Global Newsmaker: Catherine Rees

With the World Cup in full swing in South Africa, England kit maker Umbro is using a mixture of digital media and offline campaigns to get noticed, according to PR manager Catherine Rees.

Umbro PR manager: Catherine Rees
Umbro PR manager: Catherine Rees

With the World Cup kicking off this week, it's a key period for sports brands - what are you doing to build awareness, especially with so many big name companies vying for attention?

We have a campaign called "Tailored by England" which we started when we got the contract to make the England kit and we're doing our first TV ads since 2002. But whereas other sports organisations are focusing on the star players, we have shifted our focus to the fans themselves - so it's the traditional national anthem line-up before a game, but instead of players it's 11 members of the public.

There are lots of [sports brand] companies with large budgets and we have got to compete for the same customers so we have to do something different. Away from digital, we've painted a wall in the home town of each England squad member with their squad number and the message "tailored by" whichever town it is.

How has digital media and social media tools transformed the way you run campaigns and what role will they play in the World Cup?

Digital is hugely important to us. We have a full-time blogger who creates good, fresh content for us and we will be providing links to other football resources and sites - it's about being part of the whole culture of football. We'll also be launching our own mobile app. Digital has changed perceptions and expectations of our brand.

Brands are increasingly tapping into online interaction surrounding big TV events - how are you going to capitalise on that?

We've launched Terrace Tweets [a site which measures mentions of teams and players on Twitter in real-time] and that has been popular so far. People are saying it's the first social media World Cup and we want to be at the heart of the conversation.

Media must-haves - digital/print?

All the back pages of the national papers and footy sites and blogs are regular reading. People might think I just read football titles but we have a football culture brand that takes in music, art and fashion... so I also read GQ, Hype, Vice and music titles like NME.

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