IPA Effectiveness Awards 2004: Bronze Award - Imperial Leather


Campaign: Commonwealth Games Sponsorship 2002

Client: PZ Cussons

Agency: BDH\TBWA

Principal author: Lorna Hawtin, BDH\TBWA

Media used: TV, interactive, print, PR, press, outdoor, radio, ambient,

sales promotion


It was all change at Imperial Leather. Cussons' famous soap brand was undergoing a major rebranding push to modernise its image, and part of its corporate facelift was to sponsor the 2002 Commonwealth Games. But it wasn't a straightforward exercise: the two brands didn't sit comfortably together.

Imperial Leather didn't want to create the traditional associations of sporting performance: adrenalin or machismo. It wanted the opposite. Women shoppers were rejecting the brand because they believed it was too masculine.

There was also the problem of the event, seen by some as the puny little brother of the Olympics, as well as the potentially negative connotations of the "Imperial" prefix, given the Commonwealth Games' heritage and the fact it is still sponsored by the Queen.

The company decided to unite the Imperial Leather and Cussons brands through a single campaign. Ditching the formula typical of other corporate sponsors, which tend to be serious and worthy in their communications, the campaign focused on the friendly, "feel- good" values of the Games. The brands were to become the "official sponsors of the Commonwealth - fun and - Games".

The campaign brought some diverse audiences together and, crucially, made the Games pay back for the brand and parent company.

The judges' view

A good example of how innovative event sponsorship can work to energise a brand. The paper succeeded in using a very clear demonstration of media coverage, and awareness of the effect of sponsorship. The judges commended the case in particular for contributing to a broader learning of sponsorship and acknowledged that this is a less-documented field.

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