Synergists have been keeping track on what was happening on and off the clay in Paris over the last few weeks, and whilst Rafa took his French Open win/loss record to an incomprehensible 59-1 (Robin Soderling must be a proud man), a few official sponsors also caught our attention.
Lacoste celebrated their 80th anniversary during the tournament with some partnerships with a few similarly iconic French brands including Veuve Clicquot, Hermes and bakery Fauchon, creating some very special limited edition products that reinforced their French heritage.
Orange enhanced the viewing experience by providing 4G network coverage on the Philippe-Chatrier court and, for the first time, offered an exclusive ‘multi-court viewing’ smartphone and tablet package for customers, as well as continuing to provide the official tournament app and making NFC services available for visitors.
And, finally – perhaps inspired by BMW at London 2012 - Emirates, in their first year sponsoring the French Open, created a new branding opportunity (and talking point) by using replica versions of their planes to hide an aerial TV camera.
But my favourite French Open activation took place in the lead-up to the tournament, when BNP Paribas, who were celebrating 40 years of sponsoring Roland Garros, gave tennis fans the opportunity to use Twitter to train France’s No. 1 player, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Three days before the tournament began, fans were able to drag and drop a tennis ball on to a virtual tennis court on the bank’s Tweet and Shoot website and these ‘shots’ were encoded into Twitter hashtags describing their location on the court along with Tweets of support for Tsonga. Then the Frenchman took to the court and his training session with an on-court ‘ball-machine Tweet-bot’ (my own description!) was streamed live online. A group of 40 VIP Twitter Trainers were also selected from BNP Paribas’ social media communities via a related competition. The winners were guaranteed to have their ‘tweet shots’ fired at Tsonga and invited to attend the session.
Why We Love It
Here at Synergy, we always say that best practice sponsorship puts the fans first, and BNP Paribas gave tennis lovers the chance to directly get closer to the best player in France in an innovative and fun way, whilst reinforcing the message that they have been supporting Roland Garros for 40 years.
Although providing fans with the opportunity to send motivational messages via social media isn’t a new idea (and Nike have recently given England fans this opportunity during the launch of their new shirt), this activation, through the combination of the training session and the Tweets of support, gave supporters the chance to feel like they were actively helping Tsonga’s attempt to end the 30-year wait for a French winner at Roland Garros.
I also think that whilst some ‘tradigital’ activation ideas can feel a bit forced or clunky, this use of social media (in a similar way to an award-winning Doritos Dodgeball Facebook campaign in 2010) provided a really clear opportunity for the participants and also an interesting challenge for Tsonga, as well as producing some nice live and post-event content (the fourth ‘P’).
This unique training session and the messages of support couldn’t quite get Jo-Wilfried over the line, though, as he lost to David Ferrer in the semi-final. Now let’s move from the 30 year French wait and onto the 77 year British one at SW19!
On a recent Monday morning, I made the questionable decision to buy myself some followers on Twitter.
Egged on by a colleague and a feeling of intrigue, I plugged in my details and purchased 1,000 followers for the princely sum of £8; the speed and ease of the exchange was astonishing and within 24 hours my numbers had broken the 1,300 barrier. However, as I watched my follower count rise, the novelty of the original idea began to wear off. “I sort of did it for a joke” was proving an inadequate answer to those enquiring after my suspicious follower count, and the mounting social pressure of carrying over a thousand false friends inevitably resulted in a torturous Sunday morning spent blocking my 1,100 new disciples.
The whole charade was not completely futile, however, as the brief foray introduced me to the business of purchasing followers, likes, friends and even YouTube views; a practice becoming increasingly commonplace for celebrities, brands and even regular folk like myself. I was totally unaware of the exercise, and was stunned at the number of ‘fakes’ flying around social media, and Twitter in particular. Allegedly, only 28% of people following the 20 most popular Twitter accounts are real, and it has been reported that only 15 million of Justin Bieber’s 38 million followers are authentic. This is likely to be through no fault of his own, as the Twitter-bots and inactive accounts who sell themselves for money attach themselves to real accounts as a way of avoiding detection by Twitter’s supposedly effective spam filter.
Indeed, a quick flick through my new followers unearthed a few dubious characters (Jarvis Wenger, Jason van Smith) and a few incomprehensible names that seemed to be a random combination of numbers, letters and punctuation (I’m looking at you, SL:17-cv7).
However, not all big-name characters with large social media influences are completely innocent when it comes to artificially inflating their social media profile. Mitt Romney fell under suspicion for impossibly immediate rises in followers during the run-up to the 2012 Presidential election, whilst 50 Cent and Diddy are alleged to have shown that even the coolest cats are not averse to social media ego-massaging.
The pertinent question that arises from this is why people would bother with this practice in the first place. The answer for the most part is credibility. Nick Ashton, the creator of fake online guru Santiago Swallow, argues that on social media it is easy to confuse popularity with credibility. Much like a long line outside a restaurant, having a weighty Twitter following can be an easy way of enhancing reputation in the eyes of others. Even at my lowly level, this was exhibited by a friend receiving a text from a colleague asking ‘”Who is Rob Guppy and should I be following him?” Despite the predictable “definitely not” response, it is easy to see that a larger number of followers can make you stand out from the crowd.
However, beyond this initial mirage of credibility, is there any benefit to artificially augmenting follower counts? In other words, is there a correlation between number of followers and one’s social media influence? My personal score on Klout, a site that analyses social media behaviour, certainly suggested that this was (infuriatingly) not the case and, given that there was zero interaction between myself and my new mates, this was hardly surprising. The whole operation seemingly only served to improve the external aesthetic of my Twitter profile page.
This leads us to a more significant area of discussion for people and brands that chase social media love and focus purely on numbers of likes, views and followers they accrue. As recently expressed on the Synergy blog, pure figures are no longer sufficient and ‘participation’ is now crucial in any interaction between brand and consumer. The difference between an inactive follower and an interactive one is immeasurable. If connecting with the right people, this level of ‘participation’ can be incredibly valuable in introducing consumers to brands and influencing their behaviour.
The reasoning continues that it would be more valuable for a company to have 100 highly engaged consumers than tens of thousands of seemingly passive onlookers. Indeed, sponsorship is one way of sparking this conversation and increasing the engagement between brand and consumer.
In short, I believe my short-lived experience can be seen as a microcosm of a brand chasing Twitter followers: admittedly, my social media profile was slightly raised by my follower count increasing five-fold, but beyond that I gained nothing (not even a single re-tweet). The 200-odd followers I had previously earned legitimately tend to direct me towards content, interact with me and, to a degree, educate me, but the one-way process of me tweeting at the 1,000 Twitter-bots and inactive bods brought me nothing. The whole process underlined that whether real or not, purely chasing followers or likes for the sake of it is an out-dated concept. Level of participation will be the new measure of a brand’s social media influence, with those parties that successfully engage with consumers and catalyse conversation the ones that will benefit most.
For many of Britain’s sport enthusiasts, the May Day bank holiday signals a weekend spent glued to the TV watching the World Snooker Championship final. For the players, a Crucible final is the pinnacle of their career – not only for the event’s history and tradition, the privilege of playing in the famous auditorium and the ranking points on offer, but also the financial reward (£250,000 to be exact) that now comes with lifting the trophy. Thanks to the leadership and entrepreneurial nous of World Snooker chairman and Matchroom Sport chief executive Barry Hearn, the financial boundaries in the sport have been stretched significantly over the past few years and the best players in the world are finally being suitably rewarded for their skill, professionalism and hard work.
Behind the scenes, the Synergy team were hard at work delivering the PR activity to amplify Betfair’s sponsorship of the World Championship. As Barry Hearn continues to raise the financial stakes, Synergy tapped into the snooker psyche to develop the ‘Betfair Golden Cue’. Inspired by the players’ James Bond-style attire, Betfair gave snooker’s biggest stars the chance to become the first ‘Man with the Golden Cue’. This unique prize and a £10,000 cheque were on offer for the highest individual break during the tournament.
Given that a golden cue is not something you’d be able to find down your local Argos, we were indebted to John Parris, founder of Parris Cues, for undertaking the painstaking process of coating the cue in 23 carat gold leaf and producing such a high-quality cue. Designed to add some extra sparkle (or as Ronnie would say, “pizzazz”) to snooker’s flagship event, the Betfair Golden Cue took pride of place on set and became part of the conversation throughout the tournament, with BBC’s Hazel Irvine making regular references to it. In the first week, there were two early contenders for the prize with Ricky Walden’s impressive break of 140 quickly followed by a 142 break from the flamboyant Judd Trump.
As the high breaks continued, Twitter came to life with speculation from fans and snooker bloggers alike on who would win the Betfair Golden Cue. The cue itself became an object of mystery throughout the tournament, with speculation over its origin and manufacture maintaining the social media conversation. Consequently, Synergy placed another order with Parris Cues for a cue to give away on Betfair’s social channels, giving the lucky winner the chance to get their own gold-leafed memento from the tournament. At the time of writing, the social media giveaway has proved to be Betfair’s most successful yet, across all sports.
As title sponsors, Betfair offered a market on the Golden Cue winner, giving punters the chance to place early bets on pre-tournament high-break favourites with O’Sullivan available at 8/1, Judd Trump at 9/1 and Mark Williams at 12/1. Despite the strong early showings from Ricky Walden and Judd Trump, neither could prevent the explosive Australian, Neil Robertson, from stealing the prize. Indeed, despite quality cue play on show throughout the tournament (in total 55 century breaks were recorded), no one could surpass Robertson’s break of 143.
Although the tournament did not see a magical 147 break, snooker fans were still treated to a masterclass from O’Sullivan, who performed at his mercurial best to claim a fifth World Championship title. Indeed, the Betfair Golden Cue may have gone to Robertson but there’s no doubt that the Betfair World Champion, the ‘Rocket’ Ronnie O’Sullivan, remains snooker’s ‘golden boy’.
Bringing together over 1,200 delegates and a stellar cast of keynote speakers, the annual IEG Conference is the place to go to get a feel for the US sponsorship industry and the latest trends emerging from that side of the pond.
Having experienced three full days of presentations and roundtables covering every topic under the sponsorship sun, we have enough thoughts, insights and observations to fill a whole series of blogs (which we’ll be publishing over the next few weeks). But in advance of that, it makes sense to start with a high-level view of the key themes to emerge from the conference as a whole, with a particular focus on the keynote speakers.
The New 4 Ps of Sponsorship
In her welcome address, Lesa Ukman (Chief Insights Officer at IEG) introduced “The New 4 Ps”, a simple framework which outlines the critical components of successful sponsorship.
So here it goes: a summary of the core themes from the keynote speakers in the context of “The New 4 Ps”.
Great sponsorship is far more than skin deep. It is about both the brand and the rights holder working together through all available channels to create win/win/win situations, where genuine value is added to the brand, property and audience.
This is not a new idea, and the debate about whether we should move away from the word “sponsorship” has been rumbling for years (decades even). Of course, it doesn’t really matter what we call it as long as brands realise that sponsorship is not a one-way value transfer.
This sense of partnership is at the centre of Pepsi’s new deal with Beyonce. Frank Cooper, Pepsi’s CMO, acknowledged that on the surface it looked like exactly the same sort of deal that Pepsi has been doing since the ‘80s with Michael Jackson (a thought that we have already discussed in the past). However, he assured us that this couldn’t be further from the truth. Evidently, it is a deep collaboration that will redefine how music is created and distributed, deliver innovative episodic content, while also resulting in new Women’s Empowerment projects that come from Beyonce’s personal social conscience. We’ll be watching with great interest.
Miller Light has taken things far deeper than simple product placement in its partnership with The Internship (a new comedy re-uniting Wedding Crashers Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson). The brand is providing large-scale marketing support on-pack and through a high-profile competition to win the ultimate internship with Miller Light. This will, in turn, deliver great content and social currency for Miller, in addition to strong product placement within the movie.
Deborah Dugan, the CEO of (RED), showed another great example of brands working together to create win/win/win scenarios. For those of you not familiar with (RED), it partners with world-leading brands including Nike, Apple, Coca-Cola, Starbucks, Beats by Dr. Dre and Bugaboo to create limited edition (RED) products. A percentage of the profits from these products go to The Global Fund which fights for an AIDS-free generation. This is a great example of a win/win/win scenario: The Global Fund raises much-needed money; brands drive revenue through new products while demonstrating what they stand for; and customers can support the cause simply by buying great, new, limited edition products from the brands they already love.
Clearly, what all these examples have in common is that actively working together creates more value for all parties, while also establishing a concrete role for the brand – all of which deliver the authenticity that is critical to being accepted by an audience.
Of all the New 4 Ps, the idea that a brand needs a purpose (beyond making money for the sake of making money), is probably the one that came through most clearly. Consumers don’t just want to know who a brand is, they need to know what it stands for. A really powerful element of sponsorship is that it can provide a highly visible symbol of a brand’s purpose.
Jim Stengler is so committed to the idea that doing good and doing well are two sides of the same coin that he left his role as CMO of P&G to write a book, Grow, showing that companies with a strong purpose outperformed the market. His view is that a company’s culture – what it believes in and how it behaves – is the only truly sustainable source of differentiation.
He showed how the turning point in the Pampers business was this ad – when it stopped telling people about the product and started showing that “Pampers get babies. Pampers loves babies”. Andy England from MillerCoors used a nice turn of phrase to capture this idea: we need to move from brand campaigns to campaigning for our brand.
For Frank Cooper, the CMO of Pepsi, it’s a case of “The King is dead; long live the King”. Specifically, Content isn’t King. Intent is King. Consumers are no longer happy to just know what you do and how you do it, they want to know why you do it. A brand’s intent is now as important as the product itself.
Ironically, Frank Cooper didn’t manage to articulate the specifics of Pepsi’s “intent”, but he did refer to the Pepsi Refresh Project, describing it as “one of the most important experiments” Pepsi (or any other brand, for that matter) had undertaken in the past decade. It was undeniably brave – but the fact that it was ditched after just one year might indicate that it was a brave failure.
Jim Trebilcock from Dr. Pepper Snapple, provided one of my favourite case studies from the event. The Dr. Pepper Tuition Giveaway uses its sponsorship of NCAA Football to run a promotion giving college students the chance to win their tuition fees ($100,000) by uploading a video which described how they would use their college education to create a better future. I like this because it really brings to life Dr. Pepper’s intent to encourage everyone to tread their own path to become one of a kind.
Synergy have covered this trend extensively over the past year as part of our discussions on the Social Era of Sponsorship – so it was nice to see it reinforced in Chicago.
Brands that simply badge content might get awareness but they don’t necessarily get any credit. Anyone can get awareness by slapping a logo on something – but producing content, events and experiences that resonate with the audience and enhance their experiences is the best way to truly connect.
All the keynote speakers emphasised the importance of being Creator Brands and took the opportunity to showcase some of the great content they had developed. From TV spots to earned media and user-generated content, no presentation was complete without a few examples of the engaging content they had created.
A couple of examples deserve special mention. The first is the deep, multi-channel engagement which Coors Light created around its sponsorship of Liga MX (the Mexican Football League) for the US audience. The sponsorship started with standard on-pack and in-store activity, but the brand took it further to create a website called ‘Fanaticos del Frio’, providing exclusive fan content about Liga MX. It then extended it into mobile apps, social media engagement and experiential activity, before finally partnering with Univision (the major Spanish Language TV Channel) to turn Fanaticos del Frio into a prime-time weekly TV programme. Creating and curating this content means that Coors Light owns the Liga MX fan experience in the US.
Pete Blackshaw, Global Head of Nestle’s digital marketing and social media, shared a very clever new interactive film with us called Perrier’s Secret Place. You are in control as you switch characters to navigate your way through the ultimate Secret Party, trying to find clues that will lead you to the Golden Perrier Bottle. Finding the golden bottle gives you a chance to win trips to “the ultimate parties around the world”. The idea that you should be drinking Perrier at parties to make sure you don’t miss any details of the experience is interesting – and the film is great.
Again, there is nothing new about the idea of content being at the centre of the sponsorship experience – we have written about it many times (here and chapter 6 of our 2013 Trends Report, here) – but it is important that the point is reinforced at every possible occasion.
The stories that a brand can tell about itself are dwarfed by the potential stories that others can tell about it. That’s why sponsors should be finding ways to create movements that everyone can participate and share in.
Adam Garone, co-founder of Movember, really brought to life how a simple idea can harness the power of the audience to spread the word and drive the storyline. Every man that grows a moustache sparks hundreds of different conversations during the month of November – with friends, colleagues and even strangers on the Tube. And that, rather than simply raising money, is the whole point.
However, it is worth raising a couple of words of caution at this point. Firstly, don’t expect customers to participate in something which they don’t really care about (and they’ll be the judge of that), or which doesn’t fit into and improve their existing ‘rituals’. Hundreds of activations fall flat because the consumer just thinks: “why bother?”. Secondly, the whole point of ‘Participation’ is to create some form of legacy – a deeper connection with the consumer that lasts longer and means more than simply viewing an ad. With that in mind, it’s worth remembering that not all content is shareable. As Pablo Ganguli, founder of Liberatum, which creates cultural festivals in countries around the world said: “I would prefer 200 highly motivated, energised, intelligent people to experience my content directly rather than 2 billion people watching my YouTube video because they are bored.”
Sponsorship gives brands the ability to show that they have something in common with the audience. Brands that use sponsorship well are seen by fans to be “one of us”, and that makes them willing to tell their story.
So those are the new 4 Ps. If you have read the Synergy blog and our 2013 Trends Report, you will recognise many of the same themes in our ABCDE framework: for Beyond your Brand (B), read Purpose; for Content (C), read Production; and for Dialogue (D), read Participation. The New 4 P framework doesn’t explicitly reference Authenticity (A) and Emotion (E), but there is no doubt that both those elements need to be at the heart of all of the Ps. Conversely, ABCDE doesn’t explicitly mention Partnership – but that’s simply because the whole framework is about partnerships and the vital ingredients required to create great ones.
So when it comes to great sponsorship it doesn’t really matter what side of the Atlantic you might find yourself on: what the IEG Conference really demonstrated – as the ABCDE and the 4Ps frameworks make clear – is that the rules for outstanding sponsorship are universal.
After racking up 11,734 miles over 48 days, the 2013 RBS 6 Nations Trophy Tour has come to an end…well nearly!
During this year’s tour the RBS 6 Nations trophy crammed in more activity than ever, visiting 96 events and posing next to 16 landmarks across the UK and Ireland. It checked in at 13 RBS offices, 9 local branches, 13 rugby clubs, 4 schools, 12 media houses, all 6 RBS 6 Nations stadiums on match days, 1 East London shopping centre and many more. This diverse range of activity provided multiple opportunities for RBS stakeholders including staff, clients and customers to snap, hold and even kiss the trophy, and feel that much closer to the RBS 6 Nations.
In total, over 7,770 people attended an event with the trophy and 4,136 pictures of people posing with the silverware were taken.
For 2013, we really wanted to increase the buzz around the trophy tour. As such, we encouraged people who interacted with the trophy to tweet about it using our #trophytour hashtag, which reached over 300,000 people. As well as using Twitter, this year we created a Tumblr blog, posting and uploading photos daily, to increase the reach and to enable followers to track the trophy on its travels. As you’ll see from the blog, we gave the trophy its own humorous tone and personality.
My beloved white transit van transported extra RBS branding for the trophy, and this ‘pop up gallery’ created an eye-catching area for the trophy to grab the attention of passers-by.
During the RBS 6 Nations, Ulster Bank made full use of their week with the trophy, packing in 17 events in 5 days. Each day followed a similar pattern, with an early start for a customer breakfast at a selected office, and even the Savoy Hotel one morning. Here the trophy would be joined with Ulster Bank ambassadors Alan Quinlan, John Hayes and host Adrian Logan for a Q&A session. From here the trophy would travel to local schools, hospitals, branches and finally a local rugby club for another Q&A session. During these appearances the trophy was on display with the Irish legends, and their presence made the photo opportunities even more popular. And of course, the Ulster Bank Mascot, Henry the Hippo, got involved with the trophy action.
When the trophy wasn’t scheduled in with one of the RBS divisions, we created a raft of PR activity. The trophy made appearances on ITV’s Daybreak, BBC Scotland, STV, talkSPORT, BBC’s The One Show and A Question of Sport, as well as visiting media houses in Manchester, Cardiff, London, Glasgow and Edinburgh, which drove further social media buzz by media titles and journalists.
My favourite visits were to local schools and RugbyForce clubs, where the children and club members greeted the trophy with incredible excitement and enthusiasm. It was a fantastic experience to take the trophy to true rugby fans and give them the chance to get up close and personal with it, which also secured great coverage in the regional press.
This is just a snippet of the trophy activity over the past couple of months and there is still more to come in the near future, once Wales have finished celebrating with it! Having covered over 6,500 miles of a near 12,000 mile journey, I can say that every step of the way was priceless, with the 2013 RBS 6 Nations Trophy Tour an overwhelming success by any measure.
In the debate about how to best enjoy watching sport, most would agree that those at the stadium have it best. The proximity of the live action amplified by the collective reactions of the crowd combine to generate a priceless “I was there” experience that most people dream about experiencing even a few times in their lifetime, let alone week in, week out.
Celebrating with strangers in the away end at a football match, waving Union Jacks at the Olympic Stadium, seeing the sweat drip off a boxer as he slaves towards the end of another punishing round, or relaxing with a drink while watching the cricket at Lord’s on a summer’s evening – all unique experiences to which sitting in front of the television can hardly compare.
That said, there has been some significant press attention of late focusing on the escalating price of watching live football. Rising ticket prices, along with the additional associated costs of the matchday experience (travel, food, etc.), all add up to create an expensive day out. And it’s not just the prices that can make sitting in front of the TV seem a bit more appealing; a better view of the action, replays, punditry (even if of often dubious quality) and the ability to go online and join a community of others watching the same event all contribute too. While recent focus has emphasised the plight of match-going football fans, many of these issues are common to all those who watch live sport.
Up until now, any complaints expressed by those lucky enough to regularly attend live top-level sport would have been dismissed as spoilt whinging from people who don’t know how lucky they are; however, the extent of ticket price rises, especially in football, and the simultaneous observation about the importance of fans to the health of live sport have started to make people sit up and take notice. Sport not only unites and inspires, but also represents big business. If fans stay away, clubs and stadia lose out on income, the atmosphere flattens (with potential impact on both the players and the excitement conveyed in the broadcast), and fans miss out on a potentially fantastic experience; in other words, everyone suffers.
And while the message is still filtering through to clubs and venue owners (though as a previous blog reported, innovative pricing schemes are becoming increasingly common), smart brands have already been stepping in redress the balance. With live events a central asset in many sponsorship platforms, focusing on those who attend is a vital pillar of a strong activation plan.
For example, to reward fans of Capital One Cup finalists Swansea and Bradford – travelling hundreds of miles to Wembley with fuel prices notoriously high – Synergy created the Capital One Convoy, thanking fans for their loyalty by providing them with free transport, another cost contributing to the high price of following a football team.
And recognising that the actual viewing experience at live sport events can often be compromised, with key incidents happening in a flash and without the benefit of televised action replays, Barclays, title sponsor of the Barclays Center in New York – home of the Brooklyn Nets – created an app that gives users a live stream and instant replays: the best of the live and televised experiences rolled into one.
Of course, one thing compromising the live sport experience (well, depending on your point of view) is the lack of internet in many stadiums, something else we’ve passionately questioned on this very blog. This is something that obviously distinguishes the live and televised experiences quite considerably, with TV audiences able to follow punditry on Twitter, interact socially with their mates, and engage with a whole host of branded content as they watch sport. Were WiFi to become widely available in stadiums, the opportunities for brands to step in with apps that improve the live viewing experience for fans would be manifold.
Indeed, some forward-thinking brands have already started to step in to fill this gap. At the Betfair World Matchplay Darts and the Betfair Masters for example, Synergy worked with title sponsor Betfair to install wireless internet in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens and Alexandra Palace respectively – allowing event attendees to bet online and interact socially in just the same way television viewers. A bonus for the brand – after all, they want as many people as possible to be betting on the action – and fans alike. And given the existing online inventory of many sponsor brands, be it content, websites or apps, it is surely in the brand’s interest to allow fans at the venue to make use of them (as well as boasting about their attendance!).
No doubt, the smartest brands will be those that enhance the sporting experience for those watching any touchpoint – be it at the ground, on the sofa or in the pub. With the size of the televised audience for major sporting events, only a very naïve sponsor would forget about the legions of fans in front of the TV. Hence the success of the RBS 6 Nations Live Challenge app, for example, which capitalises on the second screen phenomenon.
The atmosphere is ripe for rewarding those who attend live sport, and the message is clear: wherever they may be, don’t forget the fans.
As such, there is a real onus on sponsors to produce unique and engaging campaigns in order to stand out from the crowd and deliver a return on what would no doubt have been a sizeable investment.
At this year’s tournament, telecommunications provider AT&T have managed to do so by using the @MarchMadness feed to bring real-time video highlights to the fans.
While this may not seem like such an exciting development, drilling down deeper into the mechanics of the service reveals how this opportunity could lead to a revolution in how rights holders, broadcasters and sponsors can collaborate to leverage branded content on Twitter.
Turner, the official tournament broadcaster, have partnered with Twitter and quick-share video start-up SnappyTV to bring fans 15-second highlight clips of key plays via embedded video Tweets. Content is selected in real-time by Turner’s social media team, who use a combination of human judgement and SnappyTV’s social media monitoring software to track the most talked about moments in the game. In less than a minute, the relevant clip can be posted online for people to view and share with their friends. This example from Florida Gulf Coast’s improbable run to the round of sixteen shows the technology in action, and the ensuing Twitter conversation around highlight plays.
(Unfortunately, clips are geo-blocked to the US only but AT&T’s pre-roll can be viewed regardless of location. Refresh the page if you missed it!)
While this technology isn’t new (it was used in last year’s tournament by Turner), this year is the first time that sponsors have partnered with Twitter to bring these clips to fans via a short pre-roll ad with embedded video content.
Why we love it
In the past year, Twitter has invested significantly in figuring out the tricky task of how to make money from the social conversation around live TV. Snappy TV’s video highlight service has given sponsors, such as AT&T, the chance to emotionally link their brand with high-stakes knockout tournament basketball, and the thrills and spills that this entails.
AT&T have also understood the demand for fast, shareable content and utilised the technology available from SnappyTV and Twitter to create a seamless user experience, where video content can be accessed without the need to click on an external link. This ease of use has enabled users to easily retweet and share highlights with their friends, thus giving AT&T the additional benefit of being seen favourably by the consumer as the provider of their chosen video highlight.
For the broadcaster, advertising opportunities around sponsored video highlights can mean additional revenue streams as sponsors increasingly wise-up to the benefits of supplying eminently sharable content to an already engaged and passionate fanbase.
While this technology is still in its relative infancy, the growth potential in this medium is significant. Current reports project Twitter’s ad revenues will reach the $1bn mark by 2014, with the most significant growth projected to occur in the mobile sector. With this in mind, it will be interesting to see how many brands will follow AT&T’s example and embrace the potential of second screen advertising.
This is shaping up to be a bumper year for England Cricket (whether you agree with the scheduling or not). Our boys are set to face the Aussies home and away with two back-to-back Ashes series and 10 Test matches within four months.
The question is: what can we expect from sponsors during this cricketing feast?
There have been some great sponsorship campaigns in the UK over the years including Betfair, Adidas, Marstons and Buxtons, and in our view, the conditions are in place to take it to another level again to create something really ground-breaking.
Secondly, it will attract a big audience. This year’s Ashes are already looking to be a record-breaking sell-out across all five venues staging Tests, with a rush for tickets as soon as they went on sale. And across TV, radio, print and the web the crown jewel of cricket will as always pull in enormous audiences in England, Australia and beyond.
Thirdly, the appeal of England versus Australia goes way beyond the traditional Test cricket audiences and into the realms of the Casual Sport Fan. What’s more, The Ashes is a tournament that combines a strong mix of banter, patriotism and humour, which is the perfect platform for creating unique and amusing social content that celebrates one of the most famous of all sporting rivalries.
And finally, social media has reached a critical mass. The way that audiences engage with cricket is expanding beyond the traditional channels. Modern sports fans have embraced technology: it’s a core part of their increasingly fragmented media consumption diet plan. Nothing will replace TMS, but Twitter has made cricket easier than ever to follow and the variety of content is unmatched. Where else can you find out both the latest score and who on the team is having a bad hair day? This gives brands that want to use cricket to reach their audience far more exciting opportunities.
The campaign Synergy created for Betfair in 2009 was one of the earliest socially-centred campaigns in cricket. We used social channels to fuel the banter while Jason Gillespie and Phil Tufnell brought the Anglo-Aussie Ashes rivalry to life. Great content, big promotions and physical rewards (tickets and merchandise) attracted fans and kept them engaged throughout the summer of cricket. And that was in the early days of social media – imagine what is possible now.
We can see more great examples of cricket campaigns from around the world.
Coca-Cola provided a great example of what is possible in cricket when they built the ‘Coca-Cola Beach’ at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). Not only did Coca-Cola create a brilliantly orchestrated experiential zone within the venue, they also developed a fully-integrated campaign using Facebook, POS, online, PR and TV. By using Sydney residents Shane Watson, David Warner and captain Michael Clarke, Coke’s campaign encouraged consumers to buy a bottle and win a spot on the beach – the ultimate seat in the SCG.
A cricket tour, which can last for 3 months, gives a brand plenty of time to stage a slower-burn, wide-ranging campaign. In India, Nike capitalised on this by creating ‘Streets to the Stadium’. The campaign focused on a set of young Indian cricketers who were offered a chance to join the roster of the National Cricket Academy by winning the Nike Cup. Along the way, they engaged over 8,000 cricketers and 2.5m Facebook fans via the brilliant content they released on their social media channels.
Mobile is another rich area for cricket sponsors. Vodafone’s Live Cricket app currently offers fans the chance to chat to the commentators and get up-to-the-minute stats and scores – whilst this is all useful, it’s nothing ground-breaking. Brands could go so much further. With its rich tactical nuances, deep statistics and frequent breaks in play (between every ball), cricket is the perfect platform for a brilliant second screen experience.
Apps also have the opportunity enhance the in-stadium experience. Imagine the perfect cricket app that allowed you to order a pie and a pint from your seat, to rewind and watch replays, send messages to the big screen and switch to a front row seat camera view. All possible. The one thing holding all this back is the availability at Test match grounds of free WiFi. But things are starting to change, and Lord’s is leading the way by launching free public WiFi last summer in the media centre, hospitality and public areas, which will be rolled out across all stands in 2013.
There is no doubt that the conditions are right and the ingredients are there for a brand to shake up cricket sponsorship. And the even better news is that there is a property available: principal sponsor of the England Cricket Team.
Brit Insurance, the current sponsor, has already announced that they will not renew their deal at the end of their contract, citing a ‘strategic change in business objectives’. They have also made it clear that they are prepared to terminate their deal early if a new sponsor can be found. In many ways, it’s a surprised that no-one has stepped in already to take advantage of the Ashes double-header. In fact, the new sponsor could be looking at three high-profile series against Australia, a Champions Trophy and a World Cup, all in the next three years.
This type of opportunity is simply too good to miss. Let’s hope the next sponsor, whoever it might be, gets the delivery right and then smashes it out of the ground.
If you watched the BRITs last week, there would have been certain moments that would have grabbed your attention. It could have been Taylor’s Swift’s raunchy new look or perhaps James Cordon and Nick Grimshaw’s intimate moment, but what I was more interested in was witnessing the climax of MasterCard’s Priceless Remakes campaign, in which competition winners featured with artists in the sponsor’s TV idents.
MasterCard’s Priceless Remakes campaign was launched by Rita Ora, Conor Maynard and Delilah earlier this year. To celebrate its fifteenth year as BRIT Award Sponsors, MasterCard gave fans the chance to remake their ambassadors’ videos and experience how it feels like to be a star through professional make up, wardrobe, film crews and direction from Emil Nava.
The premise was simple: fans were invited to film themselves re-creating a video by Rita, Delilah or Conor and then upload it to a dedicated website: www.somethingforthefans.co.uk. Three winning videos were chosen by the artists and the winners went on to star in the Pricessless Remakes idents screened during the BRITS.
Why we love it
MasterCard have taken a standard but highly valuable sponsorship asset – their idents – and given it to the fans. An ad slot that most people would have probably ignored thus became a piece of engaging content that created a real talking point among viewers, with MasterCard at the heart of it. While the show was being aired there were hundreds of tweets by people discussing the idents, mostly with MasterCard mentions included. And the reach for the idents itself was huge by music standards – 6.5m viewers (peaking at 7.5m) – making it the most watched BRITs ceremony for 10 years.
The campaign has also secured plenty of editorial coverage and, by building a series of phases into it from the start of the year, extended MasterCard’s association with the BRITS beyond the event itself.
What made it all the more impressive was how it was used across a range of platforms – TV, print, outdoor, digital and especially social media – to gain attention and drive engagement. The Facebook page and website provided a larger draw to the campaign, with Twitter and YouTube used to get more people involved. The content created throughout the campaign was exploited and worked into various clips for different purposes including the winning videos, 60-second ads, bumpers, teaser films and ‘making of’ clips.
Lastly, the campaign has managed to take the brand to a younger audience. By utilising brand ambassadors such as Rita Ora, MasterCard have engaged credibly with the next generation. At the heart of the campaign is the ethos of giving back to consumers, and with the current zeitgeist for the younger generation being that of quick fame, the prize will have also bought some love for the brand. By allowing this younger audience to experience ‘Priceless’ in a way they appreciate, MasterCard seem to have struck a chord.
Who knew London fashion week was first held in 1984? Well I for one didn’t…I thought it started in 1964. Despite getting this question wrong, I still received the Guardian fashion seal of approval: ‘You’ve won a seat on the front row of fashion week wisdom. Mwah. You look fabulous!’
YES fashion quiz, take that! What a sigh of relief I passed. What did this mean? Absolutely nothing, it turned out. Instead, I experienced AW13 London Fashion Week on the FROW of social media.
Established designer Matthew Williamson collaborated with esteemed photographer Sean Cunningham, who exclusively shot the designers collection using Vine and posted his own six-second clips just before the ensemble hit the catwalk. The idea was to give Williamson fans the ultimate FROW experience, focusing on the intricate craftsmanship and detail of each garment in the collection – often overlooked by regular FROWers. Fans were able to follow the Vines on Twitter through #MatthewMagnifield and on Facebook. Like Burberry, Williamson also released his catwalk soundtrack on Spotify.
Fashion socialite and acclaimed designer Henry Holland (of House of Holland) developed a capsule collection exclusively for eBay.co.uk with all proceeds from items sold on the auction site during London Fashion Week going to Cancer Research UK.
Sponsor of London Fashion Week, American Express launched ‘Fashion Insiders’ based at Somerset House. Their purpose was to assist, navigate and advise fashion week guests when needed. Sporting the latest colour block trend, American Express exclusively partnered with new gen designer Jonathan Saunders to ensure the ‘Fashion Insiders’ were suitably dressed for the occasion. The brand also partnered with fashion blogger, Disney Roll, who created a series of sponsored posts for the brand.
The British Fashion Council (BCF) made a strong statement that 2013 would be the start of the digital revolution for fashion in this country and London Fashion Week AW13 would be the starting place. For the first time ever the BFC partnered with You Tube to live-stream 21 of the on-schedule catwalk shows through the LFW channel. The BFC continues to lead British Fashion in the right direction, showing our fashion counterparts that pioneering new technologies need to be integrated into Fashion Week and remain at the forefront of the global fashion industry for the future.
Which brand wouldn’t want her as the face of their campaign? #modelbehaviour
Noticeably this season, London Fashion Week was dominated by the designers’ innovative desire to give their fans and customers the most intimate experience possible. Where traditionally big sponsors of the event may have capitalised on their dominant position, designers and models have re-emerged, laying claim on digital innovation and consumer engagement.
So, whether you want to dress up, invite your friends over or even don a pair of sunglasses for the occasion, fashion has a new set of FROWers, the ‘Socialistas.’
Synergy Sponsorship is a trading division of Engine Partners UK LLP, a limited liability partnership. Registered in England & Wales No. OC365821. Registered office 60 Great Portland Street, London W1W 7RT, United Kingdom. List of members’ names open for inspection at registered office.