BT Sport reveals you can't script football in campaign for new season

Social media teasers that purported to 'script' new season is panned by BT Sport presenters in provocative campaign.

BT Sport: Guardiola's highs and lows of football shown in new campaign
BT Sport: Guardiola's highs and lows of football shown in new campaign

BT Sport’s biggest marketing campaign of the year launches today with a celebration of football’s unpredictability in the face of attempts to "script" the sport.

The pay-TV brand’s annual awareness push, ahead of the new football season kicking off this month, features outdoor and press ads with the line: "You can’t write it. Watch it on BT Sport."

It follows social media teasers that launched earlier this week in which BT Sport produced a "script" for the 2019/20 Premier League season. Using statistical data and machine learning, the season was "predicted" in the form of a screenplay-style script in an attempt to provoke reactions from fans and pundits.

Created by Wunderman Thompson, the campaign also features a hero online film that collects social media reactions from football celebs decrying the idea of scripting football. BT Sport broadcasters Gary Lineker and Rio Ferdinand are seen having a moan, while Manchester United star Marcus Rashford attacks the script with a flamethrower.

David Stratton, brand and performance marketing director at BT and BT Sport, told Campaign that he was looking for a "fresher approach" while retaining the brand’s playful tone of voice established in previous season launch campaigns, such as last year’s "Take them all on" and 2017’s "Being Dele".

"We remembered last season’s incredible Champions League – you couldn’t write it and you could never have seen Liverpool coming from 3-0 down against Barcelona and then scoring with the Trent [Alexander-Arnold] corner," Stratton explained. "This is why outdoor ads feature the reactions, for example, of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola after his team had victory snatched from their grasp at the last minute against Tottenham in last season's Champions League quarter-final.

"That was at the heart of the idea that Wunderman Thompson presented: let’s try to script football… We wanted to throw that out there for fans to debate. We were quite happy for the campaign to be flexible and see where it took us."

It is the second major campaign that BT Sport has chosen Wunderman Thompson for this year, following one that promoted its coverage of the Champions League final in June. BT changed its agency arrangements earlier this year, having previously retained Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO as its creative agency since the early 1990s.

"We asked our roster of agencies to look at this campaign for the start of the season and Wunderman Thompson came up with the idea," Stratton explained. "We’ve now got Wunderman Thompson, Saatchi & Saatchi, AMV BBDO and AnalogFolk – certain briefs will go to certain agencies; it’s a really fluid approach."

The campaign will run until the start of the Premier League season on 9 August and "build to a crescendo next week", Stratton added.

BT Sport has also worked closely with Google to create targeted YouTube prerolls with presenter James Richardson, as well as search engine marketing in which the script’s match prediction will appear in Google when people search for a particular fixture. The brand is also using football influencers, such as Spencer FC and CheekySport, on YouTube.

The work was created by Christopher McKee, Richard Morgan and Colin Smith.

Wunderman Thompson chief creative officer Steve Aldridge added: "The season launch is the most important campaign of the year for BT Sport. But it’s also the most important campaign of the year for Wunderman Thompson and me personally, because 'Unscripted' is our most significant campaign as a combined agency to date and it’s a clear demonstration of our creative ambition and creative intent as an agency."

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