Irish celebrity-backed brand ambassadorship in the grocery industry has really taken off in recent years.
Naturally – having a great reach and national appeal – celebrity ambassadors not only create vast publicity for brands, they help raise awareness about social community causes to a very wide audience.
Speaking with Checkout, Suzanne Weldon, chief marketing and communications officer, BWG, said, “BWG Foods is very proud of the strong partnerships our retail brands have formed with their individual brand ambassadors.
“We are passionate about partnering with positive role models who are champions of our brands in the community. SPAR has a very strong relationship with both Séamus Coleman and Kellie Harrington, as does MACE with Johnny Sexton.
“They are three of the top-ranked sportspeople in their chosen fields and bring an authenticity to everything they do in helping us to spread the message of community spirit and service, which is so important to our brands and retailers.”
Here is Checkout’s top-six pick of grocery brand ambassadors who are still very active in their roles in 2023.
1/ ROI Football Captain Séamus Coleman – SPAR Better Choices
In 2017, Republic of Ireland football captain Séamus Coleman was named brand ambassador for SPAR Better Choices.
Speaking exclusively to Checkout, when asked how he would describe his role, Coleman said, “Just to get it out there to young kids and young families how important it is to keep healthy and eat healthy meals. You know, I don’t normally get involved in much things like this myself, but when I was approached to do this, it was the idea behind it that made me go for it – healthy meals for kids on the go that are handy to pick up in the shop or get the ingredients for. I just want to put a familiar face to a very positive campaign.”
The father of three recently launched SPAR’s Better Choices back-to-school campaign, wherein SPAR has created a series of easy, accessible breakfast and lunchbox recipes for children to make at home. Speaking at the campaign launch, Coleman commented, “With three daughters at home, I appreciate the difficulties parents can have choosing between the convenient or nutritious option when preparing a meal, particularly when trying to get back into a back-to-school routine.”
2/ Leinster Fullback Hugo Keenan – Optimum Nutrition
In July, Optimum Nutrition – part of the Glanbia Performance Nutrition brand family – announced Leinster Rugby player Hugo Keenan as a new brand ambassador. The Leinster Rugby fullback will join some of the Optimum Nutrition elite team members, including rugby player Marcus Smith and Irish athletes Emma Duggan, Seán Finn and Nadia Power. In his role as Optimum Nutrition brand ambassador, Keenan will be ‘offering a unique, up-close and personal insight into his training and nutrition via his social channels and bespoke content developed for the partnership.’
Commenting on his new ambassador role, Keenan said, “I’m delighted to join Optimum Nutrition as one of their brand ambassadors, alongside some fantastic athletes I admire. Nutrition is a massive part of rugby and high-performance sport, providing the building blocks for each training session and match. With Optimum Nutrition as a partner, my Leinster Rugby teammates and I know we will be provided with the very best nutrition products for elite athletes, playing a significant role in support of our goals each season.”
3/ Ireland Football Captain Katie McCabe – Pepsi Max
In June, Pepsi Max revealed Ireland captain and Arsenal player Katie McCabe as its latest brand ambassador. Pepsi Max noted that McCabe’s exceptional football skills on the field were most recently seen with the Arsenal Women’s Team reaching the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in May of this year.
Speaking on the announcement, McCabe said, “I am delighted to partner with Pepsi Max on this ambassadorship. Pepsi Max has made a huge commitment to the women’s game, which was seen throughout the 2022 Euros. I’m looking forward to a summer of working with them.”
Tying into the brand’s ‘Thirsty for More’ ethos, the McCabe partnership further reinforces Pepsi Max’s commitment to women’s football, the soft-drink giant explained. The collaboration also further grounds the brand’s football credentials and ‘Thirsty for More’ campaign platform, it added. PepsiCo has been a partner of the UEFA Champions League since 2015.
4/ TV Presenter And Podcaster Vogue Williams – ‘Heinz Meanz Mealz’
In August, Heinz Beans and Barnardos teamed up for a second time, to bring back its limited-edition three-pack of ‘Heinz Meanz Mealz’ cans. Mum of three, TV presenter and podcaster Vogue Williams has been signed up as a brand ambassador for this partnership.
Speaking about the ambassadorship, Williams said, “I can’t imagine the worry that many families must be going through. No one should be unsure when or where their next meal is coming from, especially children. Working with Heinz and Barnardos, together, we hope to not only raise awareness of this growing issue taking place on our doorstep, but to also highlight that a small, tangible act – such as buying a pack of Heinz beans – can have a big impact and help support those most vulnerable in the community.”
For every pack purchased, Heinz will be making a donation to Barnardos’ Breakfast Clubs. The children’s charity provides nutritious breakfast food, such as Heinz No-Added-Sugar Beans, which are naturally high in protein and fibre, to selected Barnardos centres across Ireland.
5/ Ireland Captain Johnny Sexton – MACE
In 2018, MACE named Ireland captain and out-half Johnny Sexton as a brand ambassador. Speaking exclusively with Checkout, Sexton said, “I see my role as working with MACE and its retailers on a number of community initiatives that are aimed at encouraging children and families to lead healthy, active and positive lifestyles. The first of these initiatives, which ran in October and November, encouraged random acts of kindness. Entrants had to demonstrate how they have performed random acts of kindness in their local communities to be in with a chance to win a training session with me for their local school or club. I am genuinely proud to be working with MACE in promoting positive community initiatives throughout every town and village in Ireland.”
In May of last year, MACE announced that it had once again teamed up with Sexton to offer people all around the country the opportunity to share in a prize fund of €10,000 in a community initiative, whereby members of the public nominate their unsung heroes. MACE is asking the people of Ireland to nominate that special someone ‘who goes the extra mile to make a difference’, so they get the recognition they deserve.
Read More: Johnny Sexton Talks New MACE Role And Rugby
6/ Gold-Medallist Boxer Kellie Harrington – SPAR
In November 2021, SPAR announced a three-year partnership with Olympic gold medallist Kellie Harrington. SPAR noted, at the time, that the partnership would see the retailer support Harrington every step of the way on her journey to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games.
Commenting on her new role as brand ambassador, Harrington said, “I am delighted to be announced today as a new brand ambassador for SPAR, and to be working with them on my journey to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. SPAR have a presence in every community around Ireland, and the importance of community is something that I am very passionate about and really resonates with me.”
In March, the Irish boxer and SPAR launched the €60,000 Community Fund. The new initiative will see Spar invest €60,000 back into local communities, to drive positive change and impact. In July, Harrington revealed the six nationwide beneficiaries of the fund.