Rubik’s – UK Championships 2018

Rubik’s – UK Championships 2018
  • The coverage secured included Blue Peter, Newsround, BBC Breakfast, ITV News and the Press Association: some of the biggest-possible outlets. Broadcast daily reach equalled 6.5 million, with an average TV audience of 1.9 million…
In A Nutshell…

What could John Adams Leisure do to promote the Rubik’s brand as part of the UK Speedcubing Championships? This event sees over 100 competitors of all ages solving Rubik’s Cubes in various incredible ways: with their feet, blindfolded, one handed, and in under 10 seconds. Since the Championships are an annual event, the challenge is to keep the PR feeling fresh and interesting year after year…

Approach

Knowing how difficult it is to lure press to the entire event, we began by strategising: what would win national coverage before, during and after the Championships? We then determined which highlights would give the strongest visuals, and began planning ways to emphasise the Cube’s iconic nature.

To keep our strategy low-cost, it needed to be simple, focussed and well thought out. We quickly steered away from big promotional stunts since these are often costly, and don’t necessarily engage people with the cube itself. Instead, effort went into early sell-in to key national media. We targeted media outlets appropriate to two target audiences: the mass mainstream, and the core. The core audience comprises children aged 7+ who might want to try speedcubing or learn how to solve a Cube. Top of our list were Blue Peter and BBC Breakfast.

Execution

We strongly felt that seeing a person solve a Rubik’s Cube in seconds makes a great talking point and creates an impactful impression. For that reason, the team put the speedcubers themselves at the centre of the story, driving emotional interest.

Knowing that this approach was a great fit for the Blue Peter ethos, we began building a relationship with the show almost a year in advance. Three months ahead of the Championships, we then began working with BBC researchers to create a non-promotional, newsworthy pitch for the production team. The feedback to this was entirely positive and the feature got the go ahead.

Playtime then worked to ensure Blue Peter got exactly the content it needed in the studio. This ranged from showcasing different types of cubes and disciplines to showing a mix of speedcubing guests. These were people who would appeal to the Blue Peter’s audience not only on air but also in a series of shareable online videos.

The moment the Blue Peter content went live – the day before the Speedcubing Championships began – we started using the coverage as sell-in to other media. This was an important part of the strategy as Playtime had also been pitching to BBC Breakfast for a number of weeks…

Seeing such popular content delivered within tight time constraints, BBC Breakfast also chose to air a live TV feature. Against a highly-visual backdrop of cube images, they showcased a leading cuber on the studio sofa. In addition to the live content, BBC Breakfast aired yet more content online, including its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram channels.

Meanwhile, members of the Playtime team began notifying other BBC outlets that the speedcuber was now available for interview. This led to Newsround covering and airing the story in an online video that same week. In addition, we secured an ITV Anglia News crew on the first day of the event. Their feature went out in the coveted 6pm slot, and across their social channels.

Finally, we made sure that any media wishing to cover the event, but were unable to attend, had lightning-fast access to stories… We hired a stills photographer and a video team to catch visual highlights and b-roll throughout the day of the grand final. The b-roll was picked up by the Press Association that evening, and used by the BBC to help bolster its Breakfast content.

Results

We had two objectives… To raise the profile of Rubik’s with a core audience of kids aged 7+; and to maximise media opportunities around the event with a mainstream-news audience.

The coverage secured included Blue Peter, Newsround, BBC Breakfast, ITV News and the Press Association: some of the biggest-possible outlets. Broadcast daily reach equalled 6.5 million, with an average TV audience of 1.9 million…

The online readership equated to 609 million users, with an estimate of 901,000 coverage views. Social reach for BBC Breakfast alone exceeded 897,000. On 12 December, Google announced the results of its annual Year in Search… One of the UK’s top 10 ‘How To’ queries in 2018 was, ‘How to solve a Rubik’s Cube’. The client – John Adams Leisure – enthusiastically confirmed the press coverage was, “Definitely the best year yet!”