CAMPAIGNS: Inviting approach helps Amstel Intl. kick up awareness

PR Team: Amstel International (Amsterdam) and TBWA/PR Company (Amsterdam) Campaign: "Amstel's Giant Living Room" at the 2003 UEFA Champions League Final Time Frame: May 2003 Budget: ?70,000

PR Team: Amstel International (Amsterdam) and TBWA/PR Company (Amsterdam) Campaign: "Amstel's Giant Living Room" at the 2003 UEFA Champions League Final Time Frame: May 2003 Budget: ?70,000

The European equivalent of the Super Bowl is the UEFA Champions League Final, the ultimate game in a season-long elimination tournament that sees the best soccer teams from England to Russia fight for a silver cup and the right to be called European champions. In recent years, the tournament has been dominated by Spanish superpower Real Madrid and German giant Bayern Munich, with England's Manchester United capturing the title as recently as 1999. Old Trafford, United's home stadium, would serve as the host for the final this past season, which featured a clash between Italian mainstays AC Milan and Juventus. The 2003 final would also represent the ninth straight year that Amstel has been a major sponsor of the tournament and the final itself. Strategy For the 2002 final between Real Madrid and Germany's Bayer Leverkusen, played in Glasgow, fans were introduced to Amstel Fandom, in which more than 75,000 fans in and around the city center and the stadium were given commemorative hats. But this year, Amstel wanted to drive home the idea that the game should be enjoyed with friends (and cold Amstel, of course), wherever the match is being played. As far as Amstel is concerned, the perfect match involves gathering everyone around the TV in the comfort of one's home - the way that all but the 60,000 fans lucky enough to have tickets wind up watching the match, across Europe and as far away as Asia and the US (here, much of the tournament and the final itself are usually broadcast live on ESPN2). So like Amstel Fandom in Glasgow, the company sought to "create maximum awareness and impact for Amstel," says Frank Haagsman of TBWA/PR Company, and "stimulate incremental sales around the final and in the buildup to the final via promotions throughout all Amstel markets." Tactics Since Amstel wanted to convey that the match is best enjoyed at home with friends, with the help and approval of the Manchester City Council, Amstel built the Amstel Giant Living Room in Albert Square, in the center of Manchester, shortly after the semifinals - about two weeks prior to the final match. The armchair was eight meters high, the couch was eight meters high and 18 meters across, and the TV screen 32 meters2 (Amstel was prohibited from broadcasting the match in the Living Room). TBWA and Amstel started by sending a photo release over PR Newswire, welcoming fans to the Giant Living Room. "What PR Newswire did," says Tanja Manders, international communications manager, sponsorships, and new media at Amstel International, "we could have done ourselves, with a lot of effort, stress, and luck for a much higher investment. PRN enabled us to immediately reach all relevant Amstel countries, either by mail, internet, or fax, almost live from Manchester." Throughout the week of the final, 1,500 journalists in town to cover the buildup and the match itself were given special tours of the Living Room, along with press kits and hats. Results Though the final itself was nothing special (it ended in a 0-0 draw, with AC Milan prevailing on penalty kicks after a goalless overtime), the Living Room was a main attraction. "People's first reaction was nothing less than, 'Wow!'" says Manders. "After this first impression, people felt at home immediately." She adds that more than 25,000 people visited the Living Room throughout the day, including locals and visiting fans from Italy. "Also, the media loved it." It would seem so. Although the coverage was only measured in the UK, Italy, and Holland, the Living Room generated 29 newspaper stories, with a total circulation of 3.5 million. There were also 21 TV items, a radio interview, and more than 40 articles on the internet. And in a day and a half, more than 5,000 liters of Amstel were sold at the Living Room. The event coincided with a relaunch of the brand in the UK, and Manders says these sales figures represent a "rather big chunk of their turnover at that time." Future The 2004 final, to be held in Gelsenkirchen, Germany in May 2004, will mark the 10th anniversary of Amstel's sponsorship of the Champions League, and plans for a special celebration are now underway.

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