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How Boxpark scored as the place to be during the Euros 2020

Boxpark, in partnership with Here Be Dragons, won the ‘Most effective use of content’ award at The Drum Awards for PR 2021. Here, the team behind the winning entry reveals the behind-the-scenes secrets of this successful project...

The challenge

After 18 months of lockdown, the Euros were a crucial moment for the hospitality industry. Not only did England need to do well to keep fans interested in watching, but pubs and venues across the UK had to convince fans that watching football with your friends back in a crowded venue was not only safe, but also fun - the ONLY way to enjoy the tournament.

Boxpark (which operates a trio of food and retail parks in London constructed from refitted shipping containers) wanted to communicate its unique position as the foremost fanpark in London.

The strategy

Together, Boxpark and Here Be Dragons employed a four-pronged approach to make our content effective.

Physical & Digital Environment: Across the Boxpark estate (Croydon, Shoreditch, Wembley), we created stadium-like camera coverage of the crowd area to capture the action as it unfolded. For example, at Croydon, go-pro cameras were installed next to the big screen which allowed us to track the ecstasy and agony of every goal and near-miss. Cameras placed behind the crowd allowed us to perfectly capture the amount of beer thrown in the air every-time England scored. Digitally, we had free WiFi and charging points across the estate so fans didn't run out of data or juice to share their moment on social media, effectively turning them into 'always-on' reporters.

Earned Media: We created a press-pen type area for media and camera crews to get the best shots of the fans congregating and celebrating, allowing them full access to ensure that they got the shots they needed for the news bulletins. Broadcasters in attendance included Sky Sports, BBC Sports, ITV London and Channel 4. We had a media dissemination strategy to get content out instantly, whenever big moments happened in the games.

Media Partnership: We enlisted Sportbible to be its official media partner for Euro 2020 with a reactive content team amongst fans to bring the experience to their global audience of nearly 18 million. As well as digital billboards and branding throughout the venues, the partnership gave Sportbible exclusive roaming access to fans at all Boxpark venues. The Euro 2020 coverage with Sportbible involved teams on the ground reporting on fan reactions, testing fans on their Euro knowledge and capturing the extravagant celebrations of England fans to share across Sportbible’s TikTok, Instagram and Twitter channels.

Owned Media: Our social media platforms (FB, IG, Twitter) became channels that could instantly engage with fans (further distributing their native content), media (facilitating their request for content) and celebrities (inviting them to events/ engaging with their captive football communities). Followers of the Boxpark Croydon Instagram page jumped by nearly 70%, surpassing its Shoreditch sibling thanks to incredible footage.

The campaign

We executed at speed across these four 'channels', creating a lean sign-off process right from content capture, through to editing, to approval to then issuing that content. For instance, if an England goal was scored, fan reactions were captured, sent out to media immediately, edited into gifs and short 15 second clips for social and issued via SPORTbible channels, all while the game was still going on.

We adopted a 'newsroom' like approach to the events, with PR and content teams both on site and remotely, primed to capture and distribute the best content across the channels. UK grime star Stormzy's visit was a good example of how this was activated. Upon his arrival, he and his group were given seats that were in a prime location for content capture. The next day, his group of friends were on the front page of The Evening Standard newspaper, with a full credit to Boxpark both pictorially and via the captions. This was all planned and part of the process.

In addition to the football, we knew we had to maximise the fanpark experience for visitors, creating more shareable moments for them beyond the 90 minutes. We event-programmed around the football screenings, adding to the fanpark experience and also augmenting the opportunity for people to share content. Performances from Atomic Kitten, Shaun Williamson and John Barnes helped populate social media feeds and also provided ambient content to media as part of the 'big-match build up'.

The results

The metrics and results exceeded agency and client expectations.

PR: Over 1,110 pieces of content coverage across print, online and broadcast, with a combined reach/ OTS of 18.4 billion (including key pieces in the Guardian and Evening Standard that called the activity a 'PR Coup', saying 'the complex has had an excellent Euros, whoever does Boxpark's PR deserves a payrise' (Evening Standard) and labelling Boxpark Croydon as one of the 'eleven Euros winners off the pitch' (The Guardian).

Digital Traffic: Over 2 million visits to Euro pages in our website in June.

Commercial: Screening ticket sales of £190k and bar sales reaching £1.2million across the period.

Social: Across this period, (vs the month before), our social following for Boxpark increased 20%, with our published content up 115.8%, impressions up 513% and engagements up 831.8%. Our overall video content views increased 1147.9% vs the month before, showing that the content gained real traction & engagement.

Sport bible partnership: Over 10 million views across TikTok videos and Instagram reels which was syndicated globally via Ladbible and Oddsbible communities.

Jack Grealish (England Footballer) on where he would be watching the football if he wasn't playing: “I think I’d be at BOXPARK. I’ve seen a few videos of that and it looked unreal."

DJ Spoony on Boxpark Wembley: “Boxpark Euro2020. Wow. It was definitely the hottest ticket in town, requests for the guest list were through the roof. Boxpark has become the ‘go to’ place to watch a tournament. I was a part of the team that delivered the last World Cup and I can already see how the project has grown. I’ve really enjoyed combining two of my passions, football and music, to give the nation the greatest fan park experience.”

This project was a winner at The Drum Awards for PR 2021. To find out which Drum Awards are currently open for entry, click here.

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