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May 2, 2008

Event advertiser benefits from England blunder

The effectiveness of event advertising has reached new heights following England goalkeeper Paul Robinson’s misfortune at being out-tackled by a divot during the national team’s dire performance against Croatia last week.

The image of the blunder, with Robinson gazing in disbelief at the ball rolling into his own goal, has appeared across the world’s media, exploding the coverage for Sacha ‘Ali G’ Baron Cohen’s new movie Borat, an advertisement for which can be clearly seen in the background as it flashed up on the electronic advertising hoarding. Hilariously, Cohen can be seen grinning madly as England concede one of the most bizarre goals ever.

The strange coincidence has put event advertising in the spotlight, with the Guardian reporting on the incident under the banner ‘Business of sport’. Not only does the newspaper amusingly describe the comedy on the pitch, but also goes into the relatively new form of sport advertising in some depth.

According to the Guardian, film company 20th Century Fox claimed its five minutes of perimeter airtime for £30,000 when a late package became available. “While Robinson was unluckly, they were lucky,” Jonathan Charles, head of sales at the specialist sports agency Skyville, which sold the space, told the newspaper. “They were only aiming at the UK market, but the studios were taken aback by the response – they had calls from the film’s distributors in South America, Japan and China. They had all seen it!”

Initially drawing criticism for being distracting, the electronic perimeter boards have now been broadly accepted, allowing advertisers’ messages to roll around the entire stadium during sporting events – they are not just restricted to football matches. The cost of hiring the boards means they are generally used to take advantage of large TV audiences, allowing more to be charged for advertising.

“The moving boards do much better [than the old static boards],” Charles told the Guardian, “getting 100% eyeball of those tuned into the programme. Advertisers used to view them as below the line, but now some are finding it a better option than a 30-second TV commercial at half-time.”

Charles expects to see use of the boards expand, with advertisers initially looking at the advantages of installing them at four English clubs: Arsenal, Fulham, Manchester United and West Ham United.

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