Sky Sports unveils major push to outmanoeuvre Virgin Media

SkyBSkyB is launching a three-pronged advertising attack to promote Sky Sports’ coverage of Premier League football in an attempt to outgun upstart rival Setanta. The satellite operator will continue its tit-for-tat spat with cable rival Virgin Media and its tie-up with Irish pay-TV operator Setanta, as well as highlight Sky’s 15-year relationship with the Barclays-sponsored Premiership, now the Premier League.

The multi-million pound campaign is Sky Sports’ biggest in “a number of years” to promote its top flight matches, according to Sky director of brand strategy and marketing Robert Tansey. It follows Setanta’s entry into the market from this season after the EU legislated that Sky could not hold exclusive rights to Premier League matches.

From today (Wednesday) television and print work will emphasise a savings message, outlining how much See Speak Surf subscribers with Sky Sports can save versus equivalent Virgin Media packages.

A copy-heavy campaign, continuing Sky’s blue-background print advertising, breaks later this week. It aims to “put straight” the free Setanta sports package offered by Virgin Media for its XL TV subscribers, announced last week. Tansey says the deal contains “misleading” information and “artificially forces” customers to take phone and broadband in order to qualify for the package.

In early August, ahead of the August 11 start to the season, a heavyweight TV, press and poster campaign will begin focusing on Sky’s emotive heritage with the league and feature 15 iconic players such as Wayne Rooney, David Ginola, Eric Cantona and Ian Wright.

Another version will be created showcasing each Premier League club, supported by an outdoor campaign close to stadia. The campaign will focus on Sky’s “biggest season yet”. Tansey says that despite two of the six packages of games going to Setanta, it will screen more games than in previous seasons. All will be available in high definition (HD) format.

The information campaign strands have been developed by WCRS, while Sky Sports incumbent Brothers & Sisters has created the heritage work. Setanta, which is expected to confirm it is to run a sports news channel on Virgin Media, is understood to be launching a multi-million pound marketing campaign created by Big Al’s Creative Emporium, with media planning and buying by BLM Media.

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