miércoles, 11 de agosto de 2010

Strategy for the Future of Chess Marketing

Source: Karpov 2010

Making Chess a Professionally Marketed Sport

The Karpov2010 Campaign has the pleasure to share a detailed and comprehensive marketing strategy for chess, prepared by Ravi Abhyankar, a senior advisor to the Karpov campaign. Hailing from Mumbai, India, Mr. Abhyankar is a leading expert on international marketing, having worked with a number of major multinational corporations. This ground-breaking plan aims to make chess a commercially viable sport. Beginning with a comprehensive worldwide chess market survey and proceeding to offer a number of major fresh ideas, including FIDE-sponsored internet broadcasts of chess events, ways to secure major advertisement and the creation of a Global Chess League, this document offers a badly-needed alternative to the stagnation and complacency which have characterized FIDE under the leadership of Kirsan Ilumzhinov.

World Chess Federation (FIDE) with Anatoly Karpov – the former world champion as its president – is committed to make Chess a commercially run mega-sport attractive for corporations and other sponsors. We are committed to implement the following initiatives in the first 12 months, since taking charge in October 2010:

1. Robust database creation
2. FIDE Internet and mobile chess channel
3. Enhance viewing experience
4. Create advertising slots
5. Creating a hub system for internet matches
6. Launch of the Global Chess League

A] Introduction: Soccer, baseball, cricket and lawn tennis are games where a viewer watches the ball movements for hours. Ball games are easy to understand, follow and don’t require special brainpower or training. The majority of tennis viewers have never held a tennis racquet in hand, and most soccer viewers have never entered a soccer field.

Chess is different than the ball games. It is not visually attractive (unless the chess player is a beauty queen) and it is followed only by those who can understand the game. It is safe to assume that an interested chess viewer himself plays chess or has played chess in the past. The number of chess players in the world, therefore, defines the size of the viewership market. Estimates vary considerably. “The chess in the Olympics” campaign mentioned that “605 million people worldwide know how to play chess, 285 million play on internet and 7.5 million are registered players”. These figures appear to be significantly exaggerated, but it is important to note that the actual figures, whatever they are, will be in millions. (Source: http://www.kenilworthchessclub.org/kenilworthian/2007/02/how-manychessplayers.html)

The first job Fide will undertake is to make a robust research to identify the size of chess viewership market. This exercise will help us when talking to advertisers wishing to reach large numbers across several markets. Until this data becomes available, for the purpose of this report, a worldwide figure of 20 million chess
viewers is assumed.

B] Robust database creation: FIDE, the supreme body for organization of chess, has officially affiliated federations in 161 countries. FIDE will undertake a global census of chess players, rated or otherwise, to arrive at a market size. This data will be collected on-line and will be as detailed as is practically possible. With data collection, consent will be sought for FIDE or its sponsors to approach the viewer for any direct marketing or promotion activities.

The outside world normally perceives a chess player or viewer as a male in his twenties, wearing glasses, possibly a smoker, single, tech-savvy, eccentric and intellectual. As a result, it was thought that companies like IBM or Intel were the ideal match for chess sponsorship. This is a myth. Chess players/viewers eat, drink, have families, hold jobs, take holidays, travel, use mobiles, have bank accounts, pay for insurance, go to parties, drive, shop with credit cards, watch movies and listen to music. There is no difference between a chess viewer and a soccer or tennis viewer, as far as his ability to consume a branded product is concerned. Coca-Cola, Visa, Nokia, P&G, Vodafone, Lufthansa, Citibank or even McDonalds may be interested in investing in chess provided there is a platform which they can use to reach this large

FIDE will offer two such platforms. One is the detailed database with consumer profile that can be used for one-to-one marketing. Second is the internet and mobile television.

C] Internet and mobile television: We saw above that chess has no visual appeal like the ball games. Television sports channels are not interested in broadcasting chess, nor is it necessary. The game of chess is currently played and viewed by millions on internet. We will create a FIDE internet channel for chess. Watching it on desktop or laptop will be similar to watching television. But it can be accessed at office, cybercafés or even while travelling. In this respect, internet television has a wider reach than normal television. We will consider partnerships with companies like Google/YouTube for on-line video broadcasting.

We will also make chess accessible on your mobile phone through worldwide mobile live streaming. Chess is not as visual as the ball games. That is a disadvantage. However, the beauty of chess can be appreciated by merely learning the moves. Chess can be both enjoyed and played by having only the chess board on the screen. The chess board easily fits on a Blackberry and chess moves can be easily transmitted through a text message (SMS). Any mobile is capable of broadcasting live audio, if not video, commentary. We will consider partnerships with companies like July Systems (http://www.julysystems.com/in_index.html) to provide the mobile platform.

Google/YouTube or July Systems have an established infrastructure, and proven partnerships with major  sports. The FIDE internet and mobile channel will reach the chess viewer any time, anywhere.

D] Enhance viewing experience: Currently, the average viewer watches even a WC game with just a chess board on the screen. He watches it in absolute silence, periodically pressing f5 in frustration. If he is desperate, he opens up six or seven chess websites and reads the on-going analysis. The viewer has no free access to audio, does not see the players, and there are no advertisements. FIDE aims to enhance the viewing experience to make it comparable to the other sports. The FIDE internet channel will have qualified commentators, grandmasters, who will analyse the game while in progress. The chess board and the players’ faces will be visible on the screen. The grandmaster commentators will explain the past games with similar openings, and predict the moves by giving a thorough analysis. Special sound effects will be employed e.g. when a piece or pawn is captured, or the sound of applause at brilliant moves. Camera will focus on the players’ faces during time trouble. Important emotional moments will be “action re-played”. Where technically feasible, interactive features will be added, so that the viewer can branch out future moves by clicking mouse on a side board, or also press his predictions for the next move. The commentary will begin an hour before the start of the game and end thirty minutes after the game is over. Even a seven hour game will be later converted into a “30-minute capsule” with expert commentator taking the viewer through the game. The games will have advertising slots of 10 to 30 seconds, and advertisements of the sponsors – the same that appear on television or specially created for internet – will appear during those slots. On the channel website, all games will be stored, so that the chess lover can pick it up from the archives any time and re-live it.

Through research, feedback, and continuous technological development; FIDE will ensure that watching a chess game is a multi-sensory enjoyable experience. E] Advertising slots: Every game shown on the FIDE internet and mobile channel will have advertising slots. This applies to live games as well as “highlights”. Similarly, all other programmes on the FIDE internet channel, including chess training, features, interviews or chess news will have advertising slots in the same way that any big sport has on television. Lawn tennis has created special slots after every two games (when the players rest so as to allow advertisements), cricket has them between two overs (when the field changes), and soccer has them before the game, during the interval, and after the game. In the chess games shown on FIDE channel, commentators will announce the ‘adverting breaks’. Chess board with the current position may be minimised in the corner during some advertisements. 

FIDE will concentrate on two events with potential for highest viewership. One is the cycle that leads to the world championship final match. The two-year cycle will have individual matches including the pre-quarter finals (8 matches of 8 games each) quarter finals (4 matches of 8 games each), semi-finals (2 matches of 10 games each) and final (1 match of 16 games), in total 132 games of 7 hours each. In other words, 66 classical games every year.

The second event will be the Global Chess League. (See below). This is a league played among eight major countries, which will have 34 playing days. FIDE commits to show live the best chess in the world for a minimum of 100 days through these two events. (Chess championship 66 days+ Global chess league 34 days). During those 100 days, FIDE will have 700 hours of live internet-cast, and offer 50,400 advertising slots of 10 seconds each. At an average of 1000 USD per a 10 second slot, FIDE aims to raise 50 million USD per annum through this activity. Title sponsorship and other forms of advertising/promotion will also be available. FIDE will share with the advertisers the data on actual viewership that becomes available through servers. (E.g. how many viewers from which country). On Internet and mobiles, the Gross or Target rating points (GRPs or TRPs) data is known to be far more accurate and detailed than television.

F] Creating a hub system for internet matches: Chess is not as visually attractive as soccer, baseball, cricket or lawn tennis. But it has one advantage over them. Soccer or tennis cannot be played through internet, but chess can. FIDE aims to exploit this unique feature by authorising competitive games played on internet. This sounds radical, but is not. It’s simply a recognition of the more common way in which chess is played in the 21st century. World’s top rated player Magnus Carlsen says he is not sure he has an actual chess board at his home. (Carlsen article in Time: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1950683,00.html) FIDE will authorise chess games and matches through internet, first on experimental basis. The first Global Chess League (see below), a rapid tournament among eight nations will take place in 2011 through internet. FIDE will create new rules relevant for this development. The advantage of Internet play is minimising expenses on airfares and hotels. It reduces international travel and jet lags. It allows the players to play in familiar surroundings. For the chess viewer, it is irrelevant where the chess players are physically located.

There are three risks. One is the players not being able to physically sense the opponent across the board. This is unfortunate, but through technology, a player will be able to see the opponent (just not shake hands with him). Most players are accustomed to move pieces with mouse rather than hand. At Monaco, top grandmasters play blindfold chess on computers.

The second risk is the reliability of internet connection. Many parts of the world already have a reliable internet connection. FIDE will begin the experiment in these countries, and also have a back-up in case of internet failures. For traditional matches, we take electricity for granted. Similarly, internet will be taken for granted in the near future. The third risk is cheating. Either by use of computers or personal consultation with others during the game. To prevent this, FIDE will limit the number of locations which are authorized. Such locations will have a video camera that covers the playing area (necessary for broadcast anyway) and presence of neutral arbiters who are  responsible for ensuring honest play. Punishments for proven cheating will be rigorous. (E.g. lifelong ban from competitive chess). The vision is to have authorised hubs in the geographic region where a person can travel to. An English player can drive to London and a St Petersburg grandmaster will travel to Moscow to play an internet game.

G] Global Chess League: FIDE will launch the Global Chess League in 2011. Leagues have been successful in a big way whether we talk of soccer, baseball or cricket. They make the sport more enjoyable, entertaining and bring lots of sponsor money that benefits the sport and its players. Leagues allow open auctions of clubs and players that attach a market value to them. The first league in 2011 will have eight participating countries or clubs: Russia, Ukraine, China, India, USA, France, Germany and UK. These eight countries are selected on three parameters: (a) potential market size (b) depth of chess including number of grandmasters (c) internet connection reliability.

The hubs where the players will sit and play against another team on internet are likely to be: Moscow, Kiev, Beijing, Mumbai, New York, Paris, Bonn and London. FIDE will authorise a location that can supply the infrastructure in each of these cities, and appoint neutral arbiters for each venue. Venues can be existing clubs, such as the central chess club in Moscow or even a sponsor’s office. Locations must be fully functional, not necessarily fancy. Eleven boards will play for each team. Males will play on first nine boards and females on the last two. The team owners can choose up to thirty players, including foreign players. But during any match, a maximum of four foreign players will be allowed to play for a team. The team owner will be responsible for the expenses of the foreign players. The games will be rapid, with the standard time control, thereby lasting an hour. Enough time will be left between two matches for advertising.

Each team will play against every other team two times. The round robin will last for 28 days with 2 matches (22 games) played on a daily basis. The top four teams will qualify for the semi-finals. The two semi-finals will be played over four days, and the final over two days. In total, the league will be played over 34 playing days, exhibiting a total of 62 matches and 682 games. Considering the time differences, the playing time may begin as early as 12.00 in the noon and may end as late as midnight. Within this time frame, a 7-hour game say between USA and India is not possible, but a one-hour rapid game is. Such league will allow all top players of the world, male and female, to participate. It is flexible so that each individual player doesn’t have to be available all 34 days. Well presented, such league is addictive for the viewers. It attracts corporations who are willing to own the teams in their country. The league creates significant opportunities for bringing money in for chess. Presence of female players in each team ensures viewership is not gender-skewed. FIDE will attempt to attract chess-loving celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Madonna, Bono, Sting, Will Smith to endorse the league to get a bigger media coverage. It can be an annual flagship event owned by FIDE.

© Ravi Abhyankar, Mumbai, June 2010

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