Victoria Pendleton – turning a creative idea into one of the leading sports stories of 2016

This week, the eyes of the horse-racing and sports world have been on Cheltenham Festival. One of the leading stories of the Festival is of Victoria Pendleton and her participation in the Foxhunter’s Chase at Cheltenham Festival tomorrow. Britain’s most successful female Olympian has been training as a jockey as part of the #SwitchingSaddles campaign for Betfair.

There is no doubt that it is going to be an incredibly exciting day for our agency. We’re proud to have masterminded the unique challenge. Our original brief was to provide an exciting campaign to drive Betfair brand awareness for Cheltenham Festival 2015. What we have delivered is a unique 12 month campaign which has generated mass Betfair brand awareness for both Cheltenham 2015 and 2016 and every month in-between.

We’ve transformed a creative idea into a reality, capturing the attention of media and consumers. The #SwitchingSaddles challenge is a great example of our fundamental belief – sport provides the opportunity for brands to connect with a passionate and captive audience.

Like any great idea, it’s as much about perspiration as it is inspiration. Creating the initial concept took hours and days of dedication to hatch the right idea. As the marketing and PR world continue to debate the role of each channel, our creative approach isn’t dictated by box-ticking. Our overriding creative fundamental is to capture the imagination of the target audience.

We’ve been asked on many occasions, is it a sponsorship, PR, social media or marketing campaign? Our response, it’s not one of them, it’s all of them. The core creative of #SwitchingSaddles is to provide consumers with a unique perspective of horse-racing and the campaign has been successfully activated through each channel.

The campaign has lived through editorial media, social media, broadcast, marketing CRM and race-course experientials. Testament to our creative ability to deliver integrated communications, the challenge has also featured in Betfair’s above-the-line advertising for Cheltenham Festival 2016.

The positive reaction from media to this campaign has been astonishing, demonstrated by the following quote from The Guardian –

“If there is a version of the Oscars for PR stunts, Switching Saddles by Victoria Pendleton – in association with Betfair – deserves to sweep the board. In its conception and execution, it has been brilliant.”

Here’s a top line summary of success to date since the campaign launched in March 2015. And with the campaign’s prominence at this year’s Festival, we expect the commercial impact to accelerate.

  • In 2015, when the campaign was announced, Betfair achieved its most successful Cheltenham Festival ever, with a 12.4% year-on-year increase in the volume of bets placed
  • Over 12 months, 364 brand items generated in national media (broadcast, print and online), with a total of 733 items of coverage across all media
  • 44% of media coverage included 2+ Betfair brand mentions
  • Campaign hashtags trended on social media at strategic moments in the campaign

We’d like to thank our client, Betfair, for having confidence in the concept from the beginning. #SwitchingSaddles is a great example of how great campaigns can be conceived when agencies and brands have the bravery to pursue big ideas.

So, come 4.10pm on Friday 18 March, we’ll be cheering Victoria Pendleton on from Cheltenham and looking ahead to our next big idea-led campaign.

Further Reading