The Carling Black Label Cup – Champion Activation

Screen Shot 2012-03-28 at 15.35.40You might have expected the winner of the best global mobile marketing award to have come from the USA, or maybe the UK. But no, the grand prix went to South Africa's Carling Black Label, for the Carling Black Label Cup "Be the Coach" campaign, as reported on We worked on this project with the brand team in South Africa back in 2010 and again in early 2011, so its a real thrill to see it coming to life.

Congratulations to Andrea and all the Carling team, plus the agencies: Ogilvy and Brandtone.

In what I think is a world first, Be the Coach took consumer interactivity to new levels, allowing soccer fans to vote to pick the teams for a special cup match between South Africa's top 2 teams, the Kaiser Chiefs and The Orlando Pirates. An amazing 11 million votes were cast in 7 weeks. And the campaign has helped improve brand imagery, most often used and volume.

You can see the launch advert for the campaign by clicking below.

Here's some learning from the CBL Cup.

1. Tap into a passion point

Carling Black Label have tapped into an insight about guys being frustrated at what they see as bad coaching decisions in soccer matches. They spend hours debating who should play, and not play. And shout at the TV, or at the game, when things go wrong.

Importantly, this insight came from digging deeper than just "guys like soccer", to uncover the more precise insight about wanting to be the coach.

Be the Coach tapped into this insight by allowing fans to select a player in a preferred position via USSD ( form of text messaging). In a clever move, participants then heard from the coaches of the teams via pre-recorded messages. Then, during the actual match, watched by 80,000 in the stadium and millions on TV, fans got to actually vote via mobile for a live substitution!

Screen Shot 2012-03-28 at 15.37.28 Screen Shot 2012-03-28 at 15.36.29

2. Bring to life the brand idea

The campaign brings to life well the brand idea of "Champion Beer for Champion Men" at two levels. First, the winner of the cup is of course the champion team, and so Carling is the beer of champions. Secondly, and more importantly, the ability to vote and be the coach made brand drinkers feel like they were champions themselves.

Screen Shot 2012-03-28 at 15.36.44
3. If you want to "engage" consumers, create a wow opportunity

Regular readers will know I'm sceptical about trying to get consumers to interact and engage with most consumer goods brands. But this all comes down to content. If you have an amazing activation like Be the Coach, then you can get consumers to interact with your brand, as shown by 11million entries in 7 weeks.

The problem is that most of the time its not "make your dream come true" opportunities like this one. Its more often things like "Tell us your favourite stories about our bread", or this one on "Do a video for our brand of stock cube".

4. Create an activation property

A lot of brand activation activity is still "logo slapping", where brands sponsor a sports event or team. But the brand gets limited benefit beyond brand awareness, and perhaps some image benefit from association with the sports brand.

In contrast, Carling Black Label has created an activation property in Be The Coach, which is more distinctive and more likely to create "memory structure". This property can hopefully be developed and amplified over a number of years, so it takes on more and more meaning, and works harder for the brand.

5. Use the right media

One smart thing about the Be the Coach campaign is allowing people to vote using USSD on their mobiles, which made the promotion available to many more South Africans than if it had been done via PC. The mechanism was kept simple, to maximise the number of entries.

6. Amplify the property

Importantly, the property was amplified in the build up to the actual cup itself in July. This meant the brand got maximum effect from the idea, beyond the people who attended the event. The innovative and even controversial nature of the idea meant it got a lot of PR coverage, valued at c. £8million

Screen Shot 2012-03-28 at 15.36.56
In conclusion, Carling Black Label's Be the Coach campaign shows how to tap into a deep insight about your consumer's passion, as a springboard for creating a distinctive and relevant brand property you can amplify.