Thursday, August 20, 2009

Football ad feast

I don’t know what it is about football, but the sport lends itself especially to great advertising.

I came across this ad this week by England’s Football Association, to encourage participation.

It’s a great ad and reminded me of a number of good football-related campaigns. This one's from a few years back.

And in my digging I came across a few other gems (a lot from Nike).

This one's proves a nice insight into Wayne Rooney.

And this one is more similar to the first one, and was directed by Guy Ritchie.

To finish up there's always this famous football ad.

I couldn't find the English version but for those who remember the 2002 World Cup it should be familiar. Arguably the world's greatest footballer Pele spruiks an anti-impotence drug, then claims he's never had a problem getting it up. And then there's always this light-hearted gem from the UK for the beer brand John Smith:

So just what is it exactly about football ads? Is it easier to make a good ad about football, because of the subject, or not? Are there any other great football ads you would recommend?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Huge chance for Singapore's sporting cause

While there may be 10 years until the 9th edition of the prestigious Rugby World Cup, there still remains a huge amount of work for Singapore to carry out should the International Rugby Board (IRB) allow hosts Japan to stage some group matches here in 2019.

As it stands right now, Japan has been awarded the 2019 hosting rights for the world’s third biggest sporting event. Part of the Japanese Rugby Union’s successful proposal to the IRB was that it was a bid not just for Japan, but for Asia as a whole, and that potentially both Singapore and Hong Kong could host a group each in the tournament.

Japan has still to put forward a required second proposal to the IRB, detailing “compelling reasons” why it should host part of the event outside its own territory.

According to Ian Bremner, the chief executive of the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU), the time frame for that is within the next couple of months.

It’s not yet clear when the IRB will come to a final decision, while they’d probably be forgiven if they put it on the backburner for now given that their number one priority at the moment is pushing for rugby sevens to be included in the Olympic Games.

What will play in Singapore’s favour, however, is that 2015 hosts England are planning to host some group matches in Wales. The birthplace of rugby is also waiting on confirmation from the IRB but if the RFU is successful, a precedent will surely be set for the following tournament.

But whatever the time frame, if Singapore is indeed given the green light by the IRB, there are a number of key issues to head up the planning process.

Putting the massive sports marketing opportunities to one side for a moment, first on the agenda is the completion of the Sports Hub. I experienced the furore in my own country when New Zealand was handed the hosting rights of the 2011 Rugby World Cup - the rugby-mad nation was split down the middle between those who wanted a new waterfront stadium in Auckland and those who wanted Eden Park redeveloped in time for the big event. The debate dragged on for months, forever stalling the actual building work.

“To be honest, the Sports Hub is definitely the first thing that needs to be organised,” Bremner said.

“In the talks that we had prior to the bid, the SCC (Singapore Sports Council) were major partners in those discussions. I think we all realise that the sports hub will happen – in what shape or form, I personally am not sure.”

Jonathan Leow, who currently heads up the sports PR and marketing team at SPRG, also raises a valid point regarding training facilities.

“I would say that is the one area that Singapore needs to step up in to host a World Cup pool. Even currently there are only two natural grass pitches actively used by the SRU, and the Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) has two more at its disposal,” he said.

He’s speaking from experience too, having previously been in charge of training grounds and pitches for both the IRB Singapore 7s in 2004 and 2005 as well as the SCC 7s.

“Having one great stadium is fine for paying fans, but at the top level teams require their training grounds to be as good as their playing areas.”

If the infrastructure is up to scratch, it then becomes about marketing the event and attracting local sponsors to get involved. On the surface, it’s easy to assume that rugby struggles to get a foothold in Singapore’s sporting scene but it’s a game that is quickly gathering momentum in the city-state.

As Bremner points out, in terms of the game locally, there are 24 schools that play rugby at Under 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19 levels. There are four universities and 12 rugby clubs, women’s polytechnic and university rugby, as well as women’s senior rugby.

So it’s clear there’s a local base of rugby people – the problem lies in the fact the national team is not involved and whether those neutral locals will be attracted to watching other international teams square off against each other.

It has been speculated that the Wallabies (the Australian national side) will play their group matches here, though nothing has yet been set in stone. It would certainly make geographical sense to draw Australian supporters (and their dollars) to Singapore, while you’d assume Hong Kong would host England and Japan would keep the All Blacks – the game’s most marketable team.

Whichever of the big rugby nations does base itself in Singapore, Leow sees attracting local sponsors to the table as a major road block, given very few view rugby as a sport with wide appeal. The tournament’s current worldwide partners are Emirates, MasterCard and Heineken.

That fact was highlighted when the proposed World Club Challenge, scheduled to be held here in July, was canned because a lack of major sponsors as well as inadequate facilities.

“Even with the Government backing this initiative, the worry for sponsors would be how much value it would be for local companies – and local sponsors are a key part I feel of the wider picture.”

The participation agreement for something as major as the Rugby World Cup carries a significant number of clauses by way of what you can and can’t do, yet Bremner says there are definite plans to get local companies on board.

“We would be building a very strong programme around it in terms of things like coaching clinics, all sorts of things. With those sorts of things, clearly there’d be an opportunity for local companies to get involved in one of the most major things to happen in Singapore in a number of years.”

Granted, Singapore does have a fair amount of time to play with if it is ultimately confirmed as a co-host for RWC 2019. But aside from hosting the Olympic Games or the FIFA World Cup, it won’t get a better opportunity to further push its case as the premier sports hub in Asia.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Australia’s second ad TV show

First there was The Gruen Transfer and now there’s :30 Seconds – a new Australian comedy-drama about advertising which is written by Aussie ad agency Three Drunk Monkeys (3DM).

3DM, which incidentally is working with StarHub, wrote the new show, specifically its executive creative directors Justin Drape and Scott Nowell with Prodigy Films director Tim Bullock. :30 Seconds is being produced by Zapruder’s Other Films, which was behind The Gruen Transfer. For those who don’t know it, The Gruen Transfer is a hugely successful Australian TV show which analyzes the world of advertising. It features a panel of advertising members, like George Patterson Y&R Australia CEO Russel Howcroft, Leo Burnett Australia CEO Todd Sampson (who has now become some kind of sex symbol because of the program) and DDB Australia ECE Matt Eastwood. The show has been a ratings hit and provided the general public with an interesting, and humorous look, into the world of advertising.

Here's some clips from The Gruen's segment The Pitch, where two ad agencies have to made ads for a fake brief. This one's to promote the invasion of New Zealand.

And here's the second one.

On the back on The Gruen Transfer comes :30 Seconds. While I haven’t seen any of the show apart from these snippets promoting it online, it could be a winner as well.

With a high-profile cast, :30 Seconds is set in the fictional world of multinational agency BND. If you throw the classic American drama Mad Men into this mix, it seems to be a golden age for fictional TV programs about the advertising and marketing world. Mad Men, now just starting its third season in the US (and the second season to debut on pay TV in Asia soon), has been a massive hit and so has The Gruen Transfer in Australia (it’s just finished its second series). Gruen has made it overseas to quite a few countries I believe, but not to Asia.

Why is that? And will :30 Seconds make it to Asia? Why couldn’t we have an Asian version of The Gruen Transfer, with Asian industry members dissecting Asian ads?

I think there’s definitely room in Asia’s TV environment for a show that examines the world of advertising, whether it be done in a fictional way or in a more light-hearted, comedic approach. Both Mad Men and The Gruen Transfer have made advertising seem more interesting and exciting (and more important) as a profession, and in Australia graduate numbers for advertising careers have soared.

If the marketing and advertising industry wants to claim its fair share of the best and brightest young minds around wouldn’t this be a good, if a little unorthodox way, of doing it in Asia?

It might not be exactly tied in, but HP’s new Asian reality TV show which encourages creativity is at least I start. I, for one though, would like to see more of this kind of thing.