It provides an opportunity for fans and brands to travel the world either physically or from the comfort of your own home. With the Rugby World Cup on our doorstep, it will be fascinating to see what brands win the fans both near and far, and what fans win the hearts of the globe.
This week was the ideal pre-curser to rugby's prestigious tournament with the impressive Aviva Stadium hosting the long awaited One-Zero Conference. This event was designed to capture the ever growing demand of sport in business by corralling some of the world’s greatest minds and giving them a platform to share their stories, ambitions and experiences. Speakers so impressive that they have already found space in Cannes, Adweek.com and many more prestigious stages.
For nearly a decade now I have been lucky enough to work with and learn from One-Zero’s CEO, Patrick Haslett. They say that culture starts from the top down and with this man at the helm, you can be sure that the culture he has set with his team is positive, hardworking, respectful, ambitious and rewarding. This was an event I couldn’t miss.
If you were lucky enough to attend you would see the work Irish brands, entrepreneurs and agencies are creating is on a par, if not better than many of the international counterparts. With guest speakers from Ireland and all around the world, it is exciting to see how closely aligned we are in trying to achieve our objectives.
There were however, some key takeaways from the event which spoke quite a bit about the fans and ways of elevating brands in their everyday activities. The event was broken out by a number of stages and delegates got a chance to pick and choose the topics they wanted to. Some themes emerged in each stage I went to. For me they were:
· Make meaningful connections
· Understand your fan/audience/tribe and get amongst them
· Whatever experience you create make sure it is scalable
· Disrupt in a big way not incrementally
I’m not going to get in to the specifics of the day, but there were a number of contenders for MVP. The ones I’m going to focus on are Julian Duncan, Kim Skildum-Reid, Swan Sit, Neil Christie and Heidi Browning.
Julian Duncan is the CMO of the Jacksonville Jaguars. A former pro NFL footballer and a formidable marketeer with a fascinating ability to tap into the psyche of a fan and give them an experience that is meaningful and memorable. He spoke candidly about one of his first encounters with his team, who mentioned that the one thing fans love is the schedule magnet they receive at the start of every season.
To his bewilderment, he couldn’t understand how fans in this technologically advanced age, longed for a schedule magnet. So, the challenge wasn’t to come up with something instead of the magnet, the opportunity was to give the magnet a new age twist. With augmented reality and through the fans phone, they delivered fresh bespoke information to the fans each week and made it relevant to the team Jacksonville were playing.
Big thing for top dogs in any business is to listen and Julian listened to his team, the fans and by removing his personal opinion, he was able to create an even more engaging and meaningful experience for the fans.
Another stand out player of the day was the delightful, straight talking Kim Skildum-Reid who fought through her jet lag from Australia to speak frankly about disruptive sponsorship. Kim highlighted that we’ve heard so much about disruptive marketing, however, sponsorship allows a another level of disruption especially with the range of assets, platforms and channels available.
What’s more, Kim saluted innovation however, cautioned brands that it may be meaningful but if it’s not scalable then what's the point. Virtual Reality is a hot topic for brands these days however, in a stadium like the Aviva where the One-Zero conference was held, 55,000 people can pass through the gates. If one VR station can only entertain 50 people on the day, what about the rest of the fans. Make the experience scalable, so that the fans in the stadium can enjoy it and the fans who aren’t lucky enough to attend the event can engage too.
While it is one thing to make it meaningful, it’s also to know what determines a meaningful experience. Logos surrounding the stadium pitch don’t create meaningful experiences, so why do them at all. Kim went on to mention that some sponsors are stuck in their traditional ways and are afraid to make a change. With disruptive sponsorship, you are disruptive or you’re not. It’s a simple as that. To be disruptive you have to move the dial drastically, not incrementally, however, to do so without meaning is to throw an empty vessel into the masses – it may get out there, but no one will know why or what it’s about.
Kim’s parting gift was to challenge those who are afraid to be disruptive and get them to essentially test and measure two strategies. One that ticks the traditional methods and the other that drastically changes the way sponsorship has been. Kim is confident that decision makers following the results, will forget about traditional methods completely.
So, a great start to the day, how could One-Zero keep momentum?? With ease. Enter stage right, Swan Sit to discuss how brands can drive revenue through digital.
Swan is very impressive professional and has made her way through the corporate ranks in some of the worlds biggest brands, including Nike, Estee Lauder, Liz Arden and many more. Swan brought us through a simple yet effective model that structured all the necessary areas a business must consider when growing digital revenue. What’s more, she recommended that sales and departments should not work in silos and bonus structures should fall under one umbrella to encourage all the staff to work together to achieve their bonus goals.
Swan spoke so openly about her roll in reinventing digital offering for Revlon and Elizabeth Arden, responsible for digital marketing, social media, e-tailer sales and digital innovation. She developed Elizabeth Arden’s first digital platform, grew e-tailer sales by double digits, launched augmented reality makeover and skin diagnostic apps, and spearheaded the company’s ground breaking “Desk of Liz Arden” social campaign. A phenomenal career, Swan started her roadshow of speaking events at One-Zero and moves on to Europe and across the states throughout September.
On a personal note, I couldn’t wait to hear what Wieden & Kennedy’s, Neil Christie had to share with us. And he did not disappoint. Neil’s hot take was to share his agency’s modis-operandi – ‘provocation’. It’s one thing saying it, however, it is another showing exactly what you mean. Neil, had a wealth of examples to showcase and he did so by providing nine ways to build strong provocative relationships with sport fans. Each example provided a simple tip and a beautiful execution from Wieden & Kennedy’s stable. What’s more impressive is the fact that Wieden & Kennedy make a decision based on their gut. Now, it is informed by data, however, it is not determined by focus groups or test groups. They either go with their gut or they don’t, and they have the examples to prove it, from Proctor and Gambles #proudsponsorofmums to the latest Emmy award winning Nike Dream Crazy campaign which featured NFL superstar Colin Kaepernick
Finally, my experience finished with candid, confident and insightful Heidi Browning who is the CMO of the NHL. She spoke about how the NHL are preparing for the next generational disruption.
We got an insight to this exciting sport which is growing so fast. Heidi spoke about the opportunities they see in Europe and certain areas in the States where the National Hockey League as little to no exposure.
Again, her view point was to know the fans intimately and let them tell their stories. By giving them some air time, the NHL are able to highlight the nuances franchise fans bring to the league and learn from one another to ensure the fan experience is exceptional each and every time they engage. Heidi also promoted the fact that the players need support and direction on how to make the most of their profiles to ensure they get the best of their careers, and connect with the fans. Heidi also struck a chord with the conference regarding the type of audiences and the differences between baby boomers, Gen X’s, millennials and Gen Z’s. Noting that some millennials and all Gen Z’s have been pinching screens, swiping up, and clicking since day 1. Neuroscientists are finding that Gen Z’s are learning and consuming information far faster than any other homosapien before them. Which is why Heidi encourages continual research, focus groups because ‘in order to grow you must know’.
All in all, this conference surpassed expectations. Whether you are a sports fan, a marketeer, an entrepreneur, agency side or client side, it didn’t matter, this conference had something for all. The positive challenge for Patrick and the team at One-Zero is that they have a lot to live up to and I’ve no doubt that next years' conference is going to be something special. Bring it on, I can’t wait.