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Paul Simons: when you’re betting on England (or any sports team) be sure to have a Plan B

I wonder how many brands are trying to change airtime or copy since England crashed out of the World Cup?

Over this last weekend I was surprised to see several spots on TV very clearly believing England would still be in the frame for more games. Even last night, Sunday, there was a production for Carlsberg that featuring optimistic England supporters.

It hadn’t occurred to me before the weekend but a prudent client would have copy A and copy B to cover eventualities.

Years ago at Simons Palmer we ran a series of ads in press and posters for Nike featuring athletes in some major event and one by one they failed to reach the finals of their chosen competition. We hadn’t considered this outcome.

Then we received a call from one of the national newspapers asking for comment and we guessed we were in for a pasting.

Sure enough the next day the Mirror or the Sun ran a full page with the headline ‘What a Nikemare’ with copies of our advertising and some appropriate narrative basically trying to make us and Nike look at bit silly, to say the least.

With the client’s agreement we booked a full page for the following day, sent the Nike client a proposed layout and copy which was immediately approved. Next day it ran with the headline “If you going to put your foot in it, it might as well be in a pair of Nikes.”

It was picked up by national television and was featured on the morning BBC news.

Everyone was happy.

I realise for a lot of football fans the World Cup isn’t just about England, it is after all about the best in the world. However for the more casual follower, me included, it is unlikely I will watch many more matches apart from the final. So the ITV audience is going to change although airtime is booked and committed.

Let’s hope all those advertisers have copy B in their locker.

PS Here’s a nice World Cup-themed ad from DLKW Lowe for Sure. Safer to bet on the ref, obviously.
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About Paul Simons

Paul joined Cadbury-Schweppes in brand management and then moved to United Biscuits. He switched to advertising in his late 20s, at Cogent Elliott and then Gold Greenlees Trott. He founded Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow & Johnson in the late 80s, one of the leading creative agencies of the 90s. Simons Palmer then merged with TBWA to create a top ten agency. Paul then joined O&M as chairman & CEO of the UK group. After three years he left to create a new AIM-quoted advertising group Cagney Plc. He is now a consultant to a number of client companies. Paul also shares his thoughts on his blog. Visit Paul Simons Blog.
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