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Archive for the ‘David Beckham’ category

Athletes Making Their Marque

Jordan, James, Woods, Wade, Beckham, Brady, Bryant, Bolt. Marbury, Messi, Manny Pac, Shaq, Rafa, Roger, Rose and Ronaldo. You know the names, and, chances are, if you’re a fan of any of these global sports stars, you probably know the logos.

Whilst Michael Jordan certainly wasn’t the first professional athlete to have a marque built around him, his deal with Nike (which, legend has it, Jordan was originally reticent about signing) has netted over $1 billion in sales, with the ‘Jumpman’ brand still representing, according to SportsOneSource, 54% of the entire US basketball shoe market. Slam dunk, indeed.

It was inevitable that Nike would look to rekindle this magic with other athletes, from basketball and beyond, with LeBron, Tiger, Federer and Ronaldinho brands all deployed to stake a claim on the hearts, minds and wallets of their fans. Competitors naturally followed suit, with adidas banking on Beckham, Messi and Derrick Rose (amongst others) to strike gold.

Getting it right is rare alchemy, however, with the output needing to translate beyond just a cool (or, in many cases, relatively iterative) logo; this is an investment in not just a badge but a corporate sub-brand, borrowing from an individual’s reputation – and very image – with the goal of deepening consumer loyalty whilst increasing both perceived value and, let’s be honest, the retail price of any related goods.

Delivering an appropriate representation of an athlete’s very essence in communicable pictorial form is no mean feat, each element of the design charged with meaning and, realistically, subject to the ultimate approval of the superstars themselves.

Michael Jordan: the iconic image, known universally as the ‘Jumpman’, was actually based on a photo of Jordan, introduced in 1985 and first put on the Air Jordan III in 1988.

 

Kobe Bryant: Nike designer Eric Avar created ‘sheath’, a logo inspired by samurai warrior imagery, with the intimation that Bryant himself represents the cutting edge of the blade.

 

Lionel Messi: more superhero emblem than brand logo – adidas designed Messi’s marque with the intention of evoking the Argentinean’s extraordinary capabilities, whilst cunningly incorporating an iteration of the adidas Three Stripes.

Lionel Messi: more superhero emblem than brand logo – adidas designed Messi’s marque with the intention of evoking the Argentinean’s extraordinary capabilities, whilst cunningly incorporating an iteration of the adidas Three Stripes.

After such a significant investment in design, development, production and marketing – this does beg the question of what happens to any such logo should the athlete leave the Nike/adidas stable for pastures new? Given that the associated imagery is intrinsically linked to the appearance (or perception) of the player, is the logo – and, by consequence, the brand – the intellectual property of the corporation or the individual? Would that make remaindered marque stock an unsellable white elephant?

One solution seems to derive from the approach taken by a growing number of sports stars themselves, who have taken the view that they don’t necessarily need a third party to deliver a logo or identity for them – simply the means of helping translate this into a consumer-facing revenue stream.

Player power has never been more obvious in sport. Superstars command exorbitant fees and wages across the major franchises and clubs on both sides of the Atlantic; journeyman mercenaries and hometown heroes alike. A player can make or break a club – just look at the before and after impact of Gareth Bale’s world record £85m transfer to Real Madrid on Tottenham Hotspur: £110m, 7 players and 1 manager down within 6 months of his departure.

After a period of injury, Bale appears to have settled into life in the Spanish capital, weighing in with his fair share of goals, including a ‘perfect’ hat-trick against Real Valladolid in November 2013. However, more interestingly, he’s also demonstrated an ability to make his mark beyond the pitch itself. In March 2013, Bale applied to the UK Intellectual Property Office to trademark his personal goal celebration – or, at least, the image of it in specific environments. Dubbed the ‘Eleven of Hearts’, the image depicts a pair of hands forming a heart shape that frames the number 11 – Bale’s Spurs squad number (which, completely coincidentally, was unused by any madrileño players).

In July 2013 the UK IPO upheld Bale’s application, granting him exclusive use of the device in merchandise, including “clothing, footwear and headgear”. Whilst a clasped pair of hands alone was unlikely to have felt legitimately enforceable by law, the addition of the numeral and their joint association with the world’s most expensive player made this a simpler trademark to approve.

And Gareth Bale isn’t the only major star to take charge of the development of his brand identity: Andy Murray, hot on the heels of his long-awaited Wimbledon victory, briefed agency Aesop to deliver him a visual identity that would help take brand Murray one step beyond. What is interesting is that Murray, through his newly-formed management company, 77, has gone about this process without the help of his long-time sponsor, adidas. That’s not to say that there’s no collaboration or sharing of ideas, but the self-creation imagery based on player-owned IP keeps the moneyball firmly in Andy’s court.

Strictly speaking, sports stars have always been rightsholders of sorts – brands and companies buying into their image since the days of Brylcreem and Dennis Compton – only now they’re bringing more to the boardroom table that can be offered to a potential sponsor, retaining negotiation power and delivering rights beyond the typical use of player imagery, personal appearances and signed merchandise.

With this move, however, Bale and Murray have given themselves an additional hook – something else to carve up before they have to sell any more of their precious time. And, most importantly, they will own this IP wholesale – giving them ultimate control over who uses it and how. In the case of Gareth Bale, given Real Madrid’s predilection towards acquiring the image rights of their players, this additional piece of IP will have either improved the player’s transfer negotiation position, or offered him something to control and monetise, separate to the personal assets he gave up for his day job.

Having noticed the penchant amongst US sports stars for getting tattoos, Matt Siegler from management consultancy CEB took the view that this could be independently monetised. After hunting down the artists behind both LeBron James’ and Kobe Bryant’s signature tattoos, an exclusive – perpetual and worldwide – licence agreement to the designs’ use ‘got inked’ by Siegler and their creators.

Whether he honestly plans to legally enforce the exclusivity of this global licence, or simply to create a publicity stunt that might lead to a buy-out offer from one of the aforementioned superstars, the move has been enough to give the NFL Players Association the needle. The body has subsequently advised agents and players to ensure they receive a release from liability – or, ideally, obtain ownership of the copyright – from any tattoo artist they use, to adequately protect themselves, commercially-speaking, from the actions of enterprising/ unscrupulous (delete as you feel appropriate) individuals such as Siegler.

In the end, much of the value of copyrighting imagery, likenesses – even numbers, colours, shapes, sounds or smells – is in the power the individual has to inspire, which is almost exclusively down to their sporting performances. After all, is anyone going to pay over the odds for the body art of an average player? Without Jeremy Lin’s phenomenal performances for the Knicks, the legal wrangles that surrounded the term ‘Linsanity’ would have frankly seemed, well, ‘Linsane’.

So what does this all mean to sponsors?

With more and more professional athletes acknowledging the power of their image, and the value this has to others – from branding to body-art – sponsors are likely to see a shift in their relationship with ambassadors. Whilst the additional opportunities to leverage athlete-owned IP such as the ‘Eleven of Hearts’ will mean alternative ambassadorial access points for both brands and consumers, it’s likely to come at a price. A greater appreciation of their true position as a rightsholder will lead to more sophisticated ‘brand-building’ by athletes themselves, which may see individuals become a more attractive proposition for sponsors than the very teams they play for.

Usain Bolt doesn’t just pull off the posturing because he’s a confident man – it’s because he’s the best in the world. To capture the imagination of consumers and fans, you need to walk the walk – or run it at record speed, in Bolt’s case. With athlete careers short enough already, and only so many places to go round in management, punditry, media or modelling, the democratisation of design has the potential to extend the earning ability of the brightest and best, but only if they continue to do the business on the field of play.

 

Jon’s blog comes from Synergy’s Now, New & Next sponsorship outlook for 2014, which can be viewed in full here.

By on April 14th, 2014

Tags: Advertising, Andy Murray, Art & Design, Brand marketing, Celebrity, Creative, David Beckham, Default, NFL, Sponsorship

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Has the April Fool had its Day?

Christmas Day. Your birthday. April Fools’ Day. If you work in PR, these might just be the three most exciting days of the year, and thousands of creative marketers will have spent the night struggling to sleep in anticipation of waking up to a maelstrom of Fools stories to critique.

Make no mistake, no longer simply a day of whimsy, April Fools has become a major moment in the annual marketing calendar, with social media channels now allowing for instant shareability, and dozens of industry blogs and Twitter users taking pride in becoming the first to identify or analyse the content.

It’s all a far cry from the first ever recorded April Fool, when the Tower of London released a notice inviting the public to view the annual “Washing of the Lions” ceremony.

By 9am this morning, I’d been hit by more than 30 brand April Fools, on my Twitter feed alone. There can be no doubt that the ability to self-publish through owned channels such as Twitter and Facebook means that more and more brands are getting involved, with the likes of Virgin Atlantic, Domino’s and MINI all joining the fun today.

In fact, owned channel publishing seems to have become by far the most common way to land the humble April Fool, with considerably fewer instances of brand-led stories appearing in truly free editorial media.

But is this a good thing? And how can brands ensure their stories genuinely stands out from the crowd? For us, there are two key factors:

The first is credibility, and how clients can use their own channels and assets to truly build out the story in conjunction with third party endorsement, best exemplified by bringing an editorial media partner on board.

Secondly, it’s incredibly important to carefully tread the line between fact and fiction. Retain an element of plausibility and you stand a chance of hoodwinking even the most cynical consumer. Go too far the other way, and nobody will even entertain your story as a possibility. Online betting company Betfair erred on the side of the unbelievable today, with this announcement on the trial of robotic referees at football matches.

At Synergy, we remain a firm believer that a great idea, well executed, can still be played out to genuinely land a brilliant brand story. And sponsorship can be an incredibly powerful platform as the basis of an April Fool.

Handily for us, Capital One’s sponsorship of The Football League handed us a great opportunity. The premise was simple, with Plymouth Argyle FC players struggling to pick out their teammates due to a colour clash between the pitch and their green playing shirts, the credit card company stepped in to help by agreeing to spray their pitch orange. The Sun newspaper interviewed staff from Plymouth Argyle, and the club and The Football League announced the story on their own channels to further add credibility to the event.

Leveraging the relationships with media and key stakeholders, as well as maximising sponsorship assets, all helped to build a richer narrative to the April Fool and give Capital One a great voice today.

There were several other examples of stories that caught our eye, with a number of media outlets running their own April Fools. The Mail Online revealed that England’s kit sponsor, Nike, are producing a special edition Brazilian yellow shirt for England to wear at the World Cup, in homage to the host nation. And the Metro website got into the act by claiming Zenit St Petersburg are set to purchase Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil - and switch their kit colour to Real Madrid white in an attempt to bring the best out of their new signing – a story that perhaps feels more plausible to Gunners fans than should be comfortable.

You can’t please everyone all of the time, however, and drinks brand Tango represented those consumers fatigued of the April Fool showers, with their #BOREDOFAPRILFOOLS hashtag and satirical content a nod to those who miss the mark on execution.

Amongst the chaos of the day, however, there is the unlikely risk of a brand unwittingly being caught in the crosshairs of the April Fool. Perhaps this morning wasn’t the best moment for @adidasUK to retweet the link to their newest product innovation, a climate-controlled piece of sportswear endorsed by David Beckham. Research shows this is not, in fact, an April Fool, but many consumers will have been forgiven the double-take!

It might be becoming more of a scramble than ever to be recognised, but the opportunity certainly remains for brands to use April Fools’ Day to create genuine cut-through on this silliest of days.

By on April 1st, 2014

Tags: Blogging, Brand marketing, Branded content, Brazil 2014, Celebrity, Communications, Content, Creative, David Beckham, Default, Digital marketing, PR, Public relations, Sponsorship, Sport, Synergy, Viral Marketing, World Cup

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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.

THE POWER AND PASSION OF SPORT USED FOR SOCIAL GOOD

“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.

#NoNameMatch

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.

 

EXPERIENTIAL IDEAS THAT WENT WAY BEYOND THE EXPERIENCE THEMSELVES

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.

 

THE REACTIVE CONTENT MARKETING WINNERS

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.

zippo

 

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.

 

PR STUNTS THAT PUNCHED WELL ABOVE THEIR WEIGHT

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.

 

CONTENT THAT WAS KING

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.

 

DIGITAL THAT DELIVERED

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.

 

A COUPLE OF OTHER THINGS THAT DESERVE A MENTION…

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.

#ThankYouSachin

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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Major League Success

The global football landscape may just be about to change.

A decade ago, Major League Soccer found itself on the brink of oblivion with dwindling attendances and just 10 teams nationwide. Fast forward to 2013 and it is a very different picture.  A poll by ESPN in 2012 showed that more than a third of Americans described themselves as fans of MLS, an increase of 24% in just five years and a 33% rise since 2002. Attendances also continue to grow at a steady rate, with the Seattle Sounders recently posting record attendance figures of 44,038 per game.

To put that into context, that’s higher than 15 of the 20 Premier League clubs – including Chelsea – and higher than any team in Major League Baseball (save for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who averaged 46,216).

The quality of the league has always been a criticism leveled at MLS – and not without reason. There is no doubt that it has improved dramatically, but two recent announcements may finally establish the league as a global property and see football truly living up to its billing as ‘the global game’. Although none of this will happen overnight, in time it could present sponsors with a platform from which to deliver fully-integrated campaigns across both North America and Europe – not to mention Central and South America.

A clause in David Beckham’s MLS contract gives him the option to pay $25 million to start an expansion franchise upon retirement. Miami has been identified as the likely city and LeBron James – one of the country’s most high profile athletes – is reported to be a major investor. Elsewhere, Manchester City, in partnership with the New York Yankees, have announced the acquisition of the MLS’ 20th franchise - New York City Football Club.

Add to these NBC’s deal to show Premier League games – worth a reported $250m (£157m) over the next three seasons – and the scale of football’s potential in the United States begins to become clear.

 

There is no doubt that Beckham, LeBron and the owners of both Manchester City and the Yankees have the financial clout to attract high-profile players, but they must be careful not to fall into the trap of the leagues in China and Australia (and to an extent the MLS itself), where ageing superstars of the world game see one last payday.

If the league is to be taken seriously by fans and sponsors alike, there needs to be a change of strategy in the acquisition of players. It is likely that Manchester City will pave the way for their youngest stars to be loaned to New York, and, as the quality of the league improves, others in the Premier League may follow, seeing it as another way into the lucrative US market. But, I believe the biggest opportunity, both from a league quality and commercial perspective lies in Central and South America – particularly Brazil.

At present, many of South America’s brightest stars make their way to super-rich clubs of Russia and Eastern Europe before securing a transfer to one of the major European teams. The MLS must seek to position itself as a viable alternative for the brightest young talents.

A South American star making their name in the US could be a valuable asset for the league. Whilst the FIFA World Cup in 2014 may come too soon, the emerging economy of Brazil, in particular, could unlock big brand investment into the United States – helping to accelerate what is already a meteoric rise is the popularity of ‘soccer’ in the US and launch it as a truly global property.

Maybe only now are the building blocks in place for the US to take its seat at football’s top table – an open goal for sponsors in the United States and beyond.

By on November 21st, 2013

Tags: Barclays Premier League, Brazil, Brazil 2014, Celebrity, David Beckham, Football, Football Sponsorship, Sponsorship, Sponsorship consultancy, Sport, Synergy, World Cup

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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… the new adidas all in campaign

What happened?

adidas launched what its calling its ‘largest ever brand marketing campaign’ and the first to feature adidas Sport Performance, adidas Originals and adidas Sport Style sub-brands together.

By using a number of their most popular personalities from across sports and culture adidas has created an impressive campaign which leads off with this ad featuring David Beckham, Lionel Messi, Katy Perry, basketball player Derrick Rose, gymnast Louis Smith, the All Blacks, musician B.o.B and top skateboarders including Silas Baxter-Neal.   The spot aims to promote the idea that when you love your game, whatever that game may be, you put your all into it.

On top of this they have delivered an integrated campaign using ground breaking 3D projection mapping at the launch and including different TV and online versions of the film.

adidas have used their YouTube channel and Facebook page to seed engaging digital content including some individual films of their ambassadors including Messi and the musician B.o.B.  The video was seeded on Messi’s new Facebook page which launched on 7th April and achieved a remarkable 7 million likes in 7 hours.  On their campaign website www.adidas.com/areyouin fans of football, skating and music can win prizes and in the US win the chance to feature in their next version of the ad to air during the MTV Movie Awards.

Why we like it?

Rather than a sport specific campaign that we often see from brands such as adidas they have utilised so many of their assets in this campaign and across a wide spectrum of sports and culture from football to skateboarding to Russell Brand‘s missus.  The campaign therefore appeals to a huge audience across many different markets.  By using the impressive 3D projection at launch and using their various digital channels adidas are showing they are at the forefront of technology, are maximising their assets and are taking their (obviously pricey) ATL campaign many steps further.

What the brand says:

From the campaign press release:

The brand’s largest marketing campaign in history showcases adidas’ distinctive presence across different cultures and lifestyles fusing the world of sports, music and fashion and is the first time the company features adidas Sport Performance, adidas Originals and adidas Sport Style sub-brands in a single campaign.

“Today’s consumers are not one-dimensional,” said Patrik Nilsson, president of adidas America.  “They live across the cultural spectrum and that’s where adidas has its edge.  The adidas brand extends beyond sports and ‘all adidas’ celebrates this breadth of passion from athletes, musicians, artists and beyond.  The new campaign allows us to create stronger, truer connections with the consumer by encouraging and celebrating a mix of interests and passions central to their lives.”

By on April 8th, 2011

Tags: Advertising, Branded content, Content, David Beckham, Digital marketing, Football, Music, Rugby, Social Media, Synergy Loves, Synopsis, Tennis, YouTube

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FIBA gives British Basketball a shot

I for one was pleased to see the recent news that FIBA has given the British Basketball Team the chance to represent Team GB at the Games in 2012 – a result that sees Team GB represented in all sports at  London 2012. This also means that  Britain will field a basketball team at London 2012 for the first time since last hosting the Games in 1948.

By allowing Team GB to compete, FIBA has given British Basketball another platform from which to shout about their brilliant sport. A sport that has the potential to be huge in this country.

GB's NBA star - Luol Deng

Basketball in Britain has struggled to grab the attention of young men and women on a mass scale like Football does, but in recent years, the tables seem to be turning and there is an ever increasing interest in the sport as a whole. Andy Hunt, chief executive of the British Olympic Association rightly pointed out that ‘FIBA’s decision is recognition for years of hard work British Basketball have put in on and off the court’.

Interest in the sport has undoubtedly been fuelled by images of David Beckham and his boys courtside at the LA Lakers. For others, it might be down to hit US TV shows like One Tree Hill. But one of the biggest factors has to be the introduction of the NBA Europe Live at the O2.

David Beckham attends Lakers game with sons

For those unfamiliar with the NBA’s foray to British shores, they made basketball history when the first-ever regular-season games were held in Europe, between the New Jersey Nets and Toronto Raptors at The O2 in London this year.

It was quite a spectacle and a great advert for the game in the UK and now, with the news that FIBA have allowed Team GB a place in 2012, British Basketball has another reason to shout about its beloved game.

NBA at the O2

I will certainly be looking to get some tickets in the Olympic ticket ballot and why don’t you?

(If you’re not into Basketball, maybe this will change your mind! Check out the Toronto Raptors mascot in action, below…)

By on March 15th, 2011

Tags: Athletics, BBC, Blogging, BOA, David Beckham, Default, London 2012 sponsorship, Sport, Team GB, YouTube

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Betfair Penalty Champions – Manchester United v FC Barcelona

This season Synergy was tasked to create a half time activity campaign using Betfair’s two football assets Manchester United and FC Barcelona.  With two of the world’s most famous clubs it surely wasn’t going to be hard to create an ultimate sporting experience…

In September every £10 football bet placed on Betfair offered their customers the chance to be entered into the Betfair Penalty Champions competition. Through Betfair’s sponsorship of Manchester United and FC Barcelona, customers who were entered would have the chance to walk onto the pitch at half time at both Old Trafford and the Camp Nou and take a penalty representing their team.

October saw ten Manchester United fans and ten FC Barcelona fans headed to their clubs’ training grounds for a training day with club coaches and ex-players, followed by the filming of their very own penalty. For MU fans it was Carrington with Dennis Irwin and Andrew Cole and for Barca fans it was at Joan Gamper with Roberto Bonano.

With all twenty penalties posted online for the public vote, it was not long before two teams would be announced and preparing  for the first leg at Old Trafford, before heading to the Camp Nou for the second leg. The winners – with over 87,755 votes between them – were Darrin Crawford, Brendan Doherty and David Snell (representing MU) and Israel Sanchez, Eduardo Rubio and Jordi Vila representing Barca.

December bought both snow and Manchester United v Arsenal at Old Trafford. With all winners finally making it to Old Trafford despite some snow-diverted flights at half time our six winners and their glamorous escorts (Caroline me in beautiful yellow Betfair Jackets, below) stepped out onto the hallowed turf at Old Trafford. As if stepping out in front of approximately 80,000 fans wasn’t daunting enough, the Chilean Miners and the one and only David Beckham had also decided to make an appearance at the match!



The crowd immediately got behind their Red Devils, encouraging the MU boys to an early 3-1 lead over the Barca team, leaving MU with what should have been an easy win at the Camp Nou…or maybe not…

After the Christmas break it was time for Betfair’s six winners (oh, and me again) to start the New Year in style by flying to Barcelona and following in the footsteps of some of today’s greatest players, Messi, Iniesta and Villa, by walking onto the pitch at the Camp Nou at half time of Barcelona v Malaga. With a change in the MU team with Brendan Doherty having to pull out of the competition to attend the birth of his first child…it was up to fourth place Steve Wright to take his place!

With a 3-1 lead it should have been an easy victory for the MU team, however, now it was the turn of a 100,000 Barca fans to get behind their team and it would seem the pressure proved too much for some of the MU team with replacement Steve Wright blazing it over the top of the goal post and goal keeper Roberto Bonano easily saving David Snell’s penalty. However, with the Barca fans behind them the Barca team struck some great penalties and bough the score back to 3-3, leaving Darrin Crawford to secure MU’s victory! Unfortunately for Barca and their fans the MU win was never in doubt as Darrin struck his penalty with total confidence bang into the bottom left hand corner of the goal as he had at Old Trafford securing a 4-3 victory for Manchester United at the Camp Nou!!

So there you have it a 4-3 victory for Manchester United over FC Barcelona! I wonder would Manchester United be victorious against FC Barcelona should fate draw them together in this year’s Champions League…?

By on January 28th, 2011

Tags: Betfair, Brand marketing, David Beckham, Event management service, Experiential marketing, Facebook, Football, Football Sponsorship, Manchester United, Sponsorship, Sponsorship consultancy, Sport, Synergy, UEFA Champions League

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What’s The Greatest Sports Marketing Innovation? New: Professor Simon Chadwick on why it’s Red Bull Sport – and why big often starts small

If you ask industry experts or observers of sport to identify the greatest ever sport marketing innovation, it is reasonable to assume the resultant list would consist of the usual suspects: probably something executed by Red Bull, Nike, or Real Madrid; or perhaps one of the many Mark McCormack-inspired sport marketing initiatives. Such innovations are often iconic, era-defining, sometimes signifying major paradigm shifts in sport marketing thought or practice.

For me, Red Bull is my personal favourite sports marketing innovation; the brand is a phenomenon that has changed the landscape of sport. From its X-Fighters, to Travis Pastrana jumping Long Beach Harbour in a Subaru, to the company’s Flugtag air racing series, the brand has become the sport, and the sport has become the brand. What started out with an Austrian guy buying the right to manufacture a drink that already existed (a natural drink from Thailand that was thought to have stamina-enhancing properties) has become a sporting empire that either defines the sports in which it is present, or else successfully competes in sports where other brands also have a presence. In either case, Red Bull has popularised or developed sports that meet the needs of a rapidly changing marketplace, but it has also brought a sense of excitement and daring to other sports in which it is involved.

Yet profound sport marketing innovations are not necessarily the most obvious, big, bold, global, Red Bull-type statements that touch all of us in some way. Rather, they are sometimes small, subtle changes that affect how sport is staged and played, how it is consumed, and whether it is a success. Alternatively, they are the result of close alliances between different sporting stakeholders that somehow affect peoples’ lives or behaviour: no less significant than Galacticos-era Real Madrid, and with effects equally as ground-breaking as Nike’s Air Jordans.

In this context, it is worthwhile differentiating between sport marketing and marketing through sport. At the heart of sport marketing is what economists call ‘the uncertainty of outcome hypothesis’. In other words, the core product in sport and what gives that product its strength is unpredictability: not knowing who will win a competitive contest between the individuals or teams involved. As such, any development that has promoted uncertainty has to be deemed as being a sport marketing innovation, whether it is a small amendment to the rules, a change in competition format, or the restructuring of a league. Within these parameters, the introduction of the Indian Premier League and the 1992 restructuring of the UEFA Champions League both merit being labelled as major sport marketing innovations in the way they changed the nature of the product and competition. So too, the rule changes that truncated Michael Schumacher’s dominance of Formula 1; at a time when the sport’s popularity was dwindling rapidly, changes to key regulations re-introduced a sense of competitive balance into the sport which in turn boosted its commercial attractiveness and its appeal amongst fans, while strengthening the core product.

The way in which marketing through sport also leads to innovation has resulted in some unheralded but very important developments. In 1977, Jean-Pierre Jabouille competitively drove a spluttering Renault F1 car for the first time in the British Grand Prix. This was the first ever F1 race for a car powered by a turbo engine; thirty years later and the use of turbo engines in road cars is now widespread. In this case, the innovativeness has come in terms of technological advancement, diffusion of knowledge, product development and enhanced vehicle performance. Such developments are evident too in yacht racing; a decade or so ago, Ericsson used sponsorship of the sport to trial, develop and promote its new GPS technology. Meanwhile Marlboro, through a 25-year association with the McLaren F1 team, reinforced its macho brand image through a relationship that was described as the equivalent of a royal divorce when it ended. Hawaiian Tropic has often used promotional give-aways, handing out sun-tan lotion, towels and hats to NFL fans at games held in the sun, enabling product sampling and building consumer goodwill. And the advent of giant video screens has helped transform the atmosphere in stadiums across the world by providing a better viewing experience, delivering high quality information, and promoting new forms of camaraderie amongst fans. Not to say the new opportunities it has provided to advertisers. The lists of such ‘small’ things that have gone on to become big, even if we have not always noticed them, have clearly been immense in several cases.

When I witnessed a move involving Roberto Carlos, David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane, playing in a game at the Bernabeu, it was something that will live with me for a long time: sport marketing innovation at its height, my very own Galactico experience, one which was immensely pleasurable. Yet whenever I take my turbo-diesel powered car on a long journey down the motorway, it is hard to believe that a French sports-car driver tagging along at the back of an F1 field is having just as important an impact on my daily life. Sport marketing innovation does indeed come in many forms, often starting small and ending up becoming something big.

Professor Simon Chadwick is Chair in Sport Business Strategy & Marketing and Director of the Centre for the International Business of Sport (CIBS) at Coventry University Business School. Follow him on Twitter: @Prof_Chadwick

By on November 12th, 2010

Tags: David Beckham, Default, Football Sponsorship, Formula 1, Indian Premier League, New Product Development, Sponsorship, Synergy, UEFA Champions League

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When Tony Blair asked Sir Alex Ferguson if he should sack Gordon Brown

Just occasionally I write about politics and football, and so it is that today I bring you a fascinating section in Tony Blair’s new memoir where he discusses agonising over whether or not to sack Gordon Brown and he recounts a conversation – actually, the implication is repeated conversations – with Sir Alex Ferguson:

…there is a crucial difference between political management and running, say, a company or a football team. A conversation I used to have with Alex Ferguson pinpointed this. ‘What would you do if you had a really difficult but brilliant player causing you problems?’ I would ask. ‘Get rid of them’ he would reply. ‘And supposing after you got rid of them they were still in the dressing room, and in the squad?’ I would say. ‘That would be a different matter’ he would reply, laughing.

Now I know some of you may already be reaching for a large pinch of salt given the former PM’s previous unhappy brush with footballing (not to say other) recollections. It’s passed into urban mythology, of course, that Blair lied about having watched Jackie Milburn at St James’ Park, but let’s put the salt back (on this one at least) because he was subsequently proved to have been misquoted.

Blair’s conclusion, of course, was that football and politics are different, and that it was better to keep Brown in the team rather than sacking him. And we all know what happened next: resignations, and relegation.

I can’t help but wonder what Sir Alex would have done if he’d been in Blair’s position.

I’m betting he’d have sacked Brown, let him stew in the reserves (ie back benches) and arranged for a transfer to the SNP.

Ask David Beckham, Jaap Stam, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Andrei Kanchelskis, Paul Ince, Gordon Strachan and Mark Hughes – to name a few.

Tony Blair’s memoir, ‘A Journey’, is published by Hutchinson.

By on September 2nd, 2010

Tags: David Beckham, Football, Manchester United, Politics

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