The Aquatic Conference kicked-off this morning with a session entitled “Brand Aquatics- Grasping the Commercial opportunities”.
Experts Jim Andrews from ESP Properties, Kazuhiro Kiyoshige from Japanese marketing agency Dentsu and Alisport Vice-President Wang Dong took part in the panel, while Peter Carlisle, Omnigon Managing Director was moderating the discussions.
Sport represents a unique opportunity for commercial organisations to positively influence a global audience. Ways on how National Federations, clubs, right holders and event organisers maximise their sponsorship value and work hard with brands were debated this morning. The session explained how sponsorship can be optimised to achieve way beyond a commercial level.
Jim Andrews (ESP Properties) said: “Sponsorship has changed over the last three decades. And what has really changed the game? We now have access to data. Using this data we can really engage and personalise communications for our audiences. After all, the audience remains at the heart of the sponsorship proposition in the world of marketing.”
Kazuhiro Kiyoshige (Dentsu) said: “FINA is in great shape now. But the marketing landscape is evolving rapidly and our partner’s needs are changing. So, we have to adapt ourselves to a new environment. FINA has unique assets but we have an opportunity to evolve. We cannot stand still. Sponsors need to reach consumers in new ways, through new channels, with new reasons to stay current. For example, Swimming for All – Swimming for Life is a great story for FINA to sell. It provides a unique opportunity for potential sponsors.”
Dong Wang (Alisports): “Swimming is already one of the most popular sports in China but the country is encouraging more children across the country to take part in the sport. Following our success at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, national icons such as Fu Yuanhui are inspiring the country and raising the awareness of the beautiful sport of swimming.”
Following the lively panel talks, the morning concluded with “The Hosting Debate- Delivering a lasting legacy from Aquatic events”, moderated by FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu.
It is acknowledged that there are many benefits of hosting a sport event, many of which extend beyond economic impacts. This session analysed the issues host cities are facing and need to address. In addition, it shed light on the socio-economic legacy Aquatic events can deliver.
Azat Kadyrov, ANO Executive Directorate for Sports Projects, shared insights on the legacy left behind from the 16th FINA World Championships 2015 in Kazan and the long-term benefit for the future generations.
Tamas Gyarfas, Vice President of FINA and Co-President of the 17th FINA World Championships 2017 Budapest, provided a progress update on the preparations and developments for the 17th FINA World Championships 2017 Budapest.
Eva Szanto, Budapest 2017 Executive Director gave a presentation about next year’s World Championships. “It is only 221 days to go until the Championships and I can guarantee you that we are doing everything to be ready to welcome you all next summer in our wonderful city.”
After presenting the competition’s schedules Mrs Szanto informed the audience that “around 10 000 master athletes are expected to take part.”
“Knowledge and expertise is the third pillar of the legacy that will be left after the World Championships in Budapest. The knowledge transfer will hopefully be used for future events in our country.”
Windsor 2016 Executive Director Peter Knowles said: “The World Swimming Championships isn’t much different to the World Championships and Windsor is one of the smallest cities to host such a huge event. However it has a big lasting legacy potential. Of course there is the infrastructures and facilities which we can call it the “hard legacy” many of which the city will benefit from in the long term. The new 25m swimming pool that was built for example will serve the East Windsor community who didn’t have a pool at all before. But there is also what I call the “soft legacy” and the sport legacy that will inspire many children along the way. Both of which are non-negligible. FINA major events provide a significant legacy potential and economic benefits.”
FINA’s next step into the digital world
“The Digital Challenge – creating a compelling fan experience” was the focus of the penultimate session today at the Caesar Hotel. Digital experts Peter Diamond (NBC Olympics), Andrew Miah (Salford University in Manchester) and FINA Events and Services Manager Will Bastin composed the panel.
Infront Sport & Media Claude Ruibal displayed the various digital platform that exists in the U.S. mainly and the video platforms that are available on the market.
Peter Diamond, Vice-President of Programming at NBC Olympics said: “In Rio, NBC broadcast 65,000 hours of content across cable networks and digital platforms. In any day, you could watch the Games on 11 different forms of media. Our exclusive and unprecedented coverage of the 2016 Rio Olympics provided more ways to consume more hours of content across more platforms than any Olympic Games ever. It was the most live streamed event and the most successful digital event in U.S. history. Aquatics was responsible for approximately 4.4 million unique users to NBC online streams, swimming leading the way with 2.8 million unique visitors.”
Andy Miah, Chair in Science Communication and Digital Media at the University of Salford said: “The idea of being a fan is something in transition and the development of technology is changing the way sports organisations communicate with their fan bases. We all consume digital content differently and as a result we are still figuring out what fans want. One thing is clear: the importance of the live experience. Mattering is critical to having a sustained community of digital fans.”
Mr Bastin introduced FINA’s newly launched first ever mobile application and presented the various features the app provides.
He said: “Our objective was to make historical information, that wasn’t available before, accessible to our online fan base for free. In creating the official FINA mobile app we have the opportunity to remain relevant to our global audiences and bring fans closer to our athletes. Live results and timings for swimming will happen for the first time here in Windsor, Canada, for the 13th FINA World Swimming Championships. Since London 2012 there has been a big shift in how we consume and engage in the sport. The digital landscape will have evolved again by Tokyo 2020 and as a result we need to work together to provide the best possible service to our community of fans.”
Athletes at the heart of the action
An extraordinary athletes’ panel concluded not only the day but also the three-day Convention in Windsor this afternoon.
The session was moderated by FINA Bureau Member Matt Dunn. Coming back on their debut in Aquatic sports and how they have let their passion propel them to the top, the athletes share some insight with the delegates in the room.
Gary Hunt said: “My first few years was such a learning curve for me. I was always trying a different dive. For me the major moment was my first 27-metre dive, a dive I had never performed. On this dive, there was no point of reference or nobody to ask for advice. I still use that dive to this day, it is my secret weapon that has kept me apart from the pack.”
“However, for years I was just transferring my classic platform dive into high diving. I didn’t really have anyone to refer to. It is only step by step that you can go from a 10m-platform to a 27m-one. There’s a lot of steps to take in between and it doesn’t happen overnight. There will never be a grassroots programme in high diving obviously but diving is a good preparation. Trampoline and gymnastics are good options too.”
Strongly willing to help grow the sport still pretty unknown from the wider public, Hunt said: “Experienced high divers should be able to speak through panel talks with the younger generation and hopefully inspire them.”
Lazlo Cseh contributed by saying: “It is only after a good race back in 2002 that I decided that I wanted to focus on swimming. This year was really a catalyst in my sport career I think. The most memorable moment for me was in Beijing 2008 when I got the silver medal after Michael Phelps, plus the two other silver medals that I got there too.”
“The three people tie from Rio was just incredible. This has never happened to me before. I really enjoyed those moment with the victory ceremony too. It was great to swim the podium with the other two swimmers.”
“Hungarian swimming history played a key role in inspiring.”
Bill May came back on his career beginning: “I left my family to move to California in 1995 to pursue my dream. I have tirelessly kept pushing for creating a mixed duet event in synchronised swimming. Hearing people’s comment that I shouldn’t do, that it would never been approved, drove me to keep going. I wanted to prove everybody that mixed duet had a place in the World Championships, an eventually in the Olympics. It is exciting to see the sport evolving like this because I am here from the beginning. I knew it was going somewhere and that I wasn’t doing all of this for nothing. Adding men, more diversity, into the sport is just going to make the sport grow because more people will be able to relate.”
“The best thing that synchronised swimming can do is to have grassroots programmes for kids so boys can engage with the sport at a young age.”
Meaghan Benfito (CAN) said: “My first championships at home in Montreal, the moment I stood up on the platform, was the moment that made me dedicate myself to training and aim to compete in the Olympic Games.”
Aaron Feltham (CAN) said: “What inspired me was the opportunity of playing and competing in international competitions. And it is the current water polo stars that have the ability to inspire the next generation of athletes.”
Janet Evans (USA) said: “People doubted me a lot at the beginning of my swimming career, it was the continuous success that drove me to work hard and believe in myself.”