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Friday, 26 October 2012

Talon Outdoor Recruits Head of Retail

Today (26th October 2012) it was announced that Joanna Fisher is joining independent out of home media specialist, Talon Outdoor, in the newly created position, Head of Retail. Nick Jarman, Talon’s Managing Director explained ‘We have seen significant growth and change over the past few months and it was apparent that we needed a retail expert to help us better meet our clients’ demands. We wanted to offer the authority expected of us so we were delighted to be able to recruit Jo. Her experience of nearly 20 years working with leading clients such as Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, Specsavers and Orange, fitted the position perfectly.’ Jo Fisher added ‘I am truly delighted to be joining Talon and it is very exciting to be moving back to an independent agency. Over the past few months Talon has really started to grab the sector’s attention and clearly has some audacious plans for taking out of home forward - and I am looking forward to be part of this very much.’ Talon, which hit the news back in the summer when former Kinetic head, Eric Newnham, re-entered the out of home media sector (OOH) by becoming a shareholder, has seen significant growth over the past few months. Not least of these was when it was announced that Frank Bryant will be joining the business in late February 2013, in the capacity of Director and Shareholder. At the time Newnham explained his rationale for re-entering the sector, he said ‘I have spent quite some time developing my passion and understanding of the latest in digital and mobile communications. Consequently I have a clear vision as to how outdoor can adopt some new technologies and Talon’s size and independence gives us the perfect platform to explore these to the full. The current specialist sector is polarized and we think there is huge potential for an independent agency – such as ours - to introduce some fresh thinking. Clearly traditional outdoor delivery will be a fundamental part of our business but we want to work with new clients and embrace the exciting opportunities technology presents.’ Talon was founded in 2007 by Nick Jarman and is the UK representative of IOOH (International Out of Home), a global network of independently owned outdoor specialists which cover 15 countries and collectively bill over £100m. In a rapidly evolving media and communication landscape, it is determined to remain independent of the large group owned networks in order to offer more flexibility to its customers. Talon’s services include traditional outdoor media, digital, mobile, experiential and event sponsorships communications.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Proud to be British

London's original promise to 'inspire a generation' sounded grandiose, even glib, and yet the substance of that pledge has been reached this summer in the most stirring, moving fashion. The Olympic Games have had a positive effect on the UK. 2012 was a great year for our Olympians: 29 Gold Medals, 17 Silver, 19 Bronze gives an overall total of 65 Medals. The 30th Olympiad brought prosperity and pleasure to a downbeat nation. It was a much needed boost for the people of Britain and it really made its citizens proud to be from the British Isles. A tiny nation off the coast of Europe hosted the biggest party; it really put Britain back on the map and showed off its amazing culture. The spirit of the Olympics has been so inspiring. The scale of the Olympic Park made you realise that places can be turned around from derelict wasteland to top class sports facilities, or to any other creation depending on the dream. So impeccably constructed were these Olympic Games that Britain is imbued today - to an extent not even Lord Coe could have envisaged - with a renewed self-belief and a confidence that, for all the daily tensions and gripes in its metropolis, that it can still choreograph a spectacle of life-affirming splendour, one that is in every sense the envy of the world. From the second that sheep and geese were brought into the Opening Ceremony as part of Danny Boyle's bucolic idyll, these have been Games framed by the iconography of Britain. RhinoGB, the retro rugby brand born out of the scrum, is also feeling very British of late. It's in that brutal cauldron that strength, toughness and experience prevail, and the Rhino brand has been synonymous with optimum player preparation and performance for all levels of rugby, for over 25 years. The RhinoGB rugby leisure collection draws its inspiration from that rich heritage of performance characteristics, and is now being worn by players at the top of their game, and is already receiving a growing celebrity following. Their range has a fine balance of rugby authenticity, rugby vintage 'university' style and the latest materials that enhance comfort and style for all forms of relaxation. It seems everybody wants to celebrate being British; last month Ronnie Fox was at the Premiere for Frank Harpers St George’s Day Film, wearing a Union Jack T Design Jacket by RhinoGB.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Heineken Cup Predictions

Last weekend’s Heineken Cup delivered exciting rugby in abundance with a battering for Edinburgh at home by Saracens and an unexpected win for Racing Metro against Munster. With each pool flooded with hot competition London Sports Agency ENS spoke to its Rugby pro client, Rob Henderson, for his predictions on this year’s tournament. Read on further to find out Henderson's take on the field this year. Rob has enjoyed an impressive career; he racked up 32 caps for Ireland, toured with the British and Irish Lions in 2001 and played for some of the best Premiership teams across England and Ireland, including London Irish, Wasps, Leinster and Munster. With his experience of the game and the players in the H Cup here’s what he had to say: ‘After round one of this season’s competition, there were tries and tackles aplenty with the odd upset thrown in to boot! If I were to pick my semi finalists on current form, I believe we would see Saracens, Toulouse, Leinster and Toulon fighting it out for a place in the Final. Saracens destroyed Edinburgh in their own backyard at the weekend and I can see them progressing from their pool. Pool two is an unbelievably tough group where Toulouse showed their patient side in dealing with Leicester. Fingers have been pointed at Ben Youngs for his quick tap and go when only five points down but I applaud his endeavour. That being said, leaving Toulouse with nothing could prove costly and I only see Toulouse advancing. Pool three seems to be a straight shootout between Harlequins and Biarritz to me. I believe both of these teams will progress to the knockout stages. As for Leinster - going for an unprecedented hat-trick? Of course they can! Having been given a real fright by Exeter, who were excellent in defeat, I believe that Leinster will step up their efforts in a group that includes old adversaries, Clermont. They will have enough to go through and I believe at the expense of the French side who must wait for another year for their title tilt. Those teams are the ones my money is on, then again, if you followed my tips in the Grand National you would be empty handed! Roll on round two.’ Sports Sponsorship PR specialists ENS will be tuning in on Saturday to see how last year’s champions, Leinster, fair in their first away match of the Cup against Scarlets.

RhinoGB at Rugby Expo 2012

Rhino Rugby has confirmed its involvement at Rugby Expo for the third consecutive year, by signing as an official supplier to this year's event taking place at Twickenham on 14 – 15 November. As one of the world's most innovative and well-known rugby brands, Rhino will be showcasing a number of its leading product lines at this year's event including its rugby leisure range RhinoGB, which will showcase its heritage clothing and old school fashion. “We are very much looking forward to being a part of Rugby Expo 2012 and are delighted to see it return to Twickenham following the success of last year's event," confirmed Reg Clark, chief executive of Rhino Rugby. "Rugby Expo provides us with the perfect platform to showcase our brand and our various product lines to not only professional clubs but also to a significant number of community rugby clubs, facilitated greatly by the event's ticketing strategy." Rugby Expo will again be implementing a ticketing policy that will provide complimentary tickets for community clubs to attend day two of the event, made available through partnerships with a number of home unions as well as the community programmes of professional clubs. Rhino Rugby will also be teaming up with Browns Sports & Leisure Resort to promote a not-to-be-missed competition, where one lucky team will win a five night's stay at the popular training resort in Portugal. Clubs and schools can enter the prize draw by visiting Browns staff at Rhino Rugby's stand, with the winning team announced at the end of day two of Rugby Expo. Jonathan Wilson, event director for Rugby Expo said: "It's great to have Rhino involved again at Rugby Expo. Rhino Rugby is one of the sport's biggest brands and its involvement this year will be bigger than ever. We're looking forward to Reg and his team joining us for what promises to be a busy two days in November." The vintage rugby will also use Rugby Expo to launch the official ball range of the 2013 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia. As for the Lions 2009 Tour to South Africa, Rhino has moreover a dual role – the Somerset based company is to supply not only the training equipment the squad will use at each training venue in the UK & Ireland, Hong Kong and Australia, but also the Official Training Ball and commemorative ball collection for the Tour. Rugby Expo will welcome over 1000 delegates across the two days, combining an unrivalled conference programme, interactive workshops and busy exhibition floor.

Friday, 12 October 2012

British Summer of Sport 2012

It’s hard to remember there ever being a better summer of sport for Britain and what a start to the ‘golden decade of British sport’. The feats of Bradley Wiggins and Rory McIlroy before the end of the Games are almost distant memories given the more recent – and staggering achievements of Team GB, Andy Murray and the Ryder Cup team. Much has been made of the legacy of the Games but what does that mean beyond screen-filled competitive drama? British cycling is thriving like never before and can even claim to have helped Britain’s lagging retail sector with Halfords, the UK's biggest bike traders reported a 14.7% jump in bike sales in the three months to the end of September. On top of this Sky announced yesterday (11th October) that it had prematurely smashed its 2013 target of getting 1 million Brit’s cycling regularly. One area that can also claim a leap forward is women’s sport. An unprecedented 70,584 spectators supported the Team GB football stars as they took on Brazil in their group-game contest whilst female boxing was put on the map by Nicola Adams. Such was her impact (literally and figuratively) that not only are boxing gyms seeing more girls show up to train but the sport has now been selected for the Glasgow 2014 Games for the first time in the event’s history. While the increased numbers of participation help to serve the summer’s legacy, Rebecca Hopkins, MD of ENS, a London sports agency , says the triumphs off-court are just as important: “The summer of sport has been amazing to live through and has undoubtedly left a myriad of happy memories in millions of minds. However for the Games’ legacy aspirations to be realized that is not enough – and to my mind it isn’t just about the sporting endeavours on track, field, court and pitch. British sport isn’t all about tracksuits; there are a lot of us ‘suits’ too. “Clearly the more people doing sport the better, whether it is young people who are the future of professional sport or adults who realize just how personally rewarding sport can be. On the flip side of this – and I say this as the MD of a sports public relations firm – I would like to see the business side of sport flourish too. “Many British companies proved their metal during the London Olympics and it would be great to see those businesses go on to better things. The Olympics was the first event in a ‘golden decade of sport’ but it wasn’t always easy for British companies to win Olympic tenders – not that our track record on and off the medal podium has been proved, I hope the rest of the events staged here will embrace our hard-won expertise.”

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Who Owns Rugby

Once upon a time rugby jerseys were made from heavy cotton, with starchy collars and the minimum of colours to distinguish your team from the other. Those days are long gone, and some would say good riddance, as they slip into their pink leopard skin print tight fit top… over their base layer to keep them cosy and warm… and their shoulder pads so they don’t get hurt… oh, and don’t forget the fake tan!! It’s pretty obvious that rugby has evolved on the field in what we now wear – custom scrum caps, gum shields, forearm protectors, pink boots, etc. – but what about off it? Time was after the game you’d put on your miner’s overalls, barrister’s suit or student rags and off you went. The only thing distinguishing you as a rugby player to Joe Public would be your cauliflower ear or black eye! Even when supporters got their first England rugby jersey or Wales rugby shirt, the only fashion faux pas they could make was to wear the collar up or down! Well, the times they are a changing as a host of “rugby leisure” brands dip their feet in the rugby market and piggy back in on the values of rugby that have taken generations to create. The glaringly obvious one is Ralph Lauren, but more on them in due course. There are some obvious link ups between rugby and fashion – the Benetton factory in the town of Treviso, or French flair combined with the genius of Serge Blanco. Fashion from a rugby perspective – how many people does that cover? Rugby is getting more and more global, but even in the home nations, it is a minority sport. Reg Clark, owner of old school fashion and retro rugby brand RhinoGB, said “If it will be a niche market of real rugby fans and not the population at large, so be it. We don’t want to ditch quality for quantity for the sake of profit. Rhino is a brand over 30 years in the making and we are not going to abandon our values”. “The preppie/ivy league look has been overdone and is very un-rugby” says Clark. The approach he is referring to of course is the random rugby brand generator – Polo shirt + place name + some numbers + rugby = fashion. Columbus Rugby 1492 for example – with so many brands following this formula, it beggars the question – who owns the rights to rugby? Perhaps Rugby school? The town of Rugby? The RFU? The IRB? The first person to copyright “rugby”? So now we get to the elephant in the room. Ralph Lauren famously tried to copyright rugby as part of their fashion brand RL Rugby, and has been scaring off anyone who they think might be encroaching on their rights to the use of the word “rugby” on leisurewear. They have also pursued a similar tack in relation to the use of the polo logo and infamously prevented the US Polo national governing body from using a polo player on a horse logo on their apparel! One man who knows all about the fight to own rugby is American James Carlberg of LiquidRugby.com. Carlberg started printing rugby tees back in the eighties and had built a successful business that was experiencing rapid growth as rugby grew in popularity in the States. Things were going so well that a number of apparel reps had been in touch about getting into the larger department stores. His legal struggles brought this to a halt. Thankfully Carlberg stuck it out and six years later won his case convincingly against Ralph Lauren. “I’m an entrepreneur and I believe in the American Dream. No one should be able to tell you what you can or can’t sell and who you can or can’t sell to” said James. In true rugby spirit, James has some advice for those wishing to enter this field “If you love our sport the way I do and you have a product or brand you believe in, fight for it”.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Twenty-20 Cricket – A Threat to the Traditional Game?

This weekend’s ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Sri Lanka will include fireworks, music and rowdy crowds - a far cry from the quietly traditional game that is as English as tea and scones. Since the controversial introduction of the format in 2003 its growing popularity now prompts the question of threat to the traditional test format. T20 was the ECB’s response to poor match attendance - and its economic implications - but was originally intended only for professional inter-county competition, promoted under the slogan ‘I don’t like cricket, I love it’. When the first match was held at Lord's in front of a 27,509-strong crowd, both cricket PR and the game took a quantum leap forward. This was the largest attendance for any county cricket game since a one-day final in 1953. Australia and Pakistan soon adopted the format and similarly enjoyed record crowds. The first international T20 match was between Australia and New Zealand in 2005 and as the players ran out onto the pitch wearing retro sportswear and moustaches, it was clear that this was very different from the traditional game. The increase in match attendance, viewing figures and income that Twenty20 has generated has been way beyond the ambitions of the founder – but most impressively the format has attracted a wealth of young players to the sport. In 2011 an ECB report revealed club membership increased by 4% from 2009 and there were now 7% more cricket coaches. Additionally, Canada, the Netherlands and Afghanistan, nations less well-known for their cricket credentials, have taken to the game whilst the demographics of the average fan have changed dramatically. For example, BMRB’s TGI Sport+ survey in 2008 revealed that T20 viewers are less likely to be male, more likely to be in the younger age groups (20% are under 30 compared to 16% of cricket fans) and less concentrated in high social grades (28% are in the AB grades, compared to 35% of cricket fans). Money is an important contributor to the T20 debate; many feel the inherent commercialization of Twenty20 has damaged cricket’s core values. Those in the opposing camp argue that the income generated has revived the game. Rebecca Hopkins, Managing Director of ENS, which specializes in Sport Sponsorship PR, commented, ‘Sports that can introduce a short format successfully will attract new audiences, new players and new sponsors. Football and rugby have both done this very successfully; golf has tried with varied results however a workable short-game still eludes tennis. Traditionalists, especially in a sport as traditional as cricket, will baulk at any radical changes but hats off to the ECB’s vision and bravery – both of which have been repaid and done great things for their game.’