Havas Sports & Entertainment Italy has helped leading off-highway tire manufacturer, BKT Tires, implement a multi-country sponsorship strategy with major sports leagues around the world, enabling them to grow brand awareness and communicate a message of proximity to the community.
Braitner Moreira, Sports Marketing Specialist at Havas SE Italy, tells Dare! about the agency’s long-term partnership with BKT Tires and how they executed their latest award-winning sponsorship campaign during the height of the pandemic when stadiums were closed.
Tell us a little bit about the history of Havas Sports & Entertainment’s relationship with BKT Tires
“Growing Together” is the payoff of BKT Tires, a leading company in the world of off-highway tires, and since 2018 it has also been the main theme guiding the activities of Havas Sports & Entertainment Italy (Havas SE) with the client.
It has been four years since they came to us with a challenge: help them to design both a multi-country sponsorship strategy and a plan to reach two main goals – to grow their brand awareness and to communicate a message of proximity to the community.
Our work contributed to enrich BKT’s sponsorship portfolio with the addition of major agreements in Italy (Title Sponsor of the Serie BKT), in France (Title Sponsor of the Coupe de La Ligue BKT and later of Ligue 2 BKT) and in Australia (Big Bash League), among others.
Every year, Havas SE sets in motion a tailor-made activation plan with full-service project management, in order to deliver the full value of these sports sponsorships. We are constantly activating our team to help BKT from the monitoring of the sports landscape to the activation and management of their sports marketing initiatives.
Sports sponsorships deliver full value through both on-field and digital activities that create a real experience for fans. What was the brief for this latest campaign implemented during the pandemic when stadiums were closed?
Like every single sports sponsor in the world, BKT had its plans affected by the pandemic. The situation was even more challenging since in previous seasons the company was used to activating the sponsorship with physical activities designed to engage mainly fans in the Italian stadiums.
How to keep the passion for football alive in a scenario in which the Serie BKT was suspended? That was our fundamental question, since BKT has “proximity” as a core value to be communicated across all their sports activations.
Another important thing: although the pandemic outbreak stopped all sports for a long time, BKT’s business never ceased to run. For this reason, the continuity of BKT communication had to correspond to the continuity of their core business, to avoid the brand going dark in such a tough period. This led us to understand that since football fans couldn’t make it to the stadium to support their teams, they should be helped to do it at home, where they were safe and sound. Nonetheless, BKT should always be looking to get them back to the stadium safely as soon as possible.
We decided together to keep going with the long-term strategy established at the very beginning of the Serie BKT project: in the first year we focused on creating brand visibility (awareness), in the second year we focused on connecting fans with BKT on an emotional level (engagement), and for 2020 we were planning to work mainly on grassroots projects to make people and local stakeholders recognise BKT as a committed partner. We just had to recalibrate it to the new scenario.
In the first phase of pandemics, with the Serie BKT suspended for 16 weeks, the general objectives were focused on leveraging fan engagement through experience and branded content, by connecting supporters emotionally with the Serie BKT through digital assets that allowed fans to recognise their shared passion.
In the second semester of 2020, activities were more focused on grassroots projects, linked to people and local stakeholders, to grow BKT brand perception among business partners, clients and sports fans, confirming BKT’s image as a committed and reliable partner. It was a mix of branded content, CSR activities and digital presence.
Four separate activations were carried out during this campaign. What did each one involve?
In the first two months of lockdown in Italy, we ran the activation “Giochiamo in Casa” (“Let’s play at home”), consisting of a gift box sent to the house of the oldest supporter of each of the 20 Serie BKT clubs with gifts from all the tournament’s partners. In addition, other iconic supporters received a special call from a Serie BKT idol in one of the toughest periods of the Italian lockdown. Each supporter was turned into a protagonist of a digital content campaign.
With the restart of the tournament, we relaunched “BKT Premia” (“BKT Rewards”), an instant-win contest active all season during each match, in which supporters could win official merchandising, such as shirts and balls, every time their team played at home. To support this activity, Havas SE Italy developed an ad hoc editorial plan through Serie BKT and clubs’ social media channels.
For the second semester, with the beginning of the new 2020/21 season, we worked on “Growing Together”, an original branded content series in partnership with DAZN. Each episode told the story of young footballers and young start-uppers who play and grow in Serie BKT cities across all Italy. By matching these two stories in an episode, it was possible to optimize the perception of BKT’s core brand values, tightening them not only with the championship’s values but also to what matters for the local communities involved in the project.
2020 ended with the Christmas campaign “#entraingioco” “(#jointhegame”), an activity for the purpose of child protection in Italy. During the Christmas matchday, all teams entered the field without the ball, in an unprecedented action. A child then came running in with it and put it in the midfield to “allow” the match to start, in a way to recall children’s right to play. These balls were then put in a charity auction with the autographed shirts of all the 20 clubs’ captains. BKT Tires doubled the collected sum in a substantial donation to the Cesvi Foundation.
The campaign recently won ‘Best Sponsorship of the Year’ at the Italian NC Awards – the first time in 10 years that a sports sponsorship won in this category. Why do you think it connected so well with the jury?
In the last four years, BKT has built its legitimacy and authenticity as Title Sponsor of one of the main Italian tournaments. In the toughest moment of the partnership, the company took advantage of its position to create both meaningful communication and meaningful experiences for the community.
We believe this was because, by working with BKT since the start of this sponsorship project, our team at Havas SE Italy has learned the key touchpoints to connect with the right people when they are in the right mindset, trying to achieve the best impact by delivering the right content. We believe this was the keystone to winning this prize.
How has the target audience’s perception of BKT Tires changed since the sponsorship of Serie BKT began?
Havas SE’s annual tracker has been showing interesting numbers, since the brand is largely perceived as a reliable and original brand, moving forward to environmental sensitivity and attention to price–performance ratio. When it comes to brand attributes, BKT is also perceived as innovative, determined and performant.
Besides that, we saw that during the period of uncertainty in Italy due to the pandemic, companies that kept investing in their sports sponsorships had higher benefits in terms of prompted awareness, which also applied to BKT and what we are keen to keep growing – together, of course – in the coming years with the new activities we are planning.