Campaign: Man City's events team puts fans in saucy mood

The City of Manchester Stadium, home ground of the Blues, provides five-star hospitality to more than 3,500 football fans on match day, and hosts a range of events throughout the year, including concerts and conferences.

Campaign Manchester City Gets Saucy
Client The City of Manchester Stadium: Hospitality, Conference and Events
PR team Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster Manchester and in-house
Timescale 7-14 January 2006
Budget Under £5,000

Stadium bosses tasked its retained agency, Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster in Manchester, with maximising awareness of the facilities available.

To raise the profile of the stadium's award-winning match-day hospitality and position the venue as a provider of first-class catering.

Strategy and Plan
Euro RSCG Biss Lancaster staged a one-off stunt around the local highlight of the Premiership fixture calendar: the derby clash with Manchester United – the Red Devils – on 14 January. With a three-course brunch menu planned for the day, the team asked consultant executive chef John Benson-Smith to create a unique blue ketchup, a twist on the traditional tomato variety, for die-hard City fans reluctant to stomach anything red.

The recipe was kept under wraps, but a presscall to herald the sauce was held two days before the Man U/City game. The PR team positioned the story with national and regional press, while broadcasters were encouraged to taste the sauce in-studio and on the streets of Manchester. On match day, an ample supply of Blue sauce was placed in the press box.

Measurement and Evaluation
The stunt generated national exposure in the Daily Star and The Sun, plus two news items on Sky Sports – ex-City player Niall Quinn was in the Sky Sports studio with the ketchup before kick-off. It also achieved 15 regional and local newspaper articles, including a full page in the Manchester Evening News, while Granada Reports and the BBC's North West Tonight tasted the sauce in the studio. Radio stations including Century FM, Key 103 and BBC GMR reported the saucy stunt, incorporating interviews with Benson-Smith.

On match day (City beat United 3-1), more than 85 per cent of diners asked to sample the sauce. Following demand from fans, the stadium is discussing plans for mass production.

The Hospitality, Conference and Events team has not released sales figures for its offerings, so the effectiveness of the campaign cannot be assessed. However, the stadium claims hospitality business for 2006 is impressive.

Manchester Evening News reporter Chris Osuh says: 'This stunt was a light-hearted take on football rivalries in the city – red against blue – and gave the PR team a chance to talk about menus and facilities in the directors' boxes.'

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