Synergy

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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:

JANUARY

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.

FEBRUARY

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.

MARCH

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.

APRIL

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.

MAY

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.

JUNE

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.

JULY

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.

 AUGUST

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).

SEPTEMBER

 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.

OCTOBER

 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.

 NOVEMBER

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.

DECEMBER

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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Has the April Fool had its Day?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By on April 1st, 2014

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

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GoPro or go home

On 14th October 2012, the world stopped to watch Felix Baumgartner’s incredible Red Bull Stratos jump from the edge of space, 127,852 feet in the air. Almost a year and a half later, GoPro, the high-definition personal camera company, released stunning new shots of the jump filmed from seven of their cameras placed on Baumgartner’s body and capsule. This footage was first released as an advert during the 2014 Super Bowl, one of the world’s most lucrative commercial windows, and their ability to compete on this platform emphasises the growth in both size and influence that GoPro has made in the last few years. From humble beginnings in 2004, GoPro has grown to become a company worth billions of dollars and a source of seemingly limitless creativity.

The GoPro camera was originally created by founder Nick Woodman as a way for surfers to catch high quality images of themselves in action. Its practical size and weight, coupled with the high quality nature of the resulting images and videos, ensured that the outputs from the camera were instantly eye-catching. The attraction of the content is clear – one could, cheaply and simply, capture high quality footage that would have previously been almost impossible. Before GoPro, the rare clips that people may have of themselves being active would, at the very least, require a skilled assistant. GoPro removed this barrier and created an incredibly open platform for creativity to be unleashed.

It was not long before the cameras spread beyond surfers and sport, with the adaptability of the camera meaning that there is very little that couldn’t (or hasn’t) been captured by the devices. The first-person nature of the footage means that amateur GoPro clips can easily go viral. This video of a man’s unique relationship with wild lions in South Africa and this video of a Californian fireman saving a stricken kitten emphasise both the versatility of the camera and the appetite for unprecedented point-of-view filming. That little kitten’s re-awakening has been viewed over 20 million times…

With such watchable content and eye-watering YouTube numbers, brands did not need a second invitation to join the party. With GoPro’s foundations built upon capturing extreme sports footage, brands with properties in the sporting world were unsurprisingly at the forefront of the movement. As well as Felix Baumgartner’s Stratos jump, Red Bull have used the cameras to exhibit the most watchable of films utilising sportsmen and women from their extreme sports roster.

Here at Synergy, we are always looking to integrate new and innovative tech into our campaigns and exciting use of GoPro cameras can be seen through the BMW #Tweetchariot activity around the RBS 6 Nations. An inventive use of the technology, the #TweetChariot will build on current Sweet Chariot activity and act as a roving behind-the-scenes reporter offering a new angle of insight for rugby fans.

With sports fans exhibiting both a voracious appetite to get as close as possible to sportspeople, as well as an increased sense of alienation from their increasingly monied heroes, point-of-view content can help elite sports clubs and teams deal with the tricky double-edged sword of modern fandom. GoPro gives an opportunity to sidestep increasingly mundane tactical pieces that offer only a mirage of ‘behind the scenes access’ in favour of truly insightful content. As a continuation of their impressive and innovative digital work, Manchester City are predictably ahead of the curve. In the Summer of 2013, they released unprecedented footage of their players on pre-season in America using a GoPro. The content gives a view of elite sportsmen in training, joking around and even walking out for a match in front of tens of thousands of fans. FC Porto of Portugal have followed City’s lead and it must be hoped that other sports teams pick up the creative baton and run with it.

With companies increasingly looking to GoPro and the like to keep their brands fresh, it is incredibly exciting to see the ground-breaking ways in which this technology will be used. Other companies will begin to present a sustained challenge to GoPro’s current dominance of the market and this will catalyse creativity and lead to further innovation. Google Glass, in particular, will look to take wearable tech to the next level through increased digital integration, however the accessibility and affordability of these products at the moment still presents a barrier to widespread use.

Typical of their brand personality, GoPro are themselves not resting on their laurels. Company employees talk excitedly about the low cost ‘GoPro drones’ that can deliver controllable air-based filming to push boundaries of amateur filming even further. Through their various communications channels, they also continue to release distinct footage daily from around the world and their mutually beneficial sponsorships of daredevils such as record-breaking surfer Kelly Slater and wing-suit pilot Jeb Corliss show their understanding for the needs of association with those that live the brand and push boundaries. As Woodman has previously stated, these partnerships are all based on authenticity. These daredevils are not purely producing content as they are compelled to but also because they can see the value of the product and love the footage that it produces. As founder Woodman himself explains, this authenticity is at the very heart of GoPro’s general marketability and success: ‘People love to self-document and are so happy with the content that is produced that they will give GoPro credit: ‘My GoPro ski trip’, ‘My GoPro trip to the park’ etc. It is a marketers dream.’

By on February 21st, 2014

Tags: Blogging, Brand marketing, Branded content, Content, Creative, Default, Digital marketing, GoPro, Innovation, Media, Red Bull, Sponsorship, Sport, Synergy, Synergy Loves, Synopsis, Twitter, Viral Marketing

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Five Things The IOC Can Learn From The #SelfieOlympics

In early 2012, to denote the collision between mass-adoption social media and the Olympics, Synergy coined the term ‘Socialympics’, which subsequently went viral (even being adopted by the IOC), and staged two panel sessions in front of invited audiences either side of London 2012 to discuss the Socialympics phenomenon. (If you missed them, you can find a round-up of Socialympics 1 here and Socialympics 2 here).

Fast forward to today, and in the days leading up to Sochi 2014, the first big internet meme of 2014 is the #SelfieOlympics, which has seen teens and young adults compete to top one another with selfies which vary from the extreme to the bizarre and everything in between. You haven’t seen one? (‘WHAT ARE YOU 30?!’ as MTV wrote recently). Here’s an early example: 

SelfieOlympics

I can’t say that we predicted the #SelfieOlympics back in our 2012 Socialympics sessions (now that would have been something), but I can say that we focused on an issue highlighted by the #SelfieOlympics: the enormous potential of social media to help the IOC address one of its biggest challenges – making the Olympics relevant and accessible to teens and young adults, and reverse the ageing Olympic demographic worldwide.

So, here’s five things I’d suggest that the IOC and the Olympic Movement could learn from the #SelfieOlympics about marketing to the young.

1. The young get ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’. For any brand manager that would be good news: for the IOC, in a world full of brands with much bigger budgets competing for the young’s attention and understanding, it’s amazing news.

2. If you want the young to get into your brand, above all let them have some fun with it. This is not natural territory for the IOC, which has a tendency to be over-worthy, but it’s territory they need to embrace.       

3. Your best marketers are your consumers. If the next generation is capable of spontaneously creating and spreading an idea as entertaining and viral as the #SelfieOlympics, who knows what else they can come up with? Invite them to play around some more with your brand.

4. If you want to market the Olympics to the young, think beyond sport. The #SelfieOlympics has done as much for the Olympic brand with the young as the Youth Olympic Games, which hasn’t ever come close to going viral.

5. If the Olympic brand can go viral in this way once, it can do it again. The IOC and its stakeholders can make this happen: start with athletes posting #SelfieOlympics pics at Sochi, say.

By on January 22nd, 2014

Tags: IOC, London 2012, Olympic sponsorship, Olympic sponsorship consultants, Rio 2016, Rio 2016 Sponsorship, Rio 2016 Sponsorship Consultants, Social Media, Socialympics, Vancouver 2010, Viral Marketing, Winter Olympics

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Condé Nast + Konami Code

Brands are always looking for proactive marketing opportunities, whether it’s riding the news agenda or planning around a calendar hook. However it’s reactive marketing that often impresses me most, when a brand reacts to the unforeseen or unplanned.

The digital team at Conde Nast impressed this week in how they dealt with a mishap on their website due to a cheeky web developer.

The eagle-eyed team at Buzzfeed spotted that the Konami Code had been implemented on the Conde Nast websites, probably added by a developer when the sites were built.

Raptor GQ

So what does the code do? Graphics appear on the page when users types in the following code:

↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A

Classic ‘memes’ such as Nyan Cat and Raptor In  A Hat appear on screen every time you enter the code. A rather random appearance on the stylish Conde Nast sites which include Easy Living, Vogue and GQ.

Nyan cat

However the digital team at Conde Nast clearly understand the power and reach of Buzzfeed (40 million users per month), so instead of throwing their toys out of the pram, Conde Nast embraced the opportunity. Taking advantage of the uplift in traffic to their websites, Conde Nast created tailored versions of the graphics e.g.  Raptor in a suit for GQ. Advertisers were also appeased by discreetly moving the graphics away from the online ads.

The story has since had pick-up in The Independent, CNN and TechNewsNow.

A good example of thinking on your feet when the unexpected happens and being brave with your brand.

By on July 12th, 2013

Tags: Advertising, Digital marketing, PR, Public relations, Viral Marketing

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Synergy loves…Zeebox, your TV sidekick

What happened?

Have you ever found yourself shouting at your TV whilst watching a football match alone? Or, if you’re like me, watching Made in Chelsea and yearning to gab with your girlfriends about Millie’s awful outfit? If this sounds familiar, then you need to hear about zeebox.

Zeebox is a new company that’s dedicated to improving your television experience by amalgamating the power of the internet with your TV, all whilst enabling you to socialise with your friends. The notion behind the innovation is to create a more engaging TV-viewing experience, whilst incorporating a new social media aspect to an often lonesome activity.

The zeebox team, based in London, have created a free app that can be connected with your TV via your laptop, iPhone, iPad or Android smartphone. Zeebox can also be used as a social tool by instantaneously providing you with information on what your friends are watching and what shows are the most popular, in real-time. It’s the perfect combination of leisure and entertainment.

The revolutionary aspect of the zeebox is that by simply inviting your friends to join you, it enables you to share content with them, and can chat about programmes together while you watch them. Zeebox is also integrated with Twitter, so you can keep your followers up-to-date as you watch.

As you watch your favourite shows and films, zeebox recognises references to people, places and topics, and puts them up as keyword tags, or “zeetags”, on your screen. All you have to do is click on the zeetag and the machine brings up search results on Wikipedia, Google, or anywhere else on the web. Plus, if your TV is connected to the internet, zeebox can also act as your remote control.

To top it all off, you can also identify products that are related to what you’re watching and purchase them immediately online. This enables viewers to shop in real-time and increases the relevence of product placement in movies and television shows.

This short video from the company founders shows this clever TV sidekick in action.

Why we like it

Zeebox’s integrated social features enable the user to do an impressive number of social and technological tasks, easily and efficiently. By pulling in content on the spot from the internet, zeebox instantly provides you with a vast amount of information that’s easy to navigate. Thanks to this connected portal of information, zeebox is expected to become part of the standard TV-viewing experience in the not-so-distant future – hence why BSkyB decided to take a 10% stake in the company at the beginning of this year.

So, if zeebox is to lead the way for the companion app revolution in TV, and connected TV lives up to its expectations, then TV viewing will never be the same. It is incredibly important for brands to take note of this, as the implications are wide-reaching. The usual television advertisement will lose its relevance and brands will have to move to a more product placement and ad-funded programming orientated strategy to ensure their products get the desired cut-through. This is very exciting, as we will start to move from passive TV consumption to a more active experience in which brands can play an important role.

This, together with the seamless combination of rich information and social channels in one place, brings a sense of excitement that the way we consume television is about to change forever, and that zeebox is one of the catalysts for this change.

And the best part about it: it’s available now.

By on May 31st, 2012

Tags: Blogging, Branded content, Communications, Content, Digital marketing, Facebook, Media, Mobile, Online communities, Social Media, Synergy Loves, Viral Marketing, YouTube

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Powerade’s ‘On Your Marks’ Campaign

In a summer that will be full of memorable dates, May 3rd 2012 may not spring to mind for many people in years to come; however, for 35 Powerade consumers (and a few Coca-Cola and Synergy staff) this will probably be one of the most memorable days in not just this Olympic year, but any year.

Powerade, as the official hydration partner of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, gave 35 lucky consumers the unique opportunity to step into the Olympic Stadium and set their 100m ‘Personal Best’ before anyone else. It was the culmination of three months of hard work from the Synergy team, who project-managed and coordinated the event, working alongside a number of other Powerade agencies.

So how did consumers win the chance to participate? Our brief was to develop an entry mechanic that was innovative and fun that would also deliver the brand some great content. Cue ‘Olympic Planking’ -  encouraging people to adopt the iconic ‘On Your Marks’ pose wherever they saw fit, and submit a photo of this via Twitter to @poweradegb using the #onyourmarks hashtag. It was a simple mechanic, accessible to all and, critically, fun. Additionally, it was the first foray into Twitter for any Coca-Cola brand in the UK.

Powerade ambassador Jessica Ennis launched the campaign to her Twitter following of 150,000 fans. Within a minute of her first tweet, @poweradegb had 300 followers and the campaign was up and running.

Over the course of the next three weeks, we leveraged other Powerade relationships (such as The Football League and Rangers FC) and targeted specific Olympic-related accounts (getting some great retweets and promotion in the process) to build up almost 6,000 followers and hundreds of entries into the Powerade #onyourmarks competition. The entries were then reviewed by our celebrity judges – Jess and fellow Powerade ambassador Derval O’Rourke – and a final 35 were selected and invited to the Olympic Stadium event.

Race day began with a Jess Ennis inspired breakfast at 7.30am, after which around 150 competitors, spectators, suppliers, media and LOCOG staff made their way to the Olympic Stadium. Before Toni Minichiello – Jess’s coach – and Derval got everyone limbered up, there was time for a good luck message from Jess herself.

Then it was on with the warm-up and a crash course in sprint starts from Toni and Derval on the indoor track.

But the real excitement came with the races proper, out on the Olympic track. After the 16 heats, we emerged with the top eight men and women who would battle it out in the On Your Marks finals. Congratulations to Evan McGuire and Bethany Hirst, who both posted outstanding times of 11.37s and 13.34s respectively.

In the following days, we got some fantastic feedback from competitors, spectators and media alike. The @poweradegb Twitter account has been helping to promote the Olympics Sports Bottle promotion and will now help bring a UK audience to the global @powerade account.

More engagement opportunities for Powerade consumers, and hopefully, there will be some more success on the track for both Jess and Derval this summer.

By on May 31st, 2012

Tags: Athletics, Event management consultants, Olympics, Running, Social Media, Twitter, Viral Marketing

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Saturday Match Fever Has Kettering Town Staying Alive

With Conference Premier football club Kettering Town FC on their financial knees and with their very existence at threat, there was only one place to look for redemption; to a time of bigger hair, shorter shorts and fatter ‘taches. I’m of course talking about the 1970s.

To celebrate Kettering Town’s status as the first English club to adopt a football shirt sponsor in 1976, Betfair threw ‘The Poppies’ a lifeline by agreeing a one-off shirt sponsorship deal and cash injection, just days ahead of their visit to the Royal Courts of Justice to face an HMRC winding-up petition.

At the home fixture with Stockport County on Saturday 31st March, the struggling club agreed to wear a specially made retro playing strip, faithful to the original 1976 design and featuring vintage ‘short’ shorts. Betfair was also set to offer season-ticket holders unbeatable value with a rebate to attend the match for just £1 – the cost of entry in 1976 – with fans able to pocket the difference or donate it back to the club.

To get the Kettering squad in the mood for the fixture, we visited the club to undertake a transformation back to the spirit of the 1970s, as brought to life in this exclusive photo shoot. The players were enthusiastic and willing models, with player-manager Ashley Westwood and midfielder David Bridges proving more than a little comfortable in the ‘70s ensemble.

It’s impossible, however, to recall the nostalgia of 1970s football, and not bring to mind images of stirring broadcast coverage. In a tribute to the Dickie Davies-anchored ‘World of Sport’ and other such TV gems, we created “Betfair’s Big Match”, following hapless sports reporter Dave Mandelson as he visited the team in preparation for the crucial Stockport County fixture.

The story sought to raise awareness of Kettering Town’s financial plight, with football fans encouraged to back a campaign run by The Poppies Trust, looking to raise funds to safeguard the future of the club. National press were fully behind the move, with The Metro and Daily Mirror running stories on launch day, and the likes of DailyMail.co.uk, DailyStar.co.uk as well as football bloggers such as WhoAteAllThePies and 101GreatGoals running the video, in addition to local broadcasters ITV Anglia.

The surge of media interest caused quite a stir in the Football Conference, however, with league sponsors Blue Square Bet objecting to a rival betting brand operating within their apparent space. On Friday 30th March, and just 24 hours ahead of the crucial fixture, Kettering Town were faced with the threat of possible league expulsion if they went ahead with the unique deal. In light of this development Betfair reluctantly withdrew the shirts from the match itself, whilst still donating the much needed cash to the club.

The club were delighted with the generous contribution, helping ensure a club with a unique role in UK’s football history lived to fight another day.

We’ll never know if those shirts would have inspired the team to victory, as sadly Kettering succumbed to a 1-3 home defeat, and face an uphill battle to remain in the division next season.

From all at Betfair and Synergy (and of course Dave Mandelson), we wish the club all the best.  “COME ON YOU POPPIES!”

By on April 4th, 2012

Tags: Content, Default, Football, Football Sponsorship, PR, Sponsorship, Sport, Viral Marketing, YouTube

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GUINNESS Made of More Rugby Campaign

What better way to spend St Patrick’s Day than watching England v Ireland at Twickenham with a pint of GUINNESS in hand? Well the rugby mad GUINNESS team here at Synergy certainly can’t think of one! So after another busy RBS 6 Nations tournament, it’s time to look back on our highlights from the GUINNESS Made of More campaign.

It all started back in January when a refreshed team of ambassadors were chosen to bring to life the new GUINNESS Made of More brand positioning.  The four ambassadors were picked to support the brand’s partnership as ‘Official Beer of The RBS 6 Nations’, as well as Official Partners of the home unions, England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The new (and one not so new) faces included Scotland’s Sean Lamont, England full back Ben Foden, Wales centre Jamie Roberts and Jamie Heaslip of Ireland who were all contracted to spearhead an integrated below-the-line campaign for the brand.

Working as part of a cross agency team with Ireland’s WHPR and Cybercom, Synergy co-ordinated the two day launch which included content filming, photography and media interviews. To really get rugby fans across all four home nations roused ahead of the tournament the Cybercom team created a spine tingling video featuring the ambassadors, which has since had over 100,000 views.

Synergy contracted the photographer, Hamish Brown, to create a selection of images that inextricably showed the players’ dynamism and power, also demonstrating that like the GUINNESS product, the brand’s ambassadors are made of something a little bit extra. Whether this is Ben Foden’s lightening fast feet or Jamie Roberts’ powerful charges through the midfield, we wanted to capture each of the ambassador’s individual traits which proves they are made of more.

The Synergy PR team secured national and regional coverage in England, Wales and Scotland across a range of sectors including sport and lifestyle press, online, radio and broadcast, with WHPR generating some great coverage in Ireland.

One of the key objectives of this campaign was to drive international rugby fans to the GUINNESS Facebook pages, and encourage a deeper brand engagement through the ambassadors providing a steady stream of exclusive content from inside their camps. The cross agency team also developed a unique competition for fans from each nation to win the chance to play alongside their hero in the GUINNESS Rugby Challenge at the end of the tournament. More on that later…

Throughout the campaign Synergy activated player and coach appearances including interviews with Wales front row Gethin Jenkins, Scott Lawson and Chris Cusiter of Scotland, as well as England (then interim) coaches Stuart Lancaster and Andy Farrell.

Throughout the championship, GUINNESS ran an off-trade competition whereby one lucky GUINNESS customer could win the chance to have an England legend come to their home and watch the England v Ireland match with their mates, whilst toasting St Patrick’s Day with a few pints of the black stuff! Former England star Andrew Sheridan stepped up to plate, and for our lucky winner Keith Roberts and his friends it was a completely unforgettable day.

Andy’s insight and running commentary throughout the game proved perfect considering the game was so forward driven, with the big man himself proclaiming that “all that passing nonsense is for wimps!” All in all, it was certainly an they will tell their friends about every time they have a pint of GUINNESS at the local pub.

After seven weeks of rugby the final weekend saw Wales aiming for a Grand Slam in Cardiff, but the final curtain was to fall at a sold out Twickenham on St Patrick’s Day, with GUINNESS there to join in with the craic. Thanks to the RFU, the GUINNESS St Patrick’s Day video was shown to over 80,000 England and Ireland fans live at Twickenham, in addition to over 1,000 GUINNESS hats given away to fans in the West Car Park.  All of which added up to the GUINNESS bar have its busiest day at the rugby ever!

With Paddy’s Day behind us, the Synergy team rounded off this year’s RBS 6 Nations with the GUINNESS Rugby Challenge. Winners, plus two friends, were invited to Twickenham Stoop to play rugby alongside our ambassadors, minus Sean Lamont who was gallantly replaced by Scotland’s Jon Barclay. The warm up was taken by England forwards coach, Graham Rowntree and fitness coach Calvin Morris who later went on to referee the touch rugby competition.

By on March 27th, 2012

Tags: Alcohol, Default, Event management consultants, Guinness, PR, Public relations, RBS 6 Nations, Rugby, Sponsorship, Sport, Synergy, Synopsis, Viral Marketing, YouTube

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SSE moving forward in 2012

Last year we introduced you to a new rugby partnership for energy brand SSE, who began a three year deal as the National Community Partner of the RFU.

SSE is committed to supporting rugby clubs who are the foundation of the game and sit at the heart of their communities.  The first step was to really understand what clubs need, which is why we conducted a wide ranging survey of rugby clubs around the country.

As a result,  we are excited to announce the launch of the SSE Rugby website, a brand new website offering a season-long programme of rewards, resources, and opportunities designed specifically to help meet the needs of local rugby clubs across the country.

As well as offering unique insight and content into the rugby world from ambassadors such as Tom Croft and Danny Grewcock, SSE Rugby offers players, fans and coaches a range of exclusive benefits:

  1. Annual Energy Reward – the opportunity for a local rugby club to win £10,000 worth of SSE energy credits or an energy makeover worth up to £8,000
  2. Monthly Club Rewards – exciting rewards and prizes to be won every month, from training sessions with ambassadors to essential kit and training equipment
  3. Ambassadors – Tom Croft, Danny Grewcock and John Bentley will be sharing regular blogs and videos around their thoughts on community rugby, as well as offering coaching tips and running training sessions at amateur clubs
  4. Community News – exclusive news stories from the heart of the grassroots game, and regular video blogs and coaching tips from featured Community Rugby Coaches(CRCs) across England

Not only is there a huge amount of content for rugby enthusiasts, but there are also opportunities for them to win brilliant rewards for their club. The rewards range from joining Danny Grewcock to watch the England team train before the Barbarians match at Twickenham, to having legendary former British & Irish Lion John Bentley come to their rugby club to give an inspirational team talk they’ll never forget. Take a look at the video below to get a taste!

To coincide with the launch of the website and the upcoming England vs Wales RBS 6 Nations match, Synergy created three films to emphasise the healthy competition between the fans and the teams. SSE ambassador Tom Croft challenges SWALEC (sister brand to SSE) ambassador Ryan Jones head to head in 3 critical challenges set in community rugby clubs. Have a look here to find out who came out on top…

By on February 24th, 2012

Tags: community, Default, RBS 6 Nations, Rugby, Viral Marketing

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