Category: Blogs and Opinion
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Right Formula Appointed to Activate Vodafone’s Partnership with Wasps

Award-winning sports and entertainment marketing consultancy Right Formula has won a competitive multi-agency pitch to support Vodafone’s partnership with Gallagher Premiership Rugby team Wasps Rugby, Wasps Women and Wasps Netball for the 2021/22 season.

Right Formula will help Vodafone harness the power of data, digital content and human experience across various platforms aimed at the business community that reflects Vodafone and Wasps’ shared commitment to promote the role that technology can play in sports and business.

In 2019 at the then called Ricoh Arena, Vodafone unveiled its Vodafone Business Lounge – an innovation space designed for businesses to experience the latest emerging technologies including 5G, the Internet of Things (IoT) and high-speed fibre. In 2020, Wasps installed a Vodafone Heat Detection camera at its training ground to help safeguard staff and players as they returned to training following the outbreak of COVID-19.

Right Formula CEO, Robin Fenwick, commented: “We’re truly delighted to be working with a world leading business such as Vodafone as we help them to attract and engage with important B2B and B2C audiences, as well as showcase what their technology can achieve when combined with human spirit.

“This was a huge team effort. The strategic and creative approach we are taking is allowing us to truly understand brands’ desired outcomes and provide services that deliver the required results, so we’re really looking forward to getting started.

“On a personal note, I’m thrilled to be working with Vodafone again. I began my career working with them on music events and Formula 1 back in 2001, so it’s particularly exciting to be able to continue the relationship twenty years on. I hope we’ll be working together for many years to come.”

Vodafone UK Head of Marketing and Communications, Dan Underwood, said: “We’re thrilled that Right Formula will be helping us to unveil new and exciting case studies, bringing 5G and IoT to life and demonstrating the key role these technologies will play in transforming the world of sport and business.

“Right Formula impressed us with their strategic and creative approach and we are looking forward to working together as we welcome businesses back to the Vodafone Business Lounge at the Coventry Building Society Arena.”

 

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Marginal Gains vs Giant Strides: Sustainability in Sport

Dan Reading, Head of Sustainability

With COP26 underway, Right Formula’s Head of Sustainability, Dan Reading, explores the increasingly important relationship between sustainability and sport.

In 2015, governments across the world universally adopted the United Nation’s Agenda 2030. The agenda consists of 17 high-level targets known as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and contains a self-imposed deadline of 2030. 

To the uninitiated, the SDGs feature across society in several ways, with almost all corporate entities aligning their sustainability efforts with goals relevant to them. For example, software giant SAP one of Right Formula’s clients – commit to using the SDGs with a focus on eight specifically.

So where does sport fit into society’s contribution to a more sustainable future? The UN once cited that “sport is an important enabler of sustainable development”, and it’s true that sport naturally enables some SDGs more than others such as Good Health and Well-Being, but amid COP26, it’s Climate Action that’s at the forefront of everyone’s minds. In a society that is increasingly demanding climate action from the brands and entities that they interact with, this is an area sport needs to take more action in.

Reflecting on this ahead of COP25 in 2019, and in the middle of a media scrum ahead of her transatlantic sailing trip, I asked Greta Thunberg what she thought sport’s contribution to climate change could be. Up to then, 99% of the questions posed to her were worded to get a soundbite about her attitude towards Donald Trump, so the sport question was clearly not a topic she had fielded before. She responded by saying that sport “has the ability to engage with billions of people” and therefore “has a significant opportunity to educate people about climate change and what actions they can take to help address it”.

 

I agree with Greta, and anyone who is prepared to slum it on a racing boat without a toilet across the Atlantic to prove a point goes up in my estimation. I did, however, wonder if in some developed countries people still need to be educated about climate change, and when I saw all the comments questioning how a boat made from carbon fibre could make a zero-carbon crossing, I realised that improved climate literacy is required.

When it comes to COP26 – which stands for ‘Conference of Parties’ and ’26’ referring to the 26th annual meeting on climate change – leaders are submitting their national plans to show their progress (or lack thereof) since committing to a legally binding carbon reduction agreement constructed to limit global warming by 1.5 degrees, known as ‘The Paris Agreement’. I expect that countries in general will not be on track and renewed efforts and urgency are needed.

So where does sport fit into this and how is the sector faring in relation to governments?

Firstly, it is worth noting that almost all sports will be negatively impacted by climate change. As a net contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, with billions participating, travelling and watching sport globally, added to the significant infrastructure and supply chain, they are also part of the problem.

As well as the obvious threats to winter sports, other pursuits will be directly affected by climate change with increasing temperatures making some competitions impossible to perform at. Increased frequency of severe weather has cancelled numerous events and for the masses, the participation and competition window decreases.

The UN recognised the role that sport must play and as a result, at COP24, it launched the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework. With now close to 300 signatories, there certainly seems to be an appetite in the rights holder community. Two years on, however, the UN are tightening the requirements to participate, ensuring sports have clear commitments as well as measuring and reporting their carbon emissions, to ensure action is taken beyond the inevitable press release announcing participation.

By my estimates, around 30% of rights holders participating in the Framework have climate action plans, with the rest participating to learn from others. All have commitments from the head of the organisation, and it is certainly an opportune time for strategic partnerships to be forged, with climate action central to the mission of both parties.

At Right Formula, we exist to ensure sports and entertainment investment drives business performance. This incorporates sustainability, climate action and purpose. We believe authentic delivery and effective communication around these subjects are crucial to enable sport to become net positive at a time when expectations in these areas are at an all-time high.

In high performance sport we often talk about marginal gains, but for addressing climate change, we will need to take giant strides.

 

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In Defence of the Sports Industry: Private Equity Roadmap

Nick Palmer, Business Executive – Brands

Right Formula Business Executive, Nick Palmer, explores private equity’s roadmap within the sports industry as companies look to re-assess their portfolios.

BETTING ON THE Market

Low risk and stable yield – the holy grail of investment strategy for private equity.

Since 2011 the sports industry has grown 6% year on year, but due to the pandemic this growth has been overturned by event cancellations, a ban of spectators from events, a reduction of grass root level sports, and the closure of retail stores. As a result, there is now a golden opportunity for private equity to invest in the industry.

The sports market has shrunk by a reported 15% since the pandemic began and yet, due to pre-existing strong structural foundations, this turbulence and volatility is only temporary. With an estimated 3% industry growth in 2021 and a further 8% in 2022, the light at the end of the tunnel is clearly visible within the market.

 

Figure 1: Estimated market size of the global sports industry

The recovery is unparalleled when compared to other investment opportunities that face private equity investors, and there is a compelling case for investors to ‘buy the dip’ and acquire assets within the sports marketplace for a low price that will guarantee strong and steady return on investment for stakeholders.

A COMMERCIAL AWAKENING

Historically, private equity investment has focused its attention away from the sports industry, with capital being distributed to those sporting bodies that individuals have a vested interest in, rather than those that have a compelling business case.

Organising bodies that value tradition over commercial streamlining have widely been ignored by private equity because the roadmap to navigate interest has been seen as too complex to warrant exploration.

Fast forward to today and the landscape is changing. As a direct result of the pandemic, some sporting bodies are struggling to stay financially afloat, and now private equity investors are making headway to overlook the trials and tribulations of creating partnerships with these institutions because the potential for return is too compelling to ignore.

During the pandemic we have seen some large cash injections from private equity into sports, at a time when the potential for returns has been the highest.

 

Figure 2: Private equity investments into sports teams

MSP Sports Capital, a New York based privately held investment advisory firm, has invested £185m into McLaren Racing, acquiring an initial 15% stake that will increase to a maximum of a 33% shareholding by the end of 2022. MSP invested in McLaren in December 2020 at the height of the pandemic – arguably the best time to invest in a Formula 1 team since the financial crisis in 2007 – due to the lower cost of entry.

New Zealand Rugby is another interesting case study for private equity investment. In early 2021, they agreed to sell to U.S. Private Equity firm Silver Lake – who have also taken a $500m stake in the City Football Group – a 12.5% stake in a company that would control and develop All Blacks’ commercial rights. In return, Silver Lake would invest $273m into the development of the game, both on a local and gloval level via the All Blacks.

These two investments can be grouped together and categorised as yield investments, where both firms have invested at a time of market recession in order to increase their return on investment in years to come.

THE BUSINESS CASE

The opportunities for private equity within the sports landscape is uncapped, and in the current state of the sports marketplace, there is no better time for private equity funds to re-assess their portfolios.

Right Formula’s current work with the United Rugby Championship (URC), backed by CVC Capital Partners, has demonstrated that the rationale for private equity investment is impossible to ignore. There is no other vertical in life that can guarantee a fixed audience of a specific demographic at a pre-determined time and place. This guarantees low risk and stable, sustainable returns for investors.

 

Figure 3: The United Rugby Championship, backed by CVC Capital Parners

Right Formula believes that the rationale for private equity investment into sports rests on two key pillars which create a compelling case for stakeholders.

UNWAVERING FANS

What cannot be ignored in sport is the connection between a fan and their chosen sports team. This state of mind underpins the entire sports industry, with global reach and engagement of specific sports driving investment from sponsors and broadcasters. No other industry is broken down this way when deliberating investment, however it is sport’s biggest strength as the activity of its following is unparalleled.

For fans, the connection transcends the borders of a sports field and plays a pivotal role in their day to day lives. This makes the commercial model for the sports industry increasingly appealing, as the unwavering support of a lifelong fan for a sponsor can result in lifelong customer support, lower cost per acquisition, lower churn and the creation of genuine brand advocates.

The fans are the ones driving the stability of investment returns in the sports industry, fully encompassing the ethos of ‘if you build it, he will come’. Thier unwavering support is what makes the industry as powerful and profitable as it is.

 

Figure 4: Borussia Dortmund fans – renowned as some of the most passionate in the world

UNIQUE COMMERCIALISATION

The sports industry presents a vast marketplace that has the potential for private equity to break new ground and develop the more established sports. Although the former would appear to be the most profitable due to less clutter, that is not necessarily always the case.

The iconic example for returns on investment in an already established sport is the CVC investment into Fornula 1, where the firm turned a $952m investment in 2006 into more than a $6.7bn exit in 2016. This return on investment has been championed as the ideal case study for private equity to refer to when assessing the sporting landscape.

With the rapid digitalisation of the industry and the growth of new events including the URC, The Hundred, Golf Sixes and the UCI Cycling World Championships, more commercial opportunities are appearing in the most established sports in the industry. These sports have uncapped potential for returns as they are speaking to an incredibly engaged fanbase in a new and diverse way.

THE ROADMAP

The pandemic has forced investors to recognise the commercial opportunities within the sports industry and stable foundations will see the sports market regenerate stronger than ever in the coming years. Now is the time for partnerships to be created to ensure the strongest yields possible.

 

 

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Right Formula Appoints Award-Winning Sustainability Expert

Right Formula, the leading sports and entertainment marketing consultancy, has appointed the United Nations Sports for Climate Action Framework Co-Chair, Dan Reading, as Head of Sustainability.

Reading was recently crowned the 2021 Environmental Professional of the Year by the Society for the Environment and in 2020 won the Global Association for International Sport Federation’s Sustainability Award. He joins from the international federation, World Sailing.

Reading had previously spent almost a decade at the Royal Yachting Assocation, which included a secondment at London 2012 as Olympic & Paralympic Sailing Sustainability Manager. He also developed and implemented sustainability strategies and systems for Goodwood, Powerboat P1, America’s Cup, The Ocean Race and hospitality at the Wimbledon Championships.

In the newly-created position of Head of Sustainability, Reading will now lead Right Formula’s sustainability strategy as well as offering best-in-class consultancy to a number of the business’s clients which include Aggreko, Bang & Olufsen, Genpact, Hilton Hotels, IWC, Kia Motors, Loch Lomond Whiskies, Logitech, Pirelli, SAP, Vestas and Vodafone.

 

Commenting on the announcement, Right Formula owner and CEO, Robin Fenwick, said: “We’ve known for a long time that sport is one of the most powerful tools to engage fans and participants on a number of topics.

However, brands have historically not translated their own purpose into the sports that they support, and consumers are increasingly choosing that their money is spent on organisations who have a purpose which aligns with their own values.

“Whilst there has been exponential growth in sports committing to become more sustainable, there is still a skills gap. With Dan’s arrival at the business, Right Formula will consolidate its position as an industry leader in sport.

“We’re absolutely delighted to have him on board.”

Reading, who is also a Chartered Environmentalist and member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment, added: “I’m thrilled to join Right Formula as Head of Sustainability.

“In doing so, I’m looking forward to supporting a wide range of clients to deliver tangible, powerful and credible sustainability programmes and ultimately create more positive impact across the sport and entertainment industry.”

 

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Right Formula announces new Advisory Board

Right Formula has brought together some of the industry’s most influential figures to form an Advisory Board which will help guide the company’s growth and development.


The Advisory Board comprises Jeremy Darroch; Anne Headon and Ian Carter.

IAN CARTER

Ian Carter spent 16 years at Hilton during which time he was responsible for growth and expansion into new markets as President, Global Operations and prior to that, CEO of Hilton International. Carter is now Chairman of the Watches of Switzerland Group, the leading retailer of luxury timepieces.

Carter said: “I’ve known Robin personally for more than 15 years and have been impressed with his business and approach to sports and entertainment marketing.

I look forward to supporting Robin and the Executive Management team as we help steer the growth and expansion of the company over the coming years.

Jeremy Darroch

Jeremy Darroch became Executive Chairman of Sky in 2021, having been CEO since 2007. During his tenure he led the company to become Europe’s largest multi-platform TV provider and launched a range of products including Sky+, Sky HD and Sky Q. Darroch currently sits on the Youth Sports Trust board and is a WWF ambassador.

Darroch said: “Right Formula have been a leading force in sports marketing and a true innovator in the space for over a decade, so I’m looking forward to adding value and playing a part in the next chapter.”

I’m thrilled to join the board at this really exciting time.

 

Anne Headon

Anne Headon worked for McKinsey, P&G and L’Oreal prior to establishing her own marketing agency in Switzerland. Headon is a tutor at the University of Oxford and is the Director of the Entrepreneurship and Innovation HUB of Lausanne University in Switzerland.

Headon added: “I’ve had the privilege of working with organisations of various sizes across a number of countries. Right Formula boasts a client roster and depth of talent to match the very best. “

I’m delighted to join this Board to support Robin and his team and look forward to playing my part in an important period of growth for the business

 

Commenting on the announcement, Right Formula Founder and CEO, Robin Fenwick, said: “This is a landmark step for Right Formula as we consolidate our position in the industry and plan our medium and long-term future.

We have huge ambitions for the business so I’m honoured to be able to bring in individuals of this calibre who will be invaluable to our future growth.”

Members of the Right Formula Advisory Board take their positions from October 2021.

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The Ability of Partnerships to Transcend Sport into Wider Culture

James Cardona, Business Manager

Right Formula Business Manager, James Cardona, explores how the lines between sport and entertainment have become blurred and how that can impact brand partnerships.

When the global pandemic forced sport off our screens and eventually kept fans away from stadia and events, as a society we lost our weekly right to experience the roar of a crowd or the purr of an engine. What we gained instead was an added appreciation of sport’s ability to deliver more than just sport.

Sports kit went from technical wear to leisurewear when working from home, local clubs became online communities, and athletes became activists, artists and influencers.

Now, sport has the ability to transcend its own definition and glide beyond the on-pitch physical entertainment and competition. It has spread its influence into music, fashion, art, social activism and everyday culture.

paris: a capital of culture

Paris Saint-Germain’s capture of Lionel Messi from Barcelona during the football summer transfer window understandably made the front and back pages, but their business away from the pitch has been equally impressive.

It was recently announced that French luxury fashion house, Dior, was to become the club’s official tailor. This heralds Dior’s first time working with a sports club and through the collaboration with PSG they have aligned with a global lifestyle brand that is modern and fast-growing.

The worlds of sport and fashion are now entwined; influences from one are seen in the other.

The partnership follows on from PSG’s first foray into lifestyle in 2018, when they entered into a sportswear supply deal with Nike Jordan – a brand more famed in the NBA – which had obvious benefits for the club in the US market.

The arrival of the world’s best player in Messi, alignment to French luxury in Dior, and street culture through Jordan, gives PSG the ultimate trifecta. They attack culture from all angles and we expect to see the PSG brand to continue its meteoric rise.

 

an olympic debut for the breakdancing community

Continuing with Paris, the 2024 Olympics will see the inaugural inclusion of breakdancing. After the success of skateboarding and surfing at the recent Tokyo Games, we continue to see the fascinating growth of ‘non-traditional’ sports in the ultimate global competition. The IOC has been on a mission to widen the appeal and relevance of the Olympics as well as secure a younger audience, and as a result, their recognition of breakdancing is significant.

With strong roots in rap music, street art and DJing, the sport opens up multiple avenues for brand alignment and partnership as well as community support. Its Olympic inclusion will only increase the stature and commercial potential of leading events such as Red Bull BC One, a client of Right Formula’s.

 

listening to the cultural beat

Sport’s relationship with music is long-standing. Songs are ingrained in our memories as the soundtracks to historic moments, but it’s how we listen that has changed. Athletes across all sports are now seen arriving to their various events and competitions sporting a range of headphones, earbuds and portable speakers.

As Liverpool FC star Trent Alexander-Arnold explains in his recent link up with Bang & Olufsen: “Music is my way of getting in the zone.” In the content, created by Right Formula Productions, the premium audio company highlights music’s ability to adapt to different states by utilising their ambassador in a multi-faceted role – Trent the chef, the gamer and even the chess-player. Whilst famous for their raw talent, sports stars are also icons off the pitch, court and track.

the implications for brands and partnerships

The way sport is intertwined with wider culture and entertainment only increases the opportunity for brands when they get involved in partnerships.

Did iconic Italian tyre brand Pirelli ever expect to be worn on the runway at Milan Fashion Week by Winnie Harlow? The supermodel took to the catwalk in 2019 to help launch Inter Milan’s 20-year anniversary shirt. This feat catapulted the brand into the front-row of a new fashion-conscious audience.

Through partnerships, brands can now capitalise on the cultural relevance that sport carries.

For the right brand, activated in the right way, partnerships can help you tap into multiple passion points of your audience, launching you into multiple conversations at once.

A sports partnership doesn’t haven’t to be limited to sport. A sports ambassador as the face of your brand doesn’t have to be used in a solely sporting context.

This powerful approach allows brands to reach new audiences in new markets.

 

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The Rise of Technical Sustainable Partnerships in Sport

Charlotte Ellingham, Senior Account Manager

Right Formula Senior Account Manager, Charlotte Ellingham, reviews recent sustainability activations and how the power of sport can highlight and affect positive change – starting with rightsholders’ commercial partners.

Sport is a powerful vehicle that contributes to making a positive change. Whether creating a cultural shift that helps communities through technological innovations or simply inspiring a new generation through world class performances, each step results in a bigger and more influential impact which in turn creates a continuous positive chain of reactions.  

A scan of the news in recent months can attest to the urgency in which we need to make a change in our day to day lives, particularly when it comes to creating a greener and more sustainable future. This need for a more immediate long-term improvement in our society, aided by sport, is instrumental in making that significant difference. 

Some of the world’s most renowned sporting occasions embody this foresight already and continue to make strides in this area. Increasingly, sustainability is becoming a common theme as major sporting events and venues seek to actively promote not only their environmental efforts but also the improvements that they are making now that fans are back in the stadiums and arenas. 

This year the ATLEC, in partnership with the BBC, COP26 and the Met Office, introduced the first Environment Day at Wimbledon. Their aim was to highlight the growing climate crisis through a variety of bespoke discussions featured throughout the day on TV broadcast and social media. Noticeable changes were also made on site and included the recycling of used racket strings, reusable cups for cold drinks and zero waste to landfill.

Their aim is to achieve much needed awareness to inspire others to follow suit whilst showcasing the latest in the innovative technologies we now have at our disposal. This in turn creates impactful change whilst shedding light on those best practice brands and sporting organisers which can become a beneficial marketing tool for both parties.

 

What more can brands do in this space?

Inspiring change is exactly what Tokyo 2020 Olympic Partner and one of our clients Aggreko, is setting out to achieve. As a temporary power and energy solutions company, Aggreko are setting the stage for many of its long-standing clients by developing ground-breaking technologies, and filling the urgent need to provide a more sustainable and renewable solution, at a green sporting event.

A range of new innovative products and services are provided at many of the biggest stages across in the world. 

 No stone is left unturned, which was the message of the partnership announced at the recent 149th Open Championship. A hybrid system was installed that was made up of two renewable microgrids which supplied 100% reliable power without a connection to the grid, powering a fleet of electric vehicles used during the championship. In addition, for the first time in the R&A’s history, all generators on site were entirely fuelled by HVO – a sustainable biodiesel derived from waste and residue feedstock. 

Through a collaboration with the R&A, Mercedes-EQ and Connected Kerb, the project became the focal point within the sustainability zone, positioned at the entrance to the course, stimulated a conversation with golf fans. 

Aside from sustainability and inspiring a new generation,
sport provides the catalyst for a cultural shift
on a wide variety of important topics. 
 

 
One great example of this is Olympics and the work conducted by the IOC.

As the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has wrapped up, it’s clear to see the impact that the two weeks will have on both old and new sports. Those newly included in the recent Games each started their Olympic campaign with individual reservations about whether they would provide as much entertainment as the long-standing and high-profile events like the traditional track and field events. As soon as the games began this quickly dissipated and the world was introduced to the likes of new superstars in sports such as Skateboarding and Rock Climbing, who were catapulted into the global spotlight and a new realm of fame. 

Significant moments at an Olympic Games can have a huge impact on sport participation at a global and local level. For example, when the Team GB Women’s Hockey team won gold in Rio 2016, the average hockey club across England grew by 54% – particularly amongst under 16’s. Although some players continued to play with a focus on winning a medal in Tokyo, others decided to use their newfound fame to promote matters close to their hearts such as diversity and inclusion and took positions within the media to further increase their profile and efforts. 

There is a role for brands to play with joining and building on this momentum, which mutually benefits the ambassadors by increasing their profile, but also allows the brands to align with key messaging that a business stands for. 

In recent years, Aggreko have supported LGPA Golfer Mel Reid who champions the message of inclusion and the importance of women in sport. A unique partnership such as this allows Aggreko and Mel to work together and make a difference in areas that matter to them both. 

The promotion of sport around the world with the message of inclusion provides a platform for the quality of sport to grow further, and ultimately also produces a better calibre of sport as a more diverse skill set starts to be included.

The legacy that is created from events such as the Tokyo Olympics and the stars its produced, will result in more fan participation in sport as well as provide help with the plight of increasing diversity and inclusion across sport on a global level. 

CHARLOTTE ELLINGHAM, SENIOR ACCOUNT MANAGER

 

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Right Formula 2020: A Year in Review

Robin Fenwick, Chief Executive

When I started Right Formula in 2009, I knew the business would have to continually evolve to keep up with client needs and market forces. But this year has necessitated change beyond what anyone could have predicted. 

Just over a decade ago, the premise for starting the business was to bring together some of the finest strategic and innovative people to deliver a high-quality service that meets our clients needs.  

To achieve this, we ensured that principles such as ongoing creativity, resilience, adaptability and perseverance were rooted in the way each and every team member went about their work. 

In turn this has allowed us to achieve success based on the strength of relationships we’ve nurtured in some cases over many years, built on the core principles we’ve instilled across our workforce. Having marked over a decade of operating and experienced what has been without doubt the most challenging year of the business – which has incidentally also been my 40th birthday year – I’ve probably been in a more reflective mood than usual!

Today, we have more than 50 staff working across numerous sports across the globe, consulting for many prestigious clients who operate in a range of business sectors. It is therefore critical to me, now more than ever, that each and every client sees us deliver a return on their investment. 

In 2020, the marketing rights we were tasked to activate at Right Formula simply couldn’t be delivered in the way they were articulated in contracts. As a business, we have had to work creatively with rights holders to ensure we adapted, and fast. We had to find solutions that were mutually agreeable but not without compromise from both sides.

 The character of those within the business, channelling the values we had when Right Formula began, has led us to be more creative than ever and truly deliver best-in-class solutions. 

For example, across the industry there had been question marks around how best to activate digital and virtual experiences. The COVID-19 pandemic required innovation, so at Right Formula we introduced a Virtual Official Match Ball Carrier for Kia at the UEFA Europa League Final, provided innovative digital solutions to leverage Genpact’s partnership with Envision Virgin Racing in Formula E, and delivered an entire Esports competition for Logitech.

 

These are just small samples of our work this year and whilst I’m truly delighted that we’ve delivered campaigns that have produced amazing results for our clients, it’s also the personal development of individuals within our business that I’ve witnessed first-hand that I take huge pride in.

 

I have to admit, I was worried about whether remote working was an efficient solution as our industry is all about people, but it’s fair to say that worry has been firmly dismissed. The team has been diligent and determined in all aspects of their work and as a result we haven’t lost a client – in fact, we’ve renewed several existing partnerships and seen some healthy new business wins

 

Whilst it’s difficult to predict what exactly to expect in 2021, we can certainly take a huge amount of experience from the past 12 months. What’s more, there seems to be renewed optimism commercially in the marketplace which is a welcome change from recent months.

 

It’s positive that our clients are planning both physical and digital activations for 2021. We have proactively found solutions to ensure our clients are still achieving business-changing results and I’m hopeful that come this time next year, we’ll be back to normality. I’m certainly keeping my fingers crossed!

 

But whatever the world throws at us, I feel that we have a business that’s genuinely robust and we will be better prepared than ever. 

 

Just finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish all of our staff, clients, partners and suppliers a well deserved break over the Christmas period and all the very best for 2021. 

 

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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.