Archive for January, 2012

Can marketing restore English rugby’s battered reputation?

Tim Crow tells Marketing magazine that whilst the RFU’s new marketing initiatives are to be applauded, they “will have little effect if the England team continue to under-perform on the field and misbehave off it.”

Click here to read the article in full.

By on January 31st, 2012

Tags: Press Clipping

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Does social media help or hurt football?

Footballers can talk directly to their fans through social media, but does this 140-character phenomenon help or hurt football?

Jessica Enoch tells the Official Champions League Magazine that “Twitter allows players to build their own brand.”  However, she warns that if clubs try to influence the online profile of players they may endanger what makes them popular in the first place.

Click here to read the article in full.

By on January 27th, 2012

Tags: Default, Press Clipping

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Experiential Marketing in 2012: Trends, Tech and Trailblazers

In a year of huge cultural, historical and sporting relevance, brands will be (and already are) fighting for ‘white space’ and unique ways to engage with the British public. During this very busy year the strategy and tactics that brands choose are critical, which is why we decided to use this Synopsis to look at some of the activation trends we are expecting to see in 2012.

At a macro level, experiential marketing (EM) is a growth trend in itself . Experiential specialists have long debated the need for integration with digital media to extend the reach of the live activity beyond a single interaction. Momentum has been driven primarily by the growth of social networks, which provide longevity, an extended audience and a measurement tool for the effectiveness of such campaigns.

Marketers are more concerned than ever about customer experience and innovation, but with a need to find simple, differentiating tactics, expect 2012 to be a year of the ‘Ts’.


RFID (Radio Frequency Identification)

RFID is a system that can transmit the identity of a person wirelessly using radio waves.  A portable device (for example a wristband, PDA, card, smart phone or even just a sticker) automatically transmits the data to an RFID reader, where it is then processed.

RFID has been used for many years - in fact, you may be using it in one form or another every day. I used RFID technology at least five times before I reached my desk today via my Oyster and Engine building access cards.  In 2006, the Emirates Stadium opened with an electronic ticketing system and members of ‘The Arsenal’ use their membership cards to enter the stadium, removing the need for gate security staff.

The ability of RFID technology to unite live and digital, by allowing consumers to share a real-time brand experience and messages in a controlled fashion with social networks, has seen the technology flourish.  At the recent Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange London,  RFID technology was implemented for guests to share their real time nightlife experience on Facebook. After a simple registration process guests could ‘check-in’, ‘like’ and post photos directly to their walls by tapping their RFID wristbands on ‘Facebook Interactive Pods’.  All posts were predetermined by Smirnoff which provided an element of controlled messaging. The event was amplified to 1.6 million people on Facebook. Laura Moody of Blondefish, the event technology company who deliver this RFID solution for Smirnoff comments:  “The use of RFID technology in the event space is delivering  powerful results for both the live audience and brand sponsorship. Consumers and brands are embracing the way RFID can deliver a more personal, memorable and interactive live experience. As guests share their experiences on social media they become advocates for the brand, delivering huge levels of online brand amplification.”

It is not only events that are seeing the benefits and word-of-mouth that RFID can offer. In 2011, Ushuaïa Ibiza Beach Hotel installed Facebook pods for guests to “make all their Facebook friends jealous.”

With the costs of RFID coming down and the possibilities endless, there are some exciting developments that could change the face of experiential marketing.

Music festivals are quickly discovering the benefits of using RFID.  It is making ticketing and admissions more efficient, while ‘cashless’ payment methods are reducing security problems (there is no need to carry a wallet), driving purchases and allowing brands to track spending patterns.

The ability to analyse individuals’ purchasing patterns allows a brand to deliver personalised content and offers.  This not only drives spend (Mastercard in Canada has seen a 25% increase in spending by users of its RFID credit cards), but can also make customers feel more connected to the brand.  Minority Report’s vision in 2002 of personalised advertising seemed something for the very distant future – but RFID is bringing it closer.

Augmented Reality & Blippar™
Image recognition is another way to connect the real world to the virtual one and 2011 saw plenty of brands experimenting with QR codes.  However, it is safe to say that QR codes haven’t exactly set the world alight – usage has been low and according to a survey of 794 online respondents by Simpson Carpenter, just 36% of consumers know what QR codes are for, while only 11% have actually used them.

However, 2012 could be the year that Image Recognition finally takes off, thanks to Blippar™ – the 2.0 QR code. Blippar uses your phone’s in-built camera to bring a static image to life and provide an interactive experience. The difference between this and a QR code…the ‘wow’ factor.

Having previously used QR codes, Domino’s wanted to step up the innovation and required a more dynamic tool. Its current Blippar™-powered campaign promotes the brand’s ’555′ deal. Consumers simply hold their smartphone up to a Domino’s poster and it comes alive, allowing them to download deals, get the Domino’s mobile ordering app, become a Facebook fan and find out more about their local store.

KitKat are giving customers the chance to vote for their favourite new flavour by scanning posters using the Blippar™ app. The brand is also cleverly integrating geofencing into the campaign so that customers will be alerted whenever they are within a certain distance of a store which sells the  KitKat Chunky flavour they voted for.

Sponsorship activation can really benefit from the ability to dynamically interact with static branding. We are not expecting Blippar™ pitch logos quite yet, but over the next few years we will certainly see the decline in static stadium and event branding and advertising. In January alone a number of big brands have started to use Blippar™, and expect loads more to follow during the rest of 2012.


With an influx of 2 million tourists to London, there is a huge opportunity for brands to engage with consumers in 2012. Brands will need to be clever to cut through the noise, and ‘drama’ can provide the essential memorable hook for consumers.

Flash mobs
Flash mobs bring an experience to people in unexpected moments. Flash mobs are essentially a group of people getting together to do something unexpected, before quickly dispersing. They are becoming more and more popular, bringing a sense of wonder to those that encounter them. Brands have harnessed the power of flash mobs to engage with customers and create interesting content and brand experiences, as T-Mobile showed with their famous ads.

Flash mobs don’t require a lot of money, making them an ideal tactic for a small business, or when budgets are squeezed. The beauty of Flash mobs is their complete integration with social media and their potential to go viral and provide entertainment to not only the people who were there, but those who want to watch and share.

Boris Johnson is obviously a Flash mob fan:- the Mayor of London is using them to promote London as a city of history and culture during the Cultural Olympiad this summer. Mark Rylance, one of Britain’s greatest Shakespearean actors, and his crew of 50 actors (all disguised as ‘normal people’) will stage ‘Flash performances’ of sonnets and speeches.  The unexpectedness of the experience will make it unforgettable for the people involved, while the content (both the planned scripts and unplanned audience reaction) will undoubtedly be shared around the world.

It is not a leap to imagine brands considering this as an opportunity for engagement during the Games, with consumers themselves (if wowed by the experience) providing the communications medium. There are, however, a few rules to making a flash mob successful and preventing this looking like a poor ‘am-dram’ performance:

1) Simplicity & originality for maximum impact

2) Good quantity and quality of ‘performers’ recruited for wow factor

3) Participants and location must blend together for the element of surprise

Sadly Qantas didn’t follow these simple rules for this effort to promote a new route:

Pop Ups

2011 was the year of Pop Ups, and we think that this trend will continue to grow in 2012, particularly with available commercial property sitting vacant. Pop Ups are by no means a new phenomenon with restaurants, shops and galleries embracing them; however, it is now brands that are starting to realise the benefit of a temporary location that makes a statement, delivers an immediate impact and captures the consumer’s imagination. Combine a Pop Up with an event drawing millions in attendance and you have a powerful brand experience.

In 2011, Chanel took Pop Ups to a new level with the arrival of the Hollywood glitterati for the Cannes Film Festival. Golden mosaic-tiled walls, dedicated make-up and nail bars, an exhibition space of Chanel gowns and suits previously worn by actors, and a private lounge on the first floor with views of the red carpet leading up to the Palais des Festivals all helped to deliver the ultimate Chanel experience.

This summer we will see a plethora of Pop Ups appearing across London and much can be learned from those that have gone before them.

1) Locations. Good footfall, transport links and signage will benefit the Pop Up with a steady stream of customers. However, some of the more interesting locations aren’t on the high street, in which case building a strong communications programme and integrating with social media and technologies such as location-based services are essential

2) Content. Build a story. Offer a unique take and provide a new way for customers to consider the brand. New content will give the feeling of exclusivity

3) Innovative branding and stylish fixtures including digital media


So who will be the winners in 2012? From our perspective it will be those that have developed personalised, innovative, simple and, most importantly, integrated experiential campaigns.

Nike has made a strong start in the battle of the sports brands with its #makeitcount campaign. It is a brilliant example of a campaign which fully integrates ATL, experiential and digital to deliver great content and brand experiences.  The campaign uses simple, standout photography and video to deliver a powerful message and a simple call to action…how will you #makeitcount in 2012?

But the really exciting thing is the way Nike has integrated experiential and social media into its campaign and made it relevant for everyone from elite athletes to gym dodgers (like me).  Customers are invited to have their picture taken by a professional photographer in the style of the campaign and are given the chance to create a handwritten pledge as to how they will #makeitcount.  The photo and message are not only shareable via social media channels, but will be displayed outdoor as part of the campaign.

@Nike has created its first single, dedicated Twitter feed. So far over 60,000 people have responded to the cry with #makeitcount. The first tweet on this account is from Nike founder Bill Bowerman: ‘If You Have A Body, You Are An Athlete’.

And, if you are ever in doubt that simplicity provides impact, check out another offering from Nike:

Experiential has always been able to deliver powerful brand experiences.  The issue has been the reach and the fact that it has only ‘touched’ relatively few people. But as we can see, digital and social media channels are unlocking the full potential of experiential marketing by extending this reach exponentially.

And, of course, the power of sponsorship is that it gives brands the content and access they require to create experiential activity around their customers’ core passions.

By on January 25th, 2012

Tags: Advertising, Branded content, Content, Digital marketing, Experiential marketing, Facebook, Flash mobbing, London 2012, Mobile, Synopsis

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Synergy Loves…David Beckham plays blind football for Sainsbury’s

What happened

To promote its sponsorship of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, Sainsbury’s created a short video of David Beckham being put through his paces by David Clarke, team GB’s Blind Football legend. Widely seeded online, on TV and in cinemas, the video raises awareness of the Sainsbury’s 1 Million Kids Challenge, which aims to get a million children to try a Paralympic sport, and its sponsorship of the Paralympic Games overall.

Why we love it

Sainsbury’s ‘Paralympic Games-only’ sponsorship is an exciting innovation in itself.  This is the first time that the rights for the Paralympic Games have been carved out and sold separately to those for the Olympics (although Olympic sponsorship still includes the Paralympic Games as well). Sainsbury’s can use this differentiated position to derive some key benefits.

Firstly, unlike Olympic venues, the London 2012 Paralympic Games’ venues and athletes can be branded.  With 150 hours of Paralympic Games footage to be broadcast on Channel 4, it will deliver plenty of ‘natural’ brand exposure for Sainsbury’s. In addition, the Paralympic Games provide some truly emotive stories of excellence, inspiration and dedication that resonate with the consumers and, critically, are different to the Olympic stories that will be told by the other sponsors. As Sainsbury’s Head of Sponsorship, Jat Sahota, said: “There are amazing individual stories, but it is important not to overplay the adversity angle – they are ordinary people doing extraordinary things; they are elite athletes. There is a richness to those stories that I think the British public will respond to more than some of the Olympian stories.”

Using David Beckham as a Paralympic Games Ambassador is an interesting choice. Whilst it is unusual to have an ambassador for an event who has never participated in it, Beckham’s involvement is a good way to deliver its messages to the widest possible audience.  It is obvious, though perhaps slightly regrettable, that a star of mainstream sport is a great candidate to help convey the Paralympic Games’ message.

Signing up the much-loved Beckham is unlikely to be a step in the wrong direction for any brand, but it’s what Sainsbury’s did with him that made this use of an ambassador so successful. The ABCDE model tells us that content is a vital part of excellent sponsorship, and the combination of a fascinating insight into blind football, combined with the allure of Beckham’s talent and good looks (sorry!) makes for compelling viewing. Football is the best loved sport in the UK, and so provides a good route into the discovery of Paralympic activities for those with little prior knowledge.

The last time blind football caught the public’s attention to such an extent was probably when Paddy Power released this controversial advert in 2010 and Sainsbury’s approach to blind football, naturally, could not be more different. It evokes the skill required for the sport, provoking exactly those feelings of inspiration and patriotism that the best sponsorships should.

The 1 Million Kids challenge is an ambitious programme to promote Paralympic sport to the mainstream, and using Beckham as its Paralympic Games ambassador shows that Sainsbury’s is serious about trying to make this happen.

Sainsbury’s core asset might be the London 2012 Paralympic Games, but by creating content that combines this sponsorship with a superstar ambassador from outside the Paralympic world, they are truly maximising its impact.

By on January 25th, 2012

Tags: Celebrity, Content, David Beckham, Default, London 2012, London 2012 sponsorship, Olympics, Synergy Loves

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Synergy Loves…Umbro strikes the right chords with music mash ups

What Happened

Football, gaming and music became one in a brilliant piece of cross branded content from Umbro, the official kit supplier to the England football team. In conjunction with the Sony Xperia Play smartphone, the brand helped to facilitate a groundbreaking test into whether a football video game can actually be played out in real life.

Two 5-a-side teams were kitted out in Umbro branded strips and footwear, and led respectively by England striker Darren Bent, and Kasabian lead singer Tom Meighan. Darren and Tom controlled their teams using specially modified Sony Xperia Play handsets, to send commands to their players to run, pass, tackle or shoot. Check out the video yourself to see who came out on top.

Why We Love It

In the busy world of sports marketing and sponsorship, the battle is always on to deliver content that really affects the target audience. Successful sponsorship strategies are typically based around putting the consumer at the very heart of the campaign. How can we demonstrate true relevance for our customers? What can we give them to truly engage with our brand? Above all, how can we help them to actually care about our brand at all?

In previous editions of Synopsis, authors including Carsten Thode and Tom Gladstone have touched on how brands can use their audience’s passion points to really establish a compelling conversation.  The rationale behind this strategy is robust. Delivering content that is of genuine emotional interest to your target consumer will make them more receptive to absorbing your brand’s preferred messaging. It is a tactic employed by many a brand, but very few execute this as compellingly as kit manufacturer Umbro.

Unlike brands from other industries and sectors, clothing manufacturers don’t have to take quite the same leap to establish relevance in their chosen sponsorship market. Umbro, in common with Nike, Adidas and Reebok, are quite literally part of the fabric of sport. Fascinatingly, instead of resting on the laurels of those sporting credentials, Umbro repeatedly choose to go one step further by associating the brand with another major passion point – music. In this instance, they added a third layer through immersion with the video gaming world.

The history between Umbro and music runs deep, particularly over recent years. In 2010 the brand teamed up with British rock giants Kasabian once more, in an innovative launch of the new official England change strip, set to be worn in the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Appearing back onstage for an encore at their gig in Paris, the band emerged clad in the brand new strip, which doubled as the official unveiling of the shirt. It marked the first time Umbro had departed from a traditional football player based launch, and emphasised the positioning of the shirt as part of the culture of football fandom.

Continuing this fusion of football and music, Umbro was again in the news in the New Year. London rapper Tinchy Stryder recently revealed that his new record “Why always me?” was inspired by Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli, who revealed a vest bearing the slogan after scoring in October’s Manchester derby. Umbro were quick off the mark to collaborate with the pint-sized musician, commissioning a special edition charity t-shirt featuring the now famous phrase, available exclusively at

Effortlessly finding executions that enable the brand to blur the lines between sport and popular culture, Umbro continues to deliver content that touches its audience on a number of levels.

By on January 25th, 2012

Tags: Content, Default, Music, Sport, Synergy Loves

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Synergy Loves…Rolls-Royce & Rankin: Spirit of Ecstasy

What happened?

In order to celebrate 100 years since the creation of the Spirit of Ecstasy, our fellow ‘Engineers’ ‘Partners Andrews Aldridge’ and Rolls-Royce commissioned the British photographer Rankin to capture 100 contemporary images of the female form that are inspired by Rolls-Royce’s renowned symbol, including her power, speed and beauty. In his own words, this was “one of the biggest projects (he) has ever taken on”. The stunning collection of prints were shot over the course of the year and hosted exclusively at Rolls-Royce Motor Car events and dealerships throughout the world including London, LA, Beijing and Sydney, finishing in Cologne this month.

Why we love it

Firstly, we feel the partnership between Rankin, a modern British style-icon, and Rolls-Royce, a brand that represents both classic British craftsmanship and contemporary engineering, is spot on. A brand like Rolls-Royce needs to strike the balance between reinforcing its heritage without overly relying on it, and this modern celebration of the centenary of its ‘Spirit of Ecstasy’ strikes this balance very nicely.

By teaming up with Rankin, Rolls-Royce have also created a fantastic platform to create original and stunning content for their upmarket target audience, who are likely to be passionate about the arts and the work of the ‘in vogue’ photographer. Most importantly, going forward, these images have also given Rolls-Royce the opportunity to create some unique DM material to send on to their customers, a nice way to get into the hearts and homes of their most valued clients. Ultimately, one of the most important roles of a succesful partnership is to give the comms of a brand a lift; and these amazing photos most certainly do that.

By on January 25th, 2012

Tags: Advertising, Art & Design, Branded content, Synergy Loves

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Betfair presents Man Utd Live

Betfair is constantly pushing the envelope to find innovative ways of using their sponsorship assets. Whether that is quirky player challenges to capitalise on the sporting agenda, a ten pin bowling viral showcasing Betfair’s mobile offering (see video below), or a pioneering deal to place QR codes on GB’s beach volleyball players’ bottoms at the London 2012 Test Event, the emphasis is on doing things differently.

Bringing a fresh approach to sponsorship activation comes naturally for a company founded and driven by innovation. Another pillar of Betfair’s marketing philosophy is to ‘live and breathe social’ – as outlined by Betfair’s Head of Online Marketing, Ben Carter (@bensaint). Social is not treated as an add-on to marketing activity, but is put at the heart of campaigns. As a sponsor of Manchester United, with their 21m+ Facebook likes, it makes sense for Betfair to engage the club’s fanbase through social channels.

So what did Synergy suggest when given a couple of hours’ access to some Manchester United players on an (inevitably) wet January afternoon in Manchester? Stage a live Q&A with United players on Betfair’s Facebook page, giving fans the chance to interact with their idols by submitting questions or posting comments during the live broadcast via Facebook and Twitter.

Working alongside Betfair’s in-house production team, real-time broadcast experts Livestream, and MUTV, we helped deliver Betfair presents Man Utd live - an exclusive 30 minute programme hosted by TV presenter Rachel Brookes and featuring Michael Carrick, Ashley Young and Nani. Supporters were able to watch the action by simply ‘liking’ the Betfair Facebook page, and could submit questions or comments by tweeting @BetfairSports with the #MUlive hashtag.

Once again, doing things differently paid off. Over 40,000 people tuned in to watch, close to 1,000 questions were received during the broadcast, and tweets of the #MULive hashtag reached over 3.8 million people (source: Tweetreach).  Synergy’s PR team managed the external pre-promotion through football blogs and forums, and the post-event syndication of content and quotes to key media targets, resulting in over 100 pieces of online coverage. Quotes featured in three national print newspapers, and branded footage was included in ITV Granada Reports in the build up to the weekend’s game against Arsenal.

What else did we learn from our inaugural live interactive Facebook broadcast? For a start that Nani regularly gets the hairdryer treatment from Sir Alex. For more insights, you’ll have to watch the webcast for yourself….

By on January 25th, 2012

Tags: Betfair, Default, Facebook, Football, Manchester United, Sponsorship, Synergy

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Sky launches Sky Sports Scholarships

At the end of last year Synergy worked with Sky to launch the Sky Sports Scholarships. This programme supports some of Britain and Ireland’s most exciting athletes to help them fulfil their potential on the international stage and prepare them for life in the spotlight. Sky will tell the athletes’ stories through Sky Sports channels to build their profiles, engage its customers and inspire the stars of the future. Details of each of the athletes and the support Sky is providing can be found here.

Sky have been one of the leading investors in Sport in UK and Ireland for the past 20 years – not only through their broadcasts, but also through programmes like British Cycling, Sky Sports Living for Sport and the ECB Coach Education Programme. Sky Sports Scholarships extends this support to individual athletes, providing them with crucial funding (helping to cover the costs of coaching, training and competition), valuable mentoring support and media relations advice from Sky Sports News talent.

Eight of the 11 athletes were welcomed at Sky Studios on 2nd November for the announcement of Sky Sports Scholarships. The athletes completed live interviews on Sky Sports News, web-chats, green-screen filming as well as camera and social media training and a chance to meet their Sky Sports News mentor.  To see behind the scenes footage and more information about the Sky Sports Scholarships click here.

Having been so closely involved since the very beginning of the programme (working up the campaign strategy, developing the brand messaging, identifying the right athletes, negotiating the contracts, creating the activation strategy and managing all the logistics), it was great to see it finally ‘go live’.  And it is just the start of an exciting new component of Sky’s long term commitment to improving sport in the UK and Ireland at every level.

By on January 25th, 2012

Tags: Content, London 2012, Sponsorship, Synergy

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RugbyForce launches in England and Wales

On a very rainy Thursday in January, Synergy launched RBS RugbyForce at Twickenham Stadium with ambassador Tom Wood and NatWest RugbyForce at Waunarlwydd RFC in Wales with George North.

RugbyForce is a nationwide community volunteer programme which helps local rugby clubs improve their facilities and safeguard their long-term future. Last year the programme helped more than 400 clubs in the UK and Ireland and it is testament to the initiative’s development that RugbyForce now exists across all four Home Union territories – Ulster Bank RugbyForce in Ireland, NatWest RugbyForce in Wales, and RBS RugbyForce in England and Scotland.

Our role was to maximise PR exposure from the launches in order to drive more clubs to sign up for the programme before registration closes at the end of March. At Twickenham we were also launching a special initiative giving English clubs, who sign up before England’s RBS 6 Nations games at Twickenham, the chance to have their names printed on the steps of the famous stadium.

The ambassadors were chosen to demonstrate the link between grassroots and elite rugby, emphasising RBS Group’s commitment to the sport at all levels. Both took every opportunity to explain to the media that they were promoting RugbyForce and delivered all our key messages about the importance of the programme and the fantastic impact it has on local rugby clubs.

At Twickenham, Tom Wood spoke to a number of different media, including an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph and a live appearance on TalkSport, as well as branded pieces in the Birimingham Post and Sunday Mercury, and a host of other online and radio interviews. The campaign was launched with the names of three lucky clubs, and representatives from each were at Twickenham to provide further online media content and enable us to target local press from across the country.

Tom Wood and the lucky club members

Meanwhile in Cardiff, Waunarlwydd RFC turned out in force to see George North, with around 100 kids and 60 adults attending. Media interviews went ahead with Swansea Sound radio, Scarlett FM radio, the Press Association, the South Wales Evening Post, the Daily Express, Rugby World and BBC Wales Radio & TV.

With the aim to raise exposure of the programme and ultimately drive registration, the day was a great success, generating significant coverage that really delivered on the RugbyForce messages.

All in all it was a hectic and sodden, but ultimately incredibly successful day in both England and Wales, showcasing the RBS Group’s commitment to community rugby. The day drove coverage that will encourage clubs to register and help them to help themselves become more sustainable businesses through the RugbyForce programme.  For more information go to

By on January 25th, 2012

Tags: Celebrity, community, Default, PR, Public relations, RBS 6 Nations, Rugby

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Synergy CEO launches the 2012 ESA Diploma

Tim Crow kicked off the ESA Diploma for 2012, with the opening lecture on the history and the future of sponsorship on Thursday 19th January. 

Synergy and ESA Chairman Karen Earl is heartened by the industry’s support: “We have always sought to position the ESA Diploma as ‘the industry training the industry’ and the breadth of experience from the high calibre pool of contributors pays testament to this.” 

Click here to read the story on the ESA website.

By on January 20th, 2012

Tags: Press Clipping

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