Goafest 2012: "Passion is very personal, and intense," says Simon Wardle

Simon Wardle, chief strategy officer, Octagon explained the company's Passion Drivers philosophy for understanding sports fans better in his session at Goafest 2012

Apr 22, 2012 12:22:00 AM | Article | Campaign India Team

“Passion is very personal. And intense. Like football for me and cricket for you," said Simon Wardle, chief strategy officer, Octagon to start his session on 'Passion drivers and the Magic of Why'.

He said, "Passion endures, like a long-lived relationship, like in advertising when we are building affinity and creating engagement to get business results."

“Passion is not rational. You cannot ask a consumer why he cares. You have to derive it,” he said. He cited the example of NASCAR and whether fans can rationalise why they like it. Is it because of cars or racing? “If that was true, they would be watching something else. The real reason, is their affinity with the driver. But you don’t expect the consumer to say that,” explained Wardle.

"We know a lot about fans," he said. "The 'who', 'what', 'where', 'when' get answered in demographics, psychographics and consumption data. The 'why' comes from emotional connections."

Passion drivers is “an international endeavour” which Octagon conducted over 13 countries in six continents.

The exercise generated 300+ potential drivers, among which they identified 56 key unique attributes to create a database of 75,000 passionate fans to identify 12 passion driver factors, which further developed in fan typologies. A profile was created for each fan type.

The following typologies emerged: Active appreciation (based on personal participation), All Consuming (based on ability of event to drive you in), Gloating (rivalry between teams), Love of the Game, Nostalgia, Personal Indulgence, Player Affinity, Player Excitement (admiration, hero worship), Sense of Belonging, Talk & socialising, Team Devotion, TV Preference

It was observed that the top four key emotional connections to test cricket in England, Australia and South Africa were All Consuming, Nostalgia, Talk and Socialising and Team Devotion.

However, in India, Team Devotion was the main connection and represented a very strong ‘tribal connection’ (he used the word 'tribal' to describe 'clannish'). Furthermore, four typologies of Indian fans were seen: Selfish Tribals, Excited Tribals, Loyal Traditionalists and Hero Worshippers.

This showed that passion for test cricket is homogenous and combined with a strong tribal connection, gave a winning combination, which could be replicated for brands.

He gave a case study from UK, about Mars chocolate. The brand had not changed its wrapper since 1932, but in 2006, when UK was praying that they win the football World Cup, the brand changed their wrapper to one called ‘Believe’ and built and entire programme around ‘hope’.

“Again, in 2010, 44 years of disappointment, Mars again changed their wrapper with a flag, badge and photos.” By becoming ‘part of the tribe’, they increase sales by 33% in TESCO and by 24% in Sainsbury.

In the Q&A session moderated by Sam Balsara, Madison, he was asked what should Indian advertisers do to realise the power of sport marketing for their brands. “By becoming the core brand message,” he said. He recommends using sport as context and platform.

The question selected from the audience was, “Why do brands ignore women they sponsor sports?” To that, Wardle agreed that it was quite the case, but gave the example of P&G’s 'Thank You Mom' campaign and how it used athletes’ mothers to connect with their TG, on the platform of sport.