Archive for the ‘Social Media’ category

Thinking digital – Three ways to elevate your event

The internet is a noisy place. We live in a digital world where it seems every company is busy waving their virtual arms and shouting at the top of their virtual voices to gain the desired click-through to a video view, product purchase or website experience. With this in mind, it is widely acknowledged that digital strategies need to be continually managed and innovatively optimised in order to stand out and be successful.

This puts the sports industry in a really interesting situation. Stadiums have always provided a controlled environment to leverage revenue from those lucky enough to have a ticket but technological developments have changed the game for brands in terms of engagement with the masses. Of course, photography and broadcast opens up access to a wider audience but in the online space, the opportunities for these events are even more numerous. These are lucrative opportunities, and brands (and rightsholders) need to be digitally savvy to take advantage. Below are three areas both rightsholders and sponsors should explore in order to deliver greater traction online:

(1) Wearable Technology has been a buzz word for many years. It is frequently packaged up as part of a PR stunt or used to measure player performance, but digital marketers have barely scratched the surface of how to use this creative territory to promote an event. One event sponsor that has exhibited how effective this can be was BT for the BT World Wheelchair Rugby Challenge. Working with the telecoms giant, Synergy delivered an activation based on the aspect of the sport that most excites both new and experienced fans, the big hits. This involved creating a number of small ‘smashmeter’ devices that, when placed on the players’ wheelchairs, recorded the level of g-force created by a tackle. We then paired that information with the broadcast footage and published it on social media within a minute, creating 45 highly shareable pieces of video that maximised the screen second experience for those watching at home. This resulted in 1 million impressions and just shy of half a million views over the week of the event.


Most sports are in a position to deliver a wearable technology activation that truly adds something to the sport but few have been bold enough to do so in real-time.

(2) Virtual Reality is a consensual hallucination between the user and a device that creates an experience of being elsewhere. It is no secret that this works incredibly well for sport, from both the training aspect of decision-making and learning the play-book in American Football to putting a recruit through his or her paces. However, although it may be starting to establish itself as a reliable way to measure player performance, it has not yet been utilised well as a digital marketing activation. With the development of YouTube and Facebook 360 videos, this is likely to provide a real opportunity to optimise an event online but it is far removed from virtual/ augmented reality. Time will tell who the digitally progressive rightsholders are that allow virtual/ augmented reality to be easily accessible.


(3) Real-time replays – the antiquated intricacies of certain broadcast rights have been brought into question recently due to the development of technology that allows TV coverage to be captured and published on social media instantly. BT, through the @BTWWRC15 channel, showed how effective this could be, following in the footsteps of Wimbledon and other digitally progressive events. However, there is an issue. Unless it is published through the official event channel, it is currently tricky to execute for a sponsor as there is a belief amongst broadcasters that this type of content diminishes the TV audience. The increasingly valid counter-argument is that this type of content will do the opposite, by actually increasing interest and enhancing the experience.

These are just three of the creative territories that are ripe for exploration by brands and rightholders if they wish to stay relevant online. The question remains however around how progressive broadcasters and rightsholders are willing to be to allow digital offerings to be elevated above the white noise.

By on October 27th, 2015

Tags: Broadcast sponsorship, Content marketing strategy, Digital marketing, Digital sponsorship consultants, Digital sponsorship strategy, Real Time Marketing, Rightsholders, Social Media, Social media sponsorship strategy, Sponsorship, Synergy

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The Six Biggest Marketing Talking-Points Of The 2015 Rugby World Cup

Rugby-World-Cup-Trophy-017 (1)

1. Home Runs Matter. Whichever team lifts the Rugby World Cup trophy at Twickenham as night falls on October 31, the 2015 tournament is already guaranteed to be a commercial success. But, as with any world sporting event, it will be the host nation’s performance rather than the balance sheet that most determines the tournament’s zeitgeist. An England run to the final stages will, as it did during the 1991 and 2003 tournaments, electrify the country — especially if the other home nations also do well. And some of the tournament’s biggest stakeholders have a lot riding on an England run…

itv rugby world cup

2. ITV’s ABC1 Problem. ITV’s share of upmarket viewers has fallen 7% this year, so the Rugby World Cup — to which ITV has held exclusive UK rights since 1991 — is now crucial to the broadcaster turning that tide and winning back the prized ABC1 demographic. And with ITV now also having rights to the RBS 6 Nations from next year — including all of England’s home games — the broadcaster will be praying for a great tournament and, above all, a major England performance.

3. A Second Shot At Legacy. Under-prepared for England’s 2003 Rugby World Cup win, the RFU missed a huge opportunity to leverage the potential legacy benefits, especially at grassroots level. RWC 2015 is very different: priming the legacy was hard-wired into the RFU’s World Cup plan from the outset. Only time will tell how successful it is in recruiting a new generation of players and fans, but a great tournament and, above all, a strong England showing will be vital.

4. Big Eventers, Big Opportunity. In every participating country, the World Cup always grows rugby’s audience significantly beyond its normal base: in the UK, for example, it’s likely that as many as 10 million fans who don’t normally follow rugby — a group dubbed ‘Big Eventers’ — will connect with the tournament. For consumer brands running campaigns anywhere in the world during the RWC, engaging Big Eventers successfully will be a primary objective.

USA v New Zealand rugby union

Over 60,000 fans watched the USA Eagles take on New Zealand at Soldier Field in Chicago last November, a sign of rugby’s growing popularity in the US.

5. New World Order. Worldwide, rugby union is on a roll. Participation is booming, especially in new markets, where it is being turbo-charged by rugby sevens, which makes its debut at next year’s Rio Olympics. But this creates a problem, albeit a world-class problem, for World Rugby: how to ensure that the seven and fifteen-a-side formats complement rather than cannibalise each other. World Rugby’s Chairman Bernard Lapasset had some interesting things to say about this back in June, as did CEO Brett Gosper at our Rugby World Cup panel event in London last year.

6. So Just How Big Is Rugby? With all this talk of rugby’s growth, two features of this Rugby World Cup compared to New Zealand four years ago will conspire to reveal how big interest in rugby worldwide now really is: a more convenient time-zone for EMEA and the Americas (the US in particular is regularly cited as being rugby’s fastest-growing market); and the (inevitably) much-increased adoption of social media four years on. It will be fascinating, for example, to compare Twitter reaction to the RWC Opening Ceremony to the 2011 equivalent, which I wrote about at the time, and over the six weeks to see how far interest stretches beyond the 12% of the global population who have a team in the tournament.

Only time will tell.

By on September 17th, 2015

Tags: Broadcast sponsorship, Default, Rugby World Cup, Rugby World Cup 2015, Rugby World Cup Sponsorship, Rugby World Cup Sponsorship Consultants, Social Media, Social media sponsorship consultants, Social media sponsorship strategy, Sponsorship, Sponsorship Activation, Sponsorship consultants, Television, Television audiences, Twitter

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Moving Social Media Measurement in Sponsorship from Vanity to Value

Closing the Telegraph’s Business of Sport article on ‘The importance of social media in sport’, Synergy CEO Tim Crow says rightsholders “need to focus less on selling price and impressions and much more on delivering engagement and value”.

He’s right – value metrics are the future. And with more words set to be published on twitter in the next 2 years than in all books ever printed, the cost of getting social media measurement wrong – by using vanity metrics such as “likes” and “clicks” – is set to skyrocket. This blog aims to provide a quick guide to moving sponsorship towards better social media measurement.

social media channels

The majority of data points available in off-the-shelf analytics packages are what author of The Lean Startup, Eric Reis, calls Vanity Metrics – they might make you feel good, but don’t offer clear guidance on what actions to take. Put another way, they do not help make decisions on how to drive value. Since around 80% of companies use vanity metrics, it’s clear that sponsorship must move from vanity to value in social media ASAP.

“But how?” I hear you ask.

Social media is very different to other channels in terms of data accuracy, frequency and availability. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can offer a wealth of data on user actions to the very second at which they took place, and the rise of real-time is set to transform the way we estimate and track value beyond what I can imagine. That means a move to value metrics in social media will have to leverage some of the most advanced measurement tools and techniques out there today.

Future Dashboards

We can understand value creation through Social Media with a simple framework for understanding social media value:

Reach – the number of unique impressions (organic & paid) made on the audience. Put another way, it’s the number of people who actually see an ad pop up in their newsfeed on Facebook or Twitter, or the pinboard of Pinterest users.

Engagement – directly purchasing a promoted product or interacting with and sharing brand content. Fundamentally, it’s the people who “like”, “share”, or “comment” on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Advocacy – sentiment of the users who engage with the ad. In other words, the degree to which they are positive, neutral or negative towards the ad.

Purchase – the number of users who see the ad who, are converted to sale. In simple terms, it’s the people who have, one way or another, seen the ad and parted with their cash because of it.

Sales – Cost = Return on Investment (ROI)

Job done!

Or not, as it turns out. Analytics experts reading the above (I’m sure there are many…) will have noted the “simple” approach above is perhaps a bit too simple. Reach and Engagement are indeed hard to measure. There is, in fact, a relationship between impressions and interactions: the greater the Engagement level, the more users interact, the larger the resulting Reach. Put another way, albeit making an inference about causality, more engagement can drive more impressions – social media users who engage with and share brand ads are growing the number of people ‘impressed’.

Analysis has shown the correlation coefficient between impressions and engaged users to be +0.83

Transitioning to an approach like the one outlined above, and addressing the interaction across stages, would be represent a significant step forward for the sponsorship industry.

Learning from Social Media

While data frequency in more traditional channels such as live-event, TV or Radio broadcast may never reach the levels seen in social media – it does not need to – brands should push for the same level of data accuracy and availability. The key is to transform their respective vanity metrics, like branded mentions and views, into value metrics.

Further lessons lie in the dashboards and user-interfaces used to visualize social media metrics today. In an age of big-data, it is easy to get lost in a sea of information without getting to insight. Social media platforms like Facebook – and behind-the-scenes Facebook Insights – are a step ahead of other sponsorship channels in tracking user data pre-, during- and post-campaign. We must learn from them.

So what next?

With only 1% of companies currently being “socially native” – meaning (among other things) they have measurement to match business objectives – the sponsorship industry has a long way to go. But a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. I hope this blog will help the industry take it.


If you need a nudge or some guidance on social media measurement please do send me an email at and, if you haven’t already, take a look at how Synergy think about sponsorship value in our Synergy Decisions white paper here.

By on July 14th, 2015

Tags: Brand Engagement, Default, Digital marketing, Digital sponsorship consultants, Digital sponsorship strategy, Social Media, Social media sponsorship consultants, Social media sponsorship strategy, Sponsorship, Sponsorship asset valuation, Sponsorship consultants, Sponsorship effectiveness, Sponsorship measurement, Sponsorship valuation

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“F1 is clearly not evolving fast enough. The millennial generation has a completely different perspective on what it means to be a fan.”

Synergy CSO Carsten Thode talks to Paddock magazine about Martini, Millennials, Social Media and why F1 needs to move on from the 20th century sponsorship model. Click here for the article.

By on June 24th, 2015

Tags: Digital marketing, Digital sponsorship consultants, Digital sponsorship strategy, Formula 1, Formula 1 sponsorship, Formula 1 sponsorship consultants, Formula E, Formula E sponsorship consultants, Innovation, Press Clipping, Social Media, Social media sponsorship consultants, Social media sponsorship strategy, Sponsorship, Sponsorship Activation, Sponsorship consultants, Synergy

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Synergy Loves…The Changing Face of Women’s Sport

Here are a few arresting stats for you from Sport England:

- In the UK, 1.75m fewer women than men regularly play sport

- Commercial investment in women’s sport is 0.4% of the total investment in sport

- By age 14, just under 10% of girls achieve the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity per day

Disappointing, huh? Have a couple more:

- Since 2010, 12 nominees (out of 42) for BBC Sports Personality of the Year have been female. All winners have been male

- This season’s men’s FA Cup winners will secure £1.8m in prize money, while the team who lift the women’s Cup will net £5,000

So let’s not beat around the bush (ahem), it seems fair to say that women’s sport, both at an elite level and within general participation, still has a way to go to reach the same level of popularity and success as male sport. Within these two categories, there appear to be clear barriers:

  1. Barrier for general participation: Involvement – women don’t feel confident enough to get involved in sport, and are not aware of the opportunities available to them
  2. Barriers for professionals: Representation. Whether it be the level of TV coverage or the funding available, professional sportswomen seem to get the raw end of the deal in comparison to their male counterparts



These barriers are clearly significant but there is no disputing that the landscape is shifting, and at an increasingly rapid rate. Indeed, 2015 has proved to be a watershed year in the changing the face of women’s sport, and it’s about time!

So what’s changed? There have been numerous rule amendments, brand campaigns and incentives programmes, backed by professional bodies, which are excitingly changing perceptions in women’s sport. Below I have outlined a few of our favourite examples:

“This Girl Can”

A nationwide campaign across TV, outdoor media and print, launched by Sport England, featured REAL women sweating and jiggling to get women and girls moving, regardless of shape, size and ability.

The campaign is striking, using strong photography and film to articulate an important message and say to women that it doesn’t matter if you are big or small, tall or short, fit or unfit, everyone can and should get involved!


The campaign film has already had 13 million views online, with Sport England about to launch a second phase in the campaign off the back of its popularity.

As well as the impressive view numbers, another positive outcome that Sport England reported was the female community coming together online to support the campaign. Whilst the ads didn’t experience much internet trolling (depressing that this was potentially surprising), when they did, Sport England didn’t need to respond, because real women did it for them.

England Cricket Board

Following the success of the ‘This Girl Can’ campaign, the ECB is aligning with Sport England through a series of exciting opportunities and initiatives to help inspire and motivate more women and girls across the country to play cricket.

The ECB is encouraging cricket clubs up and down the country to be part of a nationwide push to inspire more women and girls to get into the game. By signing up, clubs will be able to access bespoke guidance documents and resources recommending new ways to attract women to the sport.

“Inspiring The Future” 

‘Inspiring Women’ is asking women who work in the sports sector to pledge one hour a year to go to a local school and chat to girls about what it is like to work in the industry.  They are looking for women working in all types of sport doing all kinds of jobs – including athletes, coaches, HR officers, physios, journalists and accountants.

Once again, many high-profile sporting organisations have already given their backing, including ‘Women in Sport’, the British Olympic Association, the FA and BT Sport, whose presenter Clare Balding is taking a leading role in the campaign:

FIFA 2016

In an exciting turn of events, EA Sports created positive headlines for FIFA (not many of them around currently) by announcing that it will be introducing female footballers into its video game series, beginning with the forthcoming FIFA 16 edition.

The game features 12 international all-female teams, 11 of whom will appear at next month’s World Cup finals.


The FA

At the start of ‘Women’s Sports Week’ and with the FIFA Women’s World Cup just days away, The FA has launched a month of free football sessions for girls and women.

From after school skills sessions for 5-11 year olds to coaching sessions for 12-17 year olds – not forgetting social football for adults – there is a way to get into football for women and girls of all ages.

The Boat Race

In 2015, for the first time in 88 years, the Women’s Boat Race was shown and staged for the first time on the course that has for so long been the sole preserve of the men.

Glamour Magazine – “Say No To Sexism In Sport

Glamour are also getting behind the women in sport revolution with their “Say No To Sexism In Sport” campaign.

The aims of the campaign are as follows:

  1. Raise the profile of women’s sport
  2. Lobby for more coverage in mainstream media
  3. Increase the number of women involved in sport at every level – from those who watch it, to those playing it, all the way to those in the boardroom

If you want to get involved, you should pledge to regularly watch women’s sport games in 2015, be it on TV, at a stadium or on the sidelines.


Always – #LikeAGirl

Our final example comes from the US. The #LikeAGirl campaign from Always aims to change the perception of what “like a girl” means. The powerful ad was shown for the first time during the Super Bowl ad break, and was viewed online an impressive 56 million times.

In fact it was so successful, that they have made a sequel showing how the meaning of the phrase is already changing.

Why can’t “running like a girl” also mean winning the race?

The answer is, it absolutely can! I challenge anyone in 2015 to argue against this statement – before immediately running fast in the opposite direction.

Whilst this year is key, the change needs to continue uninterrupted. The women’s World Cup in Canada and 2016 Olympic Games in Rio provide two key opportunities for further brand campaigns and involvement. Rio itself already has over 25 brand partners, and only time will tell which are brave enough to join the party and prove that running like a girl can most definitely mean winning the race.

By on June 5th, 2015

Tags: Advertising, Blogging, Brand Engagement, Brand marketing, Branded content, Brazil 2014, Brazil 2014 Sponsorship, Communications, Content, Cricket, Default, FA Cup, Female Sport, Football Sponsorship, Olympic sponsorship, Olympic sports, Olympics, PR, Public relations, Rio 2016, Social Media, Sponsorship, Sport, Synergy, Women's Football, Women's Rugby, Women's Sport, World Cup

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Accenture & the 2015 RBS 6 Nations: The Finer Details

Well, what a climax to the RBS 6 Nations that was. With Super Saturday comfortably living up to its name, many have questioned whether there has ever been a better day in the history of the Championship. The twists and turns of the three games (Wales vs. Italy, Ireland vs. Scotland, and then England vs. France) meant that on the day it ultimately all came down to points scored. With such fine margins deciding the victors, experts and fans across the northern hemisphere were left to pinpoint exactly where the trophy was won and lost.

In this era of 24 hour sports channels and unprecedented focus on players, fans have a voracious appetite for statistics. To fuel that hunger, Accenture, Official Technology Partner of the RBS 6 Nations, dived deep into the data to offer in-depth insights to fans across the world. Adding a coach’s perspective to those insights was Nick Mallett, former South African and Italian coach, who joined Accenture’s analysis team. On a weekly basis, Nick would reflect on each game from the weekend and share his thoughts with the team to help direct focus towards the most interesting areas for analysis and discussion.

nick mallett

These weekly discussions turned out to be some the most intriguing calls I have ever had the pleasure of being involved in, with Nick’s limitless knowledge of the game producing a huge number of intriguing interpretations of the plays we had witnessed. Why did that winger choose to take that line? Why did that fly-half kick instead of retaining possession? Why did losing teams decide to kick for the corner instead of taking what could have been crucial points?

Through Nick’s analysis, Accenture were able to combine data with a top quality rugby brain to give fans a truly unique insight. Questions shouted at the screen during a game were no longer left unanswered and, more often than not, there was a method to the players’ madness. Purely on a personal level, I don’t think I have ever learnt so much about one sport in such a short space of time, and now appreciate the fact that coaches minds work in a completely different way to spectators.

From a PR and digital perspective we were able to use the most interesting insights and data and share these with media to generate news stories and create exclusive coverage. We also created graphics of the data and shared them via Twitter throughout the Championship. To date, 91 pieces of coverage were generated across multiple media platforms, and the number of followers of @AccentureRugby has grown by 550%.

Overall, working with Accenture has shown me the sheer importance of data analysis, and its role in revealing genuinely game-changing insights, in sport. As well as providing fans and media with useful information, data is now impacting player performance, fitness and nutrition, and is a fundamental tool for player selection. This makes the future of sport all the more exciting. To quote Nick Mallett, “Any coach that isn’t looking at data analysis and using it to select the best team possible is definitely missing a key trick”. And there’s no doubt that giving fans an insight into that is also going to give brands some of the most powerful storytelling opportunities in sports.

By on March 31st, 2015

Tags: 6 Nations, Default, Digital marketing, Public relations, RBS 6 Nations, Rugby, Social Media, Sponsorship consultants, Synergy

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Mind The Social Gap

Over the past decade, social media has exploded onto the marketing scene, with brands’ budgets and organisational structures attempting to react ever since. With rightsholders trying to package their assets in the most easily accessible and attractive way, brands find themselves increasingly valuing social media and its potential impact.

However, it is clear that there are still plentiful examples where social media is not being used to its full potential, and often this is down to limitations imposed by rightsholders themselves. This begs the question of what elements can have an effect on brands looking to maximise their social media output.

There are four broad-brush factors that can influence an organisation’s approach to social media:

Independence: By this, we mean the perceived freedom to explore and utilise social media. This can be limited. For instance, any centralised contracts that were in place before social media had really arrived in the shape and form that we currently recognise it are likely to be needlessly restrictive, if they have not been evolved. Another example is the ‘three (and even four) player rule’ that governs the use of photography from sporting events where the players in question are not endorsed by the brand using the imagery. Without careful planning, having to use an image that includes three or more players – often from both competing teams – can be extremely restrictive for brands looking to deliver reactive real-time content.

Strategy: In the fast-paced world of social media and with the continuous stream of technological advances, strategic decisions must be made early and implemented speedily.

Analytics: To ensure in-depth analysis and measure the effectiveness of a social media campaign, KPIs and ROI metrics need to be implemented at the core of the campaign. Both ‘followers’ and ‘likes’ are purely superficial measurements on which to base ‘success’, that realistically need further analytical software overlays to demonstrate their real value. This deeper analysis requires both time and additional resource.

Talent: Hugely dependent on financial resource but critical to appearing attractive to a potential sponsor is the ability to invest in a skilled social media team, such as a Social Media Manager, Community Manager, Designer, AV team and a Photographer.

These four factors feed into a rightsholder’s attractiveness to a potential sponsor and, like a Rubik’s Cube, everything can spin into place when the right steps are taken. The below visualisation places rightsholders into one of four categories that can help determine how attractive they may appear to a new sponsor:

James Saker 1

1) Restricted: Due to contractual or resource restrictions, these organisation feels constrained in what they accomplish on social media.

2) Wayward: These organisations perceive that they have no restrictions but have no strategic direction and are unsure of the purpose behind their social media activity.

3) Creative: These organisations have a direction and utilise creative ability to overcome lack of resource.

4) Fully Functioning: These organisations have a strategic direction and have the ability to access vast resource with a large and skilled social media team being able to access an array of analytics. They often have a global approach.

The ever-changing nature of social media means that each rightsholder can be placed on this sliding scale but, crucially, they are not stuck there. The key is that creativity and innovation can overcome each obstacle to create a full operating service.

Brands can also work around a rightsholder’s restrictions if they are innovative and nimble enough. An example would be Canterbury, who overcame the ‘three player rule’ when publishing reactive real-time premium content during the 2014 QBE Autumn Internationals. Read here how Synergy helped them.

Canterbury - AI 2014

However, in order to minimise any restrictions and make digital assets as attractive as possible, it is also becoming increasingly clear that skilled in-house human resource is crucial. This resourcing issue has to be addressed to ensure that rightsholders achieve their full social potential.

There are increasing numbers of top tier professional sports clubs and rightsholders who are starting to comprehensively re-align their budgets and structures, giving sponsors another great reason to invest. Examples include Manchester City FC and a number of other top tier Premier League clubs who not only have a digital department but a social media-specific team. Meanwhile, during the Commonwealth Games, sponsors were offered a selection of bespoke digital rights which were used successfully by SSE and BP – which we blogged about earlier this year.

As this trend continues, in 2015 all eyes will fall on rightsholders looking to catch up with the demands of sponsors to unlock the deeper value of partnerships and unleash powerful social media content.


By on January 13th, 2015

Tags: Advertising, Canterbury, Digital marketing, Measurement, Real Time Marketing, Social Media, Sponsorship, Sponsorship measurement, Sport, Synergy, Twitter

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A year like no other: Synergy’s 2014

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 IG’s inaugural sponsorship of The Big Game. Through the ‘Big Game, Bright Lights’ 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 Twickenham’s LED inventory, fans experienced an audio-visual spectacular that connected IG’s brand with Harlequins and gave fans the chance to win some amazing prizes.


Industry insight:

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 IG’s 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 from the tournament. These films truly encapsulated the values of sportsmanship, perseverance and teamwork that the brand and the fans love about The Championship.

Industry insight:

Capturing sport’s inherent ‘truths’ like this, and amplifying them to produce content of interest, based on real insight, is a gift that fans want to receive. Guinness also managed this feat, with their films in honour of Jonny Wilkinson, Shane Williams and Bill McLaren, whilst Barclays’s impressively moving Premier League film 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 One’s season-long campaign focused on ‘supporting the supporters’. 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.

now tv

Industry insight:

Extending the true excitement of an event beyond those lucky enough to attend is a challenge facing 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 its National Theatre Live programme, which involves live screenings of theatre shows at local cinemas, and Manchester United’s partnership with Google+ that allowed fans around the world to ‘be’ at Old Trafford by appearing live on the pitch-side perimeter boards.


What we did:

In order to kick off MasterCard’s partnership with Rugby World Cup 2015, Synergy created a photo moment on the Thames involving All Blacks legend Dan Carter kicking conversions over 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 media and providing one of the most compelling sports PR shots in recent memory.

Industry insight:

Other striking PR shots that grabbed 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:

BUPA’s ‘My First Step’ campaign looked to get more people running by emphasising the ease with 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.

Industry insight:

Consumer insight is clearly crucial for a successful sponsorship campaign, with the best examples based on thorough planning. Whilst the success of the ‘My First Step’ 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 a target audience. Ahead of Round 4 of the Capital One Cup, Capital One gave Brian Clough-style green jumpers to Nottingham Forest’s 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 team’s insight around the 10th anniversary of Clough’s death and his unforgettable status within the game.


What we did:

June at Synergy signalled the launch of Coca-Cola’s 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 provides free activity classes for local people in local parks in cities across the UK.


Industry insight:

The planning for the ParkLives campaign re-iterated 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 ‘Pass’ 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 Glasgow at the 2014 Commonwealth Games for the culmination of the brand’s GoGlasgow campaign. One of our many roles up in Scotland was managing SSE’s experiential activity on Glasgow Green, which allowed fans to capture a unique photo of themselves supporting their nation. Importantly this activity linked seamlessly into SSE’s wider campaign and fed into a digital leaderboard that acted as a real-time tracker on the conversations around the Games.

Industry insight:

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 SSE’s footprint went far beyond those lucky people at the Glasgow Green live site, and therefore generated significant engagement levels. Another really simple idea that we loved from this year was Nescafé’s 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 Guinness 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 Guinness launch focused on staff engagement at Diageo’s global HQ in London, which gave employees the chance to quiz the Pro 12 captains; whilst Aviva’s event at Twickenham harnessed the Twitter reach of several of the players by creating the first ever ‘Captains selfie’ which provided fans with a fun, new viewpoint of the launch.

Industry insight:

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 FA’s 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 being able to take the trophy on a series of their own adventures).


 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 Martini’s home race at Monza, a massive pan-European trade promotion reached its climax, with consumers and trade partners having the chance to experience  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.

Industry insight:

Global sponsorships don’t get much bigger that a Formula 1 car deal, and Martini have used their sponsorship effectively to create unique promotions that engage with their target audiences. We also loved Coca-Cola’s huge FIFA World Cup on-pack promotion – offering consumers the chance to win one of a 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 StreetGames for every purchase showed a brand that is embracing the Social Era and also reiterated that sponsorship, shopper marketing and CSR can work brilliantly together when applied correctly.


 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.

Industry insight:

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 QBE Internationals are always a busy time in Synergy’s calendar and this year we were busy creating fantastic social content for our new client, and England kit manufacturer, Canterbury. Using Canterbury’s 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 messaging and put the shirt at the heart of Canterbury’s content.

Industry insight:

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 Media’s 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.

Industry insight:

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 – 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 pantomime villain Suarez didn’t even detract from it!

Nike Football – The Last Game

We loved how Nike brought out the personalities of their superstars and used animation in a fresh and interesting way,  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.

Always #LikeAGirl

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 way 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 – here’s to another great year for the industry in 2015.

By on December 16th, 2014

Tags: Advertising, Aviva, Barclays Premier League, Blogging, BMW, Brand marketing, Branded content, Brazil, Brazil 2014, Commonwealth Games, Communications, Content, Creative, Default, Digital marketing, Experiential marketing, Football, Football Sponsorship, Golf, Guinness, Innovation, Kit sponsorship, PR, Public relations, RBS 6 Nations, Real Time Marketing, Rugby, Rugby World Cup, Social Media, Sponsorship, Sponsorship Activation, Sport, Synergy, Synergy Loves, Twitter, Viral Marketing, World Cup, World Cup Sponsorship, World Cup Sponsorship Consultants

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Sports Fans, Social Media & The Millennial Myth

Rarely does a moment go by without the ‘Top 10 social tips of the day’ dropping into your feed… ‘Social Gurus’ come at us relentlessly with hot new widgets that achieve unparalleled engagement… Wired tells us what’s ‘wired’ before we’ve got our heads round what’s ‘expired’… and global events from presidential elections to World Cup finals are measured by their tweet-count.

We have a new ‘front page’, or in sport’s case, a new back page. Sport is never far from the epicentre of social discussion. Nor are Millennials. As sports marketing people, we are fascinated by the power and potential of social media. Yet there is  shockingly little publicised research into what motivates sports fans (let alone a hefty chunk of the human race) to use it. Our social strategies are often shaped around unsubstantiated insights, convenient assumptions and marketing myths.



In our report, we lay bare the findings of #socialsportsfan. We put evidence around the importance of social media in the lives of sports  fans and expose assumptions that are often made about what sports fans want from social. Our goal is to inspire a smarter breed of socially supercharged sports marketing where innovation is driven by real consumer needs, not the marketing industry’s need  to ‘do something new’.

See the full report here.

By on December 2nd, 2014

Tags: Social Media, Sponsorship

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Synergy at The Ryder Cup

As is customary at Synergy, major sporting events not only create a buzz of excitement around the office but also represent the culmination of a lot of hard work for certain account teams. This year’s Ryder Cup at Gleneagles was no different, as we helped Standard Life Investments and BMW showcase their partnerships at the historic event.

As the first ever worldwide partner of the Ryder Cup, Standard Life Investment’s campaign focused around the theme of ‘World Class as Standard’, with much of Synergy’s work revolving around key ambassadors, Curtis Strange and Sam Torrance. Opposing captains at the Belfry in 2002, they have grown to become great friends over the years and this rapport became the foundation for SLI’s series of 12 films, focusing on the Ryder Cup as a truly world class event. Interviewed by Sky Sports Golf correspondent, Sarah Stirk, the duo spoke on location at Gleneagles about the decisions, preparation, and challenges that are part and parcel of being Captain of either side. These films were a great success, gathering over 34,000 views on YouTube and featuring on the Sky Sports Ryder Cup On Demand channel.

Standard Life Investment’s ambassador work was not restricted to this film series however. Sam Torrance took part in content days before and after the competition, giving golf fans and national media real insight into the European team through one of their vice-captains; whilst Curtis Strange helped to underline the worldwide nature of the campaign with a SLI golf day in Boston.

All of this work led to over 78 pieces of coverage for Standard Life Investments including key ‘golden media’ titles FT Weekend Magazine, The Guardian and The Sunday Telegraph.


2012 European captain, Jose Maria Olazabal and 2014’s victorious captain, Paul McGinley, also became part of the team as key-note speakers at conferences targeting Standard Life Investment’s C-suite audience. In the final month before the tournament, the Ryder Cup was also on the road as we managed an engagement tour around 9 key media outlets in London.

Synergy’s footprint was also clear at the event itself having helped manage SLI’s significant ticket allocation. Through the distribution of tickets to local schools and suitable charities (recommended by ambassador, Sam Torrance) Synergy were able to contribute to SLI’s community and client guest programme, which was the largest at the tournament.


The BMW team at Synergy had their eyes trained even closer on the action as they managed the brand’s social media activity throughout the tournament. The social space at the Ryder Cup was a key battleground, with bookies, European Tour and PGA Sponsors, Tournament Sponsors and even FMCG brands such as Innocent smoothies getting involved. It was essential that BMW not only avoided the usual traps that reactive content can fall into (becoming a score feed) but also stood out in a crowded market.

The team were fortunate enough that the creative basis of BMW’s #DriveYourTeam campaign was visually compelling and allowed BMW to take a neutral position. From there, BMW were able to offer fans high quality, emotive, and selective content that encouraged interaction. Across the weekend, this balanced what BMW were doing ‘on the ground’ at Gleneagles, as well as reactive content from the action on the green.


The Synergy BMW team were based in the media centre at Gleneagles; designing, curating, watching and reacting quickly to what happened on the course. With up to 12 matches going on at once, it was important to prioritise moments that stood out. Some of these were obvious, such as McIlroy’s destruction of Rickie Fowler on day three, but for the less obvious, the team were able to monitor the crowds at the course, as well as internet buzz, to focus on moments that were already being discussed and were therefore more likely to be engaged with.

The Ryder Cup’s unique match-play set-up also allowed the team to utilise innovative Twitter features intelligently and creatively. This included 4-pic montages that helped to highlight crucial moments and session scores – a tactic that was mirrored by the official Ryder Cup social feeds and several other broadcasters.


 Following Europe’s win, the team reacted extremely quickly by delivering a ‘trophy’ shot both of the team and of BMW Ambassador Paul McGinley, resulting in an immediate uplift in interactions. This sort of quick thinking, alongside a well thought out strategy, contributed to BMW being named as the most dominant Ryder Cup sponsor across social by monitoring group Brandwatch.



By on October 31st, 2014

Tags: Content, Default, Digital marketing, Golf, PR, Public relations, Ryder Cup, Social Media

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