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Chess is described as the world’s greatest game, yet it is by far the most popular, cool or even played sport.
On behalf of Cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab, Manifest were tasked with launching a campaign to amplify the brand’s sponsorship of the World Chess Championships and bring a new, younger audience not only to the brand but to chess.
Set against a backdrop of negative press for Kaspersky, after a long-running spat with Donald Trump and his ‘fake news’ campaign with Russia; the Moscow-based company needed to improve brand perception. Our brief was to deliver a campaign that lands the brand’s sponsorship of World Chess Championships coverage, leverage the “innovative tech” brand proposition – and get 18-35-year-olds to know that Kaspersky exists!
The key to unlocking this brief was looking at the real problem – chess wasn’t cool! Our campaign had to change the state of the game in the eyes of media and the public. We needed impact and cultural relevance.
From technology to sport to art, we ensured a common thread – a celebration of the unlimited capacity of humans to achieve incredible things. We built a narrative around Kaspersky believing such achievements should be held up to inspire new generations of talent. These achievements were at the campaign’s heart.
We proposed a three-step campaign to mirror modern-day, popular sporting news:
We researched who is media-worthy and connected to chess using Manifest’s social listening tool The Loop whilst also scouring news outlets to see who knew their pawn from their rook. We found that Liverpool FC footballer Trent Alexander-Arnold was a chess fan and plays the game before a football match to help him focus. The fact our talent was young and from one of the nation’s passion points (football) meant we could capture people’s imagination. A day after speaking to Trent we drew up a contract.
Whilst searching for our ‘star’ we also set out to find a coach that would feel right for the campaign – a talent to match Trent’s football ‘wonderkid’ status in chess circles. We hired both Kyan Bui, 12, and Shreyas Royal, nine, as joint coaches to show how the next generation of chess players are already playing at a competitive level.
We wondered if we could use eye-tracking technology to help determine your opponent’s next move. Partnering with tech gurus 4tiitoo we created a one-of-a-kind board to allow one player to see behind the poker face by providing a heat map of the other player’s focus. This heat map would transmit live to an iPad facing the opposing player allowing them to gauge their opponent’s move. It would help Trent to predict Magnus’s moves – and positioned Kaspersky at the forefront of technological innovation.
A week before the match we arranged a training day with Trent and the chess prodigies hosted at Trent’s house as an opportunity for photography, B-Roll footage (that we pitched to media to drum up excitement) and to introduce Trent to the eye-tracking tech. On match day we liaised with Trent’s team to ensure media questions were approved by Liverpool FC and handled all logistics – including getting Magnus on his flight!
With Kaspersky as the facilitator of tech, newsworthy people and a traditional sport becoming mainstream, we turned the partnership into a global phenomenon. The campaign put chess in the spotlight ahead of the World Chess Championship and engaged audiences beyond World Chess’ typical reach, proving Kaspersky as a valuable sponsor. The news surpassed all previous stories from Kaspersky with 100% positive coverage.
Across the space of a single week, we secured 489 pieces of coverage, including 25 national and international print, 27 UK national news online, 54 consumer online, 95 international online and 70 broadcast.
“There isn’t much to say bedsides: Incredible results. Amazing. Thank you so much for the hard work. I mean, it was even physically hard, remembering how we all looked the night before the event… This has been the most successful single press event I have done in this company, and it is the one that I am really proud of.”
Rainer Bock, Head of Production, Cyber Content at Kaspersky