So why exactly are you against That Modern Football? Part 11

23 09 2013

49. The way creatives view football

If you don’t like the look of That Modern Football, and you’re looking for someone to blame, why not blame the creatives of the advertising “industry”?

These fuckers not only produce football-related adverts for Murdoch’s tabloid, they think their self-created bullshit is actually “humourous“;

The humorous ad illustrates all the places you can enjoy the football – for instance, at the cinema and while you’re waiting for your car to be repaired – and then warns about potentially hazardous spots to get caught watching.”

ThIs is the trouble with creatives. They think they’re dead clever because they’re “pushing the boundaries” and “subverting normality” with ironic postmodernism when all they’re doing is perpetuating stereotypes with “Footy fans are too stupid to concentrate on crossing because they’re watching footy on their smartphones” tropes. Cunts.

Creatives are never shy when it comes to sharing self-reverential bollocks, here’s some of it. (The best bits are in red)

1. “Viral review: Qatar Airways creates an FC Barcelona utopia

Social video expert Unruly evaluates the latest viral campaign from Qatar Airways.

Qatar Airways: A team that unites the world

John Donne said that no man is an island, but he didn’t say anything about internationally-renowned football teams.

Qatar Airways’ latest collaboration with FC Barcelona puts an imaginative twist on the Catalan club by turning the team into a sort of footballer’s utopia.

Complete with defender Gerard Pique working the immigration desk and Lionel Messi teaching a (football-based) dance class, our whistle-stop tour of Barca-world allows these sporting heroes to show their silly side.

It’s a cutesy concept, but agency 180 Amsterdam’s light-touch execution and ingenuity certainly carries it through. Also it is slightly amusing to imagine that Carles Puyol goes around protecting strangers with the force of his mighty header.

With 530,000 shares since its release last week, ‘A team that unites the world’ is already showing the kind of results that big-budget sports ads tend to attract. The high watermark in this genre is undoubtedly Nike’s blockbuster “Write the future”, which stole the show at the 2010 World Cup and currently stands at an impressive 2m all-time shares.

Next year’s World Cup in Brazil is swiftly approaching, so brands and agencies are already gearing up to produce their own show-stealing content.

Judging by this spot’s early success, they could do a lot worse than taking Qatar Airways as a model.

2. “Has ‘the beautiful game’ lost its media mojo?

Is football, beset by squabbles and facing fierce competition from other sports, losing its sheen, Alasdair Reid asks.

A year ago, all sorts of commentators were arguing that the only sporting loser of the summer was football. The Olympics, they argued, had reminded us what sport was really about. Or should be about. And, in doing so, it had removed the scales from our eyes as regards football, which, as the Premier League geared up for a new season, was revealed as the considerably-less-than-beautiful game.

The season ploughed forward, of course; and there were those willing to argue that this was a phenomenon with Teflon coating – no mud would ever really stick.

And yet, here we go again. Having had an uplifting summer of tennis and cricket, the new football season arrives seemingly determined to prove that it is an ugly and bad-tempered world populated by greedy men behaving atrociously. This time around, we’ve witnessed unpleasant transfer sagas unfolding against a simmering scandal about the decision to hand the 2022 Fifa World Cup to Qatar.

Commercially, the Premier League looks as robust as ever, with BT emerging as the latest outfit determined to compete with BSkyB as a purveyor of live football. But that in itself has helped tarnish the whole business – because, as their promotional efforts have cranked up, the two companies have engaged in childish posturing and squabbles behind the scenes.

Football isn’t just a TV property, of course. It has long been a cherished advertising environment in newspapers and remains high on the agenda of publishers across town. The Sun’s new paywall is predicated on the attractiveness of a Sun+ online news plus football highlights package, for instance; and, last week, The Telegraph launched a monthly sports supplement in association with BT Sport.

Football is regarded as an important property in radio as well – both Absolute and talkSPORT are offering live commentaries of Premier League games this season.

Arguably, for two decades, the Premier League has done a miraculous job in presenting English football as a glamorous and aspirational world. But could that era be coming to an end? Is football being downgraded as a valued media environment by advertisers and sponsors?

NO Richard Oliver, managing partner, investment, UM London – “For a long time now, football has had its own particular mojo – it’s about more than just sport. It’s about habit, tradition and especially entertainment. The Premier League is very entertaining. It’s a [property] almost like The X Factor.”

NO Jenny Biggam, founding partner, the7stars – “Football is loved by millions of loyal fans in the UK – it always has been and it always will be. Nothing will put these fans off, and it is in this love that a brand can thrive, regardless of what the latest Premier League debacle may be.”  

NO Ben Cronin, director of strategy and special projects, SMG Sports – “The interest around football remains unsurpassed. Where there’s interest of this scale, there will continue to be brands queuing up to tap into it. The challenge is to recognise where football’s market is now and where it’s going to be.”

NO Andrew Stephens, founding partner, Goodstuff Communications – “We have the most open title race in years, and BT and Sky are spending the equivalent of a small country’s GDP hyping it up. We can all look forward to bigger games, higher ratings, more scandal and Spurs finishing fourth.”

3. “Ugly comms blights the beautiful game”

It’s hard to stay neutral about the beautiful game. Football fires the blood, although not last weekend’s Charity Shield match, to which Wigan Athletic turned up, but didn’t play.

Ruth Wyatt: ‘Even a jane & John levelPR practitioner could have told Allam to tread carefully when describing his plans to Hull’s fans.’

Sitting in the supposedly neutral area at Wembley Stadium with two undercover Man United fans, I had ample time to reflect on the various PR problems in football thanks to the stupefyingly dull on-pitch proceedings.

Let’s start with the rebranding of Hull City as Hull Tigers. As if renaming a football club to sound like an American baseball team wasn’t bad enough, giving the following interview to the local paper – the local paper! – is unforgivable.

‘Hull City is irrelevant,’ said chairman Assem Allam in the Hull Daily Mail. ‘My dislike for the word “City” is because it is common. City is also associated with Leicester, Bristol, Manchester and many other clubs. I don’t like being like everybody else. It is about identity. City is a lousy identity. Hull City Association Football is so long.’

Lousy, common and irrelevant – three great adjectives with which to enrage local loyalists, who no doubt would rather be concentrating their energies on their team’s return to the Premier League than dealing with their chairman’s extreme case of foot in mouth disease.

Football is big business for sure; brands must be leveraged certainly, but even a Janet & John-level PR practitioner could have told Allam to tread carefully and speak tactfully and respectfully when describing his plans to the club’s fans.

Tact and respect are in desperately short supply for my beloved club’s deeply unloved striker Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan forward whose virtuosity with the ball is regularly eclipsed by his talent for getting banned through bad behaviour could really do with a personal PR professional.

Or a gag.

One minute he is blaming the media for making his life here in England a misery; the next he is using them to apply pressure on Liverpool to sell him to Arsenal.

As James Pearce put it in the Liverpool Echo: ‘If Suarez believed his attack on Liverpool FC would smooth his passage to Arsenal he was sadly mistaken. All Suarez achieved in going public over his burning desire to quit Anfield and move to the capital was to prove that he has no shame.’

I’d add that it also proved how much good paying someone a fraction of his wages to advise on media relations and reputation management could do for him.

In other words, it doesn’t matter how obnoxious your idea is it’ll be fine as long as you use the right words

4. “Why brands cannot get enough of the Premier League

Despite numerous scandals involving high-profile players, the Premier League grows ever stronger, as does its appeal to marketers, writes Alex Brownsell.

Shadows appear to have been creeping over the gleaming global brand that is the Premier League for some time now.

First it suffered in the after-glow of the London 2012 Games, when consumers appeared to unanimously decry the spoilt prima donnas of the Premier League in favour of the more earthy virtues of amateur sportsmen and women.

Football bosses have also faced waves of negative publicity around the conduct of high-profile players, from driving while disqualified to – in the case of former England captain John Terry – court cases following alleged racial abuse of fellow professionals.

And yet, the Premier League juggernaut continues to increase pace, and its allure to brands is undiminished. Take Barclays, which today launch a campaign to promote its title sponsorship of the league. Managing director of brand, reputation and citizenship David Wheldon insists, “There is so much that is good in football, and it should be celebrated.”

Dizzying battle

Consumers in the UK have been exposed to a dizzying marketing battle between Sky and BT, with both broadcasters claiming to offer the most must-see matches.

Its international presence burgeons with each passing year, too. Over the summer, Liverpool played in front of a record-breaking crowd of over 95,000 in Melbourne, Australia. Stadia in countries such as Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam have also been packed out to get a glimpse of visiting English teams.

Any brand worth its salt would take a look at the Premier League [as an opportunity].

According to Rob Sellers, a director at shopper agency Dialogue, the Premier League players have become “rock stars” at the heart of an almost unrivalled global content machine.

“Football is still the heartbeat of people in the UK,” adds Sellers. “Look at Twitter trends at any given moment: it’s what people talk about, and scandal is all just part of the tapestry of those conversations. Any brand worth its salt would take a look at the Premier League [as an opportunity].”

However, Sellers questions the effectiveness of official sponsorship deals for all brands, in particular those specifically targeting a UK audience: “As long as you tell a story and make it believable in a football sphere, you can say what you want. It is so hard to regulate around football.”

US appeal

Antony Marcou, group managing director at sports media marketing business Sports Revolution, agrees that, as the Premier League evolves, its appeal will resonate with a different type of brand.

He cites the huge potential for growth in the US, where the Premier League secured a $250m, three-year deal with broadcaster NBC to screen half a dozen live matches each week, and major brands such as carmaker Chevrolet have already invested in deals worth hundreds of millions of pounds.

Unlike the NFL or Major League Baseball, the Premier League has genuinely global coverage.

NBC supported the new deal with a major marketing campaign, including a giant poster of Tottenham Hotspur star Gareth Bale at New York’s Times Square as well as a comedy viral showing what might happen if an American football coach got a job managing in the Premier League (below).

“Football is going to become the fourth biggest sport in the biggest market in the world, and that is huge,” says Marcou. “It opens the Premier League up to more US brands because, unlike the NFL or Major League Baseball, the Premier League has genuinely global coverage.”

However, Marcou warns that alleged abuse incidents such as those involving Terry and Liverpool star Luis Suarez will not be tolerated by US brands, where marketers are very “nervous” of issues surrounding race.

There remains a risk that football could spoil its own party. However, if it avoids these pitfalls, and despite the protests of disillusioned naysayers, the Premier League brand looks set to grow ever stronger, and brands will continue to flock to it in the hope of exploiting its global prominence.”

Do these creatives realize they are living in a parallel existence of bullshit?

…….”an FC Barcelona utopia”…………”Football isn’t just a TV property, of course…………..(It) is regarded as an important property in radio as well…………..It’s a [property] almost like The X Factor.”…………..brands must be leveraged certainly”……………….the Premier League players have become “rock stars” at the heart of an almost unrivalled global content machine.”…………..

The sad thing is that those in power have been seduced by creatives. They too believe that football is “property” and a “global content machine”. Football is being ruined by people that brighten their lives with “quirky” cufflinks.

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10 12 2013
So why exactly are you against That Modern Football? Part 15 | XXXXXXXXX Jet Set

[…] part is basically a continuation of part 11, in that it’s entirely dedicated to the silky smooth PR […]

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