We used data and Artificial Intelligence (AI), to write The Script for the 19/20 football season – before a ball had even been kicked. Blurring the lines between fact and fiction – The Script ignited a global debate that spanned 44 countries and weaved BT Sport into footballing culture and conversation.
In 2019 BT Sport’s marketing budgets were cut - with a renewed focus to do more with less. With the new football season about the begin, our brief was to match the previous years’ subscriptions, with a fraction of the media spend.
Yet selling sport has never been so hard.
As new competitors emerge and consumer behaviours change, traditional broadcasters, like BT Sport, are facing unprecedented challenges. Younger audiences now watch more football highlights on Snapchat than live games on TV. Streaming services, like Now TV and Amazon Prime, offer no-strings sport to commitment-phobic consumers. And the threat of online piracy has become increasingly sophisticated too. Where users once tolerated free, fuzzy feeds, now they can watch in crystal clear Ultra HD for a fraction of the cost of a BT subscription.
Describe the Creative idea / data solution (20% of vote)
The agony. The ecstasy. Incredible highs. Unbearable lows. Moura’s 95th minute winner. Liverpool’s 4-goal turnaround against Barcelona. From the embers of the most remarkable and unpredictable Champions League season ever, a truth emerged. You just can’t write this stuff. Or can you?
So, we united the biggest minds in sports data - Google Cloud, Opta and Squawka - to do the unthinkable. Write the script for the entire 2019/20 season using Artificial Intelligence. Before a ball had even been kicked.
Creating a 60 page dossier that would ignite a global debate like nothing the football community had seen before.
A debate that would start on social media but would spread into WhatsApp groups, pub conversations, radio debate and TV analysis.
Leveraging BT talent, partners, owned channels and earned media to deliver awareness and sales like BT Sport had never seen before.
Describe the data driven strategy (30% of vote)
To create something this ambitious and authentic, we needed specialists in every position. And, importantly, we needed to establish credibility amongst a notoriously data-synical audience.
BT Sport couldn’t pay huge fees, so we had to unite our partners under a shared vision and purpose. To create genuinely game-changing work.
Opta are the world’s leading supplier of sports data. So, we started there. Once we had the data, we needed the data models and somewhere to host them. So we combined the brilliant analytical minds at Squawka with the power of the Google Cloud platform. Decades of Opta football data covering every club, competition, player and manager, was injested into our models. And we ran them. Again. And again. And again.
The result? Well, every result possible. Winners, losers, goalscorers even assists. For every Premier League, Champions League and Europa League game. Thousand, upon thousands of data points.
Describe the creative use of data, or how the data enhanced the creative output (30% of vote)
From numbers, came stories. As we transformed raw data, into our Script of the Season.
Crafted with meticulous detail to look, read and feel like an authentic film script.
The fortunes of every club mapped out in incredible detail. With glorious data visualisation used to hero key stats.
Then the PR machine went into overdrive. Physical copies of the script were released to pundits, players, influencers and journalists.
Then, to the nation. And the conversation erupted. Before we’d spent a penny on advertising. Discussed everywhere, from TalkSport to the Guardian, an hour special with Spencer FC to a studio debate on ESPN.
We took over national rail stations, handing out copies of the script to commuters.
Then, the final chapter. The true jeopardy of football revealed in our iconic DOOH Unscripted campaign.
Proving that you can’t script it but you can watch it, on BT Sport.
List the data driven results (20% of vote)
We delivered 30% more BT Sport subscriptions than 2018/19, with a quarter of the 2018/19 budget.
We generated enough earned media to more than double our paid media budget. Including £1.7m earned media from the Script alone (pre-OOH phase going live) - an ROI of 34:1.
We delivered unprecedented global coverage and engagement including 137 million impressions across 44 countries, plus:
o 128 pieces of organic coverage.
o 2.3m print circulation
o 5.6m online views.
o 2.1m engagements.
o Over 40,000 new social followers of BT Sport within the 10-day campaign period.