Sports Campaign of the Decade – why I am excited

BY FMBE director, Frank Wainwright

When we announce our special award each year I often hope for something that will light up our event, showing what can come about when the best of the best emerge.

I’m delighted to say that this year we have truly cracked it, six best of the best contenders from ground breaking agencies and campaigns.

There is a real ‘only at FMBE’ factor in this one. All the campaigns are deserving winners and only one has won.

But who? Without giving away all of the detail in each entry, here is a guide to the runners and riders.

Circle Agency – PlayStation

The PlayStation School’s Cup has matured as both a competition and as a brand experience since its 2013 launch and has become an annual calendar highlight for participants. Around 5,000 teams and 150,000 participants take part in the campaign each year, across boys and girls football tournaments in the U12 – U15 secondary school age categories. The competition was open to children of all abilities with B team and Small School Trophy tournaments. Through direct engagement and targeted engagement this means nearly 2 million people are reached through pupils, friends and family.

The numbers are pretty staggering, but the big secret to the success of this is to live up to its billing. PlayStation and football combine to set a high bar of expectation, and yet the attention to detail, with superstar access and a big stadium final make this one of the most immersive brand hosted events ever.

drp – Sainsbury’s

Sainsbury’s tier-one partnership of the 2012 Paralympic Games was seen as brave by many, but the grocery retailer’s activation of the sponsorship showed inspired timing of association with sporting heroism of epic proportions.

Sainsbury’s embraced Paralympic sport in a way that made 150,000 colleagues proud. From inspirational colleague and customer nominations joining the Torch Relay, through flame festivals and a grand day out for 5000 of their staff, Sainsbury’s helped to give the whole event, talkability and scales and a massive direct network.

Not only that but a legacy was left via Active Kids that saw Active Kids for All emerge. Sainsbury’s remained committed to the successful British Paralympic Team in Rio.

The brand benefited in many ways, not least a 0.3% increase in market share and 5.6% growth in sales whilst the games were on.

REL Field Marketing – Molson Coors

Molson Coors has sold out more stadia than most brands – mini stadia exactingly built by their brand ambassadors using product skus in stores and warehouses.

For many brands, sports association, however bold the sponsorship, lacks leverage at retail.

Not so for Molson Coors for whom a sports event, like UEFA 2016, is an opportunity to get creative and theatrical with the product displays generating extra unpaid display space, exciting retailers and forging the event connection indelibly in shopper’s minds.

The entry proves the outstanding ability that field sales teams have to elevate sponsorship and use it to drive sales bringing the passion of competition into the stores themselves.

It is hard to imagine any field team that delivers more sporting passion and event celebration and by directly influencing purchase the Molson Coors team helps the brand to justify its event associations, which creates a positive cycle for many brand supported sports events.

Testimonials to the hard working team are legion – “The excitement driven at depot level to engage retailers is nothing we’ve ever seen before at such a National level, the depot guys activated from South to North – just brilliant” – Simon Best, Booker group controller

RPM – Sky

Sky’s association with cycling has been nothing short of phenomenal, to such a point where  Team Sky and Sky Ride ARE cycling in the UK as both the elite sport and have-a-go ends of the spectrum have been embraced. Has Sky grown cycling or has cycling grown with Sky coming along for the ride?

The answer lies in Sky Ride, the astonishing brand built event series that set out to get 1 million people back in the saddle, achieving its objective early. In research conducted by GFK covering the period 2009 – 2014, Sky’s work in cycling will have resulted in over 1.7m people getting back on their bikes on a more regular basis. Sky Ride is the biggest contributor to this.

As of the end of 2014, there were over 8 million regular cyclists in the UK, meaning Sky’s cycling initiatives account for around 20% of people who now regularly ride a bike in the UK.

2016 sees the end of the 8-year partnership between Sky and British Cycling – arguably the most successful sporting partnership in British history (measured on Team GB medals and grassroots participation numbers) and therefore the end of Sky Ride after 108 events.

100,000 cyclists are expected to participate in Sky Rides in 2016.

Space – John Smith’s

Sometimes one great creative idea generates a hive of brand activity and that was the case as soon as someone said something like ‘let’s give ownership shares in a racehorse away with every pint.”

And so a now famous advertising and social media campaign was born in 2010. John Smith’s sponsorship of the Grand National was given year round No Nonsense leverage as Smithy the Horse gathered a following across media and share owners chimed in online to advise on training and race selection – with lucky groups actually getting to the races as bona fide race horse owners.

With in-bar activation kits keeping the fun going and the pints pouring, John Smith’s Smithy campaign drove keg sales market share from 42-44% in year one whilst building 18,500 share registrations in Smithy – a lasting eCRM database for the brand.


BMW’s 10-year sponsorship of the Wentworth PGA has seen the brand’s strong commitment both to the event and experiential activations at it, deliver more and more sophisticated levels of engagement and results (not for publication) that have helped the brand to fully quantify its commitment.

BMW’s investment in the event are upscale – 3,000sqm Championship Village, two-storey BMW Owners’ Lounge with Café and Bistro, Lifestyle Shop, Viewing Gallery on the 14th Green for BMW Owners, product displays, player transport and shuttle buses to and from the car park.

Some data was provided with this entry confidentially but it is fair to say that sales leads taken at the event are highly prized by the brand and these now dovetail with a very large social media reach (that we can share).

The relationship between BMW and the PGA and more broadly to golfing enthusiasts was emphasised by the social media statistic, namely, the hashtag #BMWPGA was used 24,000 times leading to 19.5 million tweet impressions.

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