Tag Archives: Triathlon

Knowing me, knowing you

8 Nov

It seems you can’t read anything the days without the obligatory story about the dangers of your digital fingerprint. Young kids posting pictures of their private parts on Facebook (god I’m glad I grew up when you still had negatives you could destroy), or posting some other picture or comment online that will be sure to prevent them getting a job in the future.

Clearly both of these are relevant and true risks of posting without thinking. Like most employers, the first thing I do when reviewing resumes is to do a google search, and scroll past linkedin to find out a little bit about the real person. I’ve also taken a great deal of pleasure when someone (generalisation here but it’s usually someone who should know the risks such as a “community manager” or similar) from an agency who one day wants some of your investment decides to tee off on your latest campaign. Unfortunately for them, whilst I often struggle to remember to pack snacks for the kids when heading out to the park, I never fail to forget someone who could be so stupid.

So it’s true, that for gen y or whatever the latest batch of ‘indestructibles’ is called, and anyone else who likes to think of themselves as a keyboard warrior, a bad digital fingerprint can genuinely be a Liz Lemon-esque deal breaker.

However, I don’t think enough is made about how beneficial digital fingerprints can be.

I recall sitting down for a piccolo with a man I am really inspired by, the omnipresent Steve Samartino who said to me something along the lines of “my blog has come to generate more opportunities than any of the other work I’ve done”. Now those familiar with Steve (not Sam Artino as his twitter handle may lead you to assume) will be aware of the amazing breadth of successful work he does, from client side, to agency planner, and more broadly, entrepreneur and start up king. As we continued to talk I expressed my fear that I didn’t really have anything that inspiring to write about, or couldn’t share the confidential stuff I was working on. However, Steve encouraged me to back myself and share the thoughts that I had, as if he found them interesting over a coffee, surely someone, somewhere, bored on the interwebs may find my ramblings similarly interesting.

So I started. And I loved it. Granted, as life with two kids, an intense job, a desire to stay fit and generally living day to day, I haven’t done it as much as I would like recently. However, if I’m honest, all the excuses are a cop out. There’s always five minutes to get some thoughts down on the iPad. And as Steve recently reminded me, writing is just like exercise: the more you do, the easier and better it gets. So, much like my need to improve my triathlon swim, this is something I just need to commit to.

So back to the title of this entry, and the opening paragraph. Perhaps not enough is made about the potentially positive impact of sharing your thoughts online. If you have a positive digital fingerprint, as Steve suggested, there is a lot that can be gained.

This really struck home for me last week when I had the pleasure of meeting up with Kristian Manietta. Kristian is a phenomenal triathlete and, amongst other things, run elite training squad for those looking to improve their Tri performance. Perhaps more importantly, he is currently working on a charity ride this summer, riding from Bondi to Noosa for an amazingly great cause of sustainable water for Cambodian families.

Now Kristian and I had never met in person, but a quick text and we agreed to meet up for a ride to talk about the charity ride and how I could potentially help. Now, usually the thought of spending an hour on the bike together with someone you had never met could be a bit daunting, with a lot of uncomfortable silences. However, as soon as I rode out and met Kristian, I already felt I knew him. Why? Simple…research: Twitter, Instagram, websites etc. What’s more, as a switched on guy Kristian had done the same, and it really blew me away as we were talking on the bike, and much longer over another piccolo or two, how much he actually did know about me. I was really impressed when he started referencing articles I had written on this blog, not for the ego stroke, but because it showed he had an interest and a similarity of views. How handy is that? When going in to a meeting with someone you can really simply find out what makes them tick, get their views on things and, sometimes most importantly what they absolutely detest, and make sure you tailor your message to this, or if you really think they’re a real douche just cancel the meeting!!

So there it is. In summary, digital fingerprints can actually be really positive. As my dealings with two inspirational men has shown. By writing more, and in turn reading more about others there is a lot that can be gained both professionally and personally. So expect to see more from me from now on.



If video killed the radio star, did brands kill the athletes?

4 Aug

So it’s official. The London 2012 games have been a massive case of over promise and under deliver, and no doubt the various sporting bodies and institutes and more so the media will conduct a rigorous review of just went wrong. Sure the athletes that started to believe their own hype, or spent too long reading every tweet and that messed with their mojo whilst they were on the blocks. Maybe they just weren’t good enough when it counted.

But that’s not the point of this post. More so the interesting thing I’ve noticed out of this campaign is the role of sponsorship and endorsement in the lead up to the games, and the negative impact for brand and athlete when things haven’t gone to plan.

Top of the dais has to be James Magnussen and the terrible “Can’t” campaign. Unless you’ve been boycotting the coverage you would have seen the spot – Magnussen running along what eerily looks like the infamous Gap in Sydney known to be a popular place for those choosing to end it all with a dive off the cliffs. As he’s running he is seen to be talking up his chances, before the pesky T comes along and puts doubt in to his head. Unlike real life, the T ends up making that fateful dive off the cliff and James seems all set to dominate in the pool. As we all know now, it appears that T ended up following Magnussen to London and turning “can” in to “can’t”.

Ego aside, I really struggle to understand why an athlete would agree to be involved in such a spot, and more so why a brand would accept such a risky script from the agency. What could you possibly gain from being in a campaign that totally puts a success noose around your neck. Sure if he won we’d be cheering, but for him, not Com Bank, and as history has shown, the ultimate take out of the whole campaign is can’t , certainly not can and neither brand nor athlete win out of this.

Then there is Swisse, a very switched on business, doing some great work and more so propping up many athletes with endorsements. Now for them, I think this is more a case of bad luck, having a spot featuring Cadel Evans with the music track singing “how many times in my life did I feel like giving up?” Usually, given the strength of Cadel the track was a good fit – especially the reprise “But I’m staying strong, ain’t no stopping me”. But alas, after a big TDF Evans was ruled out for being “too tired to compete” so viewers sitting at home watching spot after spot after hearing this news start to call BS on the brand.

Then even before the games there was the interesting case of reigning Olympic champion triathlete Emma Snowsill. Despite some patchy form, you’d expect the reigning champion to be a walk up starter to the games, and Qantas were obviously very confident she’d be there, so decided to use her as a part of their Olympic campaign. So there proudly adorning airports around the country were massive signs wishing Emma luck on her way to London. Unfortunately for both Qantas and Snowsill, due to some ‘subjective’ selective entry requirements, whilst Emma has gone to London, it’s to be a commentator for channel 10, not to win gold.

All of these brands had to rapidly pull these campaigns given the public comment on them and the fact they looked so stupid in retrospect. So not only did it ultimately damage the brand perception but more so it would have cost them money in terms of canceling media or pulling together alternative creative to make the use of the media inventory.

So it seems that singing up athletes prior to the games is a risky business. Sure get it right and it’s a master stroke and you’ll both be heroes, but get it wrong and I’m afraid all you have to look forward to is the please explain from management.

The counter to this strategy, is to sign up the athlete post games, once you know they have been successful. In a previous life we did this with a swimmer now residing in the ‘where are they now files’ named Jodie Henry. Like many athletes, Henry hit her straps at the right time, being the Athens Olympics, and in addition to a world record, she game home with about 4 gold medals (contrast that to the current teams performance!). So awaiting her as the door of the Qantas flight opened was us with a cheque book, and a multi year deal. We were approaching the Commonwealth Games in two years in Melbourne and as a sponsor we wanted a ready made star who could proudly front our chocolate and soft drink brands.

Now besides no obvious brand connection, this was the a gold medal performance in wasted money. Maybe it was a bad sign when the character in the Freddo suit vomited at the launch, but it really hit its high note when we rolled Henry out to a national sales conference to talk about motivation and what it takes to have gold winning performance (selling sugary products??). Her response is still etched in my mind, as is the look of the sponsorship manager and market director when she responded with “For me winning isn’t really important. I just enjoy swimming, but I don’t like competition and training” cue the crickets here, and despite the emcee trying his darnedest to link it back to selling more, it was a lost cause. What’s more her performance at the Com Games in 2006 failed to live up to the hype, and what’s worse the lasting memory most employees had (besides the awkward motivation speech), was that a one tonne chocolate carving of an athlete will always look pretty crap (yes this was actually done – google it!)

So clearly signing up athletes post winning glory is also fraught with danger, so what’s the answer? Clearly there is a powerful role athletes can play for brands. And more so it is a good thing when brands can help give back to support the lesser known athletes with endorsement money to help achieve their dreams.

For me, I think it’s all about the messaging and tone of the campaign. Definitely sign up potential stars prior to them achieving their ultimate success. Not only will it mean you can get in with a better price, but you also have the credibility of showing consumers that you’ve been involved with the athlete in their lead up, and hopefully your product or brand has in some way helped them achieve their success, showing all important relevance of the brand fit. But the kicker for me, is to go softly, softly. Be honest and humble; messaging such as ‘proudly helping on their road to glory” or the like will show consumers you’re not only supporting the athlete, and therefore relevant for the Games coverage, but you also ensure you don’t look overly cocky and only interested in cashing in on their (hopeful) success. The alternative of course is you just make brilliant brand campaigns that don’t rely on athletes seemingly looking interested in your product.