I have watched with a sense of curiosity for some time as I pondered why Bank  of Ireland sponsored Dragons Den at a time when it is popularly believed that Banks aren’t lending to business.

The good aspect about writing an article on sponsorship for Marketing.ie is that people talk to you. Hence, I met with Gerry McGuinness, Head of TV sponsorship in RTE and he was happy to “spill the beans” on the banks sponsorship.

RTÉ entered into a partnership with BOI to fund the first series five years ago but discussion started about 18 months before the first transmission as both RTÉ and BOI needed to be sure that this series suited the requirements of both brands. This was a new development for both organisations and has resulted in developing a deeper relationship with very clear goals and objectives for both parties.

RTE have a hugely successful  yet expensive show to produce. It is  going from strength to strength in the ratings and Bank of Ireland have, according to James Munnelly, Head of Marketing and Sponsorships,  the programme that not only “demonstrates our desire to support SME’s but on the back of our association, we have done so in a very practical way”.

The sponsorship itself runs across all RTE’s platforms, TV, Digital and Radio. Amongst the assets of the sponsorship are the minimum you would expect such as:

  • Sponsorship stings around the original and the repeats
  • Sponsorship stings after all promotional trailers to recruit entrepreneurs
  • Sponsorship stings after all programme promotional trailers
  • Sponsorship of the series on the RTÉ Player
  • Sponsorship of the Programme website


And what you might not expect in a standard contract

Agreed TV ratings for promotional trailers

Branded Dragons’ Den segment on the Derek Mooney radio show

License to use clips on BOI platforms

License to use the programme name to promote the association

Branded support for the series across RTÉ Digital


How the Bank has used the non-standard assets is a great demonstration of maximizing the potential of the association.

  • Every Monday there is discussion on the Derek Mooney show about the Sunday broadcast. The fact that this requires listener participation demonstrates the strength and reach of Dragons Den.
  • The Dragons themselves participate in the Banks National Enterprise weeks in May and November by way of talks to business customers of the bank and appearances and support for local branches.
  • Beneficiaries of funding from the Dragons also impart their practical experiences to groups of the Banks business customers.
  • The Sponsorship is supported in all Bank branches by way of posters calling on people with sound business ideas to enter the show.
  • Bank of Ireland also developed a website www.allaboutbusiness.ie   which they populate with outtakes, back stage footage from the show as well as interviews with Dragons, articles on business and personal skills and very practical tips for better business.
  • The 6th Dragon is a fantastic example of how to really involve your audience. It is on the all about business website site and allows the user to interact with the programme in real time. It is too complex to explain here but I suggest you try it and find out if you have the entrepreneurial instincts of a Dragon.
  • The most recent innovation is the Young Dragons Den. RTE and the Bank decided to extend the Dens opportunities to tomorrow’s entrepreneur and invited schools and students from 12 to 18 to submit business ideas. Over 145 schools entered and 20 finalists presented their concepts to the Dragons. The programmes will be broadcast on April 28th and May 5th.



The research I’ve seen demonstrates clearly that the Banks, Image, credibility, trust and potential to do business with viewers of the Den is far greater than with those who haven’t seen the programme.

This is a perfect example of how a proper collaboration between a sponsor and a rights holder can be a win win for both parties.



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