First draft of Overtime’s promo campaign “I live basketball” created in January 2015
We decided to write this post after a number of comments coming from Eurobasket 2015 Croatian LOC (Local Organization Committee) officials about “Croatia not having enough time to host Eurobasket and make a hype about it”. That claim is simply not true, and we will show in detail why that is.
Great news came 361 days ago
It was September 8th, 2014 when FIBA Europe decided to make a historic decision. Because of the difficult political situation in Ukraine, Eurobasket 2015 was handed to France (group & final stage), Germany (group stage), Latvia (group stage) and Croatia (group stage). Heads of European basketball decided to help the hosts and let them choose one of the opponents in their group. Croatia chose Slovenia. That looked like a smart move. Slovenia organized one of the best Eurobasket tournaments just a year before and created a positive basketball atmosphere with a great organizational team.
That was exactly 361 days before the first tip-off in Arena Zagreb.
Just to get you a better perspective, in that moment, Croatian basketball is still living on memories of Dražen Petrović (and will always live, we hope), and a great result from Eurobasket 2013 played in Slovenia (4th place with a newborn positive energy).
Every basketball fan in Croatia felt that hosting Eurobasket 2015 can turn things around for basketball in Croatia. Kids don’t shoot hoops as often as they did in the 1980s & 90s; clubs are in a really bad shape and basketball lost its (at least) 2nd place among the general public.
So, here we are, hosting our 2nd Eurobasket (1st was in 1989 and the whole tournament lasted for 5 days with only 8 teams participating).
There-is-enough-time state of mind
October passed, not a word about Eurobasket, not even in the basketball circles.
November followed the October and then came December, well it was holiday season…
It was the beginning of the 2015 and Croatia was still at square 1.
Very important to remember – this Eurobasket is not only about the tournament but about lighting the basketball spark again. Waking the basketball fans up.
January – Nothing.
We reached out to Croatian Eurobasket LOC (Local Organization Committee) and made the first step. We did the brainstorming, gathered the ideas, made the presentation and got a meeting. Several meetings. It turned out we were not on the same frequency with the opinion makers. We didn’t have (and never will have) the same view on the organization, promotion, storytelling, etc. Neither did the other team(s) who wanted to help and work for Eurobasket.
We decided to upload our presentation (made in January 2015) with a number of promo ideas (we published approx. 40% of proposed activities) for Eurobasket. Just for you to get a picture. We are not saying proposed ideas were good. Or that everything would work. We are simply saying “We brought this to the table and there was enough time to implement these ideas (or any other from any other company that tried to propose something). And there were sponsors interested in covering the costs. They said – No”.
It took us more than two months to get from the first presentation to the last “We don’t agree with your ideas”.
Hopefully, some club or association will use these in the best manner possible. Yes, we could have saved these for another project, but don’t worry, we will come up with something new.
‘OK’, we thought, ‘at least they are aware that ideas are out there’ and they will appoint someone. It was already March. Six months to go.
Frenkie visited schools
Mascot Frenkie started to visit elementary schools and some basketball games.
April went by. May did too.
In April, most of the tickets for group phase in Latvia, France and Germany were already sold, with French LOC reporting 80 thousand tickets sold and Croatian LOC reported “50% of tickets being reserved” (not sold, but reserved, whatever that term meant back then).
During the regional ABA league finals (Cedevita – Crvena Zvezda) Eurobasket wasn’t even mentioned during the games in Zagreb.
Streetball tournaments as a main activity
June came, summer started. So did the streetball 3-on-3 summer tour. Great, finally people will find out about this Eurobasket thing in Croatia.
It seems not even tournaments could go as planned. Here is a screenshot of a basketball fan describing the situation during one of the tournaments and the whole organization, on the official Facebook event.
“Participants didn’t even get the t-shirts they were promised at the beginning of the tournament. Complete disorganization from the start of registration, setting up the court, tournament schedule (there was no schedule and the teams didn’t know when they are playing), the competition was too long, around 20 games lasted from 17:00 to midnight, lousy prizes (2 bags of potato chips), but that wasn’t the primary goal of competitors – value of prizes; it was the Eurobasket tickets that you promised, if they were handed to someone, God knows who got them. In the end, the announcements (without the announcement of winners in the youngest category of the tournament) and taking pictures. It wasn’t all that bad. The best thing that happened – new friendships and mingling after that long, long event.
Tonči Anzulović, the sport competition manager at Croatian Eurobasket, presented the Eurobasket promotion done through streetball tournaments during a press conference held on August 24th (complete translation of the statement found here):
“We have made the promotion of basketball and Eurobasket across our whole country and beyond the borders (Ljubuški and Mostar in BiH). So far we’ve had nine ‘3 on 3’ streetball tournaments. We went from Šibenik to Zadar, then Rijeka and Pula, as well as Slavonski Brod and Osijek. We also went to BiH; we visited the basketball fans in Mostar and Ljubuški, and after that we did our part in Drniš and the last weekend Split and Karlovac.
For all of these tournaments, there was great interest, from players and the audience. Our estimate is that in Pula approximately 5,000 people passed by the courts. At all the other tournaments, there were between 2,5 thousand and 3,5 thousand people. A number of registered teams varied between 15 and 25, as it was in Drniš.
Photos from the streetball tournaments found on CBF’s Facebook fan page
I think we made an excellent promotion of basketball.
We have seen that a large number of children, youth and amateur streetballers like ‘3 on 3’ and that it was a real promotion of basketball.
We are very pleased with what we did.
This weekend, in front of the Arena Zagreb we have a tournament for the Zagreb area and a day later, on Zagreb’s main square (Trg Bana Jelačića), a final Master fournament will be held with all the teams who qualified for the Master through local tournaments. This will be one of the intros to the Eurobasket story. Houra (Croatian musician), Rimac (ex-basketball player & current coach of Cibona Zagreb) and Giriček (ex-NBA player) will form one team to play the rest of the competition.”
Digital communication? Digital what?
Nicely redesigned CBF’s website was released approx. on July 18th. The decision was to communicate Eurobasket through a subsection and not as a stand-alone website, but ok, that was (probably) an internal decision.
What didn’t happen is the promotion of Eurobasket subsection. Even “hardcore” users like us didn’t visit it until this analysis. One day after the win against Estonia (in Zagreb), there were no match report, statements, analysis, nothing.
If you want to find out more about Eurobasket venues you have to visit this subsection:
What is unbelievable is that if you click on any of the venues or host cities to find out more information, you will be redirected to Wikipedia (English and Bosnian versions).
O2 Arena link – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/O2_World_%28Berlin%29
Berlin link – http://bs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berlin
Arena Zagreb – http://bs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arena_Zagreb
Park&Suites Arena – http://bs.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Park%26Suites_Arena&action=edit&redlink=1
Montpellier – http://bs.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montpellier
For every single “destination”, there is an official website. Here are the links, to help you out:
Arena Zagreb – http://www.zagrebarena.hr/
Arena Riga – http://www.arenariga.com/en/
“Buy a ticket, get a beer”
FIBA created a Facebook event (?!?!) named Eurobasket 2015 in Croatia on June 22nd (exactly 74 days before the 1st match in Zagreb)
OK, you have a communication “channel”, even if it’s only a Facebook event. Now we need interesting content to attract people (in this amazing group – Croatia, Slovenia – just across the border, Macedonia – friendly people & close by, Greece – basketball nation, Georgia – talented team with a great potential, Netherlands – great tourists).
We got the content, that is for sure. Someone recorded a video of Croatia’s best player, an NBA player (Brooklyn Nets), Bojan Bogdanovic saying “You buy a ticket, I am paying for the beer” (link here). We kid you not. This great, friendly guy, who is one of the best European players in the NBA league couldn’t be used in a more creative way? We can be lucky Nets aren’t suing over a brand damage. (link here).
It is mid-July, less than two months before Eurobasket starts. Billboards? Flyers? Social media communication? TV campaign? Radio campaign? Guerilla activities? PR campaign? Nothing. One big nothing.
It’s not like – we don’t have a budget so we are trying BTL stuff. It is – nothing.
We have mentioned a budget. At least you did sponsorship deals, right?
The first sponsorship deal was signed on April 16th – beer company Pivovarna Laško (Slovenian company). Second sponsorship deal was presented on June 7th – insurance company Triglav osiguranje (Slovenian company).
Screenshot: CBF’s website
Ivan Šuker, the new president of the Croatian basketball federation (CBF president since June 28th), said on July 1st “It is imperative now to find sponsors for Eurobasket 2015”.
That is exactly 295 days since we found out Croatia is hosting one of the Eurobasket groups.
Logos of HEP (National electricity company, state-owned) and Konzum (supermarket chain in Croatia) are on team uniforms.
That is without mentioning the Ministry of science, education and sports and Croatian Lottery among Eurobasket sponsors although they are part of a political decision and not a sponsorship activity. Later on, Franck and Lenovo were added.
“Where is Eurobasket being played?”
You know that sh*t has hit the fan when even the main players are publicly speaking about people close to them (?!) not knowing Croatia is hosting the Eurobasket. Bojan Bogdanović and Luka Žorić both had similar thoughts on that topic in Sportske novosti (daily sports newspaper in Croatia).
Translation – “I look forward to European championship, but I still don’t have any special feeling about it. Eurobasket is just around the corner and many people are asking me where is it being played” – Luka Žorić, Croatian basketball player.
It was sad to see information “Billboards are coming today” in newspapers on August 6th. That was less than a month before Eurobasket. The day after, billboards were set up with one of the billboards put up in a way that upper part is overlapping the lower part so the message could not be read completely.
A few days later, we saw the same billboard in a different location and realized it wasn’t an “operational” mistake…
Eurobasket flags are a nice brand awareness activity. It is an eye-catching activity and colorful branding. But…
Flags are designed to get you in the Eurobasket mood if you already know about the tournament. For example, it is great if you are a Greek fan coming to Zagreb for Eurobasket games. For that purpose, flags are a great activity because it “puts you in a Eurobasket state of mind” before coming to the Arena.
But, Croats are not all that aware of Eurobasket. Eurobasket colors and a title Eurobasket 2015 aren’t made to be a CTA (call-to-action) or to provide useful info (dates, location, teams, etc.). If a person, unaware of Eurobasket being played in Zagreb sees the flag, he/she gets the same information as if it says “Save the cats” instead of “Eurobasket 2015”.
Official Eurobasket hotel & ice hockey jersey
It was a sad moment for Eurobasket in Croatia, while great for KHL Medveščak, which is doing a great promotion job, when the big Medveščak jersey was placed on the official Eurobasket hotel in Zagreb. (Btw, it is an interesting sponsorship activity.)
It was revealed on Sunday, August 30th, only 6 days before the opening Eurobasket match, Croatia – Slovenia.
A positive is that the Croatian team has a customized bus with Dražen Petrović’s image on it, which is a nice touch.
Old photo and no Dirk
Nothing can beat our quality. That was a main message sent out by Croatian team after a couple of preparation games and comfortable wins. First preparation game in Arena Zagreb was coming (on August 14th, only a day before one of the biggest religious holidays in Croatia) and it was a great opportunity to gather fans. Dirk Nowitzki was coming to Zagreb! One of the best European basketball players ever was coming to play against Croatia.
But all we got is this…
No Dirk, no CTA (call-to-action) and the main message sounded like a utility information (in Croatian – Heating of Zagreb Arena for basketball in September). They could play against Angola and the billboard could be the same. That is without pointing out that the photo used was from the World Championship 2014 (link here). There wasn’t even a single photoshoot before Eurobasket that is hosted in our own country.
Ten days later, games against BiH, Estonia and Israel came. This billboard announced the preparation games. Looks familiar?
Can wins save basketball?
Last preparation games should be a fine tuning for the coaching staff, but also for the chemistry between the fans and players. Game against Estonia opened Zagreb preparation tournament on Wednesday, August 26th.
This is Arena Zagreb during the game.
Positive comments said, “almost 2000 visitors”. OK, the game was on Wednesday at 18:00, but that wasn’t ordered by FIBA or higher authority. Croatia organized the tournament!
Kruno Simon, one of the most important players on the Croatian team commented: “I expected more fans. I hope they will come to cheer for us during Eurobasket.”
The same tip-off was set for Thursday (Croatia – BiH).
This is Arena Zagreb during the Croatia – BiH game (start at 18:00) with approx. 2500 visitors.
Slovenia – Serbia played on the same day (Thursday, August 27th) at 20:05 with approx. 9000 visitors.
Slovenian fans came even though their biggest star (Goran Dragič) is out and there are no Lorbek brothers, Vidmar or any other retired big names such as Nachbar. Slovenian fans came even though their national team unexpectedly lost in the quarterfinals of Eurobasket 2013 on home ground.
Slovenian fans came because they have a connection with their team.
This is Stožice Arena in Ljubljana during that game.
Fun fact – Croatia plays all Eurobasket games (except for the last one, against Georgia) at 21:00. Wouldn’t it make more sense if we played all games during this tournament at 21:00?
Croatia played against Israel on Friday the 28th (start at 21:00) and 4000 visitors showed up. Interesting…
Great opportunity? No, we are not interested
Eurobasket will be broadcast by HTV (Croatian national television). They are the official media partner of Eurobasket 2015. They too couldn’t dodge the situation in which, on August 20th, they had to try and explain why only a very limited group of people is aware of Eurobasket being hosted by Croatia. A quite long TV feature was broadcasted (link here) but again one of the excuses (or explanations) were about “Croatia not having enough time to organize…”. We call BS on that. But ok, they can’t “bury” the Croatian LOC and CBF 15 days before the tournament.
During the feature, Ivan Šuker, the CBF president stated: “Eurobasket is broadcasted in the whole EU and especially South East Europe. I believe, because of that, some Croatian companies should have shown bigger interests of becoming Eurobasket sponsors”. Mr. Šuker is an experienced gentleman who knows why he says something in a particular moment.
For sure companies didn’t conclude: “OK, so we can have great visibility & a lot of people during live games & great organization & lot of sponsorship activation opportunities – No, we won’t do it”.
To state that companies “should have shown bigger interest”, shows only what Eurobasket LOC team didn’t manage to do in 361 days.
Most of the media tried to warn CBF (Croatian Basketball Federation) and Eurobasket LOC about the poor job done and what can be done in the last moment. One of two biggest daily newspapers, Večernji list, published this article (in Croatian, sorry non-Croats).
Sportske novosti (daily sports newspaper) published this column (photo of the first part of the column).
On August 19th, City of Zagreb (main CBF’s partner for Eurobasket) announced they will organize their own Eurobasket fan zone. Next to the Arena Zagreb, right? No, there is an official fan zone in the Arena’s neighborhood. That second fan zone (organized by the City of Zagreb) is situated on the main Zagreb square (Trg bana Jelačića), more than 8 kilometers from the Arena Zagreb (check the map here). Talk about shooting yourself in the foot while you are not sure if you’ll have a sold-out Arena.
What a dunk by Croatian Tapir!
Otvoreni radio (Top 2 national radio station in Croatia
& official media partner (we made mistake because Otvoreni radio isn’t official media partner)) started an “interesting contest” – How would you name Croatian basketball team? We won’t get into proposed names like Tapirs, Lions, Condors…
For example, Slovenians are called “junaki” (in English – heroes). Slovenian fans related with the name from the Day 1. Everything went smoothly with the name. It is natural to name your teams. For sure, but…
Associations name their teams (or individual athletes) in a completely different phase of promotion. In a phase when there is a connection between the fans and the team (athlete). When fans have “enthusiasm & excitement” for the team, their emotional level and view on the team is completely different.
In such situation, you won’t be mocked by your own fans. You will get emotional suggestions and fan engagement.
Check out the comments under the poll. The reactions on social media were very similar.
“Vipers, grasshoppers, giraffes…”
Unfortunately, that was also shown through players’ fan pages. Damjan Rudež published an interesting TV ad on his fan page, but the first comment by a fan was “I congratulate you on this TV ad, but the whole promotion should have started much sooner.”
Mentioned TV ad by Konzum (retail chain in Croatia, CBF’s sponsor) was a first TV promotion of Eurobasket in Croatia. At least the sponsors did a good job and tried to connect the fans with the national team. Here is the TV ad:
We choose you. Please, don’t come!
One of the situations to explain the ‘organizational problems’ was the situation with ticket sales. Slovenian fans want to come to the opening match between Croatia and Slovenia. They are willing to buy approx. 5-6 thousand tickets.
After all, we chose them to be in our group! We should pray that as many Slovenian fans as possible would come to Zagreb (beers, merchandising, sightseeing, transport, etc.), right?
Croatian Eurobasket LOC is shaky about Croatian fans buying the tickets and what do they do? Shut down the online sales for that match. Yes, you can’t (and couldn’t) buy the tickets for the derby match online because we were scared Slovenian fans would buy majority of tickets and Croatia would play an opening match as an “away match”.
Eurobasket Croatia LOC’s director, Boris Jakimenko, said on August 24th: “Tickets for the Croatia – Slovenia match were sold in Slovenia exclusively through the agency and the number of tickets available for Slovenian fans was 3100. Other tickets were sold offline in Croatia so there are no worries there will be more Slovenian than Croatian fans.”
“I have to emphasize that the greater number of tickets were sold after big wins by Croatian national teams (U-19 and senior team). Because of that, our players and coaches are the most responsible ones for the sales“, said the director of the Croatian Eurobasket LOC.
Another interesting information was mentioned regarding volunteers (just to remember, during a press conference on August 24th, exactly 12 days before Eurobasket Day 1).
Screenshot: CBF’s website
“Speaking of volunteers, out of 152 applicants, 110 volunteers, which satisfied certain criteria, were chosen. We still need approximately 30 volunteers.”
Call for volunteers was published on CBF’s Facebook fan page on April 28th and only 152 people decided to send their applications? In about 4 months?
At the same time, 12 days before the Eurobasket, there is still a shortage of approx. 30 volunteers? When will they be trained and become a part of the organization system?
Want to buy tickets? We dare you to find out how
This part is more or less out of the LOC’s domain, but for ordinary fans and visitors buying tickets is a part of a complete “Eurobasket experience”. That is why LOC should care. It is their revenue after all.
If you are interested in buying tickets for i.e. match Croatia – Georgia, like we were, you would have to visit www.eventim.hr
This is the content on the homepage (blue rectangles showing content related to the Eurobasket).
Croatia’s game schedule is: 1. Slovenia, 2. Greece, 3. Macedonia, 4. The Netherlands, 5. Georgia.
Homepage shows the games between Croatia – Macedonia and Croatia – Netherlands.
OK, no Croatia – Georgia. We clicked on Events in the main menu and it showed this menu:
In the Sports section you can find: Ice-hockey, Sports events, Tennis.
No Eurobasket? Great. It is not featured or promoted even by official partners.
In the Featured event section also – no Eurobasket.
We clicked on the Sports events (Eurobasket is not an ice-hockey or tennis event).
The following list opened up:
No Croatia’s matches in the list, only matches including Slovenia. (remember – we are on eventim.hr, not eventim.si).
OK, we will use the search box (upper right), so we typed in “Croatia Georgia” (in Croatian).
We got this list and finally at the bottom of the list we found the match we wanted to buy tickets for. If the fan doesn’t know Georgia is the English name for Gruzija (Croatian name for the Georgia) and that abbreviation for Georgia is GEO, problems would not end there.
User experience (score 1-5): 1,5
Mentioned examples are only a tip of the iceberg to show how poor a job was done during the whole year.
We are publishing this post today (several days before the 1st match) because of three reasons:
1. We don’t want to be wise after the event.
2. Somebody has to say something because strong statements like “Croatia did not have enough time to organize a better Eurobasket and to make a hype about it” are not valid.
3. We want all basketball fans (including us) to concentrate on the court in the next 20 days. Croatia has a great team that deserves to have better logistics.
We are sorry because a big opportunity was missed. An opportunity to wake up a sport that has been hibernating in Croatia for over a decade. And it wouldn’t take much.
On the wings of good promotion, fan engagement and a potentially good result of our national team, faith in basketball in Croatia could’ve been restored. Basketball could’ve been popular again.
And that was the main point of this article, a missed opportunity to wake up that enthusiasm for basketball in the people who love it, but they forgot they do.
Below you can find our presentation (original text and visuals), created in January 2015 for the Croatian Eurobasket LOC. We published approx. 40% of proposed activities.
Overview of Eurobasket 2015 promo activities in Croatia:
(not official list and timeline but Overtime team’s observations and collected information)
Offline – billboard campaign started on August 7th, citylight campaign started probably in a same period, radio campaign started approx. after August 15th, TV campaign (by HTV) started on August 27th, streetball tournaments (June to August).
Online – Facebook event created on June 22nd, Facebook communication (through the CBF’s fan page with 3900 fans) started in May 2015
What was not done?
1. Digital communication – subsection on the CBF’s website, communication through CBF’s Facebook fan page and the official Facebook event are way, WAY too little.
2. Fans – team connection – No Kids’ days, no public appearances by the players and the coach, no celebrity matches, there was no opportunity for a 6-year-old kid to meet Dario Šarić and become his true fan and join the basketball practice at his school.
3. Media hype – Stickers and the album were the only activity that should make a hype regarding basketball in Croatia. They were published in August, less than a month before Eurobasket. Where were the stories about legends, promo TV shows, special features in print magazines, radio show appearances, etc.
4. BTL activities – Guerilla marketing is not about terrorists. BTL doesn’t stand for Buy This Limousine, a lot can be done with a small budget
5. Everything else that wasn’t done
1. There was enough time to make a great marketing campaign and a communication strategy. Look at other hosts. Don’t try to justify yourself with statements like “French people are used to buying tickets in April and Croats are buying tickets 5 minutes before the game”.
2. It is not about the number of spectators. We hope there will be a sold-out crowd during every single Eurobasket match hosted by Croatia, but it is not about that. Eurobasket was an opportunity to bring Croatian basketball to life and that wasn’t done. Croats are eager to see Croatian basketball getting better so we hope that “hunger” is enough for 10k+ fans to visit Arena Zagreb for five games during September.
3. Where are the sponsors? Two big sponsors are not from the host country but from the country who organized a previous Eurobasket and who is competing to get a group stage of the next Eurobasket. Where are the creative ideas for sponsorship activation? Why didn’t any of Official FIBA sponsors say “Yes” to a campaign related to Croatian part of Eurobasket 2015?
4. How come people don’t know about Eurobasket? Eurobasket is the 2nd biggest sporting event in 2015, for the most European countries, after the World Handball Championship. How come people in Croatia don’t know about it?
5. It is 2015, not 1989. There is only a Facebook event. Not even a fan page. On Instagram & Twitter there is no activity. Stickers and album were published and promoted only 20 days before the start of the tournament. Media is trying to make a hype based on basketball itself , without LOC pitching ideas and stories or developing interesting content with (or for) media partners.
6. Why wasn’t this Eurobasket communicated as a “Croatian thing” and not “Zagreb’s thing”? Croatian basketball fans traveled to Eurobasket 2013 (in Slovenia) from Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, Slavonski Brod and other parts of Croatia. Why wasn’t that used? Fans from i.e. Zadar and Split are furious because it seems only people living in Zagreb should come and see the matches.
7. Budget – Every proposed activity could have been covered by sponsors or finalized with partners like HTV (Croatian national television). It is not about the money… It is about the story, the passion for the game, emotions for the Croatian team and basketball. It is about the will.
Remember – hosting Eurobasket is not only about the tournament,
but about lighting the basketball spark again.
What do you think? Did organizers manage to achieve that?
Below you can find our presentation (original text and visuals), created in January 2015 for the Croatian Eurobasket LOC.