This is how Sweden’s leading football club and its main sponsor touched nearly a billion football lovers through smart use of media in just a few hectic hours – despite tough restrictions and very limited budgets.

What is this all about?
To mark the return of football legend Zlatan Ibrahimovich to his hometown for the Champions League match against his old club and create awareness of E.ONs sponsorship – a single (epic) and never before used OOH placement was created – to kick-off a series of well coordinated activities – generating nearly 3,9 million interactions and reaching more than 900 million fans through smart use of bought, earned and social media – in just a few hectic hours – despite restrictions and a limited investment.

It all started with a projection of the letter ‘Z’ on the highest building in Malmö…

Malmö Football Club has ‘produced’ a number of world-class players including Zlatan Ibrahimovic – widely regarded as one of the best footballers of his generation and the greatest Swedish sportsperson of all time.

Zlatan, who plays for French Champions – PSG, had a chance to make history when he was meeting the club were it all stated – Malmö Football Club in his home town in the group stage of Champions League (one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world).

The brief was simply to create positive awareness for Malmö Football Club and their main sponsor E.ON and their focus on renewable energy among employees and key stakeholders – through creative and untraditional use of media.

The challenge was to break trough the ’clutter’ and restrictions, as Champions League’s sponsors were given exclusive exposure.

As the sponsor of the underdog, with all eyes being on PSG and Zlatan, how do you turn around the focus to boost MFF, ultimately creating goodwill for E.ON?

The idea was simply to keep your friends close but your enemies closer – A giant and iconic ’Z’ was projected on the tallest building in the Nordics – to give Zlatan a hero’s welcome – just as Zlatan and PSG were approaching Malmö to the pre-match conference.

The gesture didn’t go unnoticed – a visibly moved Zlatan started the press conference (with nearly 800 journalists) by saying thank you…and setting things in motion. Just as all eyes of the sports media world were on the giant Z it was replaced with a projection of the MFF-logo really boosting the spirit of the home town fans.

E.ON is Sweden’s second largest utility company and targets a number of stakeholders through sponsorship engagements including employees, shareholders, government and regulators, the community, customers, suppliers and contractors, NGO’s, journalists, consumers and existing customers.

The activity was (in fact) a series of well coordinated activities starting with the (bough media) projection of ‘Z’ using renewable energy on the highest building in the Nordics. The building structure is shaped as a series of ‘Z’ that was used when creating the projection. Step two was to provide journalists (earned) with a story from Zlatan himself and content (film, images of the Z). Step three was seeding and sharing a film that revealed E.ON as the proud sponsor – making the stunt possible through renewable energy. And as a final step, the ‘Z’ was replaced by Malmö Football Club’s logo – to really mark the support for the home team.

Perfect timing was crucial in order to touch Zlatan’s heart – and thereby set in motion a number of well coordinated activities. Every step was meticulously pre-planned, produced and executed in ‘real time’.

1) 1 untraditional (epic) OOH placement (bought)
2) 800 journalist to broadcast (earned)
3) Materials for seeding and sharing through social media platforms (own and earned)
4) 2nd untraditional OOH placement (own, earned)

Although the idea was brutally simple, the scale was massive. As Champions League’s sponsors were given exclusive exposure – the tallest building in the Nordics (located in Malmö) was used to make sure that the ‘Z’ would be visible for all including Zlatan. In parallel (and in real-time), a film was created and seeded that revealed E.ON as the positive force behind the biggest sport-story of the year (in Sweden) and the world (that day).

In just a few hours – sport and news organizations in Sweden, Europe and around the world (incl. ESPN, CNN, Mirror, Le Parisien etc.) generated a flood of coverage across all platforms.

The iconic ‘Z’ symbol was uploaded and shared tens of thousands of times across all social media platforms, generating more than 3,85 million social interactions within the first 18 hours.

With a total reach of over 930 million people it became the most trending story that day on Twitter.

The MFF symbol, replacing the Z, also got coverage and shares never before seen.

The ROI was unprecedented, as the investment was limited to one OOH placement (bought) and costs of producing content (film, images, press releases.)

Not only did the activity create pride among E.ON’s employees and residents of Malmö, fans of both teams – it touched the heart of one of the best footballers of his generation.

Examples of media coverage:
UEFA Champions League I Mirror I ESPN I Daily Mail I Le Parisien I CNN I The Sport Bible I PSG I VG
Yahoo I De Telegraaf I 1970 PSG I 20 minutes I Eurosport I Ekstrabladet I The Guardian I Sportit
La Nouvelle Republique I Nederland Nieuws I Today Sport I Sporx I Get French Football I NESN
Aftonbladet I Expressen I SVT I SVT Play I Sydsvenskan I Feber I TV4 Nyhetsmorgon I SvD I DN
GP I Sveriges Radio I Dagbladet I Allsvenskan I Sportbladet I MFF I The Local I OMNI I Sportamore
Lokaltidningen I Lajkster I Skånska Dagbladet I Malmö Town I TV 4 I Viasat Sport I Aftonbladet TV


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