Agency of the Year: Sponsorship Agency of the Year - M&C Saatchi S&E

Article excerpt

World Cup successes headlined a strong year for the agency, and it is now also making headway in entertainment.

England may have flopped again at this year's World Cup, but in the tournament's hard-fought battle of the brands, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment achieved standout for its clients and made itself a winner as Marketing's Sponsorship Agency of the Year.

In a World Cup year, cutting through the clutter is a tall order. With official sponsors and ambush marketers all jostling for a place in consumers' minds, only the best marketing campaigns can rise above the rest.

In the run-up to the tournament Coca-Cola, a FIFA sponsor, took the authentic solid gold trophy on a world tour. M&C staged the UK leg and the activation of the event, billed 'The real thing meets the real thing'. The agency enlisted football's man of the moment, Wayne Rooney, for a photo call and a 45-minute interview with Grandstand presenter Ray Stubbs in front of an audience of journalists and competition winners.

The event generated more than 40 articles mentioning the brand, including three front pages in tabloids and quality papers, and widespread TV coverage, including a six-minute slot on BBC One's Football Focus. Its ROI was calculated at 28:1.

Was the Carlsberg 'dream pub team' ad, featuring England veterans including Bobby and Jackie Charlton, Stuart Pearce and Bryan Robson, probably the best ad of the World Cup? Definitely, according to many industry experts. The spot was created by ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi, but M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment played an important role in making the ad possible and getting maximum exposure for it.

As well as selecting players and getting them on board, M&C ensured that the ad was exploited to the full in terms of media coverage. Instead of an exclusive with one paper, M&C felt it could sell in the feature to a number of titles by providing them with exclusive access to the different players. The risky tactic worked, and nationals from The Independent to The Sun ran weighty features on the activity. During the shooting of the ad, M&C made a 30-minute behind-the-scenes programme for the Carlsberg staff and from this created a series of three-minute executions aired on Sky Sports show Soccer AM.

Beer brands always enjoy a sales hike during the World Cup, but Carlsberg, usually in third place, outperformed the market with sales rising by as much as 300% - at times during the tournament it was the top seller.

When Reebok wanted to manage its return to football, it turned to M&C. The agency helped it sign up Arsenal star Thierry Henry and Andriy Shevchenko, Chelsea's pounds 34m record signing. A pan-European PR campaign run by M&C around the signings increased traffic to the Reebok site by 500%, and when the ad campaign kicked in three weeks later, Reebok football products outsold Adidas and Nike for the first time.

At the end of the year the agency worked with Henry again, on the press launch of his tie-up with Tommy Hilfiger, which will see the footballer design a menswear line.

M&C also proved itself at the grass-roots level with a regional campaign to launch the Football Association's 'Get into football' initiative, promoting the many ways in which men and women of all ages can get involved.

But there is more to M&C than football. Other new business wins included cricket in the form of a brief from Tourism Australia to exploit the Ashes series, and its appointment to handle the activation of Holsten Pils' Premier Darts League sponsorship.

Entertainment is a growth area for the agency, so much so that it is seeking to recruit a head of entertainment. Its name change - from M&C Saatchi Sponsorship - underlines its ambitions.

M&C's Orange work continued to grow and this year it won a competitive pitch to create and manage the Orange Prize for Fiction. …