Quick 5 with Jon Long on ICC’s digital play

Digital will help us develop a second screen to engage audiences while they are watching TV or are at work or on the road, says ICC’s Jon Long

e4m by Saloni Surti
Updated: Sep 26, 2012 7:32 PM
Quick 5 with Jon Long on ICC’s digital play

With extensive marketing integrations, International Cricket Council (ICC) has tried to take the reach of World Twenty20 to the next level. The marketing approach has been divided between the host country i.e. Sri Lanka and rest of the world.

ICC, in partnership with Twitter, has designed a special event page and #wt20 hash tag. It has 1.3 million fans on the official Facebook page and 425,000 followers for @cricketicc. ICC has also been working with Facebook on special events, including the LG ICC Awards, where fans voted for LG People’s Choice Awards via a Facebook application. New Facebook integrations on the ICC Cricket 360 weekly magazine programme will be rolled out in the coming months.

In a conversation with exchange4media, Jon Long, Head of Executive Programmes, International Cricket Council speaks about ICC’s marketing approach, plan to leverage digital and its brand integrations.

Could you elaborate on the various marketing initiatives undertaken by ICC for the T20 World Cup?
We have divided our marketing approach geographically among the host country and the rest of the world. In the host country – Sri Lanka, we have considerable investment in television and radio advertising. We also have number of outdoor activations and installations and not just boards and hoarding but also more creative stuff such as placing traditional Sri Lankan drums, cut outs of players and a lot more. There are activations at community level too. For instance, a supporting community programme called the The Murley Harmony Court was organised to bring together young people from throughout the country and build up their enthusiasm.

For rest of the world, the marketing objective is slightly different. For a wider global audience, television and radio can’t be enough and thus, digital is very important. Partners such as ESPN and Star Sports are an integral part but to make sure that maximum people are participating in the event, we have the digital and social part of the mix. We can call it as the globalising event by ICC.

Cricket is a religion in India; how will the digital campaign help in taking the cricket fervor a step ahead in the country?
There are two aspects to the digital campaign – reach and engagement. The reach part is for non traditional cricket markets such as North America, South America and Middle East. While the engagement aspect applies not only to the broader markets that need more than traditional media but also more traditional cricket markets such as India. The engagement aspect is aimed at enriching the experience consumers have when they are consuming the World Twenty20 event. We are integrating digital and social media with what we do through traditional platforms such as television and radio to give consumers a good experience. We also have an event website displaying scores, news, pictures and exclusive content that we have access to.

We have a separate Twitter event page and hash tags that will enable consumers to get first hand experience of the event. Thus, through digital we aim at developing a second screen to give the audience an opportunity to engage whether they are watching TV or are in the office or on the road.

Twitter recently came up with ‘Promoted Tweets’, does ICC have plans to promote #wt20 with this feature?
We fortunately have a very good relationship with Twitter and Twitter recognises the profile of cricket and cricket events, typically in South Asia. Thus, we worked in partnership with them to develop a special event page and hash tag. #nascar and #olympics earlier this year received tremendous response. Promotion of our Twitter handle and hash tag are sufficient enough to drive traffic and create consumer engagement in the event.

Apart from social networking sites, which other digital platforms are you targeting?
We have developed an official ICC app with the help of Reliance, our commercial partner. The app is free to download and is available across Blackberry, various Apple devices and Android phones. For a small incremental cost, users can access premium features including match action, engage with commentators, listen to the commentary and thus, follow the entire event through their cell phone.

Any interesting brand associations that you would like to talk about?
I would like to mention Reliance and Emirates. While the app is powered by Reliance, Emirates has come on board with a campaign called ‘flock to unlock’. According to the campaign, fans will be rewarded by Emirates for passing various milestones using the #wt20 hash tag. We have already passed more than 170 thousand tweets involving the wt20 hash tag. Our Facebook page has 1.3 million fans; thus, making social a great platform to interact with audience. It is an attraction for ICC and our partners.

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