M&B launches Ashes strategy for Channel 4

Channel 4 is launching an integrated campaign aimed at further

heightening expectation for this summer's Ashes Test series. The drive

aims to build on the success of last year's Caribbean Summer marketing

campaign, which surrounded the West Indies cricket tour with a series of

concerts and outdoor events.

The campaign, developed by the brand strategy and communications agency

Michaelides & Bednash, will integrate poster and TV ads with events on

beaches and in parks around the country. The drive aims to draw

attention to Channel 4's modernised coverage of the sport and extend the

appeal of cricket to a new, more youthful, audience.

The campaign will kick off on 18 June, with a series of national press

and 96-sheet poster ads created by Rapier. The ads, on a searing red and

orange background with smouldering edges, are intended to build

excitement and anticipation in the run-up to the first of The Ashes

Tests by focusing on the intense rivalry between the English and

Australian teams.

The initial execution uses the words "The Ashes" in burning red type on

this fire-effect background. A second ad puns on the names of the

opposing captains with the copyline: "Hussain at Waugh." A third ad,

running just before the Lords Test, features a picture of the ground

alongside the word "cauldron".

The ads were written by John Townshend and Louise Ruddy and art directed

by Roger Pearce and Tony Snow. Media buying was by OMD.

As the series continues, the press and poster drive will be reinforced

by a TV and cinema campaign using footage from a range of events and

cricketing initiatives around the country.

The Test series will be accompanied by a "Channel 4 Summer Tour"

organised by Alex Poots Artistic Events. The tour kicks off at Brighton

beach between 5-9 July, where an outdoor screen will broadcast live

cricket by day and screen films in the evening. By night, the tour will

feature live music from Fat Boy Slim and Groove Armada.

From Brighton, the tour will call at Bristol, Bradford and London over

the course of the summer. At tour events, children will be encouraged to

take part in a "beach cricket" programme, which will also take place at

several inner-city locations. This initiative, built around a more

easily accessible version of the game, has been produced by the sports

marketing company Activate, in association with the English Cricket


In addition to promotional spots on Channel 4 and short films in

cinemas, photographs of the events will feature on 96-sheet poster

executions and foldout posters running in the national press.

"It is important that the marketing for Test Match cricket is as

innovative and pioneering as our coverage," Channel 4's marketing

manager for sport, Nick Stringer, said. "To that end we have created a

series of initiatives to entertain and engage existing and new cricket

fans and are looking forward to a great summer."