After a difficult Covid-19 season with empty stadiums, football club Ajax made a unique gesture by melting down their 35th national championship trophy into 42,390 little stars - one for each Ajax partner and season ticket holder.
The surprise makes the fans feel appreciated, as it strengthens their bond with the club and gives them a tangible memory for life. A piece of Ajax sparks appreciation nationally and globally, making the news in 150 countries within 24 hours after launching.
The coronavirus hits Ajax and its fans right in the heart. The stadium remains empty for a full season, even when the 35th national championship is won. Despite the empty stadium, Ajax continues to feel the unconditional support of its fans all year round.
This made us think.
How do we include our partners and season ticket holders in the 35th title win and thank them for their loyalty?
How do we build interest in Ajax among football fans globally?
This is important because global visibility and appreciation of Ajax lead to a greater reach, a higher commercial value, and to more pride amongst the Dutch fanbase.
1) 100 million impressions through earned media
2) An earned media value of 2 million euros
3) 1 million views of video content
4) 90% positive feedback
5) 50% growth in social followers compared to an average period
Describe the creative idea
The success of Ajax is the success of its fans, even when they’re not allowed to be physically in the stadium due to Covid-19. That’s why Ajax decides to do the unthinkable: share the 35th national title with its fans. Literally.
How? By melting down the precious championship trophy, the top prize in Dutch football, into more than 42,000 little stars: A reference to the three championship stars on the chest of the Ajax shirt.
Every season ticket holder and business relation received a personal thank letter and a unique piece of the trophy: 'A Piece of Ajax'. Each star weighs 3.45 grams and contains 0.06 grams of the real championship trophy.
The campaign is a sports world first. Never before has a club shared its trophy with the fans in this way – anywhere.
Describe the strategy
Culture of Ajax
Ajax is a club that's globally known for its bold, attacking style of play. For over 100 years, creativity has been at the center of Ajax' DNA, both on and off the pitch. It's something the fans expect of Ajax as well.
Unlike their European competitors, Ajax does not have the budgets to reach football fans worldwide with a paid media strategy. Hence why they must be creative to earn attention.
With a personalized and tailored earned media approach, an influential (inter)national media network is involved in spreading the story. By using non-Dutch Ajax players in the campaign, Ajax expands the reach in player's home countries like Brazil, Morocco, and Mexico.
The result? Within 24 hours, media from 150 countries write about A Piece of Ajax.
Describe the execution
To create the stars, Ajax collaborates with the creators of the trophy. They melt the trophy and supplement the metal with the right amount of pure tin, after which the stars are cast, polished and neatly packed in a smart black box.
Ten days after winning the league title, all 42,390 stars arrive in the fans’ mailboxes at the same time. The package also includes a personal letter from Ajax thanking fans for their support during a difficult year.
The same day, Ajax announces the campaign on its website and social media channels. The scenic hero video stars well-known Ajax players as well as the popular technical director Marc Overmars.
To confirm the authenticity of the campaign, a making-of video and Instagram slider are shared, explaining the casting process step by step. Finally, all Ajax players share pictures with their Piece of Ajax, increasing the reach on social media.
Describe the outcome
With an all-in budget of 120,000 euros, Ajax made the news in 150 countries with a total of over 1,600 publications and an earned media value of 12 million euros (500% above target).
The campaign had an earned reach of 3.75 billion (3,600% above target) in print and online publications and over 900 million social impressions. The total number of content views reached 12.1 million (1,100% above target).
99% of the reactions were positive (target: 90%), igniting global love and appreciation for Ajax.
Ajax saw an average growth of 1126% (target: 50%) in new followers on their social accounts compared to an average period. With almost 10 million views on Twitter, the hero video tweet even became Ajax’s highest-scoring tweet ever.
The stars were hugely popular. Within hours after the launch, people rushed to buy them on eBay, Catawiki and Marktplaats, with bids of up to a thousand euros.