How many articles have you read so far about the frenzied marketing
activities surrounding the World Cup? More than a handful, probably. No
doubt you will know, therefore, that almost every major advertiser is
planning to exploit the nation’s imminent football fever either by
tactically bunging a star player in their latest advertising or
shoe-horning some oblique footballing references into their summertime
But the ideas that will really hit the back of the net, if I may indulge
in a little footie metaphor of my own, will be those that strike a chord
with the hearts and minds of the fans and do not appear as a cynical
commercial exploitation of this rare marketing opportunity.
Boddingtons has tried to do just that. The Whitbread brand, which is the
number one canned ale in the crucial take-home sector, has launched what
it calls ’an interactive press campaign targeting dedicated football
supporters’ through its agency, Bartle Bogle Hegarty.
The campaign, effectively a glorified press campaign incorporating six
cut-out executions running on the back covers of national newspapers
until the final on 12 July, sets out to ease the anticipated ’game
tension’ which fans will experience during the tournament.
This ’tension’, ranging from worry about losing your seat as you go to
the bar for your next pint of Boddingtons to keeping your neglected
partner happy as you remained glued to the screen for the four weeks,
may be eased by a variety of humorous creative solutions. Thus BBH has
created a cut-out ’seat reserver’ for use when queuing at the bar; a
’hands-off’ fridge sticker to guard the essential Boddingtons supply for
those fans watching at home; an easy-to-make paper aeroplane to fly your
Boddingtons order direct to the barman without shifting from your stool;
and a ’cut out’ flower complete with apology for your neglected loved
one (assuming, of course, that you are a male fan and that your female
partner is not by your side enjoying the football).
Bruce Crouch, the BBH creative director on the campaign, explains:
’Boddingtons is not a sponsor of the World Cup and we didn’t have huge
budgets so we thought that we should try ’owning’ watching the
tournament. Most people don’t have tickets and will be watching it in
pubs and bars or at home in front of the TV, and we realised that those
are the people that we want to talk to.’
Boddingtons deliberately decided against pumping its limited funds into
a fancy, big-budget TV branding campaign because it felt that guerrilla
marketing tactics and a clear demonstration that the brand is in tune
with the mechanics of following the World Cup would be a more effective
way of getting across the brand message.
’We knew that we would become wallpaper if we went for a big
That simply wasn’t the right thing to do. We wanted to communicate with
the fans by creating something that was truly interactive and that made
them think we really understand them,’ Crouch adds.
The main press work ties in with a host of other Boddingtons activities
surrounding the tournament totalling a modest overall marketing budget
of just pounds 5 million. The fridge stickers and seat reservers will
also be available as point-of-sale in pubs and bars, while the brand is
holding a Boddingtons World Cup Beer Fest, in which ten national venues
will attempt to create ’the perfect big-match atmosphere’ by screening
the matches live at the same time as serving up numerous foaming pints
of the creamy ale.
There will be nominal television activity in the shape of five- and
ten-second break bumpers around the Skinner and Baddiel Fantasy Football
World Cup specials, and Melanie Sykes, the shapely brunette star of
Boddingtons’ main commercials, will carry out a 40-second live draw on
TV every Saturday night of the tournament to assemble the ’Boddingtons
Dream Team’, drawn from a pool of 100 international players put together
by none other than Des Lynam. Gamecards will be distributed free with
every pint of Boddingtons, and the top prize for guessing the team
correctly each week will be pounds 100,000.
Stuart MacFarlane, Boddingtons’ marketing manager, insists that the
brand’s particular approach to the World Cup fits with its overall
The ale has frequently demonstrated its sense of humour and ’brand of
the people’ qualities by running one-off topical ads such as the ’au
revoir’ execution featuring a red pint with a number seven on it to mark
Eric Cantona’s departure from Manchester United. But it has also
traditionally been a strong user of press, winning numerous awards for
its inventive ’cream of Manchester’ yellow and black back-cover
’The feel is very on strategy. Boddingtons is a brand for enjoyment, for
having a laugh. It’s more social, more about the experience than the
event,’ he says.
Steve Kershaw, group director at BBH, corroborates how Boddingtons is
being true to its brand values. ’Lots of very big global companies are
spending multi-million pound budgets being official sponsors of the
World Cup and what do they get for it, apart from a bit of PR and some
tickets? We have adopted a much cleverer use of resource. The brand is
just being itself, and taking advantage of the fact that everyone will
be watching the tournament on TV,’ he says.
But will the average beered-up footie fan actually go to the trouble of
meticulously cutting out the fridge stickers or folding up the paper
Crouch is philosophical. ’We don’t expect people to cut them out - we
just want them to have a laugh. But if they are bonkers enough to, then
great,’ he says, adding that the lazier supporter can access a
ready-made World Cup ’viewing pack’ throughout the tournament by
dialling the number featured on the press ads - 0891-191191.