The series starts today (10 July) at Trent Bridge and marks the start of two back-to-back Ashes series with 10 Test matches played over months.
Investec, title sponsor of the series, is looking to capitalise on the increased exposure around the event with a flurry of activity to promote its “Voyage” private bank account. Brand ambassadors and England cricketers Stuart Broad and Steven Finn will be used in Twitter activity alongside promotions for its “Runs Predictor” ticket giveaway.
Elsewhere, kit supplier Adidas is launching virals and social media content around the matches. It is the latest phase of the sports brand’s “Stand Together” campaign, launched last year, to promote both the England cricket team and the British and Irish Lions. Adidas will be using the event to refine its fledgling strategy to create tactical campaigns around sports fans’ conversations.
Natwest, which sponsors one-day international cricket matches in England, is hoping the heightened interest in the sport can spike awareness for its grassroots initiatives. It is offering three recreational cricket clubs the chance to win a fundraising match against a team of ex-England internationals in the NatWest Locals v Legend Series.
Additionally, sponsors including Buxton Water, Yorkshire Tea and Westons Cider are launching campaigns. The sponsorship activity is running alongside an ECB campaign, developed in partnership with Brands2Life, calling on fans to get behind the team through a web app. It is part of the wider ”Rise for the Ashes” campaign.
Steve Elworthy, managing director of global events and marketing at the ECB, says: We’re looking at the increased profile of cricket over the next three years – with this Ashes, Sri Lanka & India next year and the Ashes in2015 – as an opportunity to create a legacy around the sport. The activity we’re doing this summer aims to boost the traffic to our digital channels, particularly to our “TwelfthMan” fan community.
“From a commercial point of view, it gives our sponsors a platform to to develop a better understanding of the type of content fans want moving forward.”
Cricket chiefs have banned non-sponsors from mentioning “The Ashes” this summer, in an attempt to limit ambush-marketing tactics. The ECB wants the clamp down, along with with its own customer-centric marketing strategy to help it to rival the commercial dominance of Twenty20 cricket. It has sold more than 600,000 tickets for the matches and has a deal in place with YouTube to stream the series across Europe and Latin America.
The ECB is hoping the Ashes provides a hook for the organisation to capture more data on its fans following the revamp of its marketing offering at the start of the year.