Sunday 1st July saw Spain thrash Italy to be crowned champions of Europe for an unprecedented second consecutive time. This tournament, arguably the second most important international football competition, has seen many of the world’s football superpowers scrapping it out on the field of play, but an equally interesting battle has been unfolding off the pitch. The tournament sponsors and those with no official affiliation have been competing for a share of the fans’ minds and wallets through their new marketing campaigns based around EURO 2012.
So, which of the sponsors played out of their skins at EURO 2012, and have there been any surprise victories for the ambush underdogs?
This month, we take a look at how a few of the official and not-so-official sponsors would’ve fared had they competed in their own tournament. In selecting these brands, we have looked to create fixtures between tournament, team and ambushing brands occupying similar spaces, not just looking at perennial big boys like Coca-Cola or Nike.
The brands that we have included are:
- Official – Orange, adidas, McDonald’s and Sharp
- Unofficial – Carlsberg, Vauxhall, Kit Kat and Pringles
Orange vs. McDonald’s
This match sees two heavyweight sponsors of EURO 2012 go head-to-head in campaigns that look to capture the passion of fans across Europe. The big budgets of these brands meant we expected a strong all-round performance from their campaigns – which focused on delivering engaging and relevant content to the fans’ experience.
This match, however, did not quite live up to its billing, as the full potential of the brands has been limited by their somewhat defensive game plan. Orange created a campaign that had mobile at its centre, with the launch of two free apps designed to tap into the expected surge in mobile marketing and dual-screen viewing through the tournament. McDonald’s, on the other hand, created a pan-European digital campaign asking fans from across the continent to demonstrate their level of passion for their team, which was measured by the McDonald’s EURO 2012 Passion Meter.
The McDonald’s campaign in particular, whilst being engaging, struggles to prolong the fan’s experience with the brand due to its Passion Meter being limited to users simply capturing themselves cheering – which in itself can prove to be an embarrassing barrier to entry. Also, Orange’s ‘Supporters Cup Shake & Shout’ app – effectively a live competition to see which fans can record the loudest cheer – was at its core quite similar to the McDonald’s EURO 2012 Passion Meter, which unfortunately means that neither brand truly owned this unique space in the fans’ mind.
So, whilst the insights behind these campaigns are hard to fault, it’s their overall delivery that will be the final determinant on who progresses to the next round. Looking at the replays, Orange seems to offer a broader range of opportunities for fans to experience the brand whilst enjoying the tournament; we particularly liked the official pan-European EURO 2012 app which was designed to be genuinely useful to fans both at the tournament and those following it on TV. It includes features that help users find their friends nearby as well as local venues where tournament games are being screened. This app is therefore a sure-fire way to integrate the Orange brand within the EURO 2012 fan experience.
Result: This much anticipated match-up has played out to a win by Orange which can be attributed to the authentic positioning of the brand together with some classy delivery. McDonald’s surprisingly early exit is put down to them potentially taking their eye of the ball due to the bigger prize of the London 2012 Olympic Games on the horizon.
Adidas vs. Sharp
This match-up sees two brands that are pushing innovation at EURO 2012 getting drawn against each other. Innovation has long been a great, albeit risky way to engage consumers and fans alike. Therefore, to coincide with the kick off of EURO 2012, UEFA global partner adidas launched a new fan portal on blogging site Tumblr, and Sharp created FanLabs, a research project monitoring the emotions of thousands of football fans at EURO 2012.
Adidas’ initiative saw them become one of the first brands to use Tumblr’s sponsorship packages to showcase unique content from the world of football, both on and off the pitch. At the centre of the initiative was brand-created content from adidas featuring their ambassadors, to provide visitors with an inspirational look inside the world of football.
By contrast, Sharp mined its technological roots and created FanLabs – a campaign that looked to find common truths about competing countries’ fans. This was activated both online and via their FanLabs truck that travelled to the various UEFA fan parks throughout Europe.
One of the deciding factors in this match-up was longevity: which of these campaigns will go the distance, even beyond the tournament itself?
Now that EURO 2012 is finished, adidas will continue to use the Tumblr site to host football content from other properties to which it has rights, such as UEFA Champions League and the MLS. This partnership between Tumblr and adidas promises to be an exciting relationship to watch as it looks set to be a key part in underpinning adidas’ future social media strategy in football.
At the end of the tournament, Sharp will have a wealth of data on the key insights of fans in the various European markets. This data, one can imagine, will be used to drive their future marketing campaigns, meaning Sharp has very cleverly created an innovative campaign that combines unique content with a data collection business imperative.
Result: Both adidas and Sharp played an exciting game and either brand had opportunities to win it through a decisive move, with creativity at the heart of both campaigns. The final score is a surprising victory to Sharp due to their enterprising strategy that promises to go a long way beyond the tournament itself.
Carlsberg vs. Vauxhall
It’s Denmark versus England in this tasty round one encounter, and both these official England sponsors have brought in the big guns for their tournament TVCs. We will be assigning a social media rating based on the criteria developed by Deep Focus (our Engine friends from across the pond) to decide who goes through in this Anglo-Nordic battle.
It should be said that we like both ads; Carlsberg get their ambassador selection spot-on (interesting that Linford’s only involvement this summer is in a football ad) and Vauxhall’s use of Noel Gallagher’s first solo track and the England team mixing it with the public certainly stirs the passion (but they perhaps already showed their hand with the original September ad).
Neither TVC however uses social media to activate, engage, and even reward the viewer, so both are rated as ‘anti-social’ in the Deep Focus criteria. This is a shame and a missed opportunity, as both brands have social elements to their wider EURO activity; the Carlsberg Fan Academy Exams is a nice addition to their sponsorship of the EURO 2012 app (which had hit over 2m downloads by 15th June) and there is also the chance to join Des Lynam at the Academy on Facebook, but there is no mention of these in the TVC. Perhaps more surprisingly, Vauxhall did not highlight their innovative Vauxhall Football TV which housed exclusive content around the England team in Poland and Ukraine. This could explain the relatively small social following of Vauxhall Football TV (14,000 Facebook Fans and 16,000 Twitter followers), in spite of the interesting content that was made available.
Result: A score draw, but Carlsberg go through on penalties after this Vauxhall PR miss along with their demonstration of a team sponsor openly criticising players in a Twitter Q&A and the surprising decision to allow open critism of players.
Pringles vs. Kit Kat
In this FMCG non-sponsor match-up, Pringles aligned itself to the England team, whilst Kit Kat moved away from their battle with Mars over the National Team and instead positioned itself alongside the tournament as a whole. This clash will be decided on the most effective use of on-pack.
The Pringles ‘tradigital’ press campaign is a nice example of crowd sourcing using Twitter. It’s also a clever ambush technique, as the brand distanced itself slightly from any contentious messaging, as it came direct from the fans.
The Kit Kat on-pack promotion used a very simple (and close to the ambush mark!) message of ‘Win 2,012 Euros’ and a mechanic that sought to build on their extensive Facebook following (over 500k fans in the UK), with the €2,012 prize found either inside the pack or by entering a unique pack code on their Facebook page. This huge social audience is something that Pringles can’t compete with in the UK, and despite their best efforts it does not seem that #makesomenoise generated many tweets, with Pringles continuing to have a moderate Twitter following (of about c.12k).
Both brands also used their packaging in an interesting way, with Pringles offering their customers the chance to personalise their tube (much like Heinz did so successfully) and turn it into a vuvuzela type device, whereas Kit Kat teamed up with Blippar to create an augmented reality football game. Both of these are great examples of brands using their individual pack real estate in a different and engaging way, although it would be interesting to know the number of Fan Cans that were actually ordered and the real ‘stickiness’ of the Blippar Kit Kat. Additionally, the likely lead times involved in ordering and receiving the Fan Cans could have meant many fans didn’t receive them until after England bowed out to Italy.
Result: Kit Kat has slightly lost the creative spark they showed in the 2010 World Cup and Pringles sneak through due to the originality of their Fan Can, using their unique real estate in a way that only Pringles can.
Orange vs. Sharp
These two semi-finalists have both progressed on the back of campaigns that, at their core, have the potential to significantly enhance the fan’s experience of EURO 2012. How both these brands have activated their EURO 2012 sponsorship is likely to have improved their brand favourability; however it‘s the campaign’s ability to entice the fans to stay engaged with the brand that needs to be considered to determine who has the strength to reach the final. This engagement factor is important because of the value that is attached to building a relationship between the brand and consumer that can lead to favourable purchasing decisions – which is especially relevant for both Orange and Sharp whose products rely on positive relationships with consumers for continued loyalty.
Orange’s campaign succeed in doing this through their apps and the on-going Supporters Cup competition which both, importantly, provided fans with useful benefits that improved their experience. Orange thereby ensured that there were multiple touch points between the brand and the fans for the duration of the tournament.
Sharp has impressed in getting to the semi finals given that they have activated a pan-European football sponsorship without any use of football ambassadors. The FanLabs campaign has enabled Sharp to understand football fans in more detail during the tournament, and thereby be a more interesting and useful sponsor as the tournament progressed (data collected during the tournament was used to update their digital ads). Sharp achieved this by having many data collection points, which included apps, a website and a FanLabs Facebook. However, it was Sharp’s mobile FanLabs on the ground in Poland and Ukraine that created opportunities to engage fans face-to-face that has been a great touch. These mobile FanLabs – trucks equipped with a biometric brainwave scanner to find out what fans were thinking whilst watching their country play – travelled to the various Fanzones throughout the tournament measuring the mood of the fans in the build up, and during, their countries games.
Result: Orange succumbs to Sharp’s attack-orientated game plan and unfortunately do not seem to have enough in them to claw a goal back. It ends with victory to Sharp who march onwards to the final.
Carlsberg vs. Pringles
Two staples of the football world, beer and crisps head into this semi final: what a mouth-watering line up (as Lawro might put it). Pringles were a plucky underdog this tournament, but they have now run out of steam and have no star power to call upon this game (with no sign of any ambassadors in 2012) against their vastly experienced opponents. Carlsberg used their unique position as sponsors of both England and the Championships themselves to create fan challenges, asking Facebook fans what they would do to show their passion, belief, pride and loyalty to the team to win 5 pairs of VIP tickets to the EUROs. These challenges then created some nice content for the brand, which have been viewed over 20,000 times on YouTube. This mechanic also proved a successful way of creating reach for what is actually quite a small and inexpensive contractual asset (only 10 tickets in total).
Result: The sheer depth of Carlsberg’s squad for the latter stages of the tournament leaves Pringles struggling and the powerful Danes go through to try to replicate the National Team’s success of 1992.
So, as you can see, our final is between Carlsberg and Sharp. Who do you feel deserves to take home the glory? Or do you think any brands were robbed? Who deserves special mention outside of our chosen eight? Let us know below…
Despite this being the first EUROs to upgrade to digital perimeter boards, the only official sponsor to offer any sort of call to action pitch-side has been McDonald’s, and whilst there were UEFA restrictions around moving imagery in the creative, it’s doubtful whether the digital potential of these boards has been fully exploited. This could be because multiple creatives have either not been allowed or sponsors have not challenged UEFA with their creativity, or indeed have been unwilling to risk sacrificing brand awareness for engagement opportunities. Perhaps the lower smartphone penetration levels in the host countries (19% in Poland and 10% in Ukraine in Dec 2011 according to Wired) have also had a bearing on this, with brands unwilling to risk alienating these key markets. In future EUROs, it would be great to see a move towards greater fan/audience engagement, with these perimeter boards supporting some truly integrated and social activation ideas.
Our view is that the standard of marketing off the pitch has not quite matched the level of excitement on it. Whether this is due to a combination of the lowest confidence in the England team in recent memory and the event clashing with a home Olympic Games for the only time in our lifetimes, it seems that on the whole brands in the UK have not fully got behind the tournament. We would like to think that when EURO 2016 rolls into France (after Roy has led England to World Cup glory in Brazil!!) and the tournament is not competing with a home Olympics then we will see a greater marketing effort with social at its core.
This month’s ‘What We Think’ piece was written by Mike Russell and Matt Kiernan.
By Synergy on July 3rd, 2012
Tags: Ambush campaign, Brand marketing, Content, Football, Football Sponsorship, Social Media, Synopsis