MediaCom was hit up by Foxtel and Eurosport with a task of finding more people to watch cycling, and not just tune into the free coverage of SBS’ Tour De France. In this case study, MediaCom examines how it got cycling fanatics to change channels.
For the keen cycling fans, Eurosport, which is available on Foxtel in Australia, has the most comprehensive coverage of cycling on TV.
Foxtel and Eurosport together wanted to use this depth of coverage to get more people watching the channel. The problem is that for the majority of Australia’s 1.3m armchair cycling fans, competitive cycling starts and ends with the Tour De France – available free on SBS and for many that is enough.
Eurosport currently shows the other two “grand tours” live and uninterrupted, including the gruelling Vuelta a Espana (the Spanish Tour), but this depth didn’t appeal to the majority of the target market.
The key business objective was challenging. MediaCom was tasked with increasing cumulative reach by 25% year-on-year. However, where and how were they going to achieve that kind of growth?
The team set out to identify an audience that Eurosport’s Vuelta coverage would resonate with, and to find a way to cut through – all on a limited budget of just $50,000.
Initially they looked at those Australians currently watching cycling on TV. This revealed an opportunity: the most reliable predictor of someone being open to the in-depth proposition (as opposed to the marquee headline events on SBS) was actually cycling itself; broadly, the more you cycle, the more cycling you want to watch.
MediaCom defined the target audience as “hardcore cyclists”. They turned their back on the 1.3m armchair fans that tune into Le Tour every year, and focused instead on the fanatical audience comprising of just 313,000 Australians, for whom cycling is their number one passion. They cycle regularly and are influential within their cycling networks.
The task was clear. How could they get closer to this elusive and influential group, and use the Vuelta a Espana to prove Eurosport on Foxtel has more live coverage than SBS to encourage them to make the switch?
Conventional wisdom would dictate a contextual media plan of carefully-targeted magazine and digital placements, but they’d previously found this approach lacked the efficiency the small budget demanded and wastage was a huge problem they needed to avoid on their limited budget. $50k would be enough to secure a page in each of the specialist cycling magazines supported by a few hundred thousand impressions online.
Therefore, it was agreed that earned media would form the foundation of their approach.
Talking to the cycling fanatics, it became clear that cycling, as a sport or hobby, is profoundly social. From arranging weekend cycles, to gaining bragging rights for the smashing of a personal best, the value of cycling to this group was about so much more than just what happened on the road. It was a truly shared experience.
They had to find a role for Eurosport within the cycling conversations that mattered. So they used a combination of social, mobile, digital content partnerships and on-ground activation to become part of the conversations that mattered, mobilise key influencers and cut-through to this uniquely passionate audience.
This was all about getting the audience thinking about the races they can’t watch on SBS. The highest profile of these and the race with the most passionate following was the formidable Vuelta a Espana.
It was decided that they would use the Vuelta to start the conversation. More than anything, the Vuelta is a climber’s race. Climbing is shorthand for the ultimate passion, sacrifice and commitment to the sport, so to bring this to life they created the Vuelta-Skelta; challenging Australia’s cycling community to match the climbs the peloton endure in the real race. This would mean a climb of 7,136 meters for each cyclist, in just fifteen days.
To kick off the dialogue Eurosport partnered with Australia’s most influential cycling blog, Cycling Tips. This allowed them to call out the nation’s weekend warriors and drive word-of-mouth about the gruelling challenge being set.
The next step was to find a way to follow how cyclists would track against the challenge. Using Strava, the cycling GPS application, they built and populated a live leader-board of meters climbed. Cyclists were encouraged to post updates about the challenge across their forums and social networks using the hashtag #vueltaskelta.
This allowed the team to start thousands of conversations about Eurosport’s in-depth cycling coverage, but more was required. They wanted to find a way to reach the cyclists out on their Sunday ride and get them talking on social media about the Vuelta-Skelta.
From their research, they found out that cyclists rode predominantly in rural areas. Cyclists just couldn’t wait to get out of the suburbs at the weekend. This meant, however, there were no good places to stop and socialise, mid-ride. To give the cyclists a lift on their challenge and a place to share their Vuelta-Skelta experiences, they positioned Eurosport branded coffee carts along key cycling routes across Australia.
The Vuelta-Skelta set Australia’s cycling fanatics abuzz.
Nearly ten-thousand cyclists entered the challenge, and together they climbed a combined (and exhausting) 52 million vertical meters (48% higher than the target) – every millimetre of which was discussed, shared and enjoyed on social media.
Weekend warriors across Australia discussed the challenge over 1,024 Eurosport branded coffees, whilst Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were humming with just under a million social impressions around the unique #vueltaskelta hashtag.
The Vuelta-Skelta campaign for Eurosport delivered a cumulative audience of 756,000, up from 530,000 year-on-year. This represented a rise of 42% – which smashed the 25% target. There was no other promotional activity over the campaign period and no changes to broadcasting rights that would have influenced this increase in any other way.
The $50k Vuelta-Skelta content strategy devised by MediaCom has earned Eurosport the right to start thousands of conversations around its superior cycling coverage and has encouraged many fans to make the switch from SBS.