From golden Australian beaches to backyard swimming pools, any kid who’s ever ventured into the water knows the importance of having a buddy nearby. It’s no surprise, then, that as Swimming Australia CEO Eugenie Buckley takes her organization into uncharted waters of brand building, she has partnered with Publicis Groupe and its Queensland-based Managing Director, Simone Waugh.
The tightly integrated partnership supports a shared ambition to translate the achievements of the Australian Dolphins swimming team in international competition into success as a professional sports body, encouraging more Australians to take up swimming.
“Our dolphins are doing very well, but when people talk about swimming, it’s usually for four weeks every four years,” Buckley said. CMO. “Our overall plan is to take our success in the pool and convert it to success out of the pool. We throw away the old sports manual and try to do things differently.
Buckley describes the relationship with Publicis as a full integration across both businesses, with Publicis’ marketing and social talent working effectively in Swimming Australia’s roles.
“It’s a hybrid, but it’s completely integrated, which is why I think it works,” Buckley says. “The Publicis team really embraced swimming. They will say “we” and “we do this”, and they will be present at our events. That’s why we’ll have better long-term results because we have that total buy-in.
In just one year, Waugh and his team have helped Swimming Australia rejuvenate its market presence under the new SwimAus brand. Now displayed prominently at events and in content, it has been designed to be easily attached to Swimming Australia sponsors.
The partnership has also led to the revamp of Swimming Australia’s events calendar, which begins with an ocean swimming carnival at the start of the year, then moves on to all-ages championships and national team events and a short-lived meet, followed by the annual state swim season at the end of the year.
“Swimming is the first sport or activity children do before they walk, and it’s the last activity people do as they get older,” Waugh says. “It’s so ingrained in our culture, so we’re bringing all of our big-brand expertise into the sport.”
Buckley says these changes were born out of the recognition that while the sporting public and their expectations had changed significantly in recent years, swimming had not changed.
This new approach is represented in one of the highlights of this year’s swimming calendar, the Dual in the Pool, which pitted teams comprising able-bodied and Paralympic swimmers from Australia and the United States against each other in a series of competitions in the pool and open. aquatic events.
“The event is a combination of sport and entertainment,” says Buckley. “We had 8,000 attendees over those two days, and we sold out on the first night. We had a million viewers on Channel 7 and the athletes loved it.
This year, Swimming Australia will also draw more attention to its short course competition, which Buckley likens to cricket’s T-20 competition.
“We’re trying to do something different,” she says. “We want to show that we are ‘always on’. We have the best swimmers in the world in Australia and they are always competing – it’s not just four weeks every four years.
For Waugh, one of the goals she aims to achieve is to strengthen Swimming Australia’s ties with the country’s 5.9 million swimmers.
“Our challenge from a marketing perspective is to convert those 5.9 million swimmers into a database so that we can consistently engage them and increase participation and event attendance,” Waugh said.
Part of this strategy is to build the appeal of swimming to more communities within Australian society, with the long-term ambition of bolstering the diversity of the swim team itself. . This includes a goal to have indigenous members of the national swim team by the Brisbane Olympics in 2032.
To achieve these goals, Waugh designed a strategy based on performance, participation and planning, elevating each of the revamped events throughout the year. This strategy is supported by social and digital content, including the creation of a new website.
“Getting the basics in place was key for me because if we were going to elevate certain events and drive more traffic, we first needed to make sure the website experience was right,” says Waugh.
Buckley says the work is already paying off, with traffic to the site increasing 40% over the past year. The partnership also led to a revitalization of the Dolphins brand as the nickname for Australia’s swim team.
“The Dolphins will be a lot more front and center and we’ll start telling the stories behind the people over the next two years,” Waugh said. “It’s about bringing them on the journey and moving them forward so that their profiles are built with Swimming Australia.”
As for the partnership, Waugh says he is at the forefront of any integration undertaken by Publicis.
“We represent marketing executives and our studio has direct access to the marketing team that sits within Swimming Australia,” says Waugh. “We model the agency a lot more around that model because I believe in it. If you understand the business strategy and feel the challenge, you will come up with solutions. And you do it as a team, rather than in a client relationship /agency.
“We couldn’t have done it without this relationship. Eugenie and I need to make sure we are completely aligned in terms of priorities, because there is a lot to do, and we need to make sure our teams are very clear on priorities and run with us and run together.
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