After a shorter turnaround than usual, the UEFA Europa League has returned with 48 teams from across the continent for the 2020/21 Group Stage.
Familiar clubs from England, Spain, Italy and Germany have once again launched their bid for European silverware, while outfits from the likes of Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Israel and Serbia are also getting their shot on the big stage.
Right Formula are also back for the new season, on hand for our third year of consultancy and activation work for global car manufacturer and UEFA Europa League Official Partner, Kia Motors.
There’s been little respite for our account team, with the new campaign launching in earnest just 62 days after the last one ended in Cologne, where Sevilla once again reigned supreme after victory over Italian heavyweights Inter Milan.
That particular night is one Right Formula look back at with immense pride, having adapted to the unprecedented challenge of activating at a behind-closed-doors showpiece event for the first time.
Responsible for finding innovative and engaging ways to help activate Kia’s sponsorship in the circumstances of the global COVID-19 pandemic, outside-the-box thinking was required to meet a now unfamiliar brief in time for the Final. How could we help Kia supply a money-can’t-buy experience when all non-essential personnel couldn’t be at the stadium?
Step forward the Virtual Official Match Ball Carrier (VOMBC) – the tech supplement helping fulfil the dream of one lucky child.
Rather than host the Official Match Ball Carrier at the match, where under normal circumstances they walk out onto the pitch alongside the players, Kia took the matchday experience to their home for the Final.
Ten-year-old football fan Justus was the lucky winner, receiving a personal message from legendary German footballer Michael Ballack to inform him of his involvement in the Final.
On the night itself, Justus remotely greeted the Sevilla and Inter Milan players as they arrived at the stadium, with the likes of Romelu Lukaku stopping by to say hello. Justus was then supplied with immersive virtual reality equipment that would take him inside the stadium and allow him to tour the venue as if he was on location.
Finally, he lived his dream by virtually carrying the Official Match Ball to the pitch.
It wasn’t the event that the UEFA Europa League, Kia Motors or Right Formula expected when the tournament kicked off this time last year, but the ability to adapt to the circumstances ensured once-in-a-lifetime memories were still achieved. Strong relationships with the client, UEFA, VR technology suppliers and the skills of our in-house production team all helped deliver a truly unique activation.
Unfortunately, capacity crowds in stadia still appear some way off. No one quite knows what this season’s Final in Gdańsk may look like. But we’ll be ready to help our clients with whatever hand is dealt.