While Britain recovers from the expected nadir of Murray’s loss and the majestic Federer’s subsequent victory at Wimbledon, and the tennis world celebrates a champion of the sport, the next Slam – the US Open, in New York – looms close by on the horizon. Zeitgeist will be going, but, like many others, had a terrible time purchasing tickets online.
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free”. So says the moniker on the Statue of Liberty in New York, welcoming immigrants to the United States. The US Open grand slam tennis tournament released its tickets to the public several weeks ago, and for the first time offered fans on Facebook the opportunity to purchase tickets a day before anyone else. Unfortunately, not only did they neglect to stipulate that this offer was only available to American buyers, they also had more broader problems with their system that day, creating an enormous backlash of ill will seen on Facebook. On Twitter, the US Open official account kept having to explain itself.
Providing fans with the tickets they want is a hard business. Someone will always be disappointed. And credit should be given to the organisers for trying to do something innovative and rewarding. However, thinking that the reach of the US Open does not extend beyond the nation’s boundaries was a massive, massive mistake in today’s world. They really lost a lot of their brand equity and trust that day.
As if their continued efforts to save the Euro weren’t giving them enough of a headache, recent German attempts to sell cars and excite football fans have also failed to hit the mark.
As any Englishman will tell you, the weather has a nasty habit of messing up the best laid plans. From BBQs to Wimbledon, the rain can be relied on to appear when it is least welcome. Similarly the winters of 2009 and 2010 were unusually harsh just when retailers most needed people to be able to get out and spend their money.
So while we applaud their innovative thinking we can also sympathise with German agency Sassenbach Advertising who have seen their clever weather themed idea turn into a icy nightmare.
Seeking a “wind and weatherproof idea” to support the launch of the new Mini Cooper Roadster, they took advantage of the “adopt-a-vortex” scheme run by Berlin’s Free University and named the current high pressure front sweeping across Europe ‘Cooper’.
The campaign also involved buying a low front to be called ‘Minnie’ later in the year that one hopes will be less destructive.
A statement from BMW confirmed that while they had bought the names they didn’t have control over when they were used and that clearly, they regretted any loss of life.
While the whole episode has been highlighted as a bit of an gaffe, BMW and their agency haven’t done anything wrong and the €299 price tag for naming the weather seems cheap even though the publicity it has provoked isn’t what was planned.
The same can’t be said for German football giants Bayern Munich who upset their fans with an ill thought out launch of an app.
Last week, as the January transfer window was coming to a close, the club told their 2.7m Facebook fans that they had just signed a new striker who would be announced exclusively via a Facebook app in around an hour.
As the clock ticked down, fans debated which star they’d be seeing at Allianz Arena with Manchester based duo Carlos Tevez and Dimitar Berbatov among the suggestions.
However when the announcement was made it became clear that the club had misjudged things enormously.
A live stream with Markus Hörwick (Comms Director), Chrsitian Nerlinger (General Manager) and Philipp Lahm (Club Captain) announced that the new star player was actually the fan themselves, the 12th man of the squad.
The app then showed fake press announcements, mock interviews with star players welcoming the ‘new player’ and shirts with the users name.
What could have been a great value added experience resulted in a terrible user experience, compounded by the app crashing, with fans venting their anger on various social networks.
The press, who had also been kept in the dark showed great schadenfreude, gleefully spreading news of the failure which ended up trending worldwide on Twitter.
Within three hours the club had received over 5,000 complaints from angry fans and was forced to offer an apology.
Both brands will survive their difficult week. Mini because they didn’t do anything malicious and Bayern because disappointment is all part of being a football fan.
Let’s just hope their fiscal policies have better results.
As with every summer, the tennis season kicks into high gear with the French Open (aka Roland Garros) in Paris in May, and the Championships at the All England Club (aka Wimbledon) just two weeks later. Brand Republic today published their list of the 10 Best Tennis ads. The sport’s popularity pales in comparison to other pursuits in the UK, and questions always abound at this time of the year as to the country’s woeful showing at the majors. It’s an especially sore point when one looks at recent successes in golf.
Demand for tickets however at the four annual Grand Slams has never been higher. Getting a seat at such events then is a tough ask. Recently, the French Open began making tickets available online for direct purchase. This included being able to select specific days, courts and seats. Of course, having such an easy route meant that there were one or two people who had the same idea as Zeitgeist. Even accessing the website on the stroke of the hour the tickets became available put him behind 3,560 other eager tennis fans (see picture at end of article). Prima facie then this democratisation of ticket availability – rather than having a lottery and corporate hoardings – is a good thing. From a practical perspective however, does it make sense to do it this way? Can or should there be priorities given, based not just on how much people are willing to pay for tickets? Why not give those who actually play the sport more of a priority, or using Foursquare, see how many other tennis tournaments people have attended and judge their passion for tennis based on that. Can they have ticket giveaways to those who “like” Nadal, Federer, etc. on Facebook? It’s a thorny issue; perhaps the route the French Open has taken is the least worst option.
All the slams provide diverting iPhone apps too. However, if you’re going to the effort of providing a service, better make sure it works. Zeitgeist was presented with the below image on their phone while sitting on Court 1 at Wimbledon on Monday, June 20th.
Two brands, both alike in dignity, in fair Wimbledon, where we lay our scene. Those lucky enough to be at this year’s Championships at SW19 witnessed a record-breaking feat; the longest tennis match ever. While an exhausted John Isner and Nicolas Mahut – it would almost be a disservice to label either of them as not winners – were convalescing in ice baths with IV drips and (no doubt) comely women at their sides to mop their sweaty brows, it was not just John McEnroe that paid attention to the importance of the match, which ended 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68.
KitKat came up with a simple but brilliant execution for a print ad that ran soon after the match – the principle image being a terrifically distressed tennis ball, along with the final scoreline – that was perfectly on-brand and in sync with its proposition “Have a break”. The second, more amusing exploitation of the match was by Durex, with the end-line “Take pleasure in coming second”. See the ad below. (UPDATE: The video has now been “removed by the user”. Zeitgeist can’t seem to find it elsewhere online. If, good reader, you know where to find it, please let us know.)
From the July Zeitgeist…
With the London Olympics on the horizon and the World Cup next year, one rather large sporting event has just taken place on our doorstep. The Championships at Wimbledon provided a very interesting case study of digital brand activation.
The sponsors, though subtle, were plentiful. Ralph Lauren served as the wannabe‐Brideshead Revisited outfitter. Their site is serious, serene and sophisticated. Not much fun, however. Aside from some nice flash video and some tips for players, there isn’t much going on. Evian have a more engaging, enjoyable site, though it promises more than it delivers; while the navigation is interesting, the functionality is unsatisfying as it could have been so much more. The Wimbledon site itself does an excellent job of ensuring the brand remains true to its ethos while still keeping it fresh and relatively contemporary. The pop‐up live scoring, VOD, blogs and social networking functionality make it a fantastic site. Ticketmaster have been releasing unallocated tickets for Centre Court throughout the championship, and have linked with the Wimbledon homepage and eCRM campaign.
HSBC has played a larger role this year in its sponsorship of the tournament, hosting a poll for people to vote for who, in their opinion, is the greatest men’s and women’s player of all time. However, the bank’s sponsorship page is somewhat uninspiring, and the link on the Wimbledon website could also be improved. The BBC, never one to miss an opportunity to elevate and aggrandise out of all proportion every generational hope for a British winner, had blanket coverage of the tournament; their online presence with blogs, live online video, text updates and impressive editorial was a great showcase of exciting
but not overwhelming content and functionality.
There is a superb iPhone app as well, which Ogilvy played no small part in developing with IBM. No talk of Wimbledon would be complete without mentioning Roger Federer, who on Sunday won his sixth Wimbledon title and 15th major. Nike created a simple but effective microsite for him, where users can leave a congratulatory message. This is published as a collage on a green lawn; the site prompts the user to re‐publish their message on Facebook, Twitter, etc. As some of these examples are temporary, make sure you check them out ASAP.