CSR - Dancing through football history

Campaign: The Beautiful Game - A Football Ballet Client: The New Football Pools PR team: Resonate Timescale: Three months Budget: Undisclosed, but estimated by PRWeek to be around £100,000

 

The New Football Pools - the overarching brand name for UK football pools companies since 2003 - commissioned English National Ballet to create a dance interpretation of iconic football moments from the past 85 years to mark the 85th anniversary of the creation of the football 'pools' concept.

The Beautiful Game showcased ten memorable moments of football history as voted for by more than 20,000 football fans via The New Football Pools website - www.footballpools.com. Maradona's Hand of God, Gordon Banks' 1970 World Cup save and David Beckham's heart-stopping free kick against Greece were all re-enacted in this unique ballet, choreographed by professional ballerina Jenna Lee.

The ballet was performed by four ballerinas and five male dancers, and featured tunes including Nessun Dorma and the Liverpool anthem You'll Never Walk Alone.

OBJECTIVES

- To create an exceptional event to celebrate the 85th anniversary of The New Football Pools that would take it off the sports pages and into the front half of the newspaper

- To use the opportunity to extend awareness of The New Football Pools beyond core users to a wider audience

- To raise awareness of the fact that £1.1bn has been donated by The Pools to a variety of good causes, including the arts, during its 85 years of existence.

STRATEGY AND PLAN

The campaign hinged around the creation of The Beautiful Game, an 'awe-inspiring fusion of football and ballet', which was choreographed and performed by professional ballerinas from English National Ballet. The idea was that The Beautiful Game ballet would recreate ten iconic moments of football history.

The resulting performance was to be staged at two theatres that had benefited from funding by the pools, a press preview in London and a public premiere in Liverpool - the original home of The Pools and this year's European Capital of Culture.

After each performance, former professional footballer John Barnes, Sportech director of corporate affairs Richard Boardley and choreographer Jenna Lee hosted a Q&A session about the ballet and how it came about. One was hosted by Mark 'Chappers' Chapman from BBC Radio 1 and the other by Alan Hansen.

Resonate also staged two photocalls, one with goalkeeping legend Gordon Banks and the other with new Everton FC goalkeeper Carlo Nash.

MEASUREMENT AND EVALUATION

The campaign scored 84 pieces of coverage, including features in The Independent and The Times, and further articles in The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian and London freesheet Metro.

Broadcast coverage included BBC Breakfast, BBC North West Tonight, Sky Sports News, the BBC's Football Focus, Sky News Radio, BBC Radio 5 Live, talkSPORT, and Xfm London.

It was also covered extensively on the web, with The Sun Online, The Times Online, Guardian Unlimited, ITN online, MSN, Reuters, Sky Sports News Online and Nuts Online all giving it space.

RESULTS

The two ballet performances were hugely successful, pulling in more than 600 people. Each ten-minute performance was praised by both The Pools team and visiting journalists for managing to appeal to both the existing audience, as well as to non-football and, crucially, non-ballet fans, therefore extending awareness to a wider audience.

In-house awareness and coverage analysis found the key message that more than £1bn had been donated to good causes over the past 85 years was included in the majority of the reports, and was also one of the key points taken in by people who attended the performances and the Q&A sessions.

 

SECOND OPINION - James Gordon-MacIntosh, Managing partner, Seventy Seven PR

This idea is simple - and that is its beauty. It takes a lot of complex messaging - communicating an anniversary, talking about the cash raised, incorporating football, associating with the arts - and boils it down to one simple, stand-out activity that delivers the information that matters. And it involves The New Football Pools' players in the voting, which is a sweet trick. But above all, it's fun. It avoids the cliches that so many charity and CSR campaigns fall into and it isn't too "worthy".

The media reaction is therefore understandably positive. I actually enjoyed reading the pieces and the different takes, as the articles came from across the sports, news and arts pages: just what the campaign set out to achieve. If I were awarding marks for an idea, this would be getting something pretty close to an A+.

If I have any hesitation, it is that I would have liked to see more about the £1.1bn raised for the arts in the coverage. That message didn't cut through the frivolity of the main story in the pieces I saw. But I'd happily overlook that, because the team probably has another stream of media activity showcasing fund recipients and the motivating message is that The New Football Pools as a brand is all about football fans having fun with the beautiful game.

Next time, in a reversal of the idea, I'd like to see Premiership footballers re-enact famous moments from ballet - if only to see Peter Crouch pirouette next time he scores for England. I could be in for a long wait...

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