Though you mightn’t know her name, the chances are high that you’ve seen her work on match day, or you’ve entered a competition or attended an event that she had something to do with…
Introducing Karen Parlane, who over the last four seasons as Blues Sponsorship Manager has been responsible for working alongside our amazing sponsors to bring you exciting match-day activations and competitions that you see throughout the Super Rugby season.
Even during the current international break, she was involved with last week’s Nestle Choose Wellness Skills and Drills Day that saw hundreds of kids join our players at the Blues High Performance Centre (read more here), as well as the recent Burgers with the Blues competition whereby 20 lucky fans were invited to eat with the team at Andy’s Burger Bar, SKYCITY.
“That’s my favourite thing about my job,” she says. “Every one of our sponsors has different objectives to deliver unique benefits to our fans, so every day is different. Even in the off-season we’re working together to brainstorm more ideas for the next season.”
It’s a varied and vitally important role that sees her work with a broad spectrum of people right across our organisation, from the players and coaches, to the Blues team management and board.
“Sponsors are an important part of the Blues family,” she says. “They contribute much more than money and offer many opportunities for our fans to engage with the Blues from match day, to events, through competitions and promotions. Their ongoing support and contribution is unprecedented.”
She joined the team in November 2014, having previously worked at SKYCITY, where she worked with multiple sporting organisations, including the Blues. Since arriving, she’s seen our sponsorship portfolio grow and helped to usher in a new era of sponsor activities based around our digital assets.
“It’s been great to see our sponsors working with our players to produce entertaining video content that we can share on our digital channels, as well as social media competitions and giveaways. We hope to bring fans even more next year.”
Though she’s from Wellington, Karen insists that she’s always supported the Blues. “I moved to Auckland from Wellington just as the Super Rugby competition started. The first thing I wanted to do when I arrived in Auckland was to go to a Blues game at Eden Park to see the likes of Sean Fitzpatrick and Jonah Lomu play. Those guys were my rugby idols.”
So, does she ever get star struck working alongside the Blues team? “I certainly was star-struck when I first arrived, but as I’ve gotten to know the players, I’ve realised what a great bunch of guys they are and how hard they work.
“I’m proud to work alongside them for the betterment of the team.”