As another year comes to an end, now seems a suitable time to reflect on a whirlwind 12 months for Synergy.
Here we outline some of our most innovative work in 2014, what the wider implications are for the industry, and what other campaigns have caught our eye and set the benchmark for what will undoubtedly be another busy and exciting year:
What we did:
2014 kicked off slightly early for some of the team at Synergy, who were at Twickenham activating IGâs inaugural sponsorship of The Big Game. Through the âBig Game, Bright Lightsâ campaign, we looked to capitalise on the down-time that half-time offers and re-invigorate the crowd for the second half. By innovatively using Twickenhamâs LED inventory, fans experienced an audio-visual spectacular that connected IGâs brand with Harlequins and gave fans the chance to win some amazing prizes.
Half-time at sports games have often felt like a necessary evil for sports fans in the UK; a short break to allow the players to recover and fans to visit the facilities. The Pepsi Half-time show at the SuperBowl in February emphasised that US sport is still the benchmark for half-time entertainment, but IGâs work at Twickenham showed that, with a clear insight and innovative use of standard sponsorship inventory, the half-time break may no longer simply be used as an excuse to get the drinks in.
What we did:
The RBS 6 Nations tends to dominate the sporting agenda in February, and is often when Synergy is at its most active. As part of the RBS 6 Nations activation, Synergy helped to produce a series of films based on defining moments fromÂ the tournament. These films truly encapsulated the values of sportsmanship, perseverance and teamwork that the brand and the fans love about The Championship.
Capturing sport’s inherent ‘truths’Â like this, and amplifying them to produceÂ content of interest, based on real insight, is a gift that fans want to receive. Guinness also managed this feat, withÂ their filmsÂ in honour of Jonny Wilkinson, Shane Williams and Bill McLaren, whilst Barclaysâs impressively movingÂ Premier League filmÂ captured the essence of the match day experience that makes football so special for fans, and so valued by brands.
What we did:
The Capital One Cup Final in March saw the climax of Capital Oneâs season-long campaign focused onÂ âsupporting the supportersâ. As part of the Final activity, Capital One looked to maximise the audience of the final by offering free Now TV passes to those not lucky enough to have access to Sky Sports. This was a big gesture that delivered true value to football fans, who would otherwise have missed the first final of the 2013/14 season.
Extending the true excitement of an event beyond those lucky enough to attend is a challenge facingÂ a number of brands and rightsholders. However, alongside Capital One’s work, there have been a number of other examples in 2014 of brands bringing events closer to non-ticket-holders. Two that we particularly enjoyed were The National Theatre’s continued commitment to itsÂ National Theatre LiveÂ programme, which involves live screenings of theatre shows at local cinemas, and Manchester Unitedâs partnership with Google+ that allowed fans around the world to âbeâ at Old Trafford by appearing live on the pitch-side perimeter boards.
What we did:
In order to kick off MasterCardâs partnership with Rugby World Cup 2015, Synergy created a photo moment on the Thames involving All Blacks legend Dan Carter kicking conversions overÂ Tower Bridge. As emphasised on the Synergy blog, a good photo idea has to be reinforced with insight and good management in order to be successful. Both of these boxes were emphatically ticked here, with the resultant images capturing the imagination of the national mediaÂ and providing one of the most compellingÂ sports PR shots in recent memory.
Other striking PR shots thatÂ grabbedÂ our attention this year included the Yorkshire Building Society dying 150 sheep yellow in honour of the Tour de France and Puma’s water projection on The Thames to launch the new Arsenal kit. Once again, these examples looked fresh and innovative and therefore excited the media and fans alike.
What we did:
BUPAâs âMy First Stepâ campaign looked to get more people running by emphasising the ease withÂ which people could start, or re-start, training. As part of the planning, BUPA and Synergy found that 60% of UK adults believed that their bodies would not be up to running once they reached 60, a myth BUPA looked to dispel as part of the campaign. 63 year-old non-runner Jennie Bond was recruited as an ambassador, as we followed her training journey that culminated in her completing the BUPA London 10,000 event.
Consumer insight is clearly crucial for a successful sponsorship campaign, with the best examples based on thorough planning. Whilst the success of the âMy First Stepâ campaign was built on a relevant and robust consumer insight, we make no excuses for including another piece of Synergy work from 2014 that emphasised the importance of understanding aÂ target audience. Ahead ofÂ Round 4 of the Capital One Cup, Capital One gave Brian Clough-style green jumpers to Nottingham Forestâs away fans at Tottenham as a tribute to their legendary manager. The story and images received widespread acclaim and, whilst the execution was impressive, the success of the story was thanks to the teamâs insight around the 10th anniversary of Cloughâs death and his unforgettableÂ statusÂ within the game.
What we did:
June at Synergy signalled the launch of Coca-Colaâs ParkLives project. Following many months of in-depth planning and research, the aim of getting more people more active more often was brought to life through this bespoke programme in partnership with local councils, which providesÂ free activity classes for local people in local parks in cities across the UK.
The planning for the ParkLives campaign re-iteratedÂ that self-created programmes can often be the best way for brands to achieve their CSR goals, rather than simply buying an off-the-shelf proposition. Another great example of this in 2014 was Western Union’s âPassâ programme around the brand’s UEFA Europa League sponsorship. Each successful pass made during the competition signified a contribution of financial support for quality education of young people around the world.
What we did:
The SSE team at Synergy were up in GlasgowÂ at the 2014 Commonwealth Games for the culmination of the brand’sÂ GoGlasgow campaign. One of our many roles up in Scotland was managing SSEâs experiential activity on Glasgow Green, which allowed fans to capture a unique photo of themselves supporting their nation. Importantly this activity linked seamlessly into SSEâs wider campaign and fed into a digital leaderboard that acted as a real-time tracker on the conversations around the Games.
Whilst by no means a new trend, by linking the experiential activity to the wider campaign and creating a strong digital output, the reach of SSEâs footprintÂ went far beyond those lucky people atÂ the Glasgow Green live site, and therefore generated significant engagement levels. Another really simple idea that we loved from this year was NescafĂ©âs activity in Croatia that again blended the online and offline world simply and effectively to create a fun and shareable experience.
What we did:
A couple of crazy days in late August saw Synergy manage the media launches for both the GuinnessÂ Pro 12 and Aviva Premiership 2014/15 rugby seasons, and give journalists, staff and fans unique access to two of the biggest club rugby competitions in Europe. The GuinnessÂ launch focused onÂ staff engagementÂ at Diageoâs global HQ in London,Â which gaveÂ employees the chance to quiz the Pro 12 captains; whilst Avivaâs event at Twickenham harnessed the Twitter reach of several of the playersÂ by creating the first ever ‘Captains selfie’ which provided fans with a fun, new viewpoint of the launch.
One of the obvious benefits of sponsorship as a marketing tool is the ability for a brand to give their target audience behind-the-scenes access to something about which they care passionately. Whilst not specifically a launch, The FAâs use of the trophy to promote the sense of adventure around the upcoming third round of The FA Cup is a heart-warming example of a rightsholder giving fans unique access to something special (in this case, young fans beingÂ able to take the trophy on a series of their own adventures).
Â What we did:
2014 has been a massive year for Martini and Synergy, as we have helped take the iconic stripes back to the Formula 1 grid through the title partnership of Williams Martini Racing. In September, at Martiniâs home race at Monza, a massive pan-European trade promotion reached its climax, with consumers and trade partners having the chance to experienceÂ an exclusive Italian weekend. This included rooftop parties, power boating on Lake Como and, of course, access to the Italian Grand Prix itself, and Synergy were on-hand to ensure this massive operation ran smoothly.
Global sponsorships donât get much bigger that a Formula 1 car deal, and Martini have used their sponsorshipÂ effectively to create unique promotions that engage with their target audiences. We also loved Coca-Cola’s huge FIFA World Cup on-pack promotionÂ â offering consumersÂ the chance to win one of aÂ million footballs. For a brand that is committed to helping people get more active, this was a bold statement of intent. The additional element of a 10p donation to StreetGamesÂ for every purchase showed a brand that isÂ embracingÂ the Social EraÂ and also reiterated thatÂ sponsorship, shopper marketing and CSR can work brilliantly together when applied correctly.
Â What we did:
October was all about The 2014 Ryder Cup, and the BMW and SLI teams at Synergy used their sponsorships in very different ways to achieve their objectives. BMW focused on generating sales leads and bringing fans closer to the action, with all activity centring on the #DriveYourTeam hashtag, whilst SLI used the tournament to demonstrate their ‘World Class As Standard ‘proposition. Two unique content strategies helped to achieve these objectives, with BMW focusing on using Twitter to create relevant and reactive golf content for fans and SLI creating long-form video content with ambassadors Sam Torrance and Curtis Strange to connect the World Class attributes of The Ryder Cup with Standard Life Investments.
As we all know, a single sporting platform can be approached in very different ways, and a third brand (this time a non-sponsor) who once again used The Ryder Cup as a prime PR opportunity was Paddy Power, and we loved their approach, using a tongue-in-cheek appearance from Nigel Farage to extol the virtues of Europe coming together.
What we did:
The QBEÂ Internationals are always a busy time inÂ Synergyâs calendar and this year we were busy creating fantastic social content for our new client, and England kit manufacturer, Canterbury. Using Canterburyâs innovative new shirt fabric as our literal canvas and creating messaging that linked the product with the team, we were able to put an innovative spin on real-time messagingÂ and put the shirt at the heart of Canterburyâs content.
As the fan appetite for real-time content continues to grow, the evolving challenge for brands is how to get serious cut-through from their communications. We therefore also liked Virgin Mediaâs real-time newsroom during the Commonwealth Games, which created fun, amusing and – most importantly – differentiated sponsor content throughout the Games.
What we did:
December has seen another milestone reached for Synergy, as the first instalment in a series of Royal Salute videos inspired by the world of horsemanship, reached over a million views on YouTube (across four geo-tagged edits for different markets). This visually stunning video beautifully encapsulates the bond between man and horse, and is perfectly in keeping with a luxury brand with a strong heritage in polo.
We have thought about some of the other content we have enjoyed in 2014 and in no particular order, three of our favourites include:
Beats By Dre â The Game Before The Game
The ultimate ambusher pulled off a masterstroke – brilliantly framing the key moment before a game (the moment when Beats headphones have an obvious and key role for the players) with a little help from among others – Neymar (and his dad), Fabregas, Van Persie, Lebron, Serena and even the two stars of the World Cup final – Schweinsteiger and Gotze. The presence of the pantomimeÂ villain Suarez didn’t even detract from it!
Nike Football â The Last Game
We loved how Nike brought out the personalities of their superstars and used animation in a fresh and interesting way, Â helping them to get around the obvious problems of bringing together a wealth of their talent for a shoot. The medium also opened the door brilliantly to the unique #AskZlatan real-time content series.
A very different video – and one that doesn’t rely on any talent costs or high production values – but in an incredibly focused, simple and beautiful wayÂ reinforces Always’ commitment to empowering girls globally.
What do all of these videos have in common? All four of them are (in very different ways) tapping into something of genuine interest and relevance – whether a moment or a movement – and therefore people in their millions have actively chosen to watch, talk about and share them.
For Synergy, 2014 has unquestionably been a year to savour in sponsorship â hereâs to another great year for the industry in 2015.
By Synergy on December 16th, 2014
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