#WhatIf… Synergy committed to creating 1 pro-bono campaign per year for the next 3 years to promote Women’s Football?

As creators of Women in Football's #WhatIf campaign, Synergy are kicking off their pledge in 2018 by offering one organisation the chance to receive £25,000 of creative time to help drive gender diversity in football.

For your chance to be selected, all you have to do is fill out this form (http://bit.ly/SynergyWhatIf ) and tell us about a Women’s Football brief you need help with. The prize includes a kick-off workshop to chat through your brief and objectives, three weeks of creative development time and an ideas presentation where you’ll be pitched to by the team.

Entries are open from 30th June - 31st July 2018. (T&Cs apply: http://synergy.global/terms-conditions-synergys-whatif-pledge)

European Success: Why it’s no longer just a male pursuit and how brands can benefit

The UEFA Champions League has been on everyone’s lips this season, with a combination of majestic football, big name clashes, astonishing goals and a certain topless striker doing his thing, helping to confirm the competition’s place at the pinnacle of the football tree. However, what’s truly made the knock-out stage so breath-taking has been the almost limitless drama on show in fixtures between teams competing at the peak of their powers. Matches of high quality and high stakes creating the perfect environment for headlines, sub-plots and stories that could hold their own against any Hollywood blockbuster.

It’s a powerful mix, and one that’s likely to be on show in a competition that bares similarities, but carries a different profile: The UEFA Women’s Champions League.

Arguably the best four women’s sides on the continent will be going up against each other later this month, as Manchester City take on holders Lyon, whilst Chelsea face former winners Wolfsburg. In a competition that averages over 3.5 goals per game and semi-finals which feature the striking power of players such as Alexandra Popp, Nadia Nadim and Fran Kirby, there are likely to be fireworks.

Yet, whilst the men’s competition can point to a host of long-term, big name partners including Heineken, Mastercard and PepsiCo, the women’s competition remains a long way off such support.

Clearly the competitions vary greatly in profile: the men’s fixtures are near guaranteed sell-outs and are regularly broadcast to millions around the world, but with the rights to the women’s competition now decoupled from the men’s, a unique opportunity has arisen for the right brand at a time when women’s sport is exploding.

UEFA’s decision to unbundle the rights and package together UEFA Women’s EURO 2021, the UEFA Women’s Champions League and UEFA’s women’s national team youth competitions along with the Together #WePlayStrong campaign is a sure-fire nod to SSE’s ground-breaking sponsorship of the Women’s FA Cup.

The commercial call to separate the women’s competition rights from the men’s was one that took foresight, first from the FA and later SSE who took on the title sponsorship. It’s a decision that has ultimately led to rejuvenating the competition and creating an environment for the Final to get record-breaking attendance at Wembley Stadium, pushing the BBC to broadcast not only the Final, but also the semi-finals for the 2017/18 competition.

So there’s precedent for this at a local market level, but can it work across Europe? Naturally challenges exist, in particular the relatively low match attendances, but by looking at the bigger picture, success for a sponsor relies on more than just bums on seats in the stands.

SSE’s Dads and Daughters campaign used the sponsorship to open the door to stories that could engage people who may have never stepped inside a stadium, but crucially spoke to SSE’s target audience. When viewed alongside the SSE Wildcats grassroots football programme, a picture of true partnership emerges, one in which the brand shows they really do care.

The sponsorship landscape is currently awash with brands spending thousands, if not millions, on the latest VR and AI technology in an effort to stand out from the crowd, but this is no guarantee of genuine engagement. Consumers, now more than ever, can discern a marketing ploy from a real investment in sport, and the new UEFA package offers just this.

By building on the rich platform this progressive and female-focussed property creates, a brand has the perfect launch pad to create authentic and credible stories that can show what a brand believes in.

With all of this comes the cherry on the cake. Last year’s UEFA Women’s EURO was watched by 149.5 million people globally, and with women’s sport growing at some pace, the 2021 competition is likely to exceed those numbers, providing a golden moment for brands involved in the sport to point towards.

So, although European success is currently the reserve of the men’s competition, it won’t be for long. The SSE Women’s FA Cup pointed the way, but the future looks bright beyond England. UEFA has played its hand well, and with a level of foresight (and appropriate investment) the right brand could as well. Success in Europe has never looked more likely for the women’s game.

Synergy Spotlight

As a woman determined to make a difference, Chair of Women in Football and successful winner of our Pledge competition we are thrilled to have Anna Kessel in the December spotlight.

1. Your career in 1 sentence

Thirteen years as a sports journalist has made me passionate about pushing for equality in the sports industry.

2. What is the highlight of your career to date?

Writing Eat Sweat Play, a book that champions sport for women whatever their interest or ability. Almost everyday I receive messages from women, and men, who have read the book and feel inspired by it. I feel very proud to have been part of so many people reconnecting with sport in a positive way.

3. Describe yourself in 3 words.

Determined to make a difference (sorry that’s 5!)

4. What is the key to your success?

Not caring about ‘success’. Family and happiness comes first.

5. Who inspired you and why?

In the sports industry we are lucky to be surrounded by amazing role models. I’m just really pleased to see that so many more are now finally being recognised and championed for the heros and sheros that they are.

6. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

"Use your voice" – Michelle Moore.

7. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Don’t be afraid. Deep down inside everyone is bricking it.

Synergy Spotlight

"Dream bigger, be grateful for what you have & don't let failure hold you back" are the words of advice from Lynne Cameron, a freelance sports photojournalist, who has been in the photography industry for over 20 years. In a predominately male dominated industry she is certainly testament to the fact that hard work and persistence pays off. This is why we're proud to give her the Synergy Spotlight this month. Enjoy!

1. Your career in one paragraph?

Chief photographer at Rangers Football Club for 9 years then onto Scottish Rugby and PA. I went freelance last year to pursue my love of editorial and commercial sports photography.

2. What is the highlight of your career to date?

I am very privileged in that I have covered some amazing events but RWC 2011 and the Lions tour this year in New Zealand would be up there - the Kiwis love their rugby and its a beautiful country. Sports photographer of the year 2011 and of course official photographer for Rangers and Scottish Rugby were special times with great people. Possibly surviving in sports photography for 20 years!

Oh and the other thing I did which was great was when at Rangers I did work with the study support centre when I organised disposable cameras for the class and they went off and took pictures of their lives - really interesting and rewarding. It’s amazing to be able to share my passion of photography and show kids how much joy it can bring!

3. Describe yourself in 3 words

Photographer, Passionate, Tenacious

4. What is the key to your success?

Persistence, hard work and my love of photography even if the industry can be ugly.

5. Who inspired you and why?

Photography - Tom Main an amazing photographer who inspired and encouraged me when I first started working. His generosity of advice , support and friendship over the years has kept me semi sane.

Marc Aspland of The Times- you see his work and think 'I wish I had taken that' and he is one of the industry good guys. Sadly there were no female sports photographers that I knew of when I started - this is changing but its too slow.

Personally - my love of sport came from my grandfather we spent lots of happy time watching sport together.

6. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Spend less time worrying about what other people think and believe in yourself and what you do

7. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Lots ! Dream bigger who says you can't have it all? Travel more, be grateful for what you have, surround yourself with good people and don't let failure hold you back. I always said to myself when I grow up I will get a 'real' job - still waiting for that to happen!

To view her work see here.

Synergy Spotlight

This month we welcome Accenture’s Head of Sponsorship, Julie Alexander, to the Spotlight. Julie is responsible for Accenture’s innovative sponsorship and hospitality portfolio working with partners such as British Triathlon and the National Theatre.

1. Your career in 1 sentence?

A varied career with roles both in-house and agency side in multiple disciplines, specialising in sponsorship.

2. What is the highlight of your career to date?
Jumping on a plane to Tokyo to sell in an idea to Sony HQ around the FIFA World Cup – what a city, what an experience!

3. Describe yourself in 3 words
Open-minded - I like to try new things and see where the road takes me; determined - I don't give up easily; fun - it's all about balance for me.

4. What is the key to your success?
A good mix of personal and professional experiences but ultimately focusing on what I enjoy - it's much easier to be good at something you like doing.

5. Who inspired you and why?
My 101 year old grandpa - he grafted all his life to build a successful business from the ground up with total humility and determination.

6. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Don't get too focused on what everyone else is doing, keep focus on you and your own personal development and goals.

7. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Learn from your mistakes - they'll help you more than your successes will!

Terms & Conditions – Synergy’s #WhatIf Pledge

1. The Promoter is Synergy, a trading division of Engine Partners UK LLP of 60 Great Portland Street, London W1W 7RT.

2. Entrants in the competition must be organisations based in the United Kingdom and be directly involved in women’s football either as a brand, team, governing body, charity or association. When you enter the competition, you are agreeing that you have authority to enter the competition on your organisation’s behalf.

3. The competition is not open to anyone directly connected with this prize draw. Employees or agents of the Promoter or any of its group companies or their families or households or anyone professionally connected to this competition may not enter the prize draw either directly or indirectly (i.e. as a member of the entering organisation).

4. Entry into this competition is deemed to be acceptance of these terms and conditions.

5. Only one entry per organisation.

6. By submitting your entry to the prize draws you are acknowledging that you are a budget holder and decision maker for sponsorship or marketing of your organisation.

7. The competition opens at 10am on 31st May 2018 and closes at midnight on 30th June 2018. Entries received after this time and date will not be considered.

8. Entries must be submitted by completing all details in the Google Form between the opening and closing dates. If there are any technical issues please email Adrien.Raynaud@synergy.global

9. Every valid entry is entered into the competition where entrants could win one prize of up to £25,000 (inclusive of VAT were it payable) worth of creative development time from the Promoter’s agency staff. There will be one winner.

10. The creative presentation date and time is to be determined between the Promoter and the selected winner and all parties will commit to do everything they can so that presentation dates are fulfilled on or before 1st December 2018 (“Fulfilment Date”).

11. The winner will be selected by a panel of judges comprised of employees or agents of the Promoter after the closing date and will be notified by phone or email if successful on or before 31st July 2018. The panel of judges shall review the entries to determine the entry which meets the criteria for the competition; in particular:

- you must be directly involved in women’s football either as a team, governing body, charity or association; and
- you must submit a brief.
- the winning entry will be that which, in the opinion of the adjudicating panel, best answers the questions set out in the entry form. Winners must respond and confirm acceptance by 10th August 2018. In the event that the Winner does not confirm acceptance by that date, a substitute winner will be selected and notified.

12. Further Prize Details: The prize includes a kick-off workshop to chat through your brief and objectives, three weeks of creative development time and an ideas presentation where you’ll be pitched to by the Promoter. Final idea pitch presentations will happen around September/October 2018 (flexible) – final date by mutual agreement by both parties on or before the Fulfilment Date.

13. Further Prize Conditions:
a. Prize includes creative development time only;
b. Activation and delivery of the final ideas are not included; and
c. The Promoter reserves the right to replace the prize with an equivalent prize without notice;
d. The creative presentation will be based on the brief you submit and the winner may not amend the brief in any way after the prize is accepted by the winner;
e. Entrants must supply the Promoter with any additional materials reasonably requested by the Promoted to aid them with the brief and the creative presentation within seven days of being asked for this by the Promoter.

14. No purchase is necessary.

15. The prize is non-transferable and there is no cash alternative. No part or parts of the prize may be substituted for other benefits, items or additions. The prize must not be sold on or transferred to another party.

16. All intellectual property rights of any of the Promoter’s final creative ideas belong to the Promoter or as set out below:
a. Creating a marketing campaign for the winner: the Promoter and winner will mutually agree ownership to the final creative ideas. The Winner retains ownership of all intellectual property created independently of this competition.
b. Creating activation ideas for a current sponsor: the winner must have an engaged sponsor that agrees to a budget and should the winner choose to use the ideas proposed the Promoter, both parties will mutually agree ownership and implementation to the final creative ideas.

17. By entering the prize draw, the winner confirms that the Promoter has permission to film and photograph them at the presentation, to participate in reasonable promotional activity including publicity or media interviews and for the images/footage to be used for up to five years for promotion purposes. The winner releases any right to examine or approve the advertising and promotional material that may be used alongside or the use to which is might be applied. The winner gives consent for their names and organisation and/or picture or other likeness (without any compensation or further obligation) in any manner and in any medium for advertising, marketing, public relations or other promotional purposes in connection with the Promoter’s website online, and social media promotion related to Women’s in Football's #WhatIf campaign, except where prohibited by law.

18. The Promoter’s decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into.

19. The Promoter accepts no liability for lost entries. The Promoter and its agents accept no responsibility for difficulties experienced in submitting an entry to these competition, including any technical, hardware or software failures of any kind or lost or unavailable network connections which may limit or prohibit an eligible entrant’s ability to participate in the competition.

20. No other expenses are included in the prizes, e.g. travel to/from the venue of the presentation or accommodation. The presentation referred to in paragraph 10 will take place in London.

21. The Promoter reserves the right to exclude entries in its reasonable discretion which do not comply with these terms and conditions, or those entries which the Promoter believes to be fraudulent, or based on misconduct.

22. By entering these prize draws, entrants agree to that they have read and understood our Privacy Notice.

23. This competition, prizes and these terms are governed by English law and are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of English Courts.

24. The name and county of the competition winner will be available after 10th September 2018 by sending a stamped addressed envelope to: Adrien Raynaud, Synergy, 60 Great Portland Street, London W1W 7RT.

GDPR Privacy Notice
This privacy notice explains how the Promoter (“we”, “us” or “our”) handles any personal information about you as part of the competition.

1. What personal information is collected: Information in you give us in the entry form for the competition and, if successful, names and contact details of individuals connected to the promotion.

2. Purposes for which personal information will be used: The main purposes for which we use your personal information are: (i) conducting the competition; (ii) liaising with and creating materials for the winning entry. We may also use your personal information for legal and regulatory compliance purposes, for example, to ensure compliance with health and safety requirements and other legal obligations, or in connection with litigation or an internal investigation or audit and to ensure compliance with laws, as well as equal opportunities monitoring.

3. Legal basis for processing: We will only process your personal information where we have a legal basis for doing so. Generally, we will be processing such information to for the legitimate business of promoting the competition and fulfilling the prize. We may also process your personal information to comply with our legal obligations.

4. Where personal information is stored: Your personal information will be held by the Promoter in the UK. Your personal information will not be shared with any third parties.

5. How long personal information is stored for: We will keep your personal information for as long as necessary for the purposes described in this notice. We will keep personal information from unsuccessful applicants for 6 months after the competition closes. We will keep personal data for the winning entry for the duration of the prize fulfilment and for six years thereafter. We may keep your personal information for longer than this where we have a legal obligation.

6. Who personal information is disclosed to: We may disclose your personal information (i) to the panel adjudicating the competition; (ii) in relation to the winning entry, to members of the press and bloggers for the purposes of reporting on the competition; and (iii) our underwriters so that we can maintain appropriate insurance coverage. Finally, we may disclose your personal information to other third parties (i) when required to do so by law, (ii) in response to a request for assistance by the police or other law enforcement agency, and/or (iii) to seek legal advice from our lawyers or in connection with litigation.

7. Your rights: In certain cases, you have the right to request access to, rectification or erasure of, the personal information we hold about you. You may also have the right to object to or restrict certain types of use of their personal information and request to receive a machine-readable copy of their personal information. If you have concerns about the way in which we have handled your personal information, please contact us in the first instance. If you are still dissatisfied, they have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Synergy Spotlight

Our next installment of Synergy Spotlight is here! We talk to Ruth Holdaway who leads the fantastic Women in Sport charity. Women in Sport are empowering women and girls through sport and transforming the sport sector; their vision is to create a society where gender equality exists in every sphere.

1. Your career in 1 paragraph?

Driving social change through great campaigns and communications. After some interesting internships with the likes of The World Health Organisation, the BBC (producing Newsnight) and in the U.S. Senate, I started out as an NHS manager, with operational, strategic planning and change management roles in hospitals, Health Authorities and latterly in a Cancer Network. I then moved to the voluntary sector where I found my home. I’ve had communications, campaigns, fundraising and service delivery leadership roles with Breakthrough Breast Cancer (now Breast Cancer Now), Prostate Cancer UK and Women’s Aid as well as doing some consultancy and voluntary work along the way, including being a Team Leader Games Maker at Wimbledon during the London 2012 Olympic Games.

2. What is the highlight of your career to date?

There are just too many to mention – I’ve been incredibly privileged! On a professional level I’m proud of things like having successfully lobbied for the 30% gender diversity target to be included in the Code for Sports Governance, rebranding WSFF as Women in Sport, increasing awareness of prostate cancer across the UK by 70%, and achieving a maximum two week wait for breast cancer patients enshrined in Government policy and delivered in all 5 of the hospitals I looked after. Personally, I’ve had some crazy moments of work madness: I sold raffle tickets for Breakthrough at the TV Quick Awards and danced with the cast of Coronation Street at the after show party, I’ve delivered presentations around the world, I did a day of radio interviews with Max Beesley’s Dad(!) I ran away from Joseph Fiennes when I was supposed to brief him on breast cancer complementary therapies because I was too shy to meet him, and I saw Andy Murray win the Gold medal at the London Olympics. Probably the biggest highlights in my current role have been cheering on England to win the Cricket World Cup at Lords this year, holding the Rugby World Cup with Clare Balding and Sarah Hunter in 2014, and meeting my hero, Judy Murray, which I’ve been lucky enough to now do several times.

3. Describe yourself in 3 words.

Focused, Energetic, and quite Grumpy first thing in the morning!

4. What is the key to your success?

What success?! I’ve worked hard, I’ve ‘leaned in’, I’ve made mistakes and learnt from them and I’ve been prepared to volunteer to take on more work than I can really manage in order to learn and to prove myself. Success is about hard graft and resilience I think – be positive, keep moving forward, put the time in and don’t give up.

5. Who inspired you and why?

My inspiration is my former boss at Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Baroness Delyth Morgan. She’s AMAZING! She gave me my first role in a charity, for which I shall be forever grateful. She nurtured me and she’s one of the most effective leaders I have ever known. She has a blend of focus, toughness and kindness which I have found impossible to replicate but I continue to aspire to.

6. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t take things personally.

7. What advice would you give to your younger self?

I think I’d just want to give myself more confidence – I’ve always struggled with this. And I’d definitely tell myself to eat healthy food and do more exercise!

The Rise of Women’s Rugby: The British & Irish Lionesses?

The dust is only just starting to settle following the thrilling Women’s World Cup final, and it seems that a significant legacy has already been left - a change in mindset and perception about Women’s rugby. No more is it the game it used to be, and popularity is soaring across the board. At the grassroots level, participation is thriving; there are more than 27,600 female players in England alone.

At International level, new stars are being born and records are being broken on and off the field; from performance statistics to live attendance figures, viewership and social engagement figures. 3.2 million people tuned into the France vs England World Cup semi-final. Days later, the final won a primetime spot on Britain’s most popular commercial channel, drawing an audience of 2.6 million people. The resounding opinion of fans, sponsors and the media from this year’s Women’s Rugby World cup is that we aren’t talking about women’s rugby anymore, we are just talking about great rugby. So where should the women’s game go from here?

Under Head Coach Warren Gatland, the British and Irish Lions brand remains alive and stronger than ever, following the thrilling 15-15 stalemate with the All Blacks. It has value and equity that seems to transcend how many points are scored on the pitch; the world’s most unsuccessful success story. With that foundation in place, a women’s side seems to be a no brainer – but should the women’s game settle with slotting into the legacy of the men’s Tour? As the World Cup has shown us, our Women are capable of making and breaking records and creating their own place in the history books.

So, what should be the starting point and focus for establishing this new instalment to rugby’s favourite franchise?

Firstly, the history, structure and dominance of women’s rugby must be considered. It makes sense for a joint men’s team from UK & Ireland to travel to play the dominant Southern Hemisphere rugby nations. But that isn’t the case with women’s rugby. Yes, New Zealand is still the powerhouse, but Australia and South Africa are significantly further down in the women’s world rankings. The Lionesses should focus on taking the game to emerging rugby nations, such as USA and Canada, both of whom sit in the top 5.

Secondly, the power that the tour could have on developing nations, in terms of raising standards and growing the game internationally, should be maximised. England Rugby were trailblazers in the build up to the World Cup in terms of their focus and financial commitment to the Red Roses. It seemed other Unions felt the pressure to follow suit - as no one wanted England to get too far ahead. The result – players across the board looked fitter and faster during this World Cup than ever before. The Lionesses can be used as international ambassadors to lift the game worldwide – showcasing the investment, coaching, and fitness standards of the Home Unions, to the rest of the world.

From a commercial perspective, the Lionesses need to be established as its own entity; as a rights holder, and as a commercial platform for brands. This means creating its own brand identity, and unique structure of rights that will allow it to attract its own set of sponsors; something that football did several years ago, but has only recently started to occur in the rugby landscape. Only this year did Six Nations Rugby Limited uncouple the women’s tournament from the men’s game. Rumour has it that the RFU are starting to consider unbundling the rights for the Red Roses; however, the impact of this is yet to be seen in terms of brands involved with the women’s team as the likes of O2 and Canterbury remain to have rights across both teams.

There are plenty of brands that have recognised the commercial benefit of women’s rugby, and are already reaping the rewards in terms of brand and economic impact. This Summer alone, Deloitte, EY and Tyrrells all announced deals across the women’s game; from the World Cup, to the Domestic League, and individual Club deals. As opposed to the cluttered field of the men’s game, women’s rugby is a relatively untapped space meaning brands have the power to shape it and establish unique ownership that drives business impact for them. Get the commercial structure right and the Lionesses have the power to stand alone and be a viable entity on their own – a ground breaking move for women’s sport.

Women’s rugby should be brave and make its own history, heritage and legacy. The British & Irish Lionesses is one powerful way they can do that. It isn’t about 1888, it’s about 2017, marking the dawn of the Lionesses, when women’s rugby put itself on the international map, and added strength, stature and equity to one of the most valuable brands in Rugby. We still have time to add one more record to the history books for this year.

Synergy Spotlight

As the Women’s Rugby World Cup kicks off today and the hype around the Red Roses ramp up, we’ve been talking to the RFU’s Director of Digital, Marketing and Communications – Joanna Manning-Cooper about her experience in the sports industry. Read August’s Spotlight is here.

1. Your career in a paragraph?

+20 years in front line communications and marketing roles in fmcg, media and sport

2. The highlight of your career to date?

Probably London 2012 – I was Head of Media and PR and it was a once in a lifetime project to be part of. But I’ve enjoyed all my roles.

3. Please describe yourself in 3 words.

Dreaming of sunshine

4. What is the key to your success?

You can’t achieve anything without hard work.

5. Who inspired you and why?

Marjorie Scardino (I was Director of Communications at the Financial Times when she ran Pearson). She was always brave, imaginative and decent.

6. What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t be afraid of what’s on the other side of the mountain. Something my wonderful Mum said many a time, and , as always, she was right.

7. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Enjoy this special time before real life responsibilities kick in.

Investigating the commercial landscape of women’s football and why it’s in better shape than ever

"There is a very strong brand and economic case for why a brand would sponsor women’s football. One in five women are the main breadwinners in the family. There is a fast growing female economy - women have increased financial stability and, huge buying power – and yet our research shows that women don’t believe they are being represented in brand marketing. Football in particular is a brilliant and powerful metaphor for what women can achieve.”

Read the full article here.