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 Jessica Enoch on January 25th, 2012