SPORT CAMPAIGN: The beautiful game looks to future

Mobile phone operator Orange has a strong association with football. Having recently been a sponsor of Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Frank Lampard, the company also provides football coverage and club content to its customers.

Campaign: The Orange Future of Football Report 2008
Client: Orange
PR teams: Orange (in-house) and M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment
Timescale: December 2007 - June 2008
Budget: £12,000

The telco also has first-hand experience of providing technical communications for organisations such as FIFA, and football clubs such as Manchester City FC.

However, due to commitments elsewhere, Orange did not budget enough to raise awareness of its mobile sports services through a big ad campaign at the beginning of 2008.

OBJECTIVES
- To drive awareness of Orange's association with football and position Orange as an authoritative voice in the sport.

- To secure coverage across consumer and sports press.

- To increase traffic to Orange's mobile sport portal and www.orange.co.uk/sport.

STRATEGY AND PLAN
Orange commissioned The Future Laboratory to help produce The Orange Future of Football Report - a document outlining the game's evolution and highlighting implications for fans, managers and clubs.

To add a visual dimension to the report's findings, Orange used digital illustrations to accompany the report, enabling journalists and the public alike to get a glimpse of what 'the future of football' might look like.

The report was produced in two formats; a hard copy document and a downloadable PDF that was posted on the Orange site.

To maximise exposure over a two-week time frame, a four-phase strategy was planned to cover long lead, short lead and broadcast press.

Exclusive partnerships were arranged with long lead titles such as Four Four Two, FHM and Zoo Weekly four to six weeks before launch.

As the report's launch got closer, the key findings and illustrations were offered to key short lead titles such as the Daily Mirror, Metro, The Times and PA Sport.

On launch day, a press release and the images were circulated to all sports and news media and the report was made available free to download from the Orange web site.

Orange's head of sports partnerships, Steve Wallage, and Future Laboratory director Tom Savigar then went on a radio tour.

MEDIA AND EVALUATION
The campaign achieved front page mentions and double page spreads in FHM, Four Four Two, Zoo and Sport magazine. The Daily Mirror covered the story on two pages.

On the same day the Metro, Daily Star and The Times ran the feature as a page lead, each using three of the illustrations provided.

Orange comments on the research were widely quoted and The Football Association was asked by the Press Association for its comments on the research findings, which it then ran on its newswire.

The radio tour generated 18 interviews across 18 radio stations, and more than two hours of live radio reaching a combined audience of seven million.

Orange was mentioned in 95 per cent of all the coverage, with 78 per cent of reports positive in tone, which showed a high level of media favourability.

RESULTS
Orange.co.uk/sport received a record number of hits in February, with 1.1 million page impressions. The Orange Future of Football Report accounted for almost 15 per cent of this traffic.

Orange was also contacted by a variety of sports industry associations keen to associate with the company and work closely with its R&D function.

Four months after the launch, Sport magazine used the report for its cover story on the future of sport.


SECOND OPINION
Simon Breakell, Sponsorship PR manager, E.ON UK

For all the military planning that goes into the preparation of any good PR campaign, you cannot beat a slice of fortune along the way.

Simon BreakellAs the boffins at Orange were putting the finishing touches to its report, Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore announced plans to export domestic matches to Beijing or Bangkok as part of the controversial 39th game proposal. This was followed by Fifa declaring goal-line technology 'unnecessary'.

Both announcements courted a raft of damning headlines. Within a week, Orange gave us a glimpse into a future world made up of robotic refs, 3D fan consoles and kits that release nutrients to kill germs and heal minor injuries.

Teaming up with The Future Laboratory was a smart move, giving the findings credibility, and positioning it as an authoritative insight.

Setting out a structured media strategy worked well to maintain awareness and, importantly, control campaign messaging. In addition, the stunning visuals brought the report to life.

The coverage and results achieved were impressive indeed, scoring in-depth coverage as opposed to quantity. However, given that the campaign was designed to promote Orange's sports portal, it is interesting that there is no mention of working with online media to drive greater traffic to the site.

So when Fabio Capello's time is up, get your money on Buck Rogers to be the next England boss. It's football, folks - but not as we know it.

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