Blog : sport

Planning, managing and celebrating #TheMoment with Glasgow 2018

Planning, managing and celebrating #TheMoment with Glasgow 2018

After 11 days of incredible sporting action, the inaugural multi-sport European Championships drew to a close on Sunday evening. Titles were won and lost, world records smashed, and we were right in the thick of it.

Stripe’s work on Glasgow 2018 started way back in February last year. Our first task after being appointed as the Championships’ digital agency was to set out a unique strategy to reach sports fans, families and the local community in the run up to the Championships, to generate awareness and help people understand what this new event was all about. With a focus on organic and paid social we set this strategy in motion, engaging these audiences and encouraging them to help us bring #themoment to life, starting with the first of our key milestones: 500 days to go.

In the 500 days that followed we delivered some amazing work: created thousands of assets; planned and published posts across Glasgow 2018 profiles; produced films for online and TV; launched the official mascot Bonnie the Seal; recruited volunteers; live streamed with athletes and ambassadors; ran over 200 hundred social ad campaigns; measured and reported on all digital activity; and a whole lot more besides.

With Glasgow 2018 marking the first time that the six featured sports have come together to hold their European Championships, we needed to constantly analyse, evaluate and evolve our approach. Established multi-sport events like the Olympics or Commonwealth Games and recent single sport events here in the UK like London 2017 offered insight into what can work to engage sports fans and non-fans alike, but a new format presented new challenges.

We knew that the awareness and understanding piece of our work was going to be a much bigger challenge than that faced by other events and we weighted our strategic focus accordingly. This meant conducting a detailed research piece at the outset, really digging in to the conversation about other events, Glasgow as a host city, and the individual sports. We profiled our domestic and international audiences, segmenting our tactics for each based on all our findings to help us tailor both organic and paid social activity.

We also developed a bespoke measurement framework specifically for Glasgow 2018 that allowed us to evaluate activity in terms of not only the awareness and engagement benefits, but also hard metrics such as sales for ticketing campaigns. By combining in-built social platform insights, website analytics including UTM tracking, social listening tools, custom attribution modelling and enhanced ad reporting thanks to employment of the Facebook pixel, we’ve been able to accurately measure everything we’ve done and consistently deliver results.

Throughout the journey to the Championships, our priority was balancing of great creative with great insight: delivering brilliant ideas and content that really resonates whilst ensuring we were able to measure the value of what we do and provide genuinely useful insight that helped the combined Glasgow 2018 and Stripe team push things forward. As the Championships themselves kicked off two weeks ago, our day to day activity changed but not the way we worked.

On the 1st August we changed gear and moved to near round-the-clock measurement and monitoring of conversation surrounding the Championships, seven days a week. For twelve days we tracked key conversations, influencers, opportunities and issues. We watched Adam Peaty break another world record and set Twitter alight, we shared the home crowd’s disappointment when Ross Murdoch just missed out on a medal by the narrowest of margins, and we celebrated when Laura Kenny’s comeback led to a well-earned gold (and a mention from Elton John).

The Stripe team was responsible for gathering data and insight on all online discussion in real time and delivering reports at regular intervals each day, as well as spotting and working up reactive content and creative opportunities to maximise impact during the Championships.

Now that the event is over, all that’s left is to reflect on an amazing 18 months of preparation and hard work that resulted in one heck of a payoff. We’re still pulling together our wrap up report of everything that’s happened since that first milestone campaign, but we already know for sure it’s going to point to a hugely successful event and we’re so proud we got to be a part of it.

GLASGOW 2018 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS APPOINTS STRIPE COMMUNICATIONS AS DIGITAL AGENCY

GLASGOW 2018 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS APPOINTS STRIPE COMMUNICATIONS AS DIGITAL AGENCY

We are delighted to officially announce today that Stripe Communications has been appointed as digital agency to Glasgow 2018, the inaugural multi-sport European Championships event.

Our brief is to deliver digital and social strategy, campaign ideation, content creation and implementation of paid and organic digital activity across all social and web channels over the next 18 months.  The team will focus on 13 key event milestones such as volunteer recruitment, the mascot launch and the European Championships event itself.

Taking advantage of the strong legacy created by the 2014 Commonwealth Games and keeping sport at the heart of communities across Glasgow and Scotland, this new event will elevate the status of European Champions and attract a potential television audience of up to 1.03 billion across the continent, with a wider audience expected via digital platforms.

Darcie Tanner, Stripe Digital Director, said: “This is a unique opportunity to continue the legacy of the Commonwealth Games and deliver innovative campaign activity across platforms and channels, and we’re excited to start delivering.”

Stripe was awarded the six figure account in February and work began immediately.

The European Championships will take place in multiple venues across Glasgow, such as the Emirates Arena, Gleneagles and a planned new BMX track at Knightswood Park, hosting 3,000 athletes participating in six events over 11 days.

Full Speed Ahead For Team Stripe at Mountain Bike World Cup 2016

Full Speed Ahead For Team Stripe at Mountain Bike World Cup 2016

The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup in Fort William has legendary status amongst the global mountain bike community. Every year, thousands of fans, riders and media make the pilgrimage up to the Scottish Highlands to watch the sport’s elite stars battle it out on the slopes of Aonach Mor in the hope of winning a World Cup crown.

This year, organisers Rare Management, tasked Stripe with building pre-event awareness and engagement on and offline to help drive ticket sales and excitement.

It’s the eighth consecutive year Stripe has been responsible for delivering communications activity at one of Scotland’s major annual sporting events. Our role is multi-faceted and ranges from maximising opportunities to raise the profile of the event through media relations, social media activity and stakeholder engagement to managing UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale) media accreditation and photographers from across the globe in the onsite press office.

With a shift towards a more clearly defined digital strategy, we used Facebook and Twitter as our key communication channels to connect and resonate with die-hard fans, as well as engaging with families looking for something different to capture their kids’ imaginations.

Mountain Bike World Cup 2016-Steve Peat and Legends of the future

Supported by strong media moments, including a high impact press launch with Fort William legend, Steve Peat, we achieved some great media cut through for a sport that continues to struggle for column inches in the British press. The results have so far been epic, and we’re not just talking about this year’s winning riders, Rachel Atherton and Greg Minnaar, who stole the show in the women’s and men’s elite downhill events.

Mountain Bike World Cup 2016-female winners-stripe

In the month leading up to the downhill action, our social media content reached more than 450,000 people – almost 7,000 Facebook page views and 44,000 post engagements took place during the event alone, where activity peaked.

We also secured a wide variety of earned media coverage in national print, broadcast and online media titles, as well as mountain bike trade magazines.

Early indications suggest it’s been a bumper year for ticket sales.

Thanks to the glorious Highland sunshine as well as some incredible sporting moments, there’s no doubt this year’s Fort William Mountain Bike World Cup has been one of the best yet.

Mountain Bike World Cup 2016-bowl-Stripe

Going upstairs risks putting rugby fans to bed

Going upstairs risks putting rugby fans to bed

As the dust settles on this year’s RBS Six Nations, it’s a chance to reflect on what’s been another entertaining championship.

In many respects the tournament will be remembered for England’s Gram Slam winning efforts, as they look to rebuild after an embarrassing World Cup exit last October.

At Stripe we’re always keen to explore how brands are finding new and interesting ways to engage with their fans. And while I could discuss each nation’s marketing credentials in more detail, there is a major talking point in need of some serious airtime.

Going upstairs to consult the Television Match Official (TMO) is a current moot point in world rugby. If you’re not familiar with the in-game technology, TMO is a tool used to help match-day officials make ‘accurate and consistent decisions’ in key areas such as whether the ball crossed the line for a try.

While there’s no doubt about the need for this technology to exist, there is a growing perception amongst fans and pundits alike that referees are now relying too heavily on TMO to make decisions.

Rugby, like all professional sport, is a game of fine margins. The decision to award a try or not can mean the difference between success and failure.

However, there is a fear that referees’ liberal use of this technology risks spoiling the spectacle for fans.

This was evident in the first match of the Rugby World Cup between England and Fiji last year. After months of media hype, all eyes were on Twickenham – including tens of thousands of potential new rugby fans.

This was rugby’s moment to show the world why this thrilling high impact sport is so admired. Instead, the match was a less than compelling stop-start affair, with the referee punch-drunk on TMO.

Twitter went bonkers. Fans new and old weighed in, criticising the referee and the way TMO was sobering the passion of the moment.

The relevant authorities responded to criticism saying only 28 per cent of stoppage time lost in the opening match was taken up by the TMO process.

While this figure might not sound like much, I’d argue that any amount of time wasted watching a big screen during a live event disrupts engagement, dampens spirits and draws attention away from the magic of the experience.

Concern over TMO was also evident in this year’s Six Nations, when England flanker, James Haskell, was sin binned against Ireland. Hyper slow motion replays adjudged Haskell to have illegally collided with an Irish player. In the days that followed, Haskell spoke out against TMO, arguing that gasps of the crowd had influenced the referee’s decision and that repeated replays make contact seem worse than in real time.

High profile sporting events are already a battleground for brands vying to grab our attention. No doubt savvy marketers are already plotting ways they can exploit moments of TMO boredom to win our love. In-game advertising and mobile targeting will continue to grow and evolve which will no doubt impact on the way fans interact and engage with rugby and other sports in the future. But as we continue to discover at Stripe, targeted content must still be relevant and resonate with fans to make the message stick.

Live sport is one of the most compelling human experiences we have available, putting us in touch with our most primal emotions. While in-game technology has its place in sport, I worry what we stand to lose.

Sport is an ever-growing commercial arena, where accurate decision-making is essential. But the longer we are sent upstairs to endure endless stoppages in play, the less likely the sport will attract fans from new markets and ensure existing tribes are kept entertained.

Brands going for gold in sport

Brands going for gold in sport

Whether you gushed at the sight of sausage dogs gleefully running around in hot dog buns towards humans dressed as giant bottles of Heinz Ketchup, or winced at the unborn baby shooting out of its mother to snatch at a bag of Doritos, it was hard not to sit up and take notice of what brands were doing for Super Bowl 50.

My personal favourite brand involvement wasn’t an advert. It was a stunt (shockingly!). Airbnb OWNED it with theirs. They offered Super Bowl fans the chance to stay in the home of Carolina Panthers star Roman Harper – complete with pool table, sky lounge and yoga room – to watch the game while he battled for the big prize against the Denver Broncos. At a heavy cost of $5,000, Airbnb gifted the money to charity too, which was a really nice touch (down) from them.

The Super Bowl is a worldwide phenomenon and one of the biggest sporting events of the year. Reuters claimed this year’s game attracted over 111 million TV viewers in America alone. With these colossal off-the-scale viewing figures, it’s no wonder some of the world’s biggest brands are paying $5 million for a 30 second window to push their latest products to win the ‘brand battle.’

This is obviously a budget which can go a long way towards creating a fantastic campaign, but to global consumer brands such as Snickers, Budweiser and Pepsi, it’s a drop in the ocean.  Considering over 111 million people watched Super Bowl 50, the cost of $45 to reach one thousand people doesn’t seem that much for them. What would be the impact of NOT advertising or pulling off a stunt?

If we look at brands involving themselves at major sporting events closer to home, it’s worth noting the increase in sales Tunnocks Tea Cakes and IRN-BRU experienced on the back of the 2014 Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. The giant tinfoil covered cakes and cans of Scotland’s favourite soft drink took to the stage as Glasgow welcomed nations from across the world to the city for Scotland’s biggest sporting event of the century, with over 9 million people in the UK tuning in to watch the show.

Whether we agree or disagree with the money spent by brands that are pushing product awareness during big sporting events, it’s hard to argue against the return on investment.

It remains to be seen what the best form of association is for brands looking to put themselves out there before, during or after big sporting event, whether it be advertising, sponsorship, joining the discussion on social media or turning round a cool and funny stunt to spread the word. What’s clear is that if a brand’s objectives fit well with a particular sport and they have the budget to be involved then it makes perfect sense to take advantage and increase their exposure. But, it does have to be done right and in line with their brand values.

With the Euro 2016 Championship in France just around the corner, I’m looking forward to seeing how far brands will go to get noticed. Watch this space.

Scottish rugby fans have a ball with Strathmore

Scottish rugby fans have a ball with Strathmore

It wasn’t just the rugby players that were put through their paces at this year’s RBS 6 Nations.

As part of our sponsorship activity with Strathmore, we encouraged supporters to be more active in their daily routines with the ‘Strathmore Do More Tryathlon’.

At BT Murrayfield – the home of Scottish Rugby – we ran the ‘Do More Zone’ with a passing game and ladder drill for fans to try out, and a Batak Challenge which put their reactions to the test.

The ‘Do More Zone’ was in action during the three home matches against Wales, Italy and Ireland with supporters from all sides taking part.

Our Tryathlon winners were paraded on the pitch at half time and presented with signed Scotland jerseys and tickets to a future match.

Check out the ‘Strathmore Do More’ film here.