Late June saw the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has rolled out a new campaign based around social media activity and statistics called ‘#RiseForEngland’.
Launched in the late June build up to this summer’s Ashes test series against Australia, the ECB’s web application revolves around social media statistical comparisons by aggregating web activity and calculating fan support for either England or for Australia.
The #RiseForEngland tool – at http://www.riseforengland.com/ – enables users to personalise their support by choosing from a range of England players and adding their very own face to the team line-up – personalising the image further by adding their own name and message.
This can then be shared across all the usual social media profiles in an attempt to spread each individual’s personalised backing of their team.
Another element of the work is the ‘Fan Face Off’ initiative which charts the battle for social support by tracking which team is winning the battle for ‘tweets’, ‘likes’ and ‘shares’. The site tracks which team and players have the greatest social buzz.
Thus taking one of the oldest rivalries in sport into the digital space.
Cricket Australia, the Australian Cricketing Board, are also partners in the initiative and are simultaneously launching their own marketing and social media push on the other side of the world.
These web apps, developed by Brands2Life, form part of the wider #Rise for the Ashes campaign which is evolving and expanding through the Investec Ashes summer series.
The England campaign film – which also includes plenty of on-screen logo visibility for official England sponsors Investec, Brit Insurance and Adidas – is built around slow motion images of England’s star players set to a poetic ode to the classic test series which reads:
“History will soon be made,
Upon the board,
Their honours engraved.
Nerves on edge, muscles tighten.
Jaws are set, knuckles whiten.
A dot ball passes, atmosphere heightens.
Those left standing: gods among titans.
They’ll deliver the fight, session by session.
The nation’s pride their only obsession
For one. For all.
Old scores. New clashes.
Together we’ll Rise
For The Urn.
There is also a forward looking Australian web film strand to the initiative revolving around the idea of the 150 day countdown to the first ball of the Commonwealth Bank Ashes Series in Australia starting 21 November.
The ECB is using The Ashes, cricket’s oldest, best known and fiercely patriotic series, to increase activity across its digital channels, as it aims to offer sufficient content, utlity and entertainment to capture more fan data.
‘We’re looking at the increased profile of cricket over the next three years – with this Ashes, Sri Lanka & India next year and the Ashes in 2015 – as an opportunity to create a legacy around the sport,’ ECB managing director of global events and marketing Steve Elworthy. ‘The activity we’re doing this summer aims to boost the traffic to our digital channels, particularly to our “TwelfthMan” fan community. From a commercial point of view, it gives our sponsors a platform to to develop a better understanding of the type of content fans want moving forward.’
The ECB are also adding additional channels and tactics to its commercial offering this year – including inking a deal with YouTube to stream the series across Europe and Latin America.
To further boost its objective, and to maximise the value of its sponsorship offering, this year ECB have gone down the London 2012 anti-ambush legislative route by taking legal steps to ban non-sponsors from mentioning ‘The Ashes’ this summer.
The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has trademarked specific terms associated with this summer’s Investec-sponsored test series against Australia – such as “Ashes Cricket 2013” and “Old Trafford Ashes”.
ECB commercial director John Perera claims that in the past sponsors have taken it on themselves to protect their rights and that during the last Ashes series there were several examples of unauthorised merchandise, so the ECB has put in place a process for its partners to work with them.
The ECB is working with the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in order to monitor unauthorised use of trademarked phrases and it has plans to do the same with other backers and cricket events.
Whether the ECB has fully taken note of the poor PR backlash and negative consumer response to much of the IOC’s and LOCOG’s London 2012 protective legislation remains to be seen.
Time will tell whether the London 2012 anti-ambush strategy was a success, more whether its overall effect merely damaged the brand it aimed to protect.
But the ECB surely should seek the right balance between consumer perception and sentiment, the encouragement of local and national interest/promotion/support for their events by organisation, bodies and companies, as well as providing official sponsors with a powerfully compelling opportunity.
Surely sensible sponsors have a strategy and activation plan compelling enough not to have to concern themselves with guerrilla work?
The new ECB campaigns, its drive to boost fan data and engagement, and its move to protect its rights and assets, all come ahead of next year’s overhaul of how ECB will sell commercial title sponsorship rights to brands.
This change is reported to see a change from allowing brands to sponsor either international or domestic competitions and series, to one that offers sponsors the chance to link with all competitions within that format.
This will see sponsorships move in line with media partners – where current deals with Sky, the BBC and Asia-focused ESPN Star (which bring in 80%+ of the ECB’s total revenue).
#Rise Web App
#Rise Online Film