Archive for the ‘Ambush campaign’ category

Our Favourite Things Of 2013

The last week before Christmas gives us a great excuse (not that we need one) to remind ourselves of some of the campaigns, films, stunts, tech, social and experiential activity that really caught our eye in 2013. We don’t claim that this is an exhaustive list, and some of the things on it aren’t sponsorship, but they all made us want to share them (the key metric in the social era) because they were clever, creative, funny, and in some cases all three.


“Immortal Fans”

There is little doubt that this is the campaign of the year, and it has the Cannes Golden Lion to prove it.  If you haven’t seen it yet, where have you been? Hurry up and click on the film – your life is about to get better. And if you have seen it already, you’ll need no excuse to watch it again and remind yourself of the emotional power of sports. Nothing comes close to it, and that’s why sponsorship is awesome.


Another brilliantly clever use of sport  to address an important social problem. In Paraguay, 24% of children are not enrolled in civil registration, effectively leaving them with no identity. To raise awareness and spark social discussion on this issue, Paraguay and Uruguay played a football match where both teams wore shirts with no names on their backs, while the opening minutes passed without commentators referring to the players by name. As a result, both major presidential candidates agreed to address the problem if elected to office in the upcoming elections.



Nike Hypervenom House of Deadly

Nike, Neymar and the world’s largest immersive game experience – a combination that’s tough to beat. In addition to the ‘making of’ film below, here’s a blog we wrote about it back in November.

Coke Small World Vending Machines

Who’d have thought that two countries with such a history of mistrust and conflict could be brought closer together by a humble vending machine? But Coca-Cola showed how it could be done, and why they continue to be among the best marketers on the planet.

HTC Snapdragon Photobooth

To demo the power of its Snapdragon processor, Qualcomm mounted 130 HTC Smartphones into a big spiral to create a 540⁰ photobooth. Needless to say, capturing images in this way allows you to create pretty cool films – and almost convinces you to buy a smartphone just because it contains a Snapdragon processor.



It feels so long ago, but it was only this year that Oreo did its thing at the Superbowl. We’re not going to add any more column inches to that particular execution, but it did mark the tipping point when real-time and reactive content became a new, must-have weapon in sports marketing.

Zippo Saves the Sochi Olympics

The Sochi 2014 Olympic Torch has had more than its fair share of mishaps, but when it went out and was re-lit by a bystander with a Zippo, everyone’s favourite lighter company jumped on it brilliantly with executions that quickly went viral and, top of every Olympic ambusher’s wish-list, incurred the displeasure of the IOC.



Nando’s Fergie Time

Nando’s honoured the Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement by copying the stoppage time generosity that Sir Alex all too often received from referees, by keeping all their Manchester restaurants open for an extra 5 minutes of #NandosFergieTime.

Adidas and Andy Murray

Adidas ensured their tribute to Andy Murray went viral as soon as he was voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year with instant social media creative and projection mapping outside the SPOTY. It didn’t hurt that Andy Murray also used the exact words in his acceptance speech… All demonstrating that much ‘real-time’ content is actually ‘prepared well in advance’ content.



Yeovil Town and the Safely Delivered Loan Signing

23rd July 2013 was a big day for the country: Yeovil Town was safely delivered of the loan signing of defender Alan Tate. In a move mirroring the announcement of the royal baby, the use of an easel and a framed declaration grabbed the attention of the national media and beautifully hijacked the zeitgeist.



The Oakley Bubba’s Hover

In the week before the US Masters, Oakley produced a fabulous stunt featuring a Bubba Watson hovercraft which re-imagined the golf buggy and perfectly matched Bubba’s ‘go for it’ approach. Here’s our blog on it all from back in April.



An American Coach in London

An amusingly self-deprecating take on (some) Americans’ views on sah-ker, this film, featuring Saturday Night Live’s Jason Sudeikis, helped launch NBC’s Premier League coverage. We expected it to be crap. It wasn’t.

Rory versus the Robot

Another golf stunt, with the European Tour pitting Rory McIlroy against a robot in a series of challenges. Went viral way beyond golf fans, and easily Rory’s best moment of the year on or off the course.

Heineken: The Negotiation

To be honest, Heineken create so much brilliant content, that it is almost impossible to choose just one. But, we’ve gone for The Negotiation, an imaginative take on the often repetitive story of a Football-loving partner and their other half.



US PGA Championship Pick the Pin Challenge

For the first time in history, the US PGA enabled fans to pick the pin location for the 15th hole during the final round of this year’s PGA Championship at Oak Hill. Nearly 100,000 people voted and (surprise surprise) 61% chose the location closest to the water. A brilliantly innovative way to engage fans digitally with the event and the sport. Check it out here.

David Beckham e-Book Signing

In 1998, David Beckham re-invented the sarong. In 2013, he re-invented the traditional book signing, streaming his book launch live on his Facebook page. And if you opted in with your e-mail address, you even got your very own digital Becks autograph. It sure beats the local Waterstone’s. Here is the great man in action.

Adidas Brazuca World Cup Ball Launch

A fan vote to choose the name? Check. A very cool interactive video with hidden content and allows you to see what the Brazuca sees? Check. Its own Twitter feed with 104,000 followers at the time of writing? Check. A total re-invention of a sponsorship asset? Check. Hats off to adidas, and here’s our blog on the Brazuca from a few days ago.



The Surprisingly Good Middle Eastern Airline Ad of The Year: Qatar Airways Barca Island

Book me a ticket on Qatar Airways. Barca Island looks awesome.


What do you do when a legend retires? You set the ball rolling by creating the #ThankYouSachin hashtag and then watch as fans, brands (including Coke and Heineken) and even the founder of Facebook picks it up and runs with it. Here’s our Storify of the key moments:


We hope you liked this review of some of our favourite things from 2013. If we’ve forgotten something that you think should be on the list, then please post a comment – we’d love you to share it.

Congratulations to all the people, brands, agencies and rightsholders who were responsible for this work and let’s hope the list in December 2014 is even better.

By on December 19th, 2013

Tags: Advertising, Ambush campaign, Ambush Marketing, American football, Andy Murray, Barclays Premier League, Basketball, BBC, Blogging, Brand marketing, Branded content, Brazil, Brazil 2014, Charity, Communications, Consultancy, Content, Creative, David Beckham, Default, Engine, Experiential marketing, Facebook, Football, Football Sponsorship, Golf, London 2012, London 2012 sponsorship, Media, Mobile, Naming Rights, NFL, Olympic sponsorship, Olympics, PGA Tour, PR, Public relations, RBS 6 Nations, Rugby, Running, Social Media, Sponsorship, Sponsorship Activation, Sponsorship consultancy, Sponsorship consultants, Sport, Synergy, Synergy Loves

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Synergy Loves – The Brazuca

Just don’t mention the Jabulani… This was the unspoken truth evident at the spectacular unveiling of the adidas Brazuca, the official match ball of the 2014 World Cup last week. The launch took place at Rio de Janeiro’s stunning Parque Lage in the shadow of the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, and brought together a concoction of glitz, glamour, innovation and technology unlike any World Cup product launch we have ever seen. It was a party truly fitting of the Brazilian culture, albeit one that was a little akin to a wedding where no one present wants to talk about a certain member of the family.


Roll back to December 4th 2009 and the largely unspectacular launch of the adidas Jabulani, the ball whose radically new technology and perfectly spherical shape was predicted, by adidas, to make the 2010 World Cup in South Africa the quickest, best to watch and most enjoyable World Cup to date. In reality the Jabulani was a PR disaster with many of the world’s best players heavily criticising it for being ‘like a ball you would buy in a supermarket’ (Julio Cesar, Brazil), ‘a catastrophe’ (David James, England) and ‘very unpredictable’ (Gigi Buffon, Italy) to quote a few. The new World Cup ball was always going to draw comparisons with the Jabulani, but the launch of the Brazuca last week showed how keen adidas were to distance themselves from the debacle of the Jabulani as much as possible – and they have done this in a spectacular way.

The launch of the World Cup ball traditionally takes place alongside the World Cup draw in a location chosen by FIFA. The ceremony is usually attended by a mixture of FIFA dignitaries, selected delegates from each of the competing nations, the odd footballing legend and of course football’s favourite outspoken figurehead Mr Sepp Blatter. It’s safe to say the Brazuca launch didn’t follow the usual plan; it was held two days before the draw in an iconic location, chosen by adidas for its beauty and elegance, and there was no sign of Sepp and FIFA; this was a party to which they weren’t invited.

brazuca launch

Imagine the stunning backdrop of Parque Lage and the Christ the Redeemer statue, then add a breathtaking 3D projection mapping lightshow, projected onto one of the world’s most beautiful botanical gardens, include some world class footballers, celebrities, international media and, of course, the Brazuca, and you have a party befitting Brazil. Projection mapping technology is truly spectacular and, as you can see from the video below, it stole the show again.

The Brazuca’s design is layered in innovation. It has been touted as the most tested football in history after going through a two year period of being taken through its paces by 600 professional footballers including the likes of Lionel Messi, Dani Alves and Zinedine Zidane. It is composed of six interlocking symmetrical panels and its unique vibrant colours make it unlike any other World Cup ball produced to date and represent the traditions of fun, energy and liveliness that are synonymous with Brazilian culture and Brazilian football.

This theme is also explored in the Brazuca’s marketing campaign; adidas have launched an ad which features a group of young Brazilians re-enacting the actions of their legends Messi, Xavi, Schweinsteiger and Neuer as the play football on the streets and beaches of Brazil. The advert allows you to see the action from the ball’s perspective, enabling viewers to truly immerse themselves into the advert, and really gives the Brazuca a personality.

This personality plays a significant role in the digital strategy. Well over one million Brazilians voted to give the Brazuca its name, and for the first time ever a World Cup ball has its own dedicated Twitter account that keeps followers updated as the Brazuca makes its way around the world. It is drawing a considerable following as well! In the first 24 hours @brazuca clocked up 75,000 followers thanks to a host of tweets from the likes of Fernando Torres, Cafu and Clarence Seedorf, officially making the Brazuca the world’s most sociable football.

brazuca twitter

adidas supported their launch with a unique PR campaign that has ensured that the next generation of Brazilians will be born with a football at their feet, literally. adidas have offered every baby that was born on the day of the Brazuca launch a free World Cup ball to start their footballing dream. The name Brazuca comes from an informal local term meaning ‘Brazilian’, and the PR campaign has emphasised that the Brazuca is most definitely the ball of the Brazilian people.

A Nike ambush of an adidas global campaign has become something of a tradition, and this was no exception. Nike chose to launch their new ball, the ‘Ordem’, the day before the launch of the Brazuca, and ran a viral advert that sees Wayne Rooney surprise Rory McIlroy at the first tee and taking him on at a round of golf, with a twist. McIlroy plays normally whilst Rooney kicks the new ball at each hole. The viral even features a cameo appearance from former Brazilian superstar Ronaldo – thus linking it directly to Brazil 2014 and ambushing the Brazuca launch. Nonetheless this lacks the integration of adidas’s campaign.

adidas have strived to innovate throughout this campaign, from the design of the ball, to the launch party, the marketing campaign and even the date it was launched. In our opinion, and despite Nike’s best efforts to steal the show, adidas have linked each element seamlessly to create a particularly successful campaign…just don’t mention the Jabulani.

By on December 13th, 2013

Tags: Ambush campaign, Brazil, Brazil 2014, Brazil 2014 Sponsorship, Default, Digital marketing, Experiential marketing, Football, Football Sponsorship, Public relations, Sponsorship Activation, Synergy, Synergy Loves, World Cup, World Cup Sponsorship

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Advertising in Football: Back of the Net, or Back of the Class?

It’s now less than a year until the world’s biggest football tournament kicks off in Brazil. Okay, so football may not be coming home (and won’t be doing so for the foreseeable future), but in 2014 it’s going to spend the summer at its flamboyant South American penpal’s place.

Ahead of the inevitable slew of campaigns from FIFA sponsors, partners of the competing national teams, World Cup ambushers and those brands simply exploiting the global obsession with all things ball-kicky, we thought it an appropriate time to put the question to the floor: what’s the best football commercial of all time?

There’s almost inevitably a knee-jerk shortlist this question generates, with the words “Nike Airport” passing most people’s lips in our office, but I’m keen that we think deeper to see whether this TVC really does stand head and shoulders above the rest of the field. It might be an official sponsor like Visa (FIFA) or Carlsberg (England), a connected ambush play from Pepsi, or just a brilliant use of football’s innate humour and connection to the national psyche (potentially totally unrelated to a tournament such as the World Cup), like John Smith’s Peter Kay Have It ad.

Of course, defining the best inevitably draws attention to the worst examples: the shoddy nemeses that help highlight everything that’s right about the really good executions. These polar opposites demonstrate that it’s not as easy as putting a ball, a fan or a famous player into a scenario to relevantly connect with an audience – after all, football fans are a cynical lot, aren’t they?

Here’s an initial taster of some of the best and worst ads out there – the would-be champions versus the relegation candidates, if you like.

Three of the Best:

Official Sponsor: Coca-Cola Rivalidades

Tournament Ambush: Nike Take it to the Next Level

Using Football: John Smith’s Have It

Three of the Worst:

Official Sponsor: Mars Work Rest Play Your Part for England

Ambush: Pringles Pringooooals

Using Football: TJ Hughes Wayne Rooney’s Brother

So, what do you think? Send us your Top and Bottom 3 examples of football TVCs, either by dropping their YouTube links in the comments section below, or by tweeting them to @yonnex101, using the hashtags #BestFootyAds or #WorstFootyAds, respectively.

Again, they don’t necessarily need to be World Cup-related: what about the big partnership launches (Vauxhall and England), Champions League executions (like Mastercard or Heineken), or just amazing examples of footballers or the sport itself being used to help turn fans into customers…for better or for worse. And don’t be restricted to UK examples – some of the best examples of creativity have come from emerging markets, for whom the passion for the sport is equally as strong.

We’ll publish the walls of fame and shame here later in the year. Who makes your starting XI, and which brand’s behaviour has put them on the transfer list? All will be revealed…

By on June 12th, 2013

Tags: Advertising, Ambush campaign, Ambush Marketing, Brand marketing, Brazil 2014, Broadcast sponsorship, Default, Football, Football Sponsorship, Sponsorship, World Cup, World Cup Sponsorship, YouTube


This Season’s ‘Must Have’: Fashion Sponsorship

A sponsorship opportunity outside of sport is something few brands consider. Sport is considered a safe environment for a brand to begin a sponsorship as it can reach the masses quickly, its assets are measurable and it has a proven track record of success.

Fashion, on the other hand is far more complex and its assets appear less obvious, resulting in many brands staying away. However, 2012 has seen a shift in emphasis as more and more brands are targeting consumers through fashion. Don’t just think of this as a female market though; the first Men’s Fashion Week, London Collections: Men launched earlier this year, putting the male influencers firmly on the fashion map and changing the way men are perceived in the industry.

Fashion has always been part of the British DNA. The industry has developed into a £21bn business, with its spending influence on other industries standing at over £37 billion. It is little wonder that brands are now waking up to the opportunities that this represents.

A great example of this is Diet Coke, who pledge to target females through fashion over the next three years. They’ve developed a sophisticated strategy of fully integrated investment in fashion through key touch points such as TV advertising, merchandising, packaging, events, media and digital to promote their ‘A lighter approach to fashion’ campaign. The brand has been strategic in their fashion partnerships by linking up with couture designers and producing a series of Limited Edition bottles; making high-end fashion accessible to the masses.

Through their partnership with Benefit make-up, Diet Coke  has also connected to a socially-savvy female audience. Their Facebook app has created a dialogue that enriches consumers’ lives, whilst going beyond the brand and giving consumers a credible reason as to why they are in this space. The brand has also successfully integrated its above the line ‘Puppet’ campaign with its digital offering, once again making fashion accessible to all. Diet Coke has stepped into the new era of sponsorship known as the ‘Social Era’, which has enabled them to engage with the female market on a scale and depth that has never been possible. It has created a sense of higher purpose, allowing the brand to create a sponsorship programme that truly resonates with its target audience. Since embarking on their 3-year strategy to implement their fashion objectives, Diet Coke claims sales have increased 4.9% year on year.

Mercedes-Benz is a luxury brand that has built-up its fashion portfolio over the last few years as a sponsor of Fashion Weeks around the globe. Staying ahead of the game, they quickly recognised the importance of bloggers within the fashion industry and signed the most decorated fashion blogger in the world, Liberty London Girl to bring the latest news from the front row at Fashion Week.  Changing perceptions of the typical Mercedes-Benz driver remains key for the brand, and associating themselves with the fashion-set has helped shift this change in attitude. They’ve also been quick to identify male growth in this area and recently sponsored GQ magazine’s Best Dressed List, which this year saw the brand working with the magazine on an exclusive photo shoot featuring three of the brand’s elite performance cars. Mercedes-Benz was also a sponsor of the first ‘London Collections: Men’, which the British Fashion Council (BFC) ran in June.

An unexpected brand that hit the runway during NYC Fashion Week this season was Google+, which showed off its rather fetching £1.5k augmented reality glasses in an exclusive tie-up with designer Diane Von Furstenberg. If Luke Skywalker were to make mobile phones, this is how he would have done it. However, despite how they look, Google are not risking the product flopping next year when they launch ‘Project Glass’, and have made a clear move to market this product as a fashion accessory. Turning geek into chic? I’ll let you decide.

It almost seems rude not to mention Vodafone when talking about fashion these days, as the brand has rapidly become the service provider for the fashion set. Last year they introduced mobile phone chargers under the seats at London Fashion Week; a move which quickly became the talk of Twitter, and was picked up by the majority of fashion blogs. The brand also gives customers once in a lifetime VIP experiences, with exclusive backstage access and tickets to London Fashion Weekend. Similar to Diet Coke, this makes high-end fashion accessible for the everyday consumer. Vodafone have never tried to be something they’re not and in entering the fashion world they’ve found a space in which very few brands are active.

Danielle Crook, Vodafone’s UK director of brand marketing, argues that Vodafone are “helping people to do the job they’re there to do”. She says Vodafone has heeded the warnings of fashion industry insiders, who point out that brands have failed in their marketing objectives when they have come in and tried to take over the space.

Sponsorship in this industry isn’t as straightforward as sticking a badge on London Fashion Week and hoping for the best. Brands need to look beyond and think strategically, offering a deeper engagement and an insightful brand experience that genuinely enriches the customer’s experience. The UK fashion industry is dominated by many rights holders, including retailers on the high street that are driven through touch points such as magazines, TV, film, radio, social media and amplified through events, awards, designers, stylists, retailers…all held together by just one governing body, The British Fashion Council.

There are no obvious restrictions to this creative industry and that’s the beauty of it. It’s a wide open space ready to be challenged and moved by brands that want to make a meaningful contribution and enrich the lives of females, and increasingly males, through content, dialogue, and entertainment. We should all be aware of the fashion industry that follows us round on a daily basis; fashion is all-inclusive and no brand should claim that they don’t ‘do’ fashion. If they delve below the surface, these brands may just discover more than they first realised.

By on October 30th, 2012

Tags: Advertising, Ambush campaign, Ambush Marketing, Awards, Brand marketing, Broadcast sponsorship, Communications, Default, Fashion, Media, Public relations, Social Media, Sponsorship, Sponsorship consultants

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My experience at The O2…I mean The North Greenwich Arena

I was lucky enough to go the Men’s All Round Individual Gymnastics Final with my mum and brother yesterday to cheer on our fantastic Team GB bronze medallists Kristian Thomas and Daniel Purvis, and was interested to see how ‘O2’ the Arena was going to be, despite the non-sponsor blackout.

The venue is obviously unique – not just because of the naming rights situation and the Arena’s extensive portfolio of brand partners but also because, unlike the other Olympic venues in London, The O2 and all other attractions inside it are open to the public as usual throughout the Games. So, as we enjoyed our supper in Strada under the shadow of the Gymnastics entrance (which seemed as though we were breaking some kind of LOCOG rule!), there seemed to be plenty of people walking around who did not have tickets for the Gymnastics enjoying the Arena’s many bars (not serving Heineken), restaurants (with no Golden Arches in sight) and 11-screen cinema.

As anyone who has been to an event at the Arena knows, there is a huge amount of O2 branding around and whilst the majority of this has been taken down (including the large sign below), after we walked through the Olympic security, perhaps inevitably, there was still plenty of uncovered O2 signage about.


I’m sure that the (much discussed) success of O2′s sponsorship means that for most British visitors this fortnight, they are already well aware of the ‘real’ name of the venue and understand the reason for the name change, so O2 are probably not losing too much sleep over the temporarily enforced title. As this media piece shows, even during the Games, The O2 brand is still getting free media coverage.

I also believe the smooth running and great atmosphere of the Olympic events at The O2 will have encouraged more return visits once the Games are over.

The only notable example of experiential activity I saw yesterday came from Nissan (interestingly, one of the manufacturers originally interested in sponsoring the Games themselves), who have had a permanent ‘Innovation Station’ in the Arena since October 2010. This was perhaps the best illustration of the unique nature of the venue and surely the only one where non-sponsor brands have been able to avoid the much-maligned scrutiny of the LOCOG brand police due to their long-running AEG deals.

All of this meant that our North Greenwich Arena experience felt slightly less ‘Olympic’ compared to my trip to the ExCel for the Boxing earlier in the week, but certainly no less enjoyable.

By on August 2nd, 2012

Tags: Ambush campaign, Default, Experiential marketing, London 2012 sponsorship, Naming Rights, Sponsorship, Team GB


And the winner of EURO 2012 is…

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

Quarter Finals

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.

Semi Finals:

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.

The Final

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.

Penalty Shoot-Out

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 on July 3rd, 2012

Tags: Ambush campaign, Brand marketing, Content, Football, Football Sponsorship, Social Media, Synopsis

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Synergy Loves…Nike’s tactics for 2012

What happened

Recent web buzz research commissioned by our social media partners at Jam has shown that Nike is far out-performing its rival and Olympic sponsor Adidas as the brand most associated with the London 2012 Olympic Games. Nike is dominating the social media conversation, with a staggering 7.7% of Olympic mentions being linked to Nike compared to only 0.49% for Adidas.  This contrast is particularly stark when one considers that Adidas committed a reported £100m to buy exclusive category rights to London 2012.

So what’s been resonating with consumers and causing this buzz…? In last month’s edition of Synopsis, Lisa Parfitt highlighted Nike’s #makeitcount campaign as a brilliant example of an integrated campaign which connects above the line, digital, social and experiential.  The campaign features a number of the UK’s top athletes, Perri Shakes-Drayton, Mark Cavendish and Mo Farah, showing them at their most intense moments during training and making personal pledges for 2012.

Nike has now seeded a series of online films which feature various sports stars including Mo Farah and Rio Ferdinand to build on the theme.

But the campaign really comes to life in the way that it connects the public to the core insight that “If you have a body, you are an athlete”.  This quote by Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman was the tweet to launch the campaign and provide the call to action for everyone to get involved.  The in-store element at both the Oxford Circus and Westfield Nike outlets allows you to be professionally photographed alongside your own handwritten pledges: the images and pledges are displayed around the stores and of course shared via social media.

Later this year we will see the launch of the Nike product this campaign is paving the way for, FuelBand. Already launched in the US, FuelBand tracks your physical activity through a sport-tested accelerometer, which then translates your activity into ‘NikeFuel’. So whether you are walking, running, dancing, playing football, tennis or golf, Nike allows you to collect, analyse and (most importantly) share your performance.  The idea is that you set a goal for every day, then go out and beat it.  It’s the gamefication of fitness. Life is a sport. Make it count.

The Nike marketing machine has been in overdrive.  Both pre-sale windows sold out in less than three minutes in the States and you can expect the same in the UK before it goes on sale on May 1st. Look out for Nike’s standard combination of iconic sports stars, great on-line video content and tightly integrated social media activity.

Why we love it

This of course isn’t the first time we’ve seen Nike launch into either a fully-integrated campaign or demonstrate effective ambush marketing during an Olympic year.

But the most amazing thing is how Nike continue to set the marketing pace. As Nike’s marketing spend approaches $2.4bn, less than 15% of that is now spent on traditional media (there has been a 40% decline in spend on TV, Outdoor, Radio and Print over the past 3 years).  As the biggest sports brand in the world, they shouldn’t be good at this – younger, edgier, more nimble competitors should be the subject of blogs like this.

And it is working.  Thanks to this digital focus, if it wanted to, Nike could reach 200 million people every day via its various social network platforms.  #makeitcount indeed.

[Note: some stats and insight for this article came from this great piece in Fortune Magazine.]

By on February 24th, 2012

Tags: Ambush campaign, Athletics, Default, London 2012, Naming Rights, Olympics, Synergy Loves

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Synergy Loves… the M&S ‘On Your Marks’ Westfield Stratford campaign

What Happened?

On Tuesday September 13, Westfield Stratford City opened its doors to the public. Against the background of a day-long blaze of publicity, Mayor of London Boris Johnson cut the opening ribbon whilst invoking Chaucer, followed by pop diva Nicole Scherzinger strutting her stuff before a (slightly bemused) VIP audience. But by far the most important feature of the day was the 100,000 consumers who visited what is now Europe’s largest urban shopping and leisure destination – all 1.9 million square feet of it, the equivalent of 25 football pitches - spending a combined £4m. Recession – what recession? Good news for Westfield’s retailers, many of whom mounted major marketing campaigns to attempt to grab the lion’s share of the Opening Day buzz and bounty.

Our favourite? The M&S ‘On Your Marks’ campaign, with creative shot by fashion photographer John Akehurst, featuring a model wearing heels from the M&S Autograph sub-brand in starting blocks.

Why We Like It

M&S brilliantly leverages Westfield Stratford’s Olympic DNA: Westfield is of course the gateway to the London 2012 Olympic Park.

First, there’s the skilful navigation of the legislation preventing brands from using Olympic IP. You absolutely get the connection, but there isn’t an offending piece of Olympic IP to be seen.

Second, it fulfils one of our litmus tests for great work - anchored around the use of ‘Marks’ – it wouldn’t work for any other brand.

Third, the Olympic connection isn’t forced. It’s entirely natural and drives both the consumer insight and the call to action.

And last but absolutly not least, it’s a stunning image in every way.

Beautifully done.

By on October 13th, 2011

Tags: Advertising, Ambush campaign, Default, Olympic sponsorship, Olympic sponsorship consultants, Olympics

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Betfair Beach Volleyball Bum-vertising

Here at Synergy towers we’re always looking for fun, quirky ideas that have genuine media traction while fitting with our clients’ target audiences and business objectives. So with the London 2012 test events rolling into town the Betfair team put our thinking hats on and looked at how Betfair could get involved. We focused specifically on the beach volleyball tournament at Horse Guards Parade - an event with high media and consumer interest that would engage the brand’s target audience and deliver a tactical campaign within budget.

Further to a recent Ofcom report highlighting that one third of British adults now owns a smart phone, Betfair developed a concept to promote their mobile offering.

Synergy negotiated a deal with Team Mullin-Dampney, the number one British beach volleyball duo, to position Quick Response technology, known as QR codes, on the players’ kit. When photographed, the QR code would drive people to  Betfair’s free-bet and registration page.

Given the limited space available on a beach volleyball kit, the signature ‘hands on knees’ stance, and likely viewpoint of media and spectator cameras, the QR codes were placed on the players’ bikini bottoms to maximise exposure, whilst their arm bands carried the Betfair Mobile logo.

Working with Betfair’s consumer PR agency and new members of the Engine family - Mischief - we held a photoshoot with Shauna Mullin and Zara Dampney and distributed the images before the test event on 9th August.

Capturing the imagination of both the front and back pages the story featured in four national newspapers (Daily Mirror, Daily Express, Daily Star and Daily Record), two regional titles (Metro and The Evening Standard) and seven national online sites as well as over 200 online outlets, thousands of tweets and in the international media.

By on September 1st, 2011

Tags: Advertising, Ambush campaign, Beach Volleyball, Brand marketing, London 2012, Mobile, Olympics, PR, Product placement, Public relations, Sponsorship, Sport, Synergy, Team GB

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When Johan Cruyff tore a stripe off adidas

Recently I’ve spent a lot of time recalling the history of sports marketing and sponsorship. To start 2011, we ran our poll on the greatest sports marketing innovation of modern times. A few weeks ago the Sport Industry Group asked Dom Curran and I to contribute our memories of the last ten years of sport to help celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Sport Industry Awards, which took place last Wednesday night. And also last Wednesday, I attended Sportcal’s 20 Years of Sport conference, the highlight of which was a tour de force presentation by my old friend Patrick Nally on the origins of the modern sponsorship template which he created, and his view of the future.

Listening to Patrick talk of those early days and his work with Horst Dassler reminded me of one of the most remarkable incidents in the history of sports marketing to date, which took place in those early days, and which I only came across for the first time recently.

Back in 1974, adidas was the kit sponsor of the legendary Dutch national football team led by maestro Johan Cruyff.  Leading into the 1974 World Cup, which was marked by financial disputes between players and their federations, Cruyff, who had a personal sponsorship with adidas’ bitter rivals Puma, refused to wear a Dutch shirt with the now-legendary adidas three stripes. Incredibly, the Dutch FA backed down and alowed Cruyff to play in a specially-made kit with only two stripes. Here’s the proof, from Holland’s 1974 World Cup match versus Argentina:

Now that’s what I call player power!

By on May 17th, 2011

Tags: Ambush campaign, Default, Football, Football Sponsorship, Sponsorship, What's the Greatest Sports Marketing Innovation?, World Cup

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