Tag Archives: Sports

Are messaging apps the new bar stools?


This is a post from PRISM’s Social Army – regular briefings on topics aligned to our business or close to our hearts. Today’s entry is from Shane O’Sullivan, Head of the Global Content network at PRISM.

One of the best things about working for a sports marketing company like PRISM is analysing how fans and audiences are engaging with sports in different ways. This presents many opportunities for the brands we work with. It’s exciting to think we will be telling stories on platforms or using methods in 2017 that do not even exist yet.

Sport and technology are two of my key passions. I have been lucky enough to attend a mixture of live sporting events around the world and when reflecting back on my most memorable sporting moments they have not always been physically at the event itself. For me the best thing about sport is who you share it with. Technology is very much aligned with shared experiences and creating moments in time. I have read a lot of 2017 trend reports from various outlets, particularly ones focusing on sport, and while mixed reality, virtual reality, eSports and live experiences will no doubt play a more prominent role this year, I feel one area that tends to get overlooked is conversational interfaces.

In 2016, it became quite common for people to describe WhatsApp as the “new bar stool” because messenger apps give you the ability to discuss the live match while not physically being near your friends, and to do it in a fairly natural way. Research certainly validates this: a report from BI Intelligence shows that the combined user base of the top four chat apps is larger than the combined user base of the top four social networks, and, in 2015, active use on messaging apps surpassed monthly active use on the top four social networks.

Currently, when I watch sport – be that live, out socialising or at home – I tend to use a messenger app for a lot of the lean-forward moments when I am debating with friends, actively discussing contentious decisions or sharing pictures, videos or GIFs. Anecdotal evidence suggests I’m certainly not alone. Most of the people I work with at PRISM are using messenger apps in the same way when watching sport.

We know this is happening, but how do brands tap into this behaviour? A good place to start is to look at what other brands are doing outside of the sporting category. Two that spring to mind are Kayak and Burberry. Kayak launched its chatbot to make flight booking more conversational and remove the friction of airport codes, checking flight permutations and so on. A big plus of this approach is that your history is captured and allows you to pick up conversations about flight options and bookings as and when needed.

Burberry is one of the best brands in adopting technology trends but, more importantly, also provides a consistent experience across all platforms. Burberry has embraced conversational commerce and tested messaging formats for customer service and product recommendations, both designed to drive deeper customer relationships with the brand.

But my favourite example of a brand adopting a conversational interface is actually from the unlikely sector of insurance. Lemonade is an online peer-to-peer insurer that has mastered the art of providing a conversational interface for that most boring of tasks, buying insurance. The app makes the often painful process of searching for a new policy or making a claim more seamless than its ever been. Look at the video below for a demonstration:


Sports rights holders and brands involved in sports sponsorship could adopt a similar conversation-based approach anywhere there is a data exchange with fans. This could be anything from purchasing tickets to the brand serving up real-time official content, offering access to talent or behind the scenes moments, all distributed directly into the conversation itself.

If brands can find a way to provide this sort of value to fans in a conversational way it may feel more natural and sticky than the traditional model of interrupting their sports experience with a TV commercial. That would certainly be a good space for them to play and drive brand affinity.

At PRISM we are working on one of these messaging approaches at the moment, so watch this space, or message me… just please don’t interrupt!

Shane O’Sullivan

If you’d like to contribute a post to PRISM’s social channels, email ntaylor@prismteam.com 


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Content[ed.]: January’s Best Branded Content


Content[ed.]: a monthly overview of some of the latest and greatest in content creation. We applaud the benchmark breakers, berate the boring and confer over the opinion splitters, all in good heart and sometimes with a bit humour.


We’re fortunate to be in an industry where creativity has to be at the core of everything we do. And the rapid proliferation of content and digital platforms for entertainment and discovery means there is no end to the amount of information and inspiration that brands are providing for us.

This month there have been many notable pieces: FKA Twigs and Nike left us believing in more; Samsung showed us how crazy gyms are; Apple took a stroll in the much-talked-about ‘AirPods’. There’s also been an abundance of great content in the sportswear market. Nike, Puma, Under Armour, New Balance, Reebok – all well-known brands making great work in an effort to out-do each other. However, our pick has to be a brand that has really hit the year running – Adidas.


‘One in a Billion’ was right on the money. Superb cinematography, a dig at rivals Under Armour and a Beckham cameo. It’s a great example of how a strong piece of insight on stereotypes of China can be brought to life through content. Adidas is glorifying originality in everything it creates as we’ve seen in the ‘Sport Needs Creators’ and ‘Never Follow’ ads. This latest spot complements this message and celebrates individuality in China. A strong strategy and content to match.


This piece for Originals – Adidas’ most iconic sub-brand – is beautifully bold and rebellious, relentlessly pushing the message that ‘original is never finished’. They’ve avoided using superstars and gone for a more natural message of everyday suburban creativity, Adidas revisits its ‘Originals’ truth that real creativity is everywhere, is collaborative, and is continually evolving. That feeling certainly comes across in the raw and candid style of this film. The detail here is incredible and the song choice inspired, reinvented for a new generation as an anthemic call to action. The production is meticulously planned, but still carries that unpolished, incomplete, gritty feel.


Not actually a piece of work by Adidas this one, as it was made by a German advertising student, but it picked up a lot of views earlier this month. Hats off to the chap because it’s a class piece of content about an ageing marathon runner who is determined to break out of his retirement home. It’s an emotional account that’s left many cheering and some crying. It had such an effect that the Huffington Post and other media urged Adidas to run it. Unfortunately, those calls were ignored. Although the brand was reluctant to back the student ad, we think the message gels with the Adidas’s overall philosophy of inspiring creativity. Not only is the sportswear-maker inspiring athletes to be creators, it seems like they’re inspiring those outside the athletic community, too.

Written by: Oliver Salman & Simon Hanley

Are Brands Losing Faith in the Super Bowl?


This Sunday the Atlanta Falcons meet the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 51. It’s one of the most-watched sporting events in the world (115 million Americans tuned in last year) and a place for brands to wheel out their most impressive, splashy TV commercials.

According to Variety, Fox (the broadcaster that owns the rights to the match this year) is charging from $5m to $5.5m for each 30-second commercial spot during the Super Bowl broadcast. For comparison, a similar slot during a really popular primetime show in the US, such as American Idol, costs around $500,000.

But this year a number of regular Super Bowl brands have decided to sit out the game. Doritos, which has advertised for the past 10 straight years, has declined to buy any time in the Super Bowl, Ad Age reported back in December. This is especially significant given the popularity of Doritos’ Super Bowl ads, which have claimed the top spot in Ace Metrix ranking of the top Super Bowl advertisers from 2010-2016.

Heinz’s Super Bowl ad from 2016 was a big hit

It’s not just Doritos. Digiday reported last week that Toyota, Butterfinger and Taco Bell, all Super Bowl regulars, have declined to buy space. Toyota, which has just been usurped as the world’s largest carmaker by VW, says it has no major car launches in the US until spring, so a Super Bowl spot didn’t make sense.

No word why Taco Bell and others have declined this year, but it could be down to the ever-increasing cost, plus the plethora of alternatives to traditional TV advertising that continue to grow in importance each year. Tellingly, Taco Bell has poured huge resources into leveraging social media, with a broad strategy that includes all major social platforms. This insights report cites a 33% engagement rate on Instagram for Taco Bell posts – 33%! – and 251 million views of online video content since 2011.

With declining attention from TV audiences, many of whom watch with a second screen in their hands, and spiralling costs, perhaps it’s not surprising that some brands are pursuing alternative channels. Added to this, if a brand misjudges its Super Bowl commercial, it can be a very costly, and very public failure.

The day following Super Bowl Sunday, expect industry media (and increasingly consumer press, too) to deconstruct the best and worst commercials that aired. Last year, the New Yorker decided this one from AXE was the best, with this spot from Doritos polling highest with members of the public.

The big fails last year? According to most chatter, this putrid attempt to persuade Americans that borrowing money is patriotic, and this one about a man who has taken so many prescription opiates that he’s badly constipated and jealous of a pooping dog (above).

My favourite from last year? So glad you asked. This one, from beer brand Shock Top. Look out for reports on this week’s big winners and losers on Monday morning. Go Falcons.

Nick Taylor


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Z is for… Zátopek


We wrap up our celebration of the competition in Rio with a salute to one of the greatest competitors of all time, Emil Zátopek. The Czechoslovakian long-distance runner took home three golds at the 1952 games in Helsinki – in the 5,000 metres, the 10,000 metres and in the marathon. The final victory is the most startling when it’s considered Zátopek had never run a marathon before. He entered the contest at the last minute because his wife (javelin thrower Dana Zátopková) had taken two golds at the games and he fancied beating her tally.

Named the Greatest Runner of All Time by Runner’s World in 2013, he remains the only person to win the 5,000, 10,000 and marathon in the same games. Zátopek was nicknamed the “Czech Locomotive” and returned home a national hero, but he was cast into virtual exile by the ruling Soviet forces after taking an active part in the 1968 uprising known as the Prague Spring.

Zátopek was stripped of his honours and sent to work in a uranium mine, then as a refuse collector, and then a well-digger. Only in 1990 was he rehabilitated by Czech president Vaclav Havel. Zátopek died in 2000 at the age of 78 but his memory lives on at these games – every Czech athlete competing in Rio wore a Zátopek symbol on their vest.


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Illustration by Audrey Manlot (Instagram:@a.mamlok, Tumblr:mamlok.tumblr.com)


Y is for… Youngsters


Misty-eyed admiration surely welled in all of us watching a 13-year-old swimmer win her heat at this year’s games, or the 15-year-old Chinese diver demolish her competition in Thursday evening’s 10m final. But, it’s difficult too not to mix a tinge of jealousy into those emotions, when, at age 13, the majority of us were more concerned with Gameboys than smashing through 50 metre lengths.

There are no age limits at the games – in theory, you can compete at any age. However, governing bodies can impose age restrictions on specific sports. In gymnastics, for example, competitors have to be at least 16.

What’s remarkable to us is that this games marks the first time an athlete taking part was born after the millennium – these are athletes at the top of the world rankings who have only ever known the 21st century. Makes you feel a wee bit old, doesn’t it?

What an immense achievement it is for these tender-aged athletes to be competing, let alone winning, at the very highest levels. We look forward to seeing them again in 2020 – alongside an even younger generation.


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Illustration by Audrey Manlot (Instagram:@a.mamlok, Tumblr:mamlok.tumblr.com)

X is for… X-Rated


Streaking. An act, in complete undress and usually at full sprint, that can be considered humorous or annoying, depending on how easily titillated, or indeed bummed out, the watcher is. While it can be liberating for the streaker, it’s certainly no free and easy matter at the biggest event in sport.

In London at 2012, there was controversy when a streaker jumped the rope to interrupt the torch relay. But, what’s more staggering is the fine that goes with the indecent activity. Reports suggest is was up to £20,000 (23,170, $26,250) during the London games.

This figure wasn’t plucked from the air to stop drunkards and their danglies taking away too much sand from the long jump pit, it’s an effort to discourage any thoughts of ‘ambush marketing’. Olympic sponsorship rights are enforced with an iron legal fist, so don’t think gracing the field with a brand’s logo painted across nature’s own bouncing billboards will escape punishment.

Should the penalty for birthday-suit-buffoonery really be this harsh? We’ll leave that up to you to decide.



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Illustration by Audrey Manlot (Instagram:@a.mamlok, Tumblr:mamlok.tumblr.com)

W is for… WADA


It was a real shame that doping overshadowed much of the press leading up to this year’s games. Were the Russians going to be included, were they not? Week after week it seemed there was new evidence to suggest that they should and they shouldn’t. It was almost like watching a long rally at Wimbledon.

What seems consistent across all the reports is the difficulty that the governing bodies such as WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, face to stay on top of athletes’ misdemeanours. We’ve heard it before, but the dopers are ahead of the testers and it takes whistle-blowers to cast out those who are bringing the games into disrepute.

A solution needs to be found and it needs to be found soon. In the meantime, for those athletes who do insist on cheating with drugs, what about setting up a sporting event where you can only compete if you’re taking performance-enhancing substances? Surely that would get some views. Imagine how fast the quickest runner could go if he was up to his eye-balls on stimulants and steroids.

We’re by no means condoning the taking of these substances, but you can’t argue it would be an interesting spectacle. Unless WADA can get ahead of the drug cheats, that might be what future global competitions look like.

For now, we’re just pleased the doping story was outshined by stunning performances from all those athletes who chose to play it straight.


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Illustration by Audrey Manlot (Instagram:@a.mamlok, Tumblr:mamlok.tumblr.com)