Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Stuart Lancaster and the Pyramid of Leadership

Having worked on Wolf Blass wines and their sponsorship of Sky's coverage of SANZAR, Southern Hemisphere rugby sponsorship I have had the pleasure of meeting Stuart Lancaster a couple of times.

So to see him talk about his leadership of the England Rugby team was a chance not to be missed. With his contract already renewed until 2020 I can understand why the RFU has let Stuart lead and here are his views on teamwork and leadership.

Firstly I have found Stuart to be the most humble and yet the most sharply focused, passionate, determined and intelligent leader I have met. And also the most balanced and self controlled. He comes across as though he is the guardian of England Rugby - the game and the national teams - not the owner.

Some sound-bites that really struck home for me were -
“Leadership is not a right it has to be earned; as does Trust”
“It’s not just about results but how you go about your work”

“The core values of rugby – Sportsmanship and Respect”

So many modern businesses talk about culture, a "winning mindset", “high performing teams” etc. and yet so few actually live the values. Given the fact that Stuart Lancaster has the highest win record for any England coach in the last 10 years he obviously leads and inspires the team to success.
His aim is to create a specific environment for success with culture, behaviours, standards of performance, a winning mindset. He has set those standards and boundaries and empowered the coaches and the players
Within this Culture foundation, the team is king. If individuals don’t meet the mark, no matter how important, whether they play abroad or in the UK, they are not more important than the team.
He also credited the team’s success on the coaching staff, in particular citing Andy Farrell as key – "Andy is an amazing coach and extrovert"; plus he compliments Stuart Lancaster’s leadership style.

Stuart recounted the story that the England team created a video around what it means to be English – not an easy task he said, but the team succeeded. Likewise in business living the brand is so important, but so is explaining it to consumers / fans. Stuart spoke a great deal about the media, as well as stakeholder management.

He told the audience about asking each player’s family to write a letter to their sons to explain what it means to play for England and to get 5 close family friends to do the same. He then handed these letters to each player to read at a team session, which he said was both powerful and emotional to witness.

The higher purpose he speaks about is the England shirt on the player’s back ….not just the Autumn Internationals, Six Nations or even the 2015 Rugby World Cup. It is also about performance being crucial, not winning; a point driven home by the late coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Bill Walsh and his book “The Score takes Care of Itself”. Identify and create standards of performance and the winning will happen.
Stuart spoke about subconscious relaxation and being in the zone for optimal performance; and as per Bill Walsh how to focus on performance over results.
He also spoke about how learning is key or as Bill Walsh put is “Teaching is Paramount

Trust is a word that Lancaster mentioned several times. TRUST = actions consistent with words = CREDIBILITY
He has explained to the players after the New Zealand debacle about the responsibility they have as England players and as role models with responsibility.

This involves the players taking responsibility for themselves, their performance and their teammates – but more than the buddy system spoken about by Will Greenwood and instilled by Sir Clive Woodward.
Stuart spoke about the All Black Team being more player than coach led in a player:coach 60:40 ratio. He believes England are currently 70:30 coach to player led but developing.
He spoke about the players having ideas or opinions and voicing them during meetings – this was the road to being player led.

In summary some key lessons are:

1.      Create the culture for success
2.      Set the parameters and standards of performance
3.      Build the brand
4.      Surround yourself with the right team
5.      Work to the higher purpose - think and act long term
6.      Focus on performance over results
7.      The team is king
8.      Empower a team of leaders
9.      Create a learning environment

For a man who spoke about the power of authenticity Stuart lives by his own high standards. His actions are wholly consistent with his words. But he is a man with heart too, speaking about the sacrifices he makes with regards to his family and the sacrifices they are making for him especially the pressure on his wife and 2 children bringing them up whilst he is not around, travelling, coaching, dealing with the media.

I congratulate you Stuart Lancaster and sincerely hope there will be more congratulations in 2015.

Thursday, 9 October 2014



The amazing England football team face the mighty San Marino tonight and my Lord am I going to get passionate about this one!!

England, captained by the passionate, charismatic Wayne Rooney will, according to Tom Sheen of the Independent, face a team of "accountants, clerks, lawyers, factory owners and bar owners" tonight. Tom goes on: "San Marino are the worst team in international football, well joint worst!" San Marino rank 208th and joint bottom of the FIFA World Rankins having played 123 matches, won 1 and drawn 3.

Yet hearing Roy Hodgson talk this morning he said: "We can't guarantee a goal feast (sic)....It's all about performance."
Apparently the England team "has the burden of trying to attack". Oh dear...poor England! Mind you given the performance in Brazil attacking would be an achievement let alone scoring goals.

However, given that England have scored 13 goals against San Marino in their last 2 meetings I would politely ask that Roy gets off the fence and stops under-promising!!

And then I have got the FA banging out ads in press and radio about how England Fans should have " Pride + Passion" about their beloved side. Ah the joys of marketing insight!!

I am afraid that the national team's road back to being loved again is not going to be found in an FA-briefed ad campaign. Well at least not this one.

To be fair to the creative agency for this campaign, ("Futureproof", spot the irony regarding the England team's performance), the brief was always going to be nigh on impossible to meet given that England's run-out at the Brazil World Cup was their worst since 1957.

Apparently the FA is keen to bring fans and players "closer together" with the ad campaign with 3 strap lines: "Hopes and Dreams"; "Passion and Pride"; "Strength and Honour". It would seem that all 6 qualities are seemingly lacking in the national side and quite frankly the fans voted with their feet for the Norway friendly with an attendance of 40,000 - the worst attendance for an England international since the new Wembley opened in 2007. So I am curious to see how many turn up tonight in some British weather.

Back to the ads though and I fear product passion does not come from the brand owner, (The FA), telling the consumer (England die-hard fans) to love their brand  (The Men's national team).

"Love my brand !"
"Buy my product !"
"Buy more of my product !"

copyright Tom Fishburne www.Marketoonist.com

Ah if only brand marketing worked this way guys - where is the fan empathy? The fan reality? The fan insight...and add to that the manager education to convey that passion about the players and then the players themselves?

Where is the beating heart of brand "Team England"? Put it in black and white and post it several places and then everyone will believe. With an FA brand that isn't really a brand the dissonance is everywhere, and shown plainly buy a shocking ad campaign.

Tell great stories about England with amazing passion - don't tell fans to have pride in a product that is crap, in a product that doesn't work and currently isn't fit for purpose

In his excellent blog David Taylor of The Brand Gym Blog: http://wheresthesausage.typepad.com/my_weblog/ 
David offers reams of amazing advice around passion; real, authentic branding; growing the core; re-launching brands...take note of the last point The FA.

So here are some "top of the mind" solutions for free guys...and trust me these took less than a minute because I am busy.

  • FATV has 45,575 subscribers - This is poor so how about some decent content that shows the pride and passion of the players...and of the fans
  • Crete a real fanzone - "The Home End" as the FA put it - but with more inspiring & passionate language)
  • Create a virtual fanzone where real fans share what being an England fan is like....in adversity.
  • Best moments in England's footballing history
  • Ways to get close to the footballers - although let's face it they aren't the most eloquent bunch of individuals it would still benefit the brand
  • Wembley still feels like a hulking concrete monolith so how about creating some passion there
I am a passionate England Fan, but I am also a marketer that uses insight to get to the real brand truth and I am afraid the FA marketing team are not there yet. I seriously hope England win tonight because if they don't.....

"If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always gotten"

Monday, 9 June 2014

Want One! SOLO2 Beats by Dr. Dre - "The Game before The Game"

Finally!!! A beautiful form of elevated content and viral marketing in the form of Beats by Dr. Dre  - 6.8m youtube hits already and well deserved.

The Brand is the ritual, and the ritual is the brand, and the game is beautiful.

photo copyright Beats by Dr.Dre

One of a few truly inspirational and aspirational brands and for me the hijack brand of London 2012...watching the swimmers, boxers, athletes come out for their 2012 lineups wearing Beats headphones for the world to see was masterly genius...and I bet it spiked sales massively. "Four are sold every minute" Beats president Luke Wood said prior to a New York screening of the film a short while ago. Watch them sell again with this epic video and then look at the ROI vs what it actually cost.

Marketing is ultimately about driving sales by creating amazing brands. Beats by Dr. Dre does this with an amazing array of the beautiful games uber stars going about their pre-game rituals all led by Brazilian superstar Neymar Jr in a call with his dad Neymar Snr.

Cesc Fabregas kisses the ring his girlfriend gave him four times; Luis Suarez kisses the tattoo of his children's names on his wrist for love and good luck; Chicharito begins every game by praying on his knees. Chuck in various other World Cup athletes: Bacary Sagna, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Blaise Matuidi, Cesc Fàbregas, Daniel Sturridge, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Jozy Altidore, Luis Suárez, Mario Götze, Thierry Henri, Rio Ferdinand and Robin van Persie.

Then there's Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, LeBron James and Serena Williams all serving up cameos. The brand is the ritual, and the ritual is the brand.

Let's all forget that Apple bought the brand for $3bn, how much a pair of Beats headphones cost, and just focus on the great marketing; and while we are at it, let's forget about FIFA and the 2022 Qatar Wolrd Cup and just watch and enjoy the beautiful game. 

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The brand campaigns and IP Challenges of 2014 FIFA Wold Cup Brazil

It is all kicking off, and in more ways than one!! The cost of Nike England football shirts at £90 - outrageous! Truly outrageous for a national side that are unlikely to reach the Quarters!

The launch of the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Official and unofficial Big Brand campaigns: adidas, nike, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, Hyundai and Peugeot.

ADIDAS - Brazuca..."Around the world" .....ummmm! Different and a tad tame…the creative idea is a camera in the official football. Even though they are the official partner I am not sure that this idea has heated up yet, although the 3m YouTube views would say differently!

ADIDAS however have hit gold with their Leo Messi #FASTORFAIL campaign: interactive, online, fun and gamification combined…and great to waste 15 minutes online with as well!

NIKE too has launched their summer offering ahead of the World Cup, "Risk Everything", focusing on their football talent of Neymar, Ronaldo and Rooney. A cool, some would say cold, brand film that feels a little sterile.

COCA COLA "The World's Cup" - Genius simplicity, but a well thought through execution and a wonderful brand film created by Widen & Kennedy Sao Paolo. “Coca-Cola wants to celebrate real people playing football, demonstrating how the game is a force for a more inclusive and connected world.”
The ad is supported by a range of content, including documentary-style short films themed “Where Will Happiness Strike Next”, with subjects ranging from a blind team in Brazil to a group of grandmothers in South Africa, as well as an original musical anthem and, as seen on their website, a FIFA World Cup Trophy tour.

However with the POWERADE brand there is indeed power in the story behind the ad: "There is power in every game". It is always great to see disabled athletes in big brand ads alongside able bodied athletes, and Nico's story is a great passion point for the brand.....this could have been the braver ad for such a powerful brand rather than the subtext?

PEPSI – I have always been a fan of Pepsi so I love the youthful energy of their "NOW" campaign that follows the universal theme of living in the present moment, Carpe Diem and all that jazz...speaking of jazz the soundtrack is by the excellent singer Janelle Monáe, who performs a fresh take on David Bowie’s iconic classic, “Heroes”, and the new digi-social hub website looks truly brilliant: http://www.pepsi.com

Adding an interactive dimension to its campaign, Pepsi MAX is using interactive gaming on every Pepsi Max pack. Consumers can unlock exclusive video content on their mobiles and play an augmented reality football game using the Blippar app.

As their CMO says: “Our content plan to capture this spirit celebrates the creative passion of footballers with music and how both of these awesome forces inspire us to "LIVE FOR NOW."

PEPSI: “Now is what you make it” #futbolnow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KefIe0xwD6w (850k views)
COCA-COLA: “The World’s Cup” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMed07FEDEg (708k views)

ADIDAS: #allin or nothing “Brazucam” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PImQsVsXCrI (3m views!)

ADIDAS & Leo Messi #FASTORFAIL: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6h1uMNUeqx4 (1.5m views)

NIKE: “Risk Everything”

………..and of course the first IP challenges, both from car manufacturers, including the official sponsor Hyundai and also the cunning marketing team from Peugeot!!
Peugeot has paired up with Facebook to launch a digital campaign, “Kick It To Brazil” which it has been running since 1999, which the car manufacturer says is to “advance its social and environmental responsibility goals in Brazil”. Peugeot has already planted 2 million trees of 50 different varieties so their CSR is sound.

Billed as “an international adventure of social responsibility and solidarity”, the brand is inviting fans to choose what happens to the football and share their experiences on Facebook, Instagram or the “Kick It To Brazil” microsite. A short video clip will be generated and uploaded by Peugeot on Facebook each day.

Peugeot “cunningly” denies any ambushed association with the World Cup…of course!

With Hyundai and Kia motors the official partners of 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil they have teamed up with Copa90, the largest independent YouTube channel, with a competition giving fans the chance to win a VIP trip to the tournament in Brazil. 

The partnership builds on research by YouTube that said that 10.4 million football fans are online and 4.5% of them are heavy YouTube users.

However with Hyundai’s recent advert “Hexa Garantia” they have also allegedly breached the rights of The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) by stating that if the Brazilian national team win the competition for a sixth time (the Portuguese word “hexa,” means “sixth,”) – they promise to extend the warranty from five to six years.  

Hyundai is an official partner of FIFA, but the CBF’s partner is German manufacturer Volkswagen and as the lawyers wrangle it would seem that Hyundai is allowed to market its advertising around the tournament but the CBF claims it cannot refer to Brazil’s national team. 
p.s. Hyundai, facebook don't like you forcing fans to like you anymore!!

Some great content, some less so, but you be the judge and jury...

Monday, 3 February 2014

Murray walks in Fred Perry’s footsteps again.
GB into the World Group Quarters after Querrey suffers double defeat from Ward and Murray

It was 79 years ago in 1935 that Perry led GB to their last victory over the USA at The All England Club, Wimbledon. Having ended 77 years of hurt for Great Britain when Murray followed him as Wimbledon champion last year, Murray followed in Fred’s footsteps again by giving his team an unassailable 3-1 victory over the USA.

Back in 1935 the match took place at Wimbledon, this time it was on a clay court laid on the left outfield of the San Diego Padres baseball stadium with a Budweiser logo prominently in shot for the TV cameras and on Superbowl weekend too – (well done Seahawks and anyone in the UK who stayed up until 3am to watch!)

Murray’s extraordinary Davis Cup achievements aside; 18 straight singles wins stretching all the way back to his very first appearance in 2005; it was
James Ward, ranked at 175 in the world, who produced the result of his career beating Sam Querrey in 5 sets and from 2 sets to 1 down. With Querry ranked 130 places above him it wasn’t exactly a dream result for Team USA led by the strangely suited and booted Jim Courier.

And is it just me, but just like Courier’s suit, does the Davis Cup need a serious re-brand and image update? How about an Olympic legacy along the lines of some great kit for starters? Then some thumping music and a little pzazz and excitement?! Come on ITF! Olympics aside, this is one of your great properties and great visibility for British Tennis and the LTA at a time when it is much needed. www.itftennis.com

Changes are needed in tennis given that fact that with Murray’s success both at the Olympics in 2012 and winning Wimbledon in 2013, the fact is that British tennis participation has fallen from 423,400 in April to 406,000 in October 2013. Tennis had a funding cut imposed in 2013 by Sport England of £530,000 and could lose up to 20% of its £17.4m 4 year award this year unless changes are made.

Conversely cycling has increased by 137,000 participants in the same period fuelled by Bradley Wiggins in the Tour de France and London 2012 and Chris Froome in the 2013 Tour.

If Murray continues to make himself available, (the vote for Scottish independence aside), there is no reason why Great Britain cannot go even further; starting with their quarter-final against Italy from 4-6 April, then a possible match against Kazakhstan or Switzerland in September.

The Italians are sure to want to play on clay and they will be formidable opposition with established top 40 players Fognini and Andreas Seppi to call upon.

Given that the LTA now has a new CEO – well done Michael Downey on your first victory – surely it is time for a fresh new dialogue with tennis fans and a new image for British Tennis. http://www.lta.org.uk/

With all this Davis Cup success, and new leadership with a new CEO and a highly experienced CCO, I am sure the future of British Tennis will be exciting. Roll on April, September and hopefully November.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

The IOC - Wrestling with the appeal of Wrestling

The IOC & FILA - Wrestling with the appeal of Wrestling & The 10 Rules of Re-launch

The International Olympic Committee left wrestling out of the 2020 Olympic Games event programme following a meeting of the organisation’s executive board earlier this year in February in which all 26 sports were reviewed. Due to a cost cutting exercise to reduce the number of events and numbers of athletes competing at Summer Games the number of core sports were reduced to 25 and wrestling, a sport that has been in the Olympic Games since 708 BC...was dropped.

Apart from cost cutting reasons, the main reason wrestling was dropped has to be popularity. The IOC assessed each sport by looking at such factors as TV ratings, ticket sales, anti-doping and global popularity coupled with 39 other criteria including youth appeal, universality, popularity, good governance, respect for athletes and respect for the Olympic values. I believe wrestling was failing several of these criteria.

The International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) were shocked at the decision, stated a vote of no confidence in its President, Mr. Raphaël Martinetti, and subsequently appointed Nenad Lalovic to overhaul the sport.

What happened next was a cracking relaunch effort, published publicly and swiftly - 2 major plus points already; and he kicked off with lessons 1 & 2 - "be open, act swiftly". Also for the first time ever he invited the media to cover the conference.

Lesson 3 was empowerment - During his acceptance speech, Lalovic gave all of those at the FILA Congress a small gift. He said that the person in that envelope would be responsible for putting the changes in wrestling into effect. The gift was a small mirror.

He delivered the message with passion and commitment to make a difference (4) and, with immediate effect he changed the rules (5) to increase appeal because no-one understood them.

Lessons 6 & 7 were inclusion & equality  - he set in place a constitution to include more women and more current and former athletes to have a say on the future of the sport.

He also placed a very clear emphasis on the consumer (8) with marketing, sponsorship, PR and broadcast - especially the latter in terms of televising the sport and broadening its appeal to younger people. There will also be greater focus on the hero's and heroines of the sport to create global ambassadors (9).

Lesson 10 is very simple - he just got on with it. No messing, no fussing, just very clear action.

In summary, he set a very clear direction, defined the objective and sold the vision with a time-bound agenda; he included the key stakeholders and informed everyone they had a part to play. He acted with passion and commitment and set clear leadership standards for others to follow; and he executed with excellence. Bravo!!

Wrestling was competing with seven other sports for one single space, but following a vote in Russia the three remaining sports are now squash, roller sports and baseball/softball.

With Roger Federer supporting squash we will wait and see who wins the final spot but personally I believe the sport will be re-included when the IOC meets in Buenos Aries in September. 

For a sport that has been in Olympic existence since 708 BC I think it would be a crying shame not to include it. 

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

"Time to Lance The Boil of Doping?". The Livestrong Legend of Lance Armstrong will be tested

"Time to Lance The Boil of Doping?"
The Livestrong Legend of Lance Armstrong will be tested

"The most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen." This is how Travis Tygart, USADA chief executive, labelled the doping regimen allegedly carried out by the US Postal Service/Discovery team that Armstrong once led.

Given the years of denial the interview will be incredible. Have a look at The Telegraph montage.

By now Lance Armstrong has given his exclusive, “no holds barred” “no questions off-limits” 90 minute interview to Oprah Winfrey, due to be broadcast on Winfrey's OWN network and live-streamed online from 21:00 EST on Thursday 17 January (02:00 GMT on Friday in the UK) Jan 18.

“No holds barred” Really?!!!!

In a text to the AP on Saturday, Armstrong said: "I told her (Winfrey) to go wherever she wants and I'll answer the questions directly, honestly and candidly. That's all I can say."

After recording the interview on Monday, Winfrey tweeted: "Just wrapped with @lancearmstrong. More than 2 1/2 hours . He came READY!"

Surely not?! Rehearsed?! Shocked! I don’t think that his lawyer, Tim Herman, would have allowed his client to have a comfy sofa chat with Oprah in his home in Austin, Texas given that Armstrong has a decade of libel cases and is currently being sued by The Sunday Times, SCA Promotions, and potentially the US Department of Justice, donors to Livestrong Foundation, and the Tour de France. Given that he has lost his sponsors Nike, Trek and Budweiser he is down to date by about £13m.

He could also face perjury charges if he openly confesses to using performance-enhancing drugs, because he made sworn testimony in a 2005 court case that he had never done so. Someone turn the fan on and get the tissues out. This will be a weepy, heartfelt confession of pain and anguish, of “everyone else was doing it, we were just better”.

So why give the interview? Rumours of him wanting to run for governor of Texas to him just wanting to compete again in marathons and triathlons abound.

What is certain is that his commercial and brand worth is zero and this is an opportunity to be selective with the truth, tell a fantastic story, and re-build brand Armstrong. Typically called a “re-launch”.
Everyone else does it nowadays so why not?

However it is tough to do when you start with a level of arrogance seen in his tweet of 10 Nov 2012: “Back in Austin and just layin' around...” with this picture.

When you examine the litany of accusations in the USADA report below, what is evident is that Armstrong is hugely mentally and physically driven, a fighter, a cunning manipulator, strategic and a maverick. There is no doubt he has been well rehearsed and that his questions will have been agreed and prepped in advance…we live in a PR driven, rehearsed, social media and celebrity brand age.

Armstrong USADA report key claims

Achievements of USPS/Discovery Channel pro cycling accomplished through the most sophisticated, professional and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen
Armstrong's career at the team was fuelled from start to finish by doping
More than a dozen former team-mates, friends and former team employees confirm a fraudulent course of conduct
Armstrong acted with the help of a small army of enablers, including doping doctors, drug smugglers and others within and outside the sport and his team
He had ultimate control over not only his own personal drug use but over the doping culture of the team
Team staff were good at predicting when testers would turn up and seemed to have inside information
Evidence is beyond strong and as strong as any case ever brought by Usada

USADA's key claims accompany allegations of bribery by Armstrong offering the USADA a donation “In excess of £150,000.” for new doping testing equipment, also confirmed by Armstrong’s lawyer, Tim Herman; along with another £62,000 donated to the International Cycling Union - now the subject of an internal bribery investigation.

In the words of another former cycling drug cheat Matt de Canio "He (Armstrong) is basically going to do and say anything that will mean that you can still buy a candy bar with his face on it or a bicycle that he endorses."

Armstrong can and will turn his brand around….Look at Bill Clinton. Americans have a wonderful sense of forgiveness that if someone is contrite enough then let them re-build their American dream.

Personally I cannot wait for Friday 2am UK time.....it will be epic.

Look out for Lance Armstrong in 5 years time as governor of Texas and winning triathlons.
At least he gets to keep the Tour de France yellow maillot in his home museum.