A decade in sport: reflections on 10 years at We Are Social
Celebrating ten years at We Are Social is Joe Weston, Head of Sport at our London office. From joining as a Senior Account Manager in 2011, to establishing We Are Social Sport in 2018, Joe has worked with some of our most significant clients, and delivered many of our biggest campaigns. But what have Joe’s highlights been over the last decade? Here are three of his favourites.
adidas World Cup 2014
This was an incredibly special moment for me both personally and professionally.
Personally, when I was at University studying marketing it was announced that the World Cup would be held in Brazil and it was at that moment that I gave myself the goal of working in some capacity on that tournament.
Fast forward six years, I ended up at We Are Social, leading a content team onto a flight to Rio De Janeiro to spend eight weeks on the ground embedded with the adidas football marketing team; an unbelievable and life changing experience.
Professionally – our goal was to be the most talked about brand at the event. To do so we produced the most comprehensive real time marketing campaign of all time based on planned, anticipated and reactive moments. We produced over 1000 images and over 100 videos, designed to be dropped at key moments in the key games – with an editorial copy team ready to react to the specific context of the moment.
The reason I’ve picked this image is because James Rodrigues was not someone we had pre-planned content for. Out of virtually nowhere he became the star of the tournament* and yet due to our extensive planning in advance we still managed to react and own the conversation around him.
It was our biggest and most successful campaign with adidas as an agency and something I will never forget.
*and yes, I was in the ground when he scored THAT goal
Pogba x Stormzy for adidas Football
This piece of work was the first time in my career when I overheard someone in the pub talking about something we had made totally unprompted. Being able to turn around to my non industry friends and family and say, “Have you seen this? We made that” is hugely rewarding and it really felt like we had truly impacted football culture.
The reaction in the press, in particular the piece written by Musa Okwonga for Complex, was truly overwhelming. To be able to genuinely cut through the traditional sporting news of the worlds largest transfer and to see such praise and detailed analysis of the work come from non marketing trade press was humbling.
It was the piece of work that really confirmed what creative director Gareth Leeding and I already knew, we needed to launch a specific arm of We Are Social for sport, and within a year we had the proposition signed off and ready for launch. We figured if we can reinvent the football transfer, what else needs reinventing? And as we looked around we realised that so much of the marketing was bland and lacking in creativity. All the creativity was coming from the communities around the game, not the sponsors or brands involved with it.
We launched We Are Social Sport to rewrite the rules of sports marketing and this campaign is still our benchmark for how we can do this when we are at our best.
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Since we launched We Are Social Sport we’ve grown massively, adding loads of very high profile clients and growing our team significantly, so there are hundreds of highlights. However, getting the chance to work with a true icon of the advertising industry in Guinness was a real standout.
Being briefed to work on the Rugby World Cup in Japan was such an interesting challenge. We’re not an official sponsor, but we are an authentic rugby brand. KO times are awkward, how do we disrupt it and cut through with a product message? Very early on in the process one of the ideas that really stuck was Guinness coffee.
What I loved most about this idea was how organic it became. We sat as a team, talked about 7am KOs and figured the only way to get involved with the game at that time was with a pretty big hit of caffeine. From one conversation the idea grew arms and legs and very quickly became reality. We found an ex England Rugby player, Brad Barritt, who roasted his own coffee beans. We tied up with him, roasted the beans at the same temp as the barley in Guinness (hence 232 brew) and within weeks the product was out on the shelves available to buy.
It went so well the product sold out immediately and now lives on beyond the World Cup as a standalone product. To me it shows the power of a simple creative solution to a real world problem, executed superbly, delivering bang for buck.
From being briefed to work on Rugby to literally creating a new product line for Guinness in the space of eight weeks was an incredibly rewarding few weeks.