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The Future for Women’s Sport: Learnings from our This Girl Does Event

Women’s sport is a really good investment. We have proof. It is time that brands understand what the opportunity is. Expertly hosted by Jacqui Oatley, MBE, Sport Presenter and Journalist, Synergy’s This Girl Does panel consisted of Tanya Joseph, Director of Business Partnerships at Sport England; Colin Banks, Head of Sponsorship and Reward, SSE; Ruth Holdaway, CEO Women in Sport; and Carly Telford, England and Notts County Footballer.Watch the video in full here.

Here are our 7 top takeaways from the day:

Untapped potential

Tanya Joseph, who orchestrated the widely successful campaign #ThisGirlCan, shared that the work was built on research revealing 2 million fewer women do recreational sport than men, but 75% of women say that they would like to do a lot more sport. As Joseph suggests, when women make up over half the population and are responsible for the majority of purchasing decisions made in the home, that’s a lot of untapped potential. Joseph claims that the campaign was so successful due to an acute understanding of the underlying fear of judgement that goes hand in hand with exercise for many women. Being able to liberate women from this fear of not being comfortable in their own bodies in a tone that is not patronising or preachy, has so far inspired 2.8 million women to get active.

Increase in role models

Carly Telford acknowledged that 2012 was when women’s football really got put on the map in this country. According to Telford, what the nation saw was the same as the men with regards to the passion they felt and the honour with which they represented the Three Lions. This, combined with the media putting them on a pedestal, encouraged record audiences. Before 2012 there were no female sports role models and in the past five years the nation has been inspired by the success of the Lionesses, Olympic and Paralympic athletes and our talented rugby union team (among many others).

The Opportunity

The figures show that a vast receptive audience exists. Women’s sport makes up less than half a percent of sponsorship going into sport, so “whatever you are looking at there will be an opportunity” says Ruth Holdaway. In the next three years the women’s Cricket World Cup (2017), the Hockey World Cup (2018) and the Netball World Cup (2019) are all being hosted in this country. According to Holdaway, the plan is to offer all three of these sports to every single school girl across the country which presents a real opportunity for brands to inspire our nation’s girls and reach their parents. It is also a great example of how innovative the rights holders are being working together to strengthen the offering.

Accessibility & Storytelling

Not only are our female role models so much more accessible they have really powerful stories for brands to tell. Superstars in men’s sport are shut off to their fans; they are a step removed by the PR teams managing their channels. Telford explained that female sports stars are far more accessible and more likely to engage personally with their audience. Their stories can connect, because ultimately they are women ‘like you’. As Tanya Joseph so aptly put it, ‘Women want to see themselves reflected in marketing.’

Chicken & Egg

The barriers to investment were brought up by Oatley asking “do you need success first before investment comes, or do you invest early and be part of that success from the start”? It was fascinating to hear from Colin Banks at SSE about how they reached their decision to sponsor the Women’s FA Cup. He started off by stating that when developing their sponsorship strategy women’s sport rose to the top in terms of value for money, and meeting core brand and business marketing objectives. From a brand perspective, Banks pointed out that “commercial ventures need return”. For SSE women’s sport was a no-brainer and they have seen real, tangible return on their investment. Banks also said that when meeting with the rights holders there was true willingness to bring partners into the fold; “exposure is of course key, but the days of media coverage being the be all and end all are over, it’s about how you engage with your audience”. So far, so successful for SSE and The FA.

Authenticity

For brands to engage the key is to connect to their audiences in an authentic way; when you talk to people in the right way, they can’t help but want to get involved. #ThisGirlCan proved this by shifting women’s perception to feel like sport is a place where they can be. Open, honest conversations with all stakeholders and your audience are essential to ensure your brand connects. According to Telford, where you will find success is when you move away from this ‘puppet on a string’ approach to working with athletes. Brands also have much more to being to the table, to generate the much needed awareness to genuinely build the sport, instead of paying vast amounts of money in exchange for reluctantly handed over assets and limited access to players that is often the experience in the men’s game.

Don’t miss out

According to Joseph “in five years’ time people will be kicking themselves that they didn’t get involved earlier”. It’s becoming quite evident that SSE has set a historical precedent in this space and we at Synergy hope to see many more brands follow suit..

If you’re interested in discussing Women’s Sport further please get in touch with Synergy’s Lisa Parfitt – lisa.parfitt@synergy-sponsorship.com.

Taking Inspiration from Chelsea…A focus on Event Design

At this time of year the pillars of the quintessential British summer start to come to the fore, beginning with the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Whilst perhaps previously perceived as archaic and old fashioned, such opinions are gradually being dispelled as the event proves to be one of the jewels of our design year. I’m fascinated by garden design, and believe that my world of events and experiential sits in parallel when looking at how an idea and design is brought to life.
A garden is often designed with a story in mind, whether it be a childhood memory, or replication of a regional landscape that is pulled into the 21st Century through backdrops and planting. One of the most fascinating parts for me is the ability to take a blank canvas and twist the perceptions of what is possible, pushing the boundaries of garden design to give the viewer a new perspective.

Two sponsored gardens, the Cloudy Bay Garden and L’Occitane Gardens, are focused on telling the brand story through garden design. The Cloudy Bay Garden reflects the tasting notes of their wine through the materials visible within their space, and L’Occitane’s garden is a celebration of their 40th year, using the brand’s roots in Provence as their horticultural theme.

As well as gardens giving us great pleasure they can also provide inspiration and spark ideas for other industries. The designer Paul Smith has often referenced how he has taken stimulus from the Chelsea Flower Show, and incorporated rows of colour and textures in his ranges, synonymous with those seen in so many gardens at Chelsea.

A personal highlight for me from this year is the showcase of great interactive design, which is expertly displayed within two art installations.

First is the New Covent Garden Market’s art installation Behind Every Great Florist, which formed the centrepiece of their debut garden. Their 3D image of the Queen created from flowers claimed multiple column inches, as the Queen was captured admiring the design from its centre.

Secondly, The Marble and Granite Centre’s rock installation encouraged consumers to interact with it and look through the strategically placed holes, giving the visitor multiple viewpoints of the garden beyond.
One display at this year’s Chelsea I couldn’t avoid referencing is the Poppy Installation. 300,000 poppies have been sewn together and laid outside the Royal Chelsea Hospital, clearly showcasing the intricacies and detail of design. This was also so visible with the ceramic poppies installed at the Tower of London last year, a living exhibit that truly captured the nation’s imagination.

In the world we work in we are often focused on the brand being central to the event design. One thing I take from Chelsea Flower Show, is that increasingly we should take a step back and pull out finer details of the brand’s make-up, and look to connect the consumer to the brand through the use of textures, colours and materials. It is in our nature when we are planning and producing experiential campaigns to focus on logos and lock ups, but there won’t really be a logo in site at Chelsea. These gardeners use intricate planting, contrasting materials, textures and lighting to tell their story, transforming their space into a garden that stands for something. From an events design perspective, be it in hospitality, experiential or PR, we can learn a lot about how to create the best look and feel for a consumer from these horticultural experts.

Consumers are always looking to share their experiences, and crave photographic details to share on their social networks. However, millennials are becoming more immune to branded activity and yearn for new, cool experiences to showcase those ‘I was there’ moments. At Chelsea all of the installations have never been seen before, so cameras are at the ready and consumers share thousands of images, helping to make the show the famous attraction it is.

As kings of the retail experience, Nike are a great example of a brand who think about the intricacies of their brand when creating experiences. A visit to the Nike FlyKnit experience, or simply a walk through their flagship store, showcases how every detail has been created to deliver an immersive experience for the consumer, exactly like that of a Chelsea garden.

With all of this in mind, when we were challenged by Canterbury to showcase their latest training range, and in particular their Vapodri technology, we wanted to immerse the consumer in a unique, Canterbury-owned experience.

We created a bespoke gym space in a warehouse in Shoreditch, which would make the guests sweat and showcase the product technologies by immersing the consumer in the brand. But we didn’t stop there – we tailored the lighting to evoke the emotion of each area of training, whether it be Speed, Power, Strength or Endurance. The music we used supplemented this and took the consumer on a wave of sub conscious emotions throughout the day. Importantly, our clean space design combined well with the dark environment and sporadic lighting, helping to hero the neon training product.

It is clear the finer details are becoming increasingly important. Using gardens as a platform for inspiration is one thing, but I believe we should be looking to architects and urban designers to help shape our thinking when bringing a brand experience to life. At Chelsea the designers are using many of the latest technologies that we use to create brand experience; personal 3D scanning, touch screens, automated directional lighting and sensory chimes to name but a few. Who knows, next year may see leap motion, VR, holograms and projection mapping!

There is more expectation for brands to become more immersive and focus on a sharable narrative for their followers, therefore budgets need to be used shrewdly to ensure the most engaging creative and design is at the heart of the experience. The traditional notion of removing the ‘nice to have’ branding installations are now the expected norm from consumers as they have become more savvy to standard brand showcases.

Everything we see and interact with builds a picture of design, something that we can all create, but those marginal details and nods to the brand are what separates the great from the good, just like a gold and a silver gilt!

Work

Bose – F1 Garage Experience

CHALLENGE

To create an immersive experience to bring F1 fans closer to the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team and the sport they love.

Bose Mercedes AMG F1 Garage Live experiential

SOLUTION

A ground-breaking experiential activation, combining innovative spatial sound technology and Bose Wireless headphones and launched at the 2016 US Grand Prix in Austin. Using a pair of Bose QuietComfort 35 Noise-Cancelling Wireless headphones, race fans gained access to one of the most exclusive places in sport: the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS garage, during the final moments before the cars go out onto the track.

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RESULTS

Nearly 4,000 fans attended the venue in downtown Austin over the course of race week, to feel what it was really like to be inside the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS garage, and the feedback was phenomenal. Even people who spend their whole lives in an F1 garage were blown away by the authenticity of the experience.

Drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, were even fans - frankly if they think it’s cool, then who are we to argue…

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Discover Your Dirty Side

BRIEF

Virgin Active, in the second year of their Tough Mudder and Colour Run partnerships, were looking to maximise the value of these assets by creating an activation that would tie the two properties together in an overarching campaign. How could Virgin Active leverage these sponsorships to drive brand awareness and generate leads?

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SOLUTION

Built on an insight that united the two properties - that they are more than just running events, they are experiences where participants lose their inhibitions and actually aim to get as dirty as possible - our ‘Discover Your Dirty Side’ campaign was born.

At both events, our on-the-ground activation gave runners the chance to get ready to get dirty, with exercises and stretching that would prepare them for the course; challenged them to get dirty on obstacles and within colour-filled photo activities; and rewarded their dirtiness – offering them Virgin Active day passes and memberships.

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RESULTS

Across 15 events the campaign created 2,000 leads for the business, drove new people into clubs, and raised awareness of the Virgin Active brand amongst over 180,000 people.

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Training Range Launch

BRIEF

Create an innovative and engaging training event to promote and showcase Canterbury’s training range offer within an event environment. Conception and delivery of training launch for 60 competition winners inclusive of content creation and media generation reinforcing Canterbury’s status as the number one rugby brand.

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SOLUTION

Our campaign was driven around creating an engaging and motivating brand experience which at its core focuses on training for rugby not rugby training. By engaging and immersing the committed rugby community into a training offering which only Canterbury can offer, we could then have a launch pad for creating advocates for the brand. The Ultimate Training Experience took the consumer to an East London warehouse where we took Canterbury’s four pillars of training Speed, Endurance, Strength and Power to create an immersive rugby training experience. Using a personalised designed array of dynamic lighting and buoyant music taken from our insights with our carefully orchestrated training team we created a truly unforgettable experience for all of the 60 + guests. By utilising Canterbury’s ambassadors this gave us the foothold we needed to create a media buzz with significant social outreach achieved through content creation and influencer platforms.

RESULTS

Over 4,000 fans applied for a chance to come to the event
Over 150,000 views of the campaign film
12 pieces of campaign content captured
100% of guests gave a 10 out of 10 for the event experience
22 pieces of media coverage reaching a million impressions

RugbyForce 2016

BRIEF

NatWest supports the grassroots game through RugbyForce  the largest community rugby project in England and Wales. Following Rugby World Cup 2015, we had to sustain the momentum of interest in the game by ensuring registrations remained high. Our challenge was to get NatWest closer to their local communities in which they work by revitalising the existing programme, encouraging a renewed interest from clubs.

NatWest RugbyForce

SOLUTION

We invigorated the RugbyForce by creating brand new incentive for 2016. Clubs that registered had the chance to win legends of the game Lewis Moody, Will Greenwood, Tom Shanklin and Al Kellock on their club’s board for a year. We created a mini-series of targeted social media content promoted across both the brands and each Union’s channels. This was amplified through press interviews with each legend to highlight the business acumen they could offer a grassroots club.

RESULTS

While the roll-out is still underway, the campaign has reached and engaged over 800 clubs, surpassing last year’s total registrations. The launch film achieved 330,500 views in the first 72 hours, directing 1,100 people to the registration pages. This, combined with legend interviews, generated over 200 press clippings, including each of the three countries' key national titles. Watch the launch video here and stay tuned to see each legend join their winning club.

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Ryder Cup 2016

BRIEF

Create global awareness of Standard Life Investments' worldwide partnership with the Ryder Cup and deliver their 'World Class As Standard' message.

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SOLUTION

We signed up the 2016 Ryder Cup captains, Darren Clarke and Davis Love III, as brand ambassadors alongside a suite of performance and golf experts to align Standard Life Investments with world-class talent. Our ‘World Class As Standard’ campaign uses our ambassadors through a series of short videos released online, exploring the importance and the impact of analysis, performance and potential on ultimate sporting success.
We launched the Standard Life Investments 2016 Ryder Cup ‘World Class As Standard’ campaign in New York in April. Our approach was focused and targeted, providing exclusive access to American and international media, Standard Life Investments' media partners as well as an intimate and exclusive event for CEOs. The captains and senior executives from Standard Life Investments rang the Nasdaq opening bell in Times Square live on American TV with our campaign content streaming on a live billboard – exposure usually bought for $100,000.

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RESULTS

So far, we have generated 124 pieces of coverage across both sides of the Atlantic, conducted 15 media interviews with captains generating an AVE of over £1m pounds. The launch sparked conversation across 17 countries and over 10 million social impressions.

www.standardlifeinvestments.com/rydercup2016.

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BMW England Rugby

BRIEF

Make BMW and its vehicles central to England Rugby and the fans’ experience, and drive engagement and leads.

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SOLUTION

Famously, England rugby fans’ favourite song is ‘Sweet Chariot’. And notoriously, the fans’ travelling experience to and from Twickenham Stadium for England games is difficult. We leveraged these two insights with the BMW Sweet Chariots campaign. A launch film featuring the England team on the road singing Sweet Chariot went viral, and was followed by the appearance of the BMW Sweet Chariots, a fleet of England Rugby-liveried BMWs which offers fans chauffeur-driven rides to and from matches at Twickenham via digital and experiential promotions.

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RESULTS

The launch film achieved over 500,000 views and national media coverage, and the BMW Sweet Chariots have become a fans’ favourite at Twickenham and generated thousands of leads.

London 2012 – Golden BMWs

BRIEF

BMW was a London 2012 Partner but had no marketing rights to the London 2012 Olympic Torch Relay. How could BMW leverage the national marketing opportunity created by the Torch Relay?

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SOLUTION

We leveraged UK communities’ excitement about the Torch arriving in their area by touring a convoy of three custom-liveried Golden BMWs around the Torch Relay route a day ahead of the official Relay. Alongside, we created an integrated social, PR and experiential campaign aligned with BMW retailers, including inviting people to ‘Spot, Snap and Share’ on social media their photos of the Golden BMWs to win London 2012 tickets.

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RESULTS

We re-imagined the possibilities of Olympic Torch Relay marketing by owning the 24 hours before the Torch arrived. Making the cars the star was equally critical: turning the BMWs gold created Olympic relevance, social media buzz and media appeal, and ensured that BMW was indivisible from the story. The campaign reached over 20 million consumers, inspired almost 50,000 visits to BMW retailers, and increased BMW UK’s Facebook community by 15%.

Penalty Champions

BRIEF

Create a campaign to integrate Betfair's FC Barcelona and Manchester United sponsorships, dramatise the Betfair exchange, and drive digital engagement at scale with the clubs' fans.

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SOLUTION

A once in a lifetime opportunity for Barca and United fans: the chance to score a goal in front of a sell-out matchday crowd at Camp Nou and Old Trafford.

The Betfair Penalty Champions campaign took Barca and United fans on journey from placing a bet, to a home and away half-time penalty shoot-out between fans from the two clubs.

Every £10 football bet entered fans into the campaign, driving incremental revenue. Ten entrants from each club were chosen to take part in exclusive penalty training days hosted by club legends at Barca and United’s training grounds. The contestants’ best penalties were filmed and posted on the campaign hub, for a vote to decide which fans would become Penalty Champions.

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RESULTS

Promoted through FC Barcelona’s facebook page, Manchester United’s digital channels and an extensive social media campaign, over 142,000 Penalty Champions votes were cast, resulting in six finalists being chosen to represent their clubs in the two-legged shoot-out.

Through the recruitment, selection and shoot-out phases, we helped to deliver significant incremental revenue, new customer acquisition, engaging online digital content, and 19 pieces of UK media coverage. The Synergy Events team managed all on-the-ground activation at the club training grounds and, of course, the matchday shoot-out experience for the six lucky winners at Camp Nou and Old Trafford – won by Manchester United!

SSE & Women’s Football

BRIEF

Where will the next generation of Lionesses come from? Our challenge was to launch a new girls-only football participation programme to show that SSE is giving young girls across the country more opportunities than ever to play the beautiful game, making a real difference in wider society.

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SOLUTION

We created SSE Girls United, a campaign that aims to make our ambition real and tangibly demonstrate how SSE are making a difference. Made up of nearly 100 local schoolgirls, the SSE Girls United team was a striking visual representation of the number of opportunities SSE are creating for young girls to play football. With England Lionesses Lucy Bronze and Karen Bardsley in leading roles, we staged a football match like no other: England Women vs SSE Girls United. We called it the Generation Game – a short film that would celebrate the camaraderie and togetherness in women’s football and inspire girls across the nation to get involved. As Lucy and Karen took their positions for kick-off, they quickly realised their opposition were like nothing they had ever faced. Lucy said that “lining up against that number of girls is one of the most incredible sights I’ve ever experienced, not only as an England player but throughout my career!"

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RESULTS

The resulting film is an entertaining, light-hearted piece of content, and with SSE Girls United eventually winning 1-0, this meant it was popular with national and regional press and social media, generating over 160 pieces of national and regional PR coverage including the Daily Mail, BT Sport, Yahoo, Eurosport and Sport Magazine.
The statistics on SSE’s own channels were equally as impressive, racking up over 1,300 'likes' and over half a million views (with an impressive completion rate of over 50%) across Facebook and YouTube. Most importantly, we’re giving over 75 football clubs a grant to start their own girls’ football team, showing that SSE really is making a difference.

Brighter Together

BRIEF

Use IG’s partnership with Harlequins, and presenting sponsorship of the Big Game,
to make rugby fans more aware of IG and more favourable towards the brand.

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SOLUTION

Our ‘Brighter Together’ campaign gave Harlequins fans the closeness to the club they craved through a playful explosion of colour. The PR launch showed Harlequins players immersed in exploding club colours – a symbol of Quins’ uniqueness – while the Big Game activation allowed fans to reveal their ‘inner Harlequin’ through thermal imagery in Quins colours on a cold December afternoon. At every Quins match we produced live social content – infographics and imagery – showcasing original and game-defining statistics to provide talking points among viewers and spectators.

Brighter Colour. Brighter Experience. Brighter Insights.

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RESULTS

Our iconic PR images achieved national media coverage, Harlequin Inside was featured during the live Big Game broadcast on BT Sport, and our social content reached over 2m fans during the season. IG’s awareness among Harlequins fans increased 21%, alongside increase in positive sentiment and awareness of what IG does.

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