Category: Blogs and Opinion
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Sports Ambassadors – ‘The value of human engagement’

Robin Fenwick, Chief Executive

The dust has finally settled on what was an extraordinary sporting weekend just gone and we’ve now had some time for Sunday’s two major, record-breaking achievements to truly sink in.

I’m talking, of course, about Dustin ‘DJ’ Johnson winning The Masters and Lewis Hamilton reaching seven Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championships.

These were far from normal victories, with many records sent tumbling. DJ won by five shots in Augusta, the largest margin since Tiger Woods in 1997. He also equalled the lowest score in major history of -20, which became the best ever at Augusta National.

As for Hamilton, his Turkish Grand Prix masterclass takes him to the most amount of race wins by any Formula 1 driver (94) and a record-equalling seven drivers’ titles, matching Michael Schumacher’s total and essentially becoming the most successful driver of all time.

 

For me, it’s an interesting time to consider what this means for brands partnering with these two individuals. Bottom line, with few exceptions, success breeds success – so any brands associated with these ambassadors should be absolutely delighted given the significant positive exposure they have received.

 

The structure of the deals for the brands you will have seen on these two sportsmen’s clothing, however, are very different. Hamilton is contracted by Mercedes Motorsport not just to drive for them, but to give up most of his ‘marketing time’ and his intellectual property including name and image rights, for example, whilst on team duty.

 

While under heavy media attention at a Grand Prix, Hamilton is required to wear team kit displaying sponsored brands, which deliver huge exposure for partners. DJ, by comparison, can wear what he likes, when he likes. Of course, he will still be contracted to brands of his choosing, but at every golf event he attends it will be him that decides what to wear and how much marketing time to commit.

One is not necessarily better than the other, because Hamilton receives a very healthy salary from Mercedes Motorsport to cover the sacrifices he makes, but in doing so he also gives up quite a bit of ‘commercial freedom’. 

In terms of benefits to brands associated with Hamilton and DJ, put simply, an endorsement from one of these individuals will go a long way to drive sales and patronage for the brand.

Furthermore, Hamilton’s reputation now transcends the sport. His work to raise awareness for social issues including diversity in sport, Black Lives Matter and sustainability initiatives is heavily aligned to the core values of some of the world’s biggest brands.

When high-profile individuals convey your message in an authentic manner, it resonates more effectively with fans, leading to increased relevancy of your product – even if your customer only subconsciously realises it. 

Ambassadors can help set your business apart from your competition. While others traditionally promote through advertising, they are largely delivering the same kind of message. ‘Made with the finest ingredients’ or ‘We go above and beyond’, are examples that consumers are understandably sceptical of. Individuals can give your brand a personality that allows you to make much more personal and emotive connections with your desired audience. 

When customers understand your brand’s values, goals and beliefs, they are much more likely to trust what you have to say as an organisation. Particularly at this time during ‘lockdown’ in many countries, it can be difficult to effectively convey brand personality to the public without actual human interaction. Through ambassadors social channels, there is an opportunity to speak to your audience in a subtle, but persuasive manner that they will understand. Let us take some time to consider the most engaged social accounts around the globe – not only can ambassadors deliver a deeper level of social engagement, but they can also engage with consumers at far greater scale than many brands could through their own channels.

 

The crucial part when choosing an ambassador is to ensure the individual’s audience is right for your business. For example, two of DJ’s (personal) partners are Adidas and TaylorMade and two of Hamilton’s (team) partners are Tommy Hilfiger and IWC watches. Each brand mentioned chose to work with these ambassadors because they will resonate with their respective customer base. 

We at Right Formula, through smart technology, are able to put this into practice, and identify and target the customer personas of our clients that overlap with the audience of the chosen ambassadors in order to reduce wastage and ensure brands optimise their return on investment. 

It’s not only important to select the right partner for the brand, but also to decide what you would like to achieve, such as the ‘promotion of a specific product’ or to ‘align with a particular campaign’. Most audiences are pretty savvy and can easily spot a partnership that is not authentic, which in turn will have the reverse effect and possibly a negative impact of the talent and/or the brand if the messaging is forced. 

However, research shows that consumers are more likely to pay attention to their social circle than they are to paid advertising, and this social circle includes people they follow online. Consumers often tend not to follow brands online, but 72% of people decide what they want to buy based on social media posts, proving if you find the right individual who resonates with your customers, it can deliver significant results.

So while we are all going through our own challenges at the moment and are more receptive than ever to the ‘value of human engagement’, now is the time to consider how an ambassador can accelerate your business in a way that truly sets you apart.

 

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Insight: Brand adaptation that drives results

It has often been said that changing the way a brand is perceived is one of the toughest challenges for any marketeer to undertake. In many cases, what a brand stands for is something that has been developed over many years, with the resulting brand image re-enforcing the understanding and feelings that an audience holds over time. 

But every now and then, an element of change may be required. This could be a new product being launched for a different audience, or the likes of cultural and environmental trends forcing a change of direction. What for so long has become a virtue or position of strength can quickly become a barrier to change.

Whatever the reason, marketing teams will be searching for ways to achieve this brand shift as effectively and efficiently as possible.

It’s at this point that partnership marketing can really flex its muscles and demonstrate why it plays such an important role as a marketing channel.

From the perspective of the brand, it is the power of association that is so valuable. The act of sponsoring another entity, in order to borrow valuable equity, is what makes it such a powerful marketing channel to aid re-appraisal or drive positional change.

In time, a clearly defined partnership strategy will fuel purposeful and powerful activations, from which a brand can begin to move in the direction they so desire over a sustained period.

Re-defining a category

Recently, we have seen examples of brands entering long-term partnerships with the aim of redefining a whole category.

Formula E, the fully electric single-seater racing championship, has become a powerful platform for brands within the petroleum and oils space to drive their re-appraisal and perception as more holistic ‘energy’ companies. A position that naturally fits far better alongside the wider sustainability agenda that is so prominent across the electric mobility and engineering landscape.

There are multiple examples of global petroleum brands expanding their motorsport presence into this space – with the subsequent partnership equity powering a new brand narrative suitable for sustainable and future-thinking energy brands.

Indeed, the power of Formula E to lend its credibility around sustainability goes far beyond the petroleum and oil industry. SAP’s partnership with Mercedes-Benz EQ Formula E team allows them to reach their B2B and B2C audiences via the unique filter that the sport provides, differentiating their partnership activation compared to anything else within their marketing mix.

 

Speaking to a new audience without alienating another

Let’s take a second to consider the task of repositioning a brand in the eyes of one audience, without diluting the core message that is so important to another.

For so long, Dove have spoken to their female heartland in an honest and real way that drew much admiration. Their Real Beauty campaign changed the conversation around female beauty and empowered a whole generation of women to have the confidence to embrace themselves in a way that was unique in the category.

It is a hugely powerful and effective campaign and one that had to be considered when speaking to a male audience on behalf of their Men Care range.

Over time, they have utilised the power of their partnerships within rugby union to speak to a male audience in a way that works for them. Crucially, this has involved exploring the emotive side of sportsmen who, on the surface, have traditionally displayed a tough exterior shell. Not only have they supported their male product range when so much of their brand has been female focused, but they have successfully broken-down barriers within how the sport of rugby is perceived – thus allowing the fanbase to more openly discuss, embrace and purchase their product category – skin care.

 

WHERE TO BEGIN?

Brand re-appraisal and successfully driving a brand narrative in a new direction is no easy feat.

To begin, we require a complete understanding of how the brand is perceived in the market, an oversight of the business challenges to be overcome, along with the desired end-goal or direction of travel.

Once this is clear, we turn our attention to sourcing the right partner that not only allows the brand to engage with their target audience, but also provides authenticity and credibility to help fuel the desired change of direction and narrative. For those brands that have already secured these partnerships, the focus is on leveraging the rights acquired in the most effective and efficient way, across the entire marketing mix, to re-shape brand perception, build a new story and positively engage with audiences both new and old.

Partnership marketing is a channel that offers up huge value, and brand re-appraisal is just one area that can benefit when it is executed successfully. It is never too late to change or be seen in a different way.

But it doesn’t need to be done alone. Finding the right partner to work alongside makes a tricky task a whole lot easier.

For more information, contact Right Formula Brands Director Damien Gillman here.

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UEFA Europa League: Right Formula and Kia return for 2020/21

After a shorter turnaround than usual, the UEFA Europa League has returned with 48 teams from across the continent for the 2020/21 Group Stage.

Familiar clubs from England, Spain, Italy and Germany have once again launched their bid for European silverware, while outfits from the likes of Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Israel and Serbia are also getting their shot on the big stage.

Right Formula are also back for the new season, on hand for our third year of consultancy and activation work for global car manufacturer and UEFA Europa League Official Partner, Kia Motors.

There’s been little respite for our account team, with the new campaign launching in earnest just 62 days after the last one ended in Cologne, where Sevilla once again reigned supreme after victory over Italian heavyweights Inter Milan.

That particular night is one Right Formula look back at with immense pride, having adapted to the unprecedented challenge of activating at a behind-closed-doors showpiece event for the first time. 

Responsible for finding innovative and engaging ways to help activate Kia’s sponsorship in the circumstances of the global COVID-19 pandemic, outside-the-box thinking was required to meet a now unfamiliar brief in time for the Final. How could we help Kia supply a money-can’t-buy experience when all non-essential personnel couldn’t be at the stadium?

 

Step forward the Virtual Official Match Ball Carrier (VOMBC) – the tech supplement helping fulfil the dream of one lucky child.

Rather than host the Official Match Ball Carrier at the match, where under normal circumstances they walk out onto the pitch alongside the players, Kia took the matchday experience to their home for the Final.

Ten-year-old football fan Justus was the lucky winner, receiving a personal message from legendary German footballer Michael Ballack to inform him of his involvement in the Final. 

On the night itself, Justus remotely greeted the Sevilla and Inter Milan players as they arrived at the stadium, with the likes of Romelu Lukaku stopping by to say hello. Justus was then supplied with immersive virtual reality equipment that would take him inside the stadium and allow him to tour the venue as if he was on location.

Finally, he lived his dream by virtually carrying the Official Match Ball to the pitch.

 

It wasn’t the event that the UEFA Europa League, Kia Motors or Right Formula expected when the tournament kicked off this time last year, but the ability to adapt to the circumstances ensured once-in-a-lifetime memories were still achieved. Strong relationships with the client, UEFA, VR technology suppliers and the skills of our in-house production team all helped deliver a truly unique activation.

Unfortunately, capacity crowds in stadia still appear some way off. No one quite knows what this season’s Final in Gdańsk may look like. But we’ll be ready to help our clients with whatever hand is dealt.

 

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Opinion: Why the European Tour’s UK Swing Series should be an annual event

Chris Bovey, Head of Partnerships

While the attention of global golf media might be on the PGA Tour’s BMW Championship this weekend in Illinois, the final event of the European Tour’s inaugural UK Golf for Good Swing gets underway closer to home at The Belfry. Installed in the middle of the Tour’s season as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, benefiting both players and brands, I believe the UK Swing should stay.

Golf is a complicated stakeholder landscape. Explaining to brands which events are owned by which organisation and how some players can occasionally play in European Tour events without necessarily holding a card, can put them off before a ball has been struck.

In crises, change is often a necessity. In January 2020, the European Tour was due to host 34 events across five continents. With a season in tatters, the UK Swing was born, presenting brands and golfers alike a chance for exposure they wouldn’t previously have had.Between July and August, some 140+ golfers have competed over six events across the breadth of the UK. A collective prize pot in excess of £6m has been up for grabs, with more than 100 hours of live coverage available to viewers on Sky Sports Golf.

Despite the absence of spectators, the prevailing industry sentiment has been overwhelmingly positive.Whilst high profile Ryder Cup stars like Rahm, Rose and Poulter have remained in the USA – some of the lesser-known names like Horsfield and Langasque – and subsequently their sponsors – have benefitted from increased exposure and attention.Despite the name suggesting a continental presence, the European Tour hosts events worldwide, so sponsorship in theory appeals to brands who have customers globally. The UK Swing however has demonstrated that localised sponsorships can provide value for money solutions for sponsors who can geo-target their audiences.


While sponsoring a one-off event is not new, brands who have a specific focus can benefit hugely from the number of properties in golf currently available on a local, targeted basis. What’s more, the sponsorship fees are a whole lot more attractive now than they were this time last year!

“At Right Formula, for years we have been the intersect between brands and rightsholders by helping connect the two and activating partnerships that mutually benefit all stakeholders.”

Take one of our clients, Loch Lomond Whiskies, as an example. At the turn of the year, the distiller was a partner of The Open and Women’s British Open’s, giving exposure to the Scottish brand for two summer spikes. We helped broker an agreement for Loch Lomond Whiskies to sponsor the UK Swing which presented an opportunity to give even greater long-term relevance to their target audiences in a key market. This was particularly important this year, given the cancellation of the marquee men’s Major.

If I was in the corridors of power at European Tour I would ensure that the UK Swing remains each year. One only needs to see the popularity of the Desert Swing or lesser realised Links swing to see proof of the concept in hosting a regional mini-series.Not only would this garner greater local media and fan attention it will encourage local sponsors to invest and create a buzz while the golf circus rolls into town. Even more so when spectators are able to return on course.


So while all eyes will be on the power hitters of McIlroy, DeChambeau and Johnson this weekend in the States, the smart view in the UK will be on our iconic Sutton Coldfield course for the final event of a series that I hope is here to stay – a testament to The European Tour.

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Opinion: Why F1’s positive CSR movements should no longer come as a surprise

STEVE WRIGHT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Few sports have done more than Formula 1 to enforce change for the better in recent times. Arguably, none have, which may still come as a surprise to many.

Whether it was assisting in the build of life-saving ventilators during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, announcing its plan to have a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030 or introducing the #WeRaceAsOne initiative to improve inclusion and diversity across the board, the sport has made no shortage of important strides that have generated news headlines in the last six months.

It’s not just Formula 1 as an entity making moves, either. The constructors themselves are too paving the way for a more sustainable, all-encompassing incarnation of the sport we love.

Mercedes’ new black livery for the 2020 season – another signal of commitment to greater diversity and inclusion in motorsport – has been at the forefront of those statements. McLaren have also instilled rainbow-coloured streaks on their chassis, as a “universal symbol of unity, solidarity and hope”.

Once considered behind the times and out of touch with an ever-changing world, Formula 1 and all involved with it are now setting the standards for positive change across global sport and society.

But for those who remain surprised by it, perhaps needn’t be. There has been plenty of corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives being executed for a while.

 

Take Williams’ Advanced Engineering, who helped introduce energy saving Aerofoil refrigeration to major UK supermarket Sainsbury’s back in 2017. 

Initially technology that was created to divert air over and around race cars to maximise performance, these days it helps prevent the waste of cold air, which now directs back into the units. This innovative, F1-inspired concept not only keeps aisles warmer and reduces food waste, but has helped Sainsbury’s record a 15% energy saving across its nationwide stores.

Elsewhere, McLaren have provided data management, predictive analytics and simulation assistance to clinical research firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for nearly a decade. Their contribution helps explore and understand new compounds more comprehensively, allowing GSK to reach swifter, better informed decisions about its medicine discovery processes.

The sport’s ability to initiate technology that later improves lives even extends to the treatment room, where data systems evolutionised  from Formula 1 can now continuously monitor patients in intensive care wards and improve operational procedures. 

On track, it’s no different. Since a shake up in the rules for 2014, Formula 1 engines now boast 20% more power, yet produce 26% less in the way of CO2 emissions. Overall, they’re 10% more efficient – a seismic figure considering it’s been achieved in just six seasons.

Such progress has also made its way to the road cars of the participating manufacturers, and taken on other forms to power city transport, buildings and businesses. A greener sport, lighting the way for a greener everyday life.

For good measure, F1-derived technology across 5G infrastructure now drives complex road, rail, underground and even air transportation systems around the world – ensuring maximum efficiency for highly-complex logistical demands.

As someone who’s worked in and around the sport for constructors, brands and agencies for many years, I’m proud that Formula 1 continues to be at the forefront of thought leadership, innovations and CSR efforts.

Too often branded as the world’s most expensive and glamorous exhaustion of fossil fuels, it is doing much more in the way of implementing change than that of many of its critics. 

While the events of 2020 have undoubtedly helped lift the lid on these good news stories to a greater extent – and even shown how it can do more – make no mistake, the goodwill of the paddock has long been at play.

Roll on the racing in Spielberg this weekend, where Formula 1 returns an even better sport.

 

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Gallery: Right Formula staff take part in ‘Doorstep Challenge’

It’s been a tough three months, but there is finally light at the end of the tunnel. 

Shops and restaurants are starting to reopen, live sport is set to return to our TV screens and week by week the government is gradually easing the restrictions that have kept us working and isolating at home during COVID-19.

Like everyone else, our team at Right Formula has felt the strain of the pandemic, so to keep spirits high we recently took part in a ‘Doorstep Challenge’ in support of the NHS with photographer Glenn Dunbar.

The challenge was simple: Glenn spent two days travelling to the homes of Right Formula staff in and around London, tasked with taking pictures of them on their doorsteps with their families, pets and anything else that helped explain what lockdown has encapsulated for them.

And the results were fantastic, as you can see in the gallery below.

 

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“What a great way to spend a couple of days, taking pictures of the Right Formula team and finding out how they’ve been keeping busy during lockdown,” said Glenn of the challenge. “The weather wasn’t the best, but in between dodging the rain and stopping my photographic umbrella from flying away, I managed to capture some great shots.

“Standout points were shooting a sea kayak, photographing the next Lewis Hamilton and getting parents to hang their kids upside down!”

For every member of staff who took part in the Doorstep Challenge, Right Formula donated £5 to the NHS Charities Together initiative to help support the staff, volunteers and patients currently tackling the Covid-19 crisis. Keep an eye out on our social media channels over the coming weeks for the stories behind the pictures of our Right Formula staff.

 

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Q&A: The changing landscape of commercial activity amid COVID-19

By Luke Organ, Managing Director – Commercial

Right Formula’s Managing Director of Commercial, Luke Organ, opens up on the impact COVID-19 has had on his department’s work with clients across brands and rights holders.

Q: What are some of the key challenges the current pandemic is having on a commercial department operating in the Sports and Entertainment industry?

In this climate, the challenge is almost exclusively being able to: a) capture attention, and b) convince budget holders to spend. If the value proposition and solution being presented are not well thought through, then it would be fair for commercial teams to expect to receive some fairly blunt responses from the market place at present.

Everyone talks about the need for the sponsorship landscape to change its approach in valuation and activation methodologies. That’s a given and, frankly, if we’re not thinking in this manner, then I quite often refer back to Henry Ford when he said: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” 

The value points of Sport and Entertainment remain true on the whole and will largely be unaffected by COVID-19. However, this environment is mandating the change in approach by commercial departments to a much greater effect.

In today’s world, the lack of traditional assets focuses minds on following the vast majority of marketing spend into digital routes. Digital and marketing teams must now work harmoniously with – or as part of – commercial departments to service all stakeholders needs. Value propositions and purchase cycles must be at the heart of all commercial thinking in order to achieve quantifiable and measurable business outcomes for partners. 

Q: What challenges are you facing that relate specifically to work with brands?

As brands consider their investment in the sporting field, or for those who are considering investing in the same, the challenge will be to find the rights holder who can address how they will help the brand ultimately achieve its objectives.

More developed markets and verticals want to focus on latter stages of the purchase cycle – the trigger opportunities, the drive to conversion and the affinity and advocacy for their brands. 

Rights holders still build out their valuation stack utilising traditional media returns and tangible assets, while seemingly ignoring industry trends that show more than 70% of global marketing budget is directed towards digital activities, with a view to driving conversion and advocacy.

Brands must be able to locate the right partner who can support in an aligned manner. In the recent 2020 Global Marketing Trends Report by Deloitte, they identify that purpose-driven companies witness higher market share gains and grow on average three times faster than their competitors. Now, how many rights holders in Sport and Entertainment lead with a clear purpose and conviction to their raison-d’etre? Authenticity to this strategy is paramount and while brands continue to do more around purpose-led initiatives, Sport and Entertainment has some way to go to as a whole to catch up. 

 

Q: Likewise, what challenges are presenting themselves to rights holders at this time?

As always, talent remains crucial to drive clear understanding and interpretation of a rights holder’s value proposition. Alongside this, in a market where there is no sporting activity, we are seeing increasing numbers of rights holders furloughing staff. This will ultimately lead to negative growth in their pipeline development.

Brands in certain segments are still marketing and are still spending, albeit with adjusted or curtailed objectives in mind. Rights holders sit on some of the most engaging and compelling materials that the digital industry has to offer, and so as the on-field action halts, the off-field action should continue – however with a much more rigorous consideration in place as to how it can help stakeholders.

Failure to balance talent with stakeholder needs will see an adverse effect on pipeline development, which, in turn, delays revenue conversion, promotes negativity around the proposition and therefore has continued negative financial consequence. 

Q: How is the search for ‘new business’ being impacted, from a Right Formula perspective and for those clients the consultancy operates on behalf of in the partner acquisition space?

Undoubtedly, what was always a tough job just got a whole lot tougher. But as per some of my aforementioned insights, there needs to be a well thought out strategy as to how we are engaging with potential new clients.

Within the acquisition consultancy, we are very pleased to be aligned with rights holders who very clearly understand their purpose and can articulate this in a manner that few others can. In almost all our rights holder client’s cases, they are clear as to what their value proposition can provide for potential partners across different industries.

For Right Formula, we are focussed on driving against objectives and have found that, now more than ever, strategic consultancy is required and turnkey solutions are more highly in demand now given market flux.

 

Q: In the Activation space, there has been ‘new opportunities’ to show value through digital/virtual treatments. What have been the ‘new opportunities’, if any, on the commercial side?

Showcasing transparency has been one of the biggest opportunities for us in this period. You have to engender trust with clients and rather than using just the word, we act.

We provide all clients across our divisions with absolute transparency to our workflows, with access to live reporting portals to track progress. It’s probably quite surprising to some that I’ve chosen this, but it shows value and makes us accountable, which, in turn, gives our clients a much more integrated view on our works. 

Q: How else has Right Formula displayed real value in these difficult times for its clients?

In times of change we must be quick to react. We have adopted pro-active communications across the board to address challenges that each client faces. Rather than shying away, we tackle head-on the scenarios at play and ensure that we constantly adapt our scope of works to ensure we can continue to deliver against objectives.

We have provided strategic guidance on how to navigate business development, adjust approaches to market, alter marketing spend and bring a multitude of insights for client internal teams to the table.

On top of this, we have moved quickly to deliver strategic advice to help navigate these unprecedented times in relation to contracts, rights, assets and marketing programmes. The cross-consultancy work ethic to pull on knowledge and provide this back to our clients has been quite astonishing.

Q: How does the current situation and the learnings from it now change aspects of how the Right Formula Commercial arm operate going forwards?

I think in any downturn it makes you consider your approach to conversation. It emphasises the need to ensure you understand why you are trying to hold conversation with certain parties and that the value proposition is absolutely clear.

Secondly, we must consider how we add flexibility to rights pools. This is slightly trickier to address, but true partnerships endure the tests that come their way over the course of time and, ultimately, flexibility has to be given on both sides so we continually look at how this can be baked into conversations and commercial arrangements as a given. 

Q: For clients reading this – and those operating in the wider industry – what advice would you offer with regard to maintaining positivity?

Sport and Entertainment is so resilient. It forms a corner stone for communities across the world and has done for many, many decades. Although our landscape will change, we have to believe in the strength of our arena and the fans’ desire for our product.

That desire will continue to fuel the engine and, in doing so, continue to attract the support and interest from the marketplace as to how both fans and corporate partners can consume and leverage this unparalleled space.

The content of this article was originally published and adapted by Sport Business. Click here to read.

 

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Guest Blog: Callum Skinner on the impact of a postponed Olympics

By Callum Skinner, Olympic Cycling Champion

Olympic cycling champion and Right Formula client Callum Skinner writes exclusively for our new website about how the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games could provide opportunities for athletes and brands alike.

It’s fair to say the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were put in an unenviable position of postponing Tokyo 2020 until 2021. In my role at Global Athlete, I was one of hundreds of athletes calling for the IOC to listen to us, put welfare first and postpone the Olympic and Paralympic Games until the Covid-19 pandemic is under control. 

That being said, it wasn’t an easy decision for us athletes either. Athletes prepare for an Olympic Games for four to 10 years, so it’s not an easy decision to postpone. Some athletes who were targeting 2020 as their last Olympics may not be able to compete at all, as an extra year of intense training presents a risk to both physical and mental health. Half of Olympic sports haven’t finished their qualification schedule for the Games due to cancellations around Covid-19. Some potential Olympians may miss out on selection.

On physical health, there are 11,000 athletes and thousands of additional support staff from over 200 countries who would have come together in a compact village, which is obviously not advisable in a global pandemic. Of that, 700-1,000 athletes at the London 2012 Olympics were diagnosed asthmatics, putting them in an ‘at risk’ category. With respiratory illness reported as the most common athlete illness at an Olympic Games, this could lead to ‘false positives’ and greater anxiety among healthy athletes.

Separately, it’s well documented that Olympic athletes face financial struggles between Games. In the UK, teams work on a four-year funding cycle, so this presents a major challenge if additional funding is not provided. With the world likely to enter a Covid-19-induced recession, sponsorship opportunities will be few and far between.

 

The postponement of Tokyo 2020 can have a positive effect on the wider Olympic movement, though. The Olympics will bounce back and postponement presents an amazing opportunity to use the power of the Games to bring the world back together when we enter the post-pandemic era. 

Here are a few reasons how:

• Content: A postponed Games will put athlete stories, rather than performances, at the heart of any coverage. I have no doubt there will be many superb narratives that will become apparent as a result of the current measures in place. This will provide great content for media going forwards, putting athletes and their sponsors – not least their human side – firmly in the spotlight.

• The Alternative: If the Games were to go ahead as scheduled, the media focus would be on COVID-19 and possible outbreaks, instead of the athletes who have worked so hard to get there. Australia and Canada said they would boycott the Games and more would have followed if the original date was kept. This would devalue any results, and it goes without saying that you want the greatest athletes to be present. A good example is the Zika virus at Rio 2016, where even with limited concerns a number of athletes pulled out. 

• A Summer of Sport: 2021 is set to be an exceptional summer of sport – Euro 2021, the Rugby League World Cup, the Ryder Cup and the British & Irish Lions Tour, to name a few major tournaments set to take place. Athletes who make their squads are going to be part of something amazing and should look to market themselves to brands who don’t want to miss out.

In short, while no athletes wanted a delayed Olympics, it’s our job to overcome obstacles and succeed in any given situation – and that is what we will do.

Callum Skinner is best known for his achievements at the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where he claimed a gold and silver medal, as well as an Olympic record. After retiring in 2018, he has successfully built a career in sports marketing and continues to push for improving athlete rights. In recent years, he has been a prominent voice on anti-doping, even delivering a speech on clean sport at the White House. He also sits on both the Team GB and UK Anti-Doping Athletes Commissions and is Lead Athlete at the athlete movement for positive change in sport, Global Athlete. Right Formula is proud to support Callum in his work for cycling start-up HindSight, Global Athlete and other projects.

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Blog: Importance of relationships in the world of partnerships

By Chris Bovey, Head of Partnerships

We’re in the midst of a global pandemic. It’s an unprecedented situation that continues to evolve daily, affecting everyone across the globe, and it’s forcing us to look at our industry in a different light.

Now more than ever, it is strong and honest relationships coupled with insightful business understanding that will enable consultancies and clients to continue to prosper and meet their objectives.

In the following article I’ll explore how the world’s top brands grow powerful engagement and advocacy; how Right Formula’s approach and focus towards cultivating valuable relationships distinguishes it in the marketplace; and why this focus has become particularly pertinent given the current circumstances.

Brands

Whether it’s scrolling through content on our phone, browsing the aisles of supermarkets or simply walking around our own home, every day we interact with hundreds of different brands. To many of them we attribute little significance, but there are certain brands that do hold a special place in our hearts. 

These brands have fostered a unique brand loyalty and affinity with their consumers, in a similar way that sportspersons or teams can build strong connections with their fans. Such brands are able to do this because they capture our imagination – they inspire and allow us to connect on a deeper level with them. If brands were people, we would think nothing of admitting they build emotional relationships with us.

The way that brands grow affinity and loyalty is a strong model to reference when relationship building with our own clients.

 

Right Formula’s approach

Founded 11 years ago, Right Formula understands that one of its greatest tools in delivering exceptional business results is its ability to establish, nurture and maintain genuine relationships within the sports and entertainment industry.

In a world that’s becoming ever-more focused on buzzwords, jargon, data and metrics, it’s vital that we understand our clients and their business on a deeper level than just being able to recite their objectives or latest brand guidelines.

It can be easy to forget that we work in partnerships – synonyms of which are relationships, connections, collaborations and unions. As individuals and wider teams, it is the people that bring businesses their success. 

Right Formula is a consultancy that’s passionate about nurturing meaningful relationships, to ultimately ensure investments drive business performance. Such an approach gives us an edge against our competitors, allowing us to provide tailor-made solutions that deliver exceptional results.

Our Activation team has served at clients’ side for multiple terms. Highlights include supporting Hilton for over 10 years and through the recent acquisition of Marketing Minds, we have strengthened our client roster with ExxonMobil, who have worked with the team for over 20 years. Through a rapidly changing sponsorship landscape, such unique insight and understanding enhances our ability to deliver all-encompassing programmes and develop new approaches as required. This allows us to frequently push beyond our original scope of work, as with Hilton, whose sports sponsorship portfolio we’ve helped grow to now include their partnership with the European Tour.

Regardless of business acumen or textbook knowledge, without strong relationships and deeper understanding, delivering tailor-made solutions that yield exceptional results is impossible.

PARTICULAR PERTINENCE

Given the impact that the current situation has had across the sports and entertainment industry, both clients and consultancies are meeting their own challenges. At Right Formula, we are confident that it’s our shared history and mutual understanding grown from strong relationships that helps us demonstrate value as we navigate through this uncharted territory together.

We have become extensions of our clients’ teams and we are ingrained into their business, just as they are ingrained into ours. Our tried and tested approach is enabling us to work with all our clients to rework their annual plans, renegotiate contracts where appropriate and develop and execute pivot strategies. 

In Closing

This situation may be challenging, but it’s also an opportunity for us to do things better; to thrive.  With a captive audience of sports and entertainment fans stuck indoors, we have the opportunity to change the way we approach our work and how we attract their attention. Brands have the opportunity here to use new mediums to deepen their engagement in ways that traditional event activation – which so many still prioritise – may struggle to achieve.

Despite the current climate, we can continue to deliver exceptional results. Our focus on true understanding, honest relationships and trust with clients is what will enable us to find a way through. Right Formula and its clients are ready to weather the storm.

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Blog: Settling in to our new ‘normal’ during Coronavirus

BY Louisa Nicholson

“Please take your laptops home with you this evening, as the office will now remain closed until further notice.”

Not exactly the way any of us imagined 2020 starting. Four weeks into working remotely, we find ourselves settling into our ‘new normal’ amidst a global health emergency, economic shock and near unprecedented societal shutdown.

Based in the UK and unable to leave the house for anything but essential travel, we must find ways to keep ourselves sane, healthy and happy. And yet, despite the unusual circumstances, at Right Formula we seem to have found ourselves a natural rhythm as a team. We have adapted well to our new normal.

FINDING OUR GROOVE

Even though we’re now working from 55 different offices across the UK, in some ways we’ve never been more together. Day one of social distancing brought the rebirth of our company-wide WhatsApp group, which from its creation has provided us with an abundant supply of topical memes and videos to keep our spirits lifted during these tough times. This has been swiftly followed by the emergence of other remote working-friendly tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

And then of course there is the ‘virtual tea break’. Developing simultaneously across Right Formula account teams, the tea break has become an important part of our virtual office life. Taking 15 minutes out of your morning and afternoon to catch up with your team has become a great way to break up each day and keep our energy levels high – and work ever-more productively.

TAKING IT IN OUR STRIDE

Currently mourning the temporary loss of live sport and the ability to play in weekly five-a-side football matches, go to the gym or even play a round of golf, we’ve had to substitute these luxuries with other hobbies to help us battle through the situation. One of our account leads has been working her way through a series of free home workout videos, whilst another has been using her spare time at home to train with her younger brother in the garden.

We’re also having to focus on our mental wellbeing during this time. One of the ways we can maintain a routine while keeping active and de-stressing is in our ‘commute’. Try taking the opportunity to escape your house and increase your step count by ‘walking to or from work’. One of our team, for example, is using the early mornings to get some much-needed fresh air and a bit of spring sunshine before each day in the home office.

We’ve had to improvise and adapt to overcome challenges that working from home brings, whether it’s taking video calls in unusual locations because of poor WiFi connection or perching in quiet places around the house to find peace away from the desk. We have created home office spaces that encourage us to focus, energise and separate us from our non-office life; fashioning our version of ‘normal’ in this abnormal situation we find ourselves.

 

WE’RE IN THIS TOGETHER

Under normal circumstances, on a Friday afternoon after work you would hear a cowbell ring out across the office and witness a flood of thirsty staff making their way downstairs to grab a beer and catch up. It’s a time for us to share ideas and learnings but most importantly relax with each other and have a bit of fun. So why change? We’ve been dialling in to a company-wide Zoom call each Friday after work, to share a drink and have a laugh together. Times like these are much needed given the absence of usual social interaction.

Making the shift to a ‘more is less’ approach to communication, we are compensating for the lack of face to face contact. Now publishing our temporarily rebranded internal newsletter “Cabin Fever Weekly” every Friday, we’ve also launched an internal podcast, “Deserted Office Desks”, focusing on a new colleague each week to talk through their favourite records and stories. It’s a great way for us to learn a bit more about each other even though we’re apart. 

IN CLOSING

The nature of our industry means we must be able to shift gears quickly and diversify in any situation. The resilience we’ve seen from every single team member and the innovation and agility they have demonstrated to rise to this challenge is something we are incredibly proud of.

To say that this is a strange situation would be an understatement, and the lack of certainty on how long the world will have to ride this out is stressful and can be upsetting. For however long it may be, it’s certainly not business as usual, but together, we are taking it all in our stride. 

It has become our new normal – for now at least.