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Standard Life Investments: BT Sports Industry Team Partnership of the Year

How often do you hear and see award-winning campaigns and wonder what went into the winning entry or what the real results were? Well, for the first time we’re going to lift the bonnet on one of the most successful sponsorships of 2017. For one time only, we will let you into the Magic Circle, but only on a day pass.

This year at the prestigious BT Sports Industry Awards, Standard Life Investments and Synergy won the award for Best Team Partnership for the 2017 British & Irish Lions campaign. The sponsorship was arguably the biggest of last year and with an historic, and frankly, unpredictably successful tour, the partnership profile was high. But, profile alone isn’t enough to win awards – all too often I have dissected the award win of a campaign and put it down to profile or TV coverage – but in this case, it’s not true. The results speak louder than the ad space.

We set out to make Standard Life Investments the most favourable Asset Management company and we needed to increase serious consideration to invest with SLI. Done and done.

Brand awareness was important, this was an ongoing campaign measurement, but unless it translated into hard brand and business value it was useless. Every Lions jersey partner knows the partnership will increase awareness – step into a Lions Tour and it is like seeing a tidal wave of your brand with fans decked head-to-toe with official merch. But, to rely on this as a single metric of success is naïve, or worse, lazy. To turn awareness into action we had to have a campaign that cut-through, reached our audiences at the right time, in the right places and changed attitudes and behaviour.

Here are four core reasons why we hit the jackpot with this campaign:

1. A clear and simple purpose

We had a clear strategy, assisted by a sponsor and team with a connection so natural it wouldn’t have looked out of place in Whole Foods. Only the Lions bring rival rugby nations together to face the most formidable foes, only Standard Life Investments brings together specialists from diverse divisions and asset classes to deliver for our clients.

The partnership between Standard Life Investments and the Lions is one built on foundations of shared values. Both are committed to achieving world-class results through teamwork, dedication, innovation and the relentless pursuit of excellence. This informed the core creative idea One Team. One Standard – a story about the great lengths world-class teams go to achieve world-class performance.

2. Activating a Team without a Team

Navigating access to players is not a new sponsorship challenge, but for 18 months we sponsored a team with no team...and worse still, previous Lions kits featured a competitor. In short, we were starting from scratch. As a result, the campaign had to be focused on the here and now, and crafted to include ambassadors and engage with the pre-tour squad selection hype. SLI outstripped the spontaneous awareness of the previous sponsor before the team even set foot on New Zealand soil, and the business managed to offset the rights fee from incremental media value from the early phases of the campaign.

3. Being ‘Choice-ful’

This was our mantra. Less is more. The Lions presents a truck-load of activation opportunities, not all right for an Asset Management brand – we needed to strike a fine balance between operating like a B2B brand, whilst understanding that our customers are rugby fans as well as investors. Media partnerships were selected based on the ability to activate them and generate incremental media value – Sky Sports and The Telegraph were perfect partners and we worked them hard.

The regulatory restrictions on marketing to our customer base, meant that we had to use content selectively. Saying ‘no’ to the wrong opportunities and ‘yes’ to the appropriate activations led to a highly effective and targeted narrative through all channels. We reached at least 42m people within our highly-targeted global audience using partnerships and superior optimization strategy.

Phase 1 – Establishing the link between SLI and the Lions. Why we share the Jersey? We both achieve world-class performance through teamwork. Setting the Standard.

Phase 2 – What does it take to make the Lions’ Standard? Separating the Great from the Good – showcasing World-Class Potential.

Phase 3 – Preparing for a World-Class performance. Going to extraordinary lengths to deliver world-class performance
Phase 4 – Celebrating World-Class performance. How the squad are displaying the Standard on Tour
4. Teamwork

Sounds cheesy, right? But, there's no way that a campaign of this scale can happen without the unique teamwork that this campaign story was about. SLI had never undertaken a sponsorship of this scale and we worked hand-in-hand to ensure that every contingency and Lions' intricacy was covered. As with the campaign the cross-agency team had a shared commitment to the pursuit of success and excellence drawing from diverse specialisms to deliver a world-class performance…even after a round-the-clock 24-hour stint from New Zealand to UK! The proof is in the pudding: teams that work together, succeed together.

Synergy named Agency of The Year at BT Sport Industry Awards

Synergy was named Sport Agency of the Year last night at the BT Sport Industry Awards in London, receiving the coveted accolade - the top honour in the UK sports sponsorship industry - in front of an audience of 1,750 of sport's most influential names at the largest and most prestigious event of its type in Europe.

Synergy took the award after a stunning 2014, which saw the agency post impressive financial results, deliver innovative campaigns for clients around the world, and win a raft of new business, including Accenture, Aviva and Canterbury. The judges reserved particular praise for Synergy's vibrant culture, creativity and industry-leading investment in its people.

Synergy CEO Tim Crow was joined on stage at Battersea Evolution by Synergy’s Chief Strategy Officer Carsten Thode to collect the Agency of The Year trophy from Rugby World Cup-winning former England winger Jason Robinson and ex-Wales and British & Irish Lion Shane Williams.

Read Sport Industry Group's summary of the event here and see the full list of winners here.