When colonialism meets commercialism: Sky and ANZ aim to spark interest in the Commonwealth Games—UPDATED

There’s no better way to celebrate centuries of oppressive colonialism than with a series of sporting contests. Thankfully, we’ve got the Commonwealth Games for that. And while they might not be quite as prestigious (or popular) as the Olympics, official broadcaster Sky TV and NZ Olympic Committee sponsor ANZ are doing all they can to draw attention to the upcoming Glasgow games.

Sky will dedicate six channels to showing the games and it has launched campaign via DDB that focuses on some of the historic achievements at the games to promote its coverage (just like its Olympics campaign, it’s suitably poetic and also features a foreign voiceover). It has also been promoting the Glasgow games on many of its sports channels with a countdown clock. 


In a release, Sky said: 

The Commonwealth Games are always a magnificent occasion and Kiwis love watching other New Zealanders compete at global sporting events. We were looking to develop a marketing campaign that created a sense of anticipation and excitement around the upcoming Commonwealth Games and clearly demonstrates the breadth and quality of Sky’s coverage.    

The overarching theme of the campaign is ‘History Will Be Made’ and is developed with the insight that everyone who steps out at a Commonwealth Games event competes not only with the people lining up against them, but also with the record breakers and heroes of past games.

The TVC is a central component of ‘History Will Be Made’ and is supported with a number of other elements [such as outdoor].

The broadcast sponsor is ANZ and head of corporate comms Kirsty Way says “together we are creating integrated content pieces which we are running in the lead up and will pepper coverage. The pieces profile athletes, their journey, their families etc.”

No doubt Sky has crunched plenty of numbers on these games given the experience it had with the London Olympics. It offered subscribers ten channels and while its coverage was largely applauded, chief executive John Fellet told the NBR they were an expensive lesson that cost millions of dollars, despite the fact that Prime had record viewer figures and they were the best viewed since the Sydney Games in 2000.

“In hindsight, we over-committed to the event,” he said. 

Fellet said the broadcast deal was signed in 2007 “when advertising revenue and subscriber numbers were trending up”. And he said it would consider not going for the rights to Rio 2016 if the numbers didn’t stack up. They obviously did, because it was named as the official broadcaster on all platforms late last year

Sky has also been on a mission to show its local stripes a bit more prominently and to help do that it launched Sky Next, which gives promising young Kiwi athletes a boost. The initiative, which is managed by Hamish and Marisa Carter, gave 18 up-and-comers financial support, mentoring, coaching and publicity in an effort to help them get to the top of their chosen sporting realm. And nine of those athletes have made it into the New Zealand Commonwealth Games team. 

ANZ has also thrown its weight behind the Commonwealth Games by paying for the tickets of over 1,000 supporters to attend the event in Glasgow as part of its ‘Supporting the Supporters’ campaign (the clips of Sam Webster and Tom Walsh’s support networks were created by Whybin\TBWA and shot by 8com’s Andy Morton). 

“ANZ’s campaign for the Commonwealth Games was designed to address an issue that all athletes supporters face: they don’t get access to tickets for large events like the Olympics or the Commonwealth Games,” says head of corporate affairs Peter Parussini. “Their families have to enter a ballot like anyone else and if they get tickets there is no guarantee it would be for their chosen sport. Not ideal flying across the world and getting to watch badminton if your son or daughter was competing in swimming … ANZ wanted to acknowledge that no one achieves on their own and it takes a team behind each athlete to encourage and support them in order for them to succeed at their goal. ANZ also wanted to acknowledge and reward all those key supporters who have given their time and support in order for their loved one to follow their chosen path.” 

Volkswagen, which is celebrating 60 years in New Zealand with The People’s Film campaign, is also a sponsor, but we could only spot a small amount of Commonwealth Games-related activity on its Facebook page

Moa, which re-signed its deal with the NZOC to remain as the official beer until the 2016 Rio games and recently celebrated its tenth anniversary, hasn’t launched anything yet, but it will presumably be hoping to reverse some recent drops in its stock price with some more attention in the UK and Europe. 

During the London Olympics, the purpose-built watering hole ‘Kiwi House’ generated plenty of brand awareness and social media traction and Moa chief executive Geoff Ross said in a release that it “lit a fire under the brewery’s UK expansion”. He says its UK distribution partner gives it more opportunity to leverage the Commonwealth Games. 

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