The below is an abridged version of the full executive summary that Sport Industry Spotlight attendees receive as part of their package. To find out more about the session and to sign up for future panels, click here.
The latest edition of Sport Industry Spotlight took a close look at UK campaigns, focusing on the brands, teams, and rights holders who are bringing campaigns to the nation's attention and captivating the public en masse.
Each Sport Industry Spotlight session is based on a category at the Sport Industry Awards 2020, this time focussing on the UK Campaign of the Year Award in association with Smart Group.
The panel was made of up of Marzena Bogdanowicz, Head of Marketing & Commercial, Women's Football, The FA; Malph Minns, Managing Director, Strive Sponsorship; James Parry, Portfolio Head of Marketing, BBC Sport; Lee Price, Head of PR & Mischief, Paddy Power.
As with all Sport Industry Spotlight sessions, the subject matter was led by attendees, through a series of interactive polls and questions from the floor, and hosted by Alex Coulson, Managing Director, Sport Industry Group.
Understanding Your Audience
National campaigns for major sporting events or brand marketing campaigns come in many shapes and sizes, with the panel in agreement that understanding the audience you’re talking to is crucial.
This was perhaps best summed up by the BBC’s Parry, who spoke on the question of using the passion that sport creates to draw up public interest. Although passion is something sport can conjure up, it can be off-putting according to Parry.
Strive Sponsorship’s Minns was similarly emphatic on the importance of understanding the audience you’re speaking to and when, but also understanding your own place in the landscape.
When dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, for example, it’s vital to ask whether or not your brand should be the one to honour the heroes of the crisis, or whether your message should be about something else.
Understanding how best to position your brand in the moment is crucial in the current scenario but according to the panel that’s something which could become even more important in the coming months and years. Minns spoke about seeing more brands seize the moment and sees this as something which will become more and more important as time goes on.
Price, meanwhile, explained how his brand, Paddy Power, is confident in its own position within the market that his team know which moments they can capitalise on and when. It’s important to be aware of the cultural relevance of the moment, he said, but also to be self-aware enough to understand how the public sees you - and then to use that to your advantage.
Speaking about the brand’s Save Our Shirt campaign, and the tie-in with the newly-relegated Huddersfield Town that saw the Paddy Power logo placed across the club’s shirt in pre-season only for it to be taken away completely for the start of the new campaign.
That was an example of the brand understanding the cultural moment, reminding its audience of the problem, and then building up issue only to break it down and present a solution.
Purpose and collaboration
Nationwide campaigns rely on collaboration, just as Price admitted that the Save Our Shirt campaign would not have enjoyed the same cut-through without the buy-in from Huddersfield.
However, collaboration on an even greater scale than before could be something we see more of in the coming years, and was touched on by Bogdanowicz, who spoke about the FA’s successful squad announcement video for the FIFA Women’s World Cup team.
That short campaign overcame some severe timing issues, she explained, as well as the fact that there is generally less interest in who will make the women’s team than there usually is in the men’s World Cup team.
Using 23 celebrities to lend reach and impact to the squad, and to gain some extra credibility for the sport as a whole, Bogdanowicz hailed the announcement as a triumph of collaboration, stating that none of the stars involved were paid for their help - but instead wanted to help grow women’s football.
That same unity of purpose, she said, goes across the FA’s women’s football partners, too, and partly explains the success the organisation has had in growing the womens’ game.
The Next Big Thing
Finally, the panel looked to what may happen in the future and focused on the next big thing to impact future nationwide campaigns.
Purpose, and collaboration were high on the list - especially, as Bogdanowicz said, if brands and organisations with similar goals are fighting each other then they’re fighting for the same space.
The panel pointed to some of the recent work by the likes of Nike and adidas around social justice and equality. The US brand recently asked the public not to turn its back on racism but to join together to challenge it and to create change. Its German rival then shared the video on social media, hinting that greater collaboration could be the hallmark of future campaigns and commenting ‘Together is how we make change’.
Sport Industry Spotlight is driven by genuine insider insight, and with interactivity built in throughout, the sessions make learning about the industry’s finest work both easy and accessible.
Join us next week for Sport Industry Spotlight: Sport Event Coverage to talk all things broadcasting, behind-the-scenes content, rich editorial, and what it takes to get eyeballs on all that sport has to offer.