Wimbledon should be nothing more than lawn tennis

So it would seem that this year, Wimbledon (courtesy of The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC)) will attempt to be as much a brand-free domain as physically possible. In order to maintain brand equity and values, “commercial sponsorship and product placement” shall be purged at the 2014 Championships. Don’t be fooled though as they are not taking a half-hearted stance, initiating the attack on two fronts:

1) The competitors

2) The spectators

The pre-existing Clothing and Equipment rule has been rehashed with a more stringent and definitive set of instructions to those taking to the courts this summer.  Concerned that standards have slipped in years gone by, Wimbledon spokesman Jon Friend commented this week that “the players have been reminded, and there is now a clarification and if there was a question in years gone by those questions have been well and truly answered.”

The rule originally stated that all those competing must do so in almost entirely white, but the development of this rule means that this now even includes players’ underwear. Wimbledon also insist it be known that “White does not include off white or cream.” A small trim of colour no wider than 10mm is permitted at the very edge of garments, including sweat bands, socks and undergarments.

From a branding perspective it is the following official statements that bare most influence, “logos formed by variations of material or patterns are not acceptable.” and “large manufacturers’ logos are not encouraged.” Indicating that the AELTC are keen to keep corporate branding far away from their little nest egg. This does indeed pose a problem when many of those competing at The Championships are sponsored by industry heavyweights such as Nike.

Wimbledon insist that these procedures are in place to protect the spirit and the brand of these games, allowing it to once again be an event certain “TV and commercial companies around the world wish to be associated with”. Zeelous thinks it’s evident that many sporting goods companies do want to be associated with the games through branded competitor outfits, however Wimbledon wish they to pay the toll first.

In regards to action against spectators, in another official statement from Wimbledon, heavily branded products featuring commercial messages shall be confiscated at the door. In reaction to the described ‘ambush marketing’ Wimbledon have said any free sun hats, free rain capes, free umbrellas, free suntan creams, free radios, free water bottles, etc that advertise selected brands shall not be allowed to enter the Grounds.

We at Zeelous believe that the brand is king (from marketing backgrounds we would!), it is therefore understandable that the AELTC wish to eliminate piggybacking from companies who can afford to be official sponsors or affiliates; and stick by their guns in terms of tradition and what Wimbledon should be. It is true that during the French, Australian or US Open player’s may wear what attire they see fit, but preservation of rules and etiquette are key in this sense to maintaining high brand equity which is then transferred to official associates such as Lanson and Stella Artois. If standards were seen to slip we doubt Lanson would want to be associated with a brand that “used to emanate class and tradition”.

However, whilst we understand the reasons why, going as far as to dictate competitor underwear colour is tad too far even in our eyes. Colour is often used as a guerrilla marketing technique especially during competitions such as these where white is abundant. It is used to improve retention, as well as drive home brand associations and assist the perceived fit of the sporting goods company with those that they sponsor based on complementary colours (Serena Williams’ aubergine purple wristbands and headband during the 2012 games).

While they should preserve the heritage of this event, and the spirit of all that is British, perhaps Wimbledon need to re-evaluate what aspects they can consider a dilution of the brand (does underwear truly contribute?). In addition, Wimbledon wouldn’t be what it is today without a little guerrilla/ambush marketing over some strawberries and cream.

 

Canine driven campaign roars to Silver at the Big Cats in Cannes.

The PR Lion to grab us by the paws at Zeelous is the combined efforts of animal-activist group Paw Justice and DDB.

The resulting campaign, Animal Strike, was the answer to the question of “How do we generate the coverage of a big budget above-the-line campaign, without the big budget of an above-the-line campaign?”

With the key goal being to persuade the New Zealand government to amend the law, DDB focused their energy on converting the 72.3% of those surveyed (that didn’t support the law), into signatures on an official petition.

How did they do it?

DDB took note of the proverbial – you really don’t know what you’ve got until its gone.
Instead of producing a stereotypical animal rights campaign with the all to familiar faint violin; Animal Strike tapped into social trends and took away what we as a human race cannot get enough of – animal content.

The innovative use of social media and community sharing exploded the reach and impressions. Through collaboration with local media, Google, Youtube and several websites, Animal Strike was able to block everything from ‘lol cats’ to ‘dancing dogs’ – all from a mere $5000 investment. Engagement was further encouraged and tracked through offering the public a toolkit to block their own animal content in protest from the Animal Strike website.

Why is this the standout 2014 Winner at Cannes for Zeelous?

Campaigns are (sadly) frequently governed by two key principles in today’s industry:

– Creativity for the sake of being creative

– ROI conquers all

Pushing creative boundaries is a positive thing, often defying meanings or challenging perceptions, who would have ever associated surfing with stout without strong creative? (Yet another Guinness reference courtesy of Zeelous).

However too often we see creativity for the sake of bring creative, often loosing relevance and meaning altogether along the way. Burlington Socks’ 2014 campaign features several examples of ill conceived attempts at staying ahead of the curve creatively through dark humour.

Animal Strike triumphed at being creative – in reverse! Instead of giving the public something new, shiny and edgy to digest; DDB was creative without generating new content. Raising awareness by utilising social platforms in this way is rarely possible other than with charity as the product; however through this ingenious interpretation of social trends, DDB allowed local media to host the above-the-line campaign for them. Charity or not, that is being creative.

Secondly it seems that ROI seems to dictate campaigns today. We have unfortunately stopped asking ourselves “why can’t that be done?” and “has somebody done that already?” in favour of asking “Will this channel provide as great ROI as the previous?” and “Is this idea too risky to provide a required 200% ROI?”. Zeelous understands that ROI management is integral in every aspect of marketing but the idea should always shine through

The benefit that Paw Justice had was being a charitable organisation inherently limits the budget and media spend of an awareness campaign. It is through this factor that DDB were able to use collaboration with key media offering the campaign a more organic and trustworthy feel. The story was being reported on local news and across websites that the public trusted, which provides Animal Strike with coverage they couldn’t of predicted (resulting in 350% more signatures on the petition that predicted) within a dimension that money can’t buy.

Do you know why this campaign won a Cannes PR Lion? Because it has achieved something numerous campaigns of late are quick to forget. Instead of managing public relations, through innovative use of social and community, Paw Justice and DDB New Zealand related to the public.