E.ON is a leading energy company and the main sponsor to The Swedish Swimming Federation – that organizes all major championships and train national teams across all disciplines.
In the past, E.ON has primarily activated its sponsorship through logo-placements and ads congratulating the swimmers on all their successes. A conventional approach that E.ON asked us (the Agency) to challenge.
The overall goal was to create pride among employees and awareness of the sponsorship in the general public. The specific objective was to increase liking by 5% compared to previous similar activations.
We decided to reframe the brief.
Instead of the traditional focus on teams, medals and world-records we wanted to create real engagement.
The starting-point was a surprising fact. In a land full of lakes and surrounded by sea – one in five Swedish children can’t swim due to fear of water.
So, we set out to turn them into swimmers. Because swimming is so much more than moving through water. It is so much more than training, teams and medals. Swimming is life-saving. A life insurance.
In the process, we learned that exposure therapy is a technique commonly used to treat anxiety and a recent study demonstrates that VR can be effective in overcoming fear. So our idea was to help children overcome their fear through a combination of exposure therapy and virtual reality. In close collaboration with the Swedish Swimming Team we created and produced a VR experience that helped five children take a virtual plunge in the pool. We then introduced them to the Olympic team and a real pool.
We produced two films.
One Virtual Reality experience that children anywhere could experience through the free VR goggles we provided. And one that documented when five children tried the VR-experience and then were introduced to a real pool. That film was spread through own, earned, social and bought channels to promote the VR-experience and encourage children and parents to order the free goggles.
The films were produced over a two-day period and launched just before the Summer Olympics in Rio 2016 – and before the Swedish summer and bathing season.
We followed the five children every step of the way and created a film about their real and virtual experience together – which was spread thorough own, earned, social and bought channels. We designed and produced VR goggles – that children (and parents) could order online or pick up at their local swim club. For free. A few VR goggles were sent to influencers and journalists.
The media budget was limited to 200,000 TSEK (approximately €20,000) – so we focused on producing materials that would create impact and scale through own, earned and social media and touch points.
5,000 free VR goggles were ordered within days of releasing the activation, so new had to be produced. The Swedish Swimming Federation estimates that more than 4,000 children have now conquered their fear and started swimming as a direct result of the initiative.
The children’s response to the water has been completely changed by the VR experience. They say things like, “I was in the water in a second,” “I think that’s what I want to do when I grow up,” and “It feels good to be under water now.” The impact has been incredible, as more and more children have now started learning to swim. For real.
The initiative created unprecedented results:
- 230 million impressions through earned media at an estimated value of 49,3 MSEK.
- All major Swedish broadcasters and mainstream media reported on the project including SVT (public service TV), TV4 (main commercial channel), Aftonbladet (main newspaper), Sydsvenskan (main regional newspaper) etc. Other media include The Next Web , UploadVR , Campaign , Trend Hunter , Swimmer’s Daily, ze.tt, Pullbuoy, Creativity, Road to VR
- The engagement has been 242 times higher than the media investment and 381% higher than the objective.
- Liking of the film and activity was 84% (at all time high)
- Liking of E.ON increased with 19% (380% above objective)
Achievement against business targets
E.ON’s sponsorship activation has impacted the business targets positively. It crated a sense of purpose, pride and engagement among its many employees, as it became a widely reported news story in the mainstream media. Similarly, brand liking increased significantly (19%) among existing and potential consumers and businesses clients. Research shows that liking directly impacts purchase intention.
View the VR-clip with goggles:
View documentation film: