It's often said that, during economic downturns, advertising and marketing are the first budgets to be cut in small and medium sized businesses. With the announcement of Love Irish Food's 2020 Double Up Awards, this problem is being addressed head-on with a top prize of a "Double Up" totalling €200,000.00 in radio air time. In partnership with Core and Media Central, Love Irish Food will give five Irish food companies the chance to double their spend on radio advertising in the first and second quarters of 2021. Kieran Rumley, executive director of Love Irish Food, says this is a bit of a departure from their usual awards.

Brand Development Awards

"For the last number of years we’ve run the Brand Development Awards for smaller producers," he says. "This one is for those who are a bit larger and may have advertised before. The aim is to give them a stronger budget they can plan for now."

In light of the business interruptions that occurred throughout the COVID-19 lockdown and with the uncertainty of Brexit on the horizon, Kieran says that amplifying the voices of Irish brands has become increasingly important.

"At the moment, people seem focused on (what will happen) this year, but I really think next year we’re going to have the ultimate fallout," he says. "Hopefully, by then, COVID-19 will have been well-handled, but the cliff edge is Brexit. We don't know yet what will happen, but the signs are not great, at the moment, for a smooth transition."

"There is a lot of good will at the moment (among consumers) with shopping local, supporting local and staying local," he continues. "We want to move that intention into a bit of action, to encourage support of local brands, of foods produced here in Ireland and especially those that use local ingredients where possible. We want to give these brands a stronger voice to consumers; to give them a better edge against imported competitors."

While Love Irish Food awards are usually geared toward brands that are members, this year they have opened things up to both members and non-members; giving all Irish food brands an equal opportunity to win. Along with winning a €40,000 radio advertising budget for the second quarter of 2021 (matching a spend of €40,000 on advertising in the first quarter), Love Irish Food, Core & Media Central will work with the winners to plan their advertising campaign in accordance with their brand objectives. Winners will have their campaigns shared across Media Central radio stations, which include Newstalk and Today FM. Media Central's eight stations achieve a weekly audience of over two million.

It is hugely important that we support this Irish industry and other locally owned businesses in every way that we can

Gavin Deans, Media Central's managing director, says it's a crucial time to support Irish food producers.

"It is hugely important that we support this Irish industry and other locally owned businesses in every way that we can," he says. "We hope this initiative can do just that by allowing the winners to reach a much wider audience, over a longer period, across our network of stations than might otherwise have been possible and provide a base to build on in 2021.”

To register, brands must submit their company details before 5:30pm Friday, 24 July, 2020. Then, registered brands can submit their completed entry form online before 5:30pm Friday, 28 August, 2020.

The judging panel includes Kieran Rumley (Love Irish Food), Eddie O’ Mahony (Core) and Gavin Deans (Media Central). Judging will commence in September, with the five winners to be notified on Monday, 28 September.