CAMPAIGNS: Judge and Jury; How BSkyB caught Don King with a sucker punch

BSkyB could have been down in the first round when its plans to show Bruno v Tyson as pay-per-view came to light, but some fancy PR footwork blaming the promoter gave it a counter punch says Graham Fleet, director of sports marketing at Cohn and Wolfe

BSkyB could have been down in the first round when its plans to show

Bruno v Tyson as pay-per-view came to light, but some fancy PR footwork

blaming the promoter gave it a counter punch says Graham Fleet, director

of sports marketing at Cohn and Wolfe



The launch of pay-per-view in the UK was always going to have British

Sky Broadcasting pinned to the ropes but in public relations terms they

fought back strongly and will now be looking ahead with more confidence

to the next round of activity.



If you accept that the introduction of pay-per-view was a question of

when and not if, then BSkyB can be proud of their PR efforts. Six

hundred thousand households bought into the service, technically

everything ran smoothly and, assuming our national sporting treasures

remain safeguarded, pay-per-view will never again be such an emotive

issue.



In public relations terms, BSkyB threw all the right punches. First the

selection of event Bruno v Tyson was inspired. Frank is, in his own

right, a national sporting treasure and BSkyB are renowned for their

coverage of boxing, but most importantly the sport is controlled by all-

powerful promoters such as Don King.



BSkyB were able to neatly sidestep any oncoming assaults by laying the

blame firmly at the door of the money-obsessed King - Rupert Murdoch

must weep for him! Frank’s cries of foul play - he was not cut into the

deal - meant that, whether planned or not, BSkyB were able to further

distance themselves from the decision.



The satellite broadcaster also got it right in leaking details of the

impending pay-per-view operation to the media prior to the launch of

their advertising campaign.



It would have been potentially disastrous if subscribers had opened

their papers to see a smiling Frank Bruno advertising pay-per-view, when

a matter of weeks before the same cheerful boxer had been advertising

BSkyB subscriptions without a hint of the financial horrors ahead.



Then came the full media onslaught. Saturation coverage in the Sun for a

whole week (how does Rupert Murdoch do that?); one of the most exciting

media hype operations and a BSkyB spokesperson apparently always on hand

to give the broadcaster’s version of events.



Their only mistake was a failure to maximise the goodwill generated by

allowing Radio 5 in at the back door to broadcast live from ringside in

Las Vegas. Frank Warren, Bruno’s manager was allowed to take the

plaudits.



Although BSkyB has successfully overcome the first pay-per-view hurdle,

there will be many more difficult decisions to be made and challenges to

be met. What will be the next pay-per-view event? How will BSkyB

restructure their subscription rates to accommodate pay-per-view and

what happens if subscribers start to cancel?



Whether you agree with pay-per-view or not, the whole story behind the

scenes should make compelling viewing.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.