I'm not sporty. Bar some B team moments as goalkeeper and in a rowing boat, both brought about solely on account of being tall with long arms, I've never been a player. I've never been an avid watcher either, having seen Sir Chris Hoy much more often eating Bran Flakes than winning medals.
There are officially 715 days to go to the London 2012 Olympic Games opening ceremony but, for me, the games have already begun.
I've even starting playing: I must have thrown more than 50 shells into a bucket last week. I'm a Stripe, you see.
In 2008, Cadbury secured the position of official treat provider to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. And, as always, the ambition of its marketing team went far beyond a marketing programme. There would be comfort in a safe and conventional corporate sponsorship. After all, this is essentially the campaign for a portfolio of huge chocolate brands over two years. But opportunities for a fabric brand such as Cadbury to make a lasting and unforgettable contribution to the London 2012 Games and what they stand for don't come along very often.
We knew we wanted something big. Something that could be taken on and shaped by different brands, from Dairy Milk to Wispa to Creme Egg. Something that could inspire NPD, the life-blood of the confectionery category. Something that could resonate with all ages, all over the country for two years, maybe even longer.
Something this big can't be bought via a media plan, even by brands with far bigger pockets than Cadbury. The digital world was going to be crucial with its opportunities to communicate, share, pass on in real time and on a mass scale. But it still represents only a bit of the normal lives of normal people. We were going to need more than clever use of social media, we were going to need a social idea.
The insight was simple. The true spirit of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is not only about elite sporting achievement but also about participation, celebration, enjoyment. It's a spirit that could not be more relevant in a world where we as both children and adults play less than ever.
Remember racing your siblings up the stairs and down on a sleeping bag? In our experiments (such as putting games starters in that most unsociable of places, a Tube carriage), it was clear that people would love to connect to that feeling, if they had the chance.
Play is easy, it's spontaneous, it's uniting; it's just we've forgotten to do it. The opportunity for Cadbury was to put the spirit of "games" back into the Olympic Games.
The idea is simple. Cadbury will create the biggest, longest, most-inclusive game ever played, inviting the nation, from elite athletes to kids to pensioners, to split into two teams: Spots and Stripes. Anything goes as far as games are concerned as long as two sides play.
Games crews have already been touring the country getting people playing and inspiring communities to do it themselves. And soon some awesome games will be popping up. Meanwhile, go to spotsvstripes.com to upload your Hoop and Glory clip (throw something through something) and your point, or check your team's Facebook page for more inspiration.
That this multi-dimensional, multi-layered initiative is as simple to "get" as a game of tiddlywinks is vital. From an agency perspective, this is the most integrated process Fallon has ever been involved in. Others involved include PHD as architects of a channel strategy to touch people personally and as a nation; Pretty Green making jaw-dropping games possible and accessible, and amplifying activity via PR; Pirata and Rehab developing creative games online; Hyper extending the idea in social spaces; Brave making it live in sales environments and on-pack; and Harmony Park, Endava and ourselves creating a site enabling millions to play, watch and share.
At the centre of the process? A brand with a cause: Cadbury's commitment to bringing playing games to people across the nation including to disadvantaged and harder-to-reach groups in association with the charity Groundwork.
And leading the way? Courageous clients whose sights are set always beyond a campaign, more than a marketing programme.
We are walking into unknown territory - we have our judgment and our experience, but there are no guarantees. But as corporate sponsorships go, we can guarantee you won't have seen anything like this before.
Anyone for a Thumb War?
- Rachel Barrie is the chief strategy officer at Fallon.
THE CHALLENGE BAR
In what has to be a first for an ad agency, Fallon has created a new Cadbury chocolate bar for the "Spots v Stripes" campaign. The Challenge Bar is cleverly designed to be shared between a Spot player and a Stripe player. Unfortunately, the agency does not have permission to elaborate on the processes behind the creation of the bar. But we do know that Fallon does not own intellectual property on the bar and does not receive a share of sales.
The milk and white chocolate bar is divided into three pieces, one covered with milk chocolate spots, one with stripes and the middle piece, which goes to the winner, with stars. Each Challenge Bar has one of 20 different games printed on the inside of the wrapper, including Thumb Wars, Waste-Paper Basketball and Finger Football. The Challenge Bar will be in shops from 23 August. The launch of the bar will be supported by a TV and outdoor campaign this month, also by Fallon. The agency is planning to create other new products for Cadbury as part of the campaign.
CADBURY'S OLYMPIC LEGACY
Sandie Dilger, Cadbury, manager, London 2012
Spots v Stripes has kicked off, after two years' planning. What an amazing opportunity it's been to work on this campaign, our biggest and most integrated commercial programme yet.
In many ways, we had the perfect brief. To create a campaign that didn't have "selling chocolate" at its heart, but was much more about using our sponsorship of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games to make a difference and leave a legacy.
We know that an Olympic Games on home soil is a unique opportunity so we had to make the most of it with a truly unique idea.
So we came up with Spots v Stripes. A big game that the whole nation can play. We are creating the inspiration, via our events, our website, stunts and TV ads, and we are then inviting people to join in, in whichever way suits them. We just want to get people playing games in the lead-up to 2012 as we believe it's really important to play.
Cadbury has a heritage of play, and we've worked on an Olympics before in Sydney in 2000, but there is a real sense of excitement about this one. We've all gone Spots and Stripes mad in the office with flags, bunting and books of games adorning our desks.
We hope the country responds in the same way. One thing is for sure: it will get people talking and, two years from the London 2012 Games, that's a pretty good start.
Come on, Spots!