#aoty12: Sponsorship Agency of the Year - Synergy

Powerade: Synergy ran social campaign for the brand with Jessica Ennis
Powerade: Synergy ran social campaign for the brand with Jessica Ennis

The winning agency had a storming year, with new-business wins and a raft of social-media-driven work for several Olympics sponsors fuelling its record surge in profits.

Synergy has been crowned Marketing's Sponsorship Agency of the Year 2012, after riding the crest of an Olympic wave in the UK.

For the judges, Synergy's performance over the year was 'of an extremely high standard, with creativity and quality of execution that led the field'.

Profits surged a record 44% to £1.7m, while revenues were up 9% to £4.5m in the year, driven by a handful of new-business wins and fresh work for existing blue-chip Olympic sponsor clients such as BMW and Coca-Cola. Six new pieces of work worth more than £500,000 flowed into this business during 2012, while incremental business wins topped £600,000.

While Synergy's year was about more than just the London 2012 Olympics, the sporting extravaganza provided the agency with a platform to play an industry-leading role. In a smart piece of thought-leadership in February, the agency coined the term 'Socialympics' to denote London 2012's status as the first Games of the mainstream social-media era.

To explore what the concept meant for brands, athletes and rights-holders, it partnered sister agency Jam for a high-profile event generating fierce debate and column inches, while the term 'Socialympics' became part of the global vocabulary.

Furthermore, over the year Synergy and parent group Engine produced more than 125 new and original pieces of content during the Olympics and Paralympics, which generated thousands of tweets, including posts from Paralympian gold-medallist David Weir and table-tennis player David Wetherill.

Social media was present in some of Synergy's best creative this year, such as a campaign in the spring for Powerade, fronted by heptathlete Jessica Ennis.

Consumers sent @PoweradeGB images of themselves in a 'blocks' pose, with the #onyourmarks hashtag. The 30 best entries won the chance to set their 100m record in the Olympic Stadium, with training from Ennis' coach.

Over the three weeks of the promotion, Powerade's Twitter following went from zero to 5718. With 3.8m impressions and 27,000 engagements, the campaign was deemed five times more efficient than the Twitter average.

Rivalling this in the effectiveness stakes was the rugby companion app that Synergy built for RBS, which, tapping into the trend for second-screen engagement, challenged users to predict the outcome on the pitch in real time. In just eight weeks, it achieved more than 100,000 downloads, particularly among the 13- to 17-year-olds age group.

Synergy is led from the front by formidable chief executive Tim Crow and deputy managing director Dominic Curran, who are often to be found on sponsorship panel debates and are regularly cited in the international and national media.

Crow's Twitter feed, which at times can be controversial, has also become something of must-read for those involved in sport sponsorship.

The golden year of sport enjoyed across the nation during 2012 has been mirrored by the fortunes of Synergy, making the agency a worthy winner.

FOCUS ON - BMW'S MINI OLYMPIC MINI

As part of BMW's sponsorship of London 2012, Synergy developed the 'mini Mini' project. Working with LOCOG, Synergy formulated an unusual brand moment on the Olympic field of play as remote-controlled, working-scale models of Minis transported equipment such as javelins, discuses and hammers around the stadium.

Observers were amazed that Mini had managed to run the activity inside the Olympic stadium, as the area was designated to be 'clean' of branding. Seeing the Minis whizzing around became a talking point for fans inside the stadium and those watching on TV.

The campaign captured the public imagination and received global media coverage, through headlines such as 'Mini Olympics', and social-media buzz. The judges praised this as standout work, describing it as 'a simple but massively powerful idea'.

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