to its knees.

She admits there was misuse and waste -- not least by FAS and Anglo -- but that more could be said for those who use corporate entertainment responsibly and have the know-how to do it well.

The fifth 'P' in marketing is people. From taking a table at a rugby match to hosting an international forum -- or rewarding sales teams -- it all comes down to people.

With so much social media and email, there's a competitive advantage from personal connections. Keegan says relationships matter, and events provide opportunities.


Corporate hospitality must operate with as much accountability as other marketing tools.

She quotes the old adage: "People do business with people."

An incentive travel campaign can pay for itself many times over. CSL is the FAI agent for this summer's Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. The tournament offers executives a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

While it is unlikely a major contract will be signed while cheering on the boys in green, contacts could be made to help seal future deals.

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