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Dominic Mills 

Vax ads, Dragons’ Den fever & footie sponsors MIA

Vax ads, Dragons’ Den fever & footie sponsors MIA

Dominic Mills looks at two ad-spots for vaccinations, an entrepreneur who triumphed in the Den and the deafening silence of ESL team sponsors

Double vax ads

There’s the serious way to promote vaccination, and then there’s the fun way. There’s an example of each out this week, although one, sadly, is not aimed at the UK market.

Let’s start with the serious, MullenLowe’s latest effort for the Government, this time aimed at the under 50s.

It’s melodic, joyous and gentle — watch it here — from an agency at the top of its game and which consistently hits the right notes in what is a difficult area.

I particularly like the end shot when two NHS staff permit themselves a little dance of joy at the end of a long day.

By contrast, here’s what you might call a private-sector number for the US, which is in reality a beer ad but also doubles up as a vax promotion (hat-tip to Bob Hoffman for drawing my attention to it).

It’s for Samuel Adams and is part of its ‘Your Cousin from Boston’ series.

The hero is called in for his shot and drops his trousers expecting a jab in the glutes. He sees the needle, passes out and dreams of a drinking session with his buddies. “Indoor beers! Indoor beers”, they chant.

According to Hoffman, the original script had our Boston boozers chanting “Science! Science”, but this was deemed too edgy.

Ah well, I think it’s all the better for the forced change.

I expect the fun police here would have stymied any beer ad like that, but it makes you realise how dull UK beer ads have become.

Dragons' Den bidding war

On the whole I’m a bit bored with Dragons’ Den: there’s a limit to the number of pitches for organic dog food and natural skin-care ranges you can sit through.

Last week’s episode was a bit different in two ways: First, we saw an entrepreneur pitching some ad tech and second it wowed the Dragons so much that four of the five wanted a piece of the action and, moreover, at the asking price.

The star was one Sam Jones, an ex-Red Bull marketer, pitching Gener8, a platform that allows people to block ads they don’t want to see and turn their data into cash by signing-up to those they do.

His mention that a US rival had a $1 billion valuation and that Google, while a threat might also be a buyer, was enough to go the Dragons’ heads and perhaps leave their brains at the door. You can watch it here.

Indeed, so beguiled were the Dragons by Jones that, IMHO, they forget to ask some of the basic questions.

One, doesn’t every ad tech entrepreneur fervently hope Google will buy them?

Two, hasn’t this idea been around for a while?

Three, how is Gener8 affected by, among other things, the Apple do-not-track moves and the demise of the third-party cookie?

Four, to what extent does Gener8 need the co- operation of publishers and why would they go along with it? And five, how much money can the average user really expect to make?

This I find intriguing. Gener8 clams users can expect to earn £20-£40 a month, which is a decent sum for many.

But that assumes all users are of equal value, which definitely isn’t the case.

How much advertising do you have to expose yourself to to get that figure?

I signed-up for a similar proposition a few years ago (curiosity, ok, not cash). After a few weeks I checked my credit and saw that it was 12p. Not worth the effort.

But in Jones, Gener8 has an immensely persuadable spokesperson and, even if some of the reviews are a bit iffy, a master of PR. It might just work.

Footie sponsors...MIA

With the exception of one, the many sponsors behind the big six culprits of the short- lived European Super League have been stunningly silent.

Plaudits then to Tribus, the Swiss luxury watch maker (is there a Swiss watch that wouldn’t describe itself as luxury?) that is Liverpool’s ‘official global timing partner’, which announced that it was off.

But of the others — Chevrolet, Standard Chartered, 3, Emirates, Nike, Adidas and so on — not a peep. Big brands...missing in action.

I bet Japan’s Nissin, Manchester United’s one-time ’official’ global instant noodle partner, a reminder of just how trashy the whole football sponsorship business has become, is mighty glad its involvement has been discontinued.

Why the silence? It’s odd.

The announcement of a sponsorship deal is invariably couched in terms of shared values, respect for the fans, the iconic history of the club, a winning mentality blah blah blah.

Here’s an example: “Liverpool FC is one of the world’s best-known football clubs that shares many of our values and is hugely popular across our global footprint,” said Standard Chartered when it renewed its deal in 2018.

None of those qualities were demonstrated by the six clubs.

I imagine, rather like Standard Chartered and its ‘global footprint’, when it came to the ESL the sponsors weighed up the balance between pissing off existing customers and the lip-drooling prospect of greater exposure to billions of new ones... and found that, well, no contest really.

Still, we shall see just how much toll the failed ESL has taken on the sponsorship revenues of the six as many of the deals come up for renewal.

Boy, are there loads of deals. Just take Man Utd as an example - its Chevrolet shirt deal expires soon, as does Aon’s naming rights deal for the training ground. Will big brands take the potential reputational hit? And what will they pay?

That is just to scratch the surface. Beyond those, Man Utd has an official global mattress and pillow partner (Mlily, whoever it is); a buy-now, pay-later financial services partner; an official banking partner for Serbia; and an indoor entertainment partner for China.

Truly, there is nothing that can’t be sponsored.

But, you know, we may just be at the beginning of another era for football sponsorship.

The ESL revealed just how desperate the six clubs are for cash. Watch out for a Man U official global toilet paper sponsor, official paper cup sponsor and so on.

If it moves, it can be sponsored. Cheap and nasty.

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