Universal Records pave the Meaningful way in the music industry

Compiled by: Hussain Manawer

Rita Ora, Jessie J, Ed Sheeran, Tinie Temper, Rizzle Kicks, Rudimental, Beverly Knight, Jahmane Doughlas, Jamie Callum, Labrinth, Ellie Goulding, Emeli Sande, and an unexpected arrival of Dizzee Rascal… did the Brit Awards strike twice in one year? Not quite, instead London’s O2 arena last night was lit up by the Unity Concert in remembrance of Stephen Lawrence.

The point was emphasised by hosts Nick Grimshaw, and Reggie Yates that all performers had donated their time and talent for free, and the audience were surprised to learn that Universal Records had agreed to donate all proceedings from the album sales from the night back to the Stephen Lawrence trust.

Ed Sheeran made his debut appearance in the UK for the first time in a year showing us what we have all been missing out on, starting with his trade mark song A Team. Followed by You Need Me I Don’t Need You, he even pulled out his rock star and grime attributes as he started tearing the strings on his guitar, chucked it to one side and hit the crowd with some heavy lyrics.

And if you were thinking the list stopped there, guest speakers from the likes of Jermain Defoe, Danny Boyle, and comedian Omid Djalili brought their own elements of support to the stage with heartfelt speeches, comedy, and even some football banter from Defoe.

With Grimshaw and Yates entertaining the crowd during sets, the atmosphere within the arena was like nothing I have ever felt before. Baroness Doreen Lawrence was introduced on to the stage by Danny Boyle, who told the crowd that Stephen would have loved this as he was a huge music lover. With nothing but positivity setting the mood and the performers in full swing, the show was utterly perfect.

Support also hailed off stage from media outlets such as the BBC, Daily Mail, Daily Mirror and many online and print publications. This shows that both the Trust and Universal Records achieved an incredible balance of portraying the meaning of the event, whilst ensuring the audience had a fantastic time.

Twenty years on from Stephen Lawrence’s death, the concert was held as part of the SL20 campaign which is celebrating his life with a series of awareness-raising events through the year. Universal’s part in such a campaign demonstrates their commitment to delivering engaging experiences for music fans in a context that they feel truly passionate about.

With the generosity of Universal Records, the artists, and special guests involved, hope and support is offered to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. With some of the UK’s most recognisable names in music donating their free time to such a worthy cause, and the support from a 15,000 strong audience, I am pretty sure I am not alone when I hope for this concert to be repeated yearly.


Internship Apply Here

Compiled by: Katie Summerton 

From the minute you finish university the next question on all us graduates mind is ‘What next?’, along with the dark cloud hanging over us of the accumulated debt which has appeared as a minus figure in our bank accounts from those many nights out. With the continual voice of unemployment rates in the UK, months are spent applying to various roles to get the best jobs.   The disheartening ‘Sorry you haven’t made it through to the next stage of the interview process’ or ‘Sorry we don’t have the capacity at this time’ which many of us are on the receiving end of led me to take a trip down the internship route.

‘We would like to offer you a three month internship with Havas Sports & Entertainment.’ My eyes lit up and were fixated on the email.  The prospect of moving to the big city and being involved with the 6th largest global advertising, digital and communications brand was an exciting and experience I could not turn down.

In the current climate, some companies are apprehensive of taking on an intern due to the extra time it might take to mentor them. The daunting prospect of being involved with companies and as some people would see it as ‘free working for said company’ can be a difficult concept to align yourself to but the experience I have learnt has been unforgettable which l now can take on to further myself in my career.

Every internship l believe should provide opportunities to learn and for that reason l decided to get involved in one, the more experience the better and all that!  There are many interns who find themselves staring at a computer screen for endless hours, doing the same old tedious jobs which have been delegated to them day in and day out, and receiving little advice and encouragement to provide them with the basic stepping stone they need to progress to their chosen career.  This is not the case at Havas S&E; everyday has brought new challenges and experiences for me.

I have had a wealth of opportunities to get involved with all projects across the team. I won’t lie and say that my first week wasn’t daunting, because it was. It was overwhelming the amount of information being relayed to me to take on board, however one thing I will say is to keep a positive mind set and show your enthusiasm, which was pretty easy for me here at Havas S&E as the brands they work with are world class; ASDA, Yahoo, Coca-Cola, Powerade to name a few, and working with such brands was exciting.

In the nine weeks l have been here my internship has given me an all-round experience within a range of different projects. These projects have ranged from PR evaluation, researching for sponsorship opportunities, to PR activation for National Express involving an illusion of a porthole canvas being located at different points around London, Bristol and Birmingham and going along to an experiential event involving Yahoo and a large scale makeup brand for London Fashion Week. The key to being involved with internships is not being afraid to ask questions, you can make your internship experience whatever you want it to be. Getting involved in various projects to gain the best possible experience and develop new business skills.  Be enthusiastic and open to learn new information.

Being involved with such a fast paced industry and working with such reputable brands to help them engage with consumers, through various concepts has been an insight for me, l can truly say it has been a worthwhile and fantastic opportunity, leading me to emphasise to any graduates now looking the benefits from an internship are truly second to none.

My advice to anyone now is if you’re given an opportunity to do an internship, paid/unpaid, grab it with both hands and take full advantage of it. You never know what could come from it….

Meaningful Brands

Compiled by: Gordon Lott 

The overwhelming majority of the British public believe brands should provide funding and get actively involved in sport, entertainment, and social agendas.

The results of HS&E ignition’s research in to 7,000 members of the UK public aswell as 30 brands across energy, financial services, sportswear, consumer goods and telecoms – the first of its kind of by any agency – highlight the power of marketing through sport, entertainment and social agendas.

Think back to pre London 2012 and the predominant media view that people don’t want brands involved.  Our research shows 76% of people do think brands should get actively involved in major events across sport and entertainment, as well as causes they’re passionate about such as healthy living, the environment and supporting the community.

This is true across sports fans and non-sports fans.  People believe brands should not just provide funding, but get actively involved to.  They want to see them use their own communications, collateral, staff, and expertise to bring success to the things they’re passionate about.

What’s more, our research shows that this activity by brands is in fact very efficient at translating ‘understanding’ to ‘consideration’ and ‘advocacy’.  38% of people believe brands’ sponsorships activities help them understand brands better – subsequently 28% will consider those brands more, and 26% will advocate them more.

Perhaps the most revealing insight from our research is that, of all the areas brands can get involved in, people are significantly more attached to those that are seen to support the healthy living agenda, people’s local communities, or the community sport agenda.  And it shows people are significantly less attached to brands who do not actively promote their support in any areas of sport, entertainment or social agendas.

The research doesn’t say whether this is cause or effect, whether people are more attached to these brands as a result of their partnerships, or have brands invested in them because their customers are interested in them?   But does that matter – what’s important is people are demonstrably more attached to brands with partnerships in any areas of sport, entertainment and social agendas.

The bottom line is both your customers and non-customers think less of you as a brand if you do nothing, they understand you less and worse, will consider you less.

There’s lots of rhetoric that brands have moved on from the world where Community & Social Responsibility (CSR) is a tick box exercise in the annual report, but have they?  My view is most haven’t, or at least haven’t done nearly enough.  How many Marketing or Brand Directors have responsibility for CSR or Partnership Marketing, or apportion material marketing budget behind these activities?  How many marketing teams measure their sponsorship and community activity as integral lines within their brand tracking?

Far too few, and they’re missing a big trick as a result – the research demonstrates beyond doubt that community and CSR activities of brands is at least important as high profile partnerships with athletes, sports teams, music artists and major events at driving brand metrics.

Rights holders can do more to.  Too many rights holders don’t think of themselves as ‘brands’ but as billboards for brands.  This just encourages brands to ignore the rights and activities that will create genuine and meaningful impact.

Our research also highlights what areas people believe brands should be involved in, and what content creates real cut through.  It’s clear the sector the brand operates in is at least as important as the brand itself.  For example, people believe telecom brands would benefit the most of any sector by supporting environmental issues.

Meaningful sponsorship is all about building partnerships and leveraging shared values between brands and rights holders that deliver genuine engagement for fans and consumers around their passions.  Whether delivered through live experiences, great content, social media, PR or other channels, and whether involving professional sports, athletes, music artists, high profile celebrities, or none of these, a credible strategy that aligns the values and behaviours of the brand and rights holder is essential to meaningful sponsorship.

There’s stacks more insights to but we’ll get in to these in time.  In the meantime the message for brands and rights holders right now is clear – partnerships, sponsorships and content in sport, entertainment and social agendas do make a difference, for consumers and brands, but there is far more that can be done.

Omedetou – congratulations – to the entire Tokyo 2020 team on this weekend’s historic Olympic and Paralympic Games bid win.

Compiled by: Nick Varley 

It’s been a privilege to work alongside this extraordinarily dedicated group of people over the course past two years. They have put together a bid based on guaranteed delivery, a superb Games experience for everyone – and a commitment to help promote the Olympic Values worldwide.

Seven46 has been closely involved as lead strategic communications agency, working across all aspects of international promotion, including today’s important presentation to the IOC.

In fact, we joined the bid around the same time that we formed a partnership with the Havas Sports & Entertainment network. Our two companies share a common passion and knowledge of the Olympic Movement, and the partnership offers our clients international reach and breadth of service.

Seven46 – a specialist campaign and content consultancy – has contributed to the success of a number of bids, including the successful Rio 2016 and London 2012 campaigns. And Havas Sports & Entertainment has worked with Olympic sponsors for more than 20 years, helping them create meaningful connections with fans.

We worked together to devise the Tokyo 2020 bid strapline ‘Discover Tomorrow’ – the inspiring mission statement which you’ll be seeing plenty of if you follow the TV coverage of the win.

The last few days of any bid campaign are always intense – think last-minute changes to presentations, numerous briefings and rehearsals going on late into the night – so we’re now taking some well-deserved rest (after some celebrating of course). It’s also a chance to take a step back and remember the sheer amount of work it has taken to achieve this result.

And then we’ll start thinking about our next bid…

Nick Varley
Founding Partner and CEO

V Festival Review

Compiled by: Hussain Manawer

V Festival – So besides taking selfies with The Female Boss, Tulisa, and having a dance off with a group of girls to Kendrick Lemar’s set, here is my review of my awesome experience at Sunday’s world famous – V Festival.

Essex, known for its fake tans, infamous nightspots, reality TV show TOWIE and pronunciation of words such as “shut up”, had been transformed and was welcoming an influx of some of the world’s most talented performers, ranging from Rita Ora and Kings of Leon, to Calvin Harris and Sterophonics. I headed deep into the lands to create some memories, experience a Scouting for Girl’s mosh pit, and of course enjoy that Essex life!

Having missed Beyoncé headline the previous night, I was not sure how any experience would top the Queen. However I was wrong…

One thing I noticed backstage at the Virgin Louder Lounge at V-Festival was the choice of seating. And there really were a lot of options to choose from:

For some reason, a bath tub


A normal chair


A folding camping chair


The floor


A leather arm chair


And my favourite, an inflatable orange thing


With the sun shining, and a variety of seating options, this seemed like the perfect time to take note of all the live activations. I was first approached by the friendly female staff from Mac who insisted that I have a glitter cat stencilled on to my leg.

Once the glitter cat was prowling proudly on my body, I was ready to move on and found myself attempting to guess the artist of a song with Pioneer, who were offering the winners free headphones. I sadly failed, but they also allowed consumers to jump on the 1s and 2s and attempt to DJ!

As time went on, familiar faces started to flood in as I noticed former X Factor winner Alexandra Burke, and Essex resident Stacy Soloman.

I then left the VIP to head through the landscape and make my journey towards the 4 Music stage where I found a great position to install myself for  three back to back performances from Kendrick LemarRita Ora, and Calvin Harris – all of which were sensational and lived up to their names. Rita Ora even rolled back my youth days with a cover of Notorious BIG Juicy, and Kendrick Lemar dropped his hard hits to prove why he has the rap game in the palm of his hand at the moment.

Half way through the Calvin Harris set I found a suitable time to depart and make my way back to the Virgin Louder Lounge to avoid any crowd stampedes. It had now seemed as if a mini festival had emerged within a festival, with the likes of previous performers dancing away, along with reality stars and band members all celebrating the end of a great weekend.

I ended the night by dancing with the crew, and catching up with English super model Jordan Dunn. We then took a remarkable selfie, which of course didn’t need a filter!


Overall, V Festival did an astonishing job in maintaining their high standards, booking the right acts, keeping crime levels at an all time low and briefing the security to be tight but polite, All in all, I had one hell of  a day.

Be unique, take a risk, tell a great story

Compiled by: Alex Groom

Our job is to tell stories that bring brands to life, whether it’s through PR, social media or live experiences. We work for a range of brands, across various sectors to help them tell their story and engage them with a new audience.  For me, some of the greatest stories are captured through the lens of extreme and action sports. It’s a bit like taking normal, everyday content and putting it through a super filter.

Extreme sports athletes are some of the most talented in the world, constantly innovating and pushing themselves to the limits of human physiological and psychological capabilities.  Then there are the brands who support, fund and produce the events where these athletes showcase their talents. Those brands that are prepared to invest in a developing market, nurture it and reap the rewards. Own a niche well and you’ve got a good chance of avoiding the clutter that is littering our newsfeeds on a daily basis. Surely there’s more to content in 2013 than sleeping cats and ridiculous dances?

Participation numbers in extreme and action sports are at an all time high and are growing faster than traditional recreational sports. This has been the case since as far back as 1998.  The reasons for this are typical of the surge in any sort of trend- famous people at the heart of the success and an increase in accessibility. Couple these factors with increased media exposure from the likes of ESPN, creators of the X Games, and the inclusion of sports like snowboarding in the Winter Olympics and you get the beginnings of global popularity. Compare this with recent statistics from some mainstream sports, that show participation numbers dwindling, with no light at the end of the tunnel for some. For me, this lack of growth is largely down to telling a great story or the inability to do so. Great stories capture the imagination and inspire, so without triggering emotions in people, how will they be motivated to participate?

The retail side of the extreme sports industry is an interesting marker for success and popularity and it also tells us where the cusp of ‘mainstream popularity’ begins.  The majority of brands in the extreme sport sector began as start- ups, catering to passionate groups of young people with a vision and a desire to innovate their sport; take Burton snowboards for example, founded in 1977 by Jake Burton and still thriving today, albeit with a far smaller majority of the market. This heritage and personality makes for a great, simple brand story that people can understand. Look to the mid 2000’s and mainstream sportswear brands Adidas and Nike are right at the heart of technology design and pushing the vision of extreme sports to a mass audience. Nike has a firm grip on the snowboard boot market and Adidas, not to be out done, are due to launch their first boot in 2014. There are few companies in the world that can tell a brand story in the same way Nike and Adidas can; their London 2012 campaigns are testament to that (Make It Count and Take the Stage respectively), and so it’s logical that both see huge value in the athletes and stories on offer in the extreme and action sports world where young people are at the forefront of sport and cultural development.

It’s difficult to write a blog on extreme sports without mentioning Red Bull somewhere. It’s safe to say that they own the space, from the athlete endorsements to the global events and the ever growing digital presence. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the core of their business is selling carbonated soft drinks.

They’ve created success by targeting a niche(s), taking risks and having faith in their portfolio of risk takers. These risks have created a culture out of a culture and by that I mean that they’ve immersed themselves in skate, wake, snow and dirt culture and amplified those cultures to a global audience, with the result being that Red Bull stands for extreme and action sports. How many brands can unequivocally state what they stand for? Red Bull content is absolutely the best out there and it’s also some of the most risky…

Sociologists argue that participation in extreme sports is the product of a learned behaviour. Throwing yourself down a mountain or off a cliff is a preference to engage in what Stephen Lyng calls ‘edgework’. The term draws attention to the positive outcomes of taking risks. The phrase ‘adrenaline junkie’ stems from this idea i.e. risk taking acting as a drug. The more you approach ‘the edge’, the greater the buzz.

However, a study of a group of skydivers found that the majority refused to take unnecessary risks and looked at those that did as being irresponsible. They were concerned about staying within their limits and approached every jump with the utmost respect for safety. One person said that the reason he skydived was because it was safer than the bungee jumping he used to do. An extreme example perhaps, but it’s all about finding an even balance, staying for the most part within a comfort zone but occasionally taking those extra risks for maximum gains. Something that as a team we should push brands to do more regularly.

There’s no better example of calculated risk paying off than Red Bull Stratos. The most dangerous stunt ever pulled; broadcast live, globally, with staggering results for the brand (the highlights film alone has been viewed over 34 million times). Sure, it was a risky thing to do but Felix Baumgartner trained for the best part of a decade to get it right on the day. So the lesson for brands in telling a great story through content- be unique, take a risk from time to time and plan it really well.

A video tells a thousand words of which there must be at least that above this…so here’s one of my favourite videos at the moment. It’s not September yet but my Christmas list is complete, one GoPro please. Perfect storytelling and not a sleeping cat in sight…

Cricket’s Success Provides Opportunities For Brands

Compiled by: Will Wright

The Ashes kicked off this summer amidst a disconcerting feeling of confidence. We not only had sunshine and blue skies for 10 straight days, but there was an undisputed air of English dominance that was new to English fans. My formative years were spent trying to replicate the genius of Warne, McGrath, and Waugh as I started to learn the game when the Australians were enjoying near total domination. Now, children are spending this summer vying for the roles of Cook, Root, Anderson and Swann.

Cricket is enjoying a period of success at the moment in the UK from grassroots right through to the test arena. Along with this success, a number of characteristics make cricket a great choice for brands looking for a new opportunity within sport.

In the past, brands in the sport have come from industries as diverse as supermarkets, cigarettes, car manufacturers, to nutrition supplements and anti-hair removal products. This is a consequence of the game’s flexibility. This year, Yorkshire Tea have utilised the much loved tea break to create a branding opportunity.  There are many different formats; T2O has reached a new crowd, with heightened engagement for shorter periods of time including music for player entrances, comical sounds for dropped catches and fielding errors as well as cheesy team names and colourful kit. The Test match, on the other hand, offers longer brand exposure, lasting up to five days at times, and still remains the ultimate for any player. The use of cricket as a fan engagement component within Strongbow’s larger, non cricket centric “Earn It” marketing campaign this year further reinforces its eminent flexibility and wider appeal.

Stongbow - Earn It

The Ashes demonstrates the game’s irrefutably rich heritage and tradition, whilst also embracing advancements. The player’s still play for the tiny urn that commemorates the origins of the fixture, but an umpire’s decision can now be reviewed and various technologies used to judge whether the original decision was correct. Cricket also has a sense of humour. The national team can be commended for their personality and ability to shake the staid representation that the game has among many. They have produced Swann’s Ashes Diaries, popularised the ‘sprinkler’ dance move, as well as delivering the memorable Lions good luck message on YouTube.

Tuning in to 5Live for only a short period, to hear the tones of Blofeld or Aggers giggling over euphemisms or discussing the merits of various cakes sent in by their audience is an integral part of the game’s uniquely quirky sense of humour. Included in this would be the jargon and prolonged discussion about weather and pitch state. These characteristics are examples that demonstrate the diversity of cricket that brands can utilise to deliver their own messages and own different sections of the game.

An abundance of community initiatives have continued to encourage participation in the sport at all levels. Sky Sports, as well as delivering unrivalled television coverage, have sponsored the ECB Coach Education programme which has enabled a quality structure to be put in place for coaching of the game. Chance to Shine, a charity initiative founded by Sir Mervyn King, Mark Nicholas and Duncan Fearnley with the backing of the Cricket Foundation, is working hard to link schools with local clubs. The programme has committed beyond its initial plan of 2015, to continue until they’ve given every child in every school the opportunity to play competitive cricket. Kids are also introduced to the game through Asda Kwik Cricket, a game for all boys and girls from five years of age upwards. It is currently played in 8,000 primary schools and over 4,500 of the 6,000 ECB affiliated clubs. Over the last six years, there has been a 55 per cent increase in the girls competition alone. These community initiatives also provide a relevant and meaningful way for brands to demonstrate their corporate social responsibility by giving something back to the game through sponsorship.

Asda KC

Overall, this era of success in English cricket should encourage brands to continue to enter and develop their involvement in this diverse sport, enjoying associations with a game that is thriving.

Making the right choice, brands role in Active Healthy Living

Compiled by: Kim Rhodes 

For the first time ever, more people globally are now expected to die from obesity [related diseases] than from famine. Why is this? This hard-hitting, but true statement about the way we live comes from a report in medical journal, The Lancet, edited by Dr. Richard Horton, which calls Obesity a pandemic and the authors suggest that the most effective ways to prevent obesity lay in governmental policies, including banning unhealthy food for children. There are constantly calls from campaigners and government for big brands to do more to combat this problem, with blame persistently laid at the doors of the fizzy drinks, and sugary snacks industries.

The idea of a government intervention has been taken up in the UAE, with the Dubai municipality starting an initiative to reward weight-loss with gold. Is this the way forwards for the rest of the recession hit world, or should the emphasis come from the companies that provide us with the unhealthy snacks and drinks?

kim 1

As one of the first names in to the ring when discussing our unhealthy habits, Coca-Cola [GB] pledge, via their Corporate Responsibility Review, “We will encourage active healthy living by supporting physical activity and nutrition education programmes”. Their recent step to call out the rise in obesity and encourage people to make changes in their lifestyle is a landmark move from a soft drinks brand. Not to be left behind, whilst gearing up for the next Olympics, in Sochi 2014, Coca-Cola Russia have launched an Active Health Living advisory board to try and get the Russia population moving.

Coca-Cola’s definition of physical activity – expending energy – is the critical component we all need every day to maintain energy balance.

Coca-Cola are continuing to use the inspirational appeal of their company, brands and unique assets to encourage more people to enjoy physical activity: to make it more accessible, more sociable and a habit for life. Always remembering that people must CHOOSE to make these decisions.

A motivator for brands behind their public messaging, alongside being the right thing to do, is the constant threat, in particular from the UK government, of the so-called ‘Fizzy Drinks Tax’ as advised by the Obesity Steering Group at the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. The Obesity Steering Group are the party who firmly disbelieve we are unable to make the right choices, and need an intervention to take immediate action.

Another example of a brand taking action is Asda. The Asda Active campaign is part of Asda’s Community Life Programme and forms an integral part of its public health drive. The campaign is designed to help families in local communities to get healthy and active and in turn ‘Get Britain Moving’. This objective is supported by Asda’s ever expanding panel of 5,000 Asda Active mums who, at the end of 2012, told Asda they were worried about their kid’s access to and participation in, physical activity. So from a parents perspective, there is a worry from a young age around access to sport and physical activity. Given that I write this from London, which should be in the middle of a post-Olympic boom of activity and exercise, as typically occurs for a host nation after an Olympic Games, surely this should be a problem of the past?

However new research by Asda has revealed that parents believe the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games has had a positive effect on primary school children across Britain to do more sport.

Kim 2

Of the 2,000 parents that were surveyed, 53% felt inspired to encourage their child to take part in sport following London 2012 with 34% encouraging their child to do more sport and 20% encouraging their child to take up sport altogether.

Despite the positive results, parents do have some concerns about the access primary school children have to sport. With the one year anniversary of London 2012 less than one week away, the research highlights that 72% of parents think more sport should be made available to primary school children. So perhaps if the government were to make an intervention it needs to be here?

To combat the criticism and be responsible, brands make proactive changes on a weekly basis with smaller portion sizes, calorie numbers displayed much more prominently, kick-starting community projects, and funding more and better, science and nutrition research. But is this enough? Active Healthy Living is about choices. It’s about allowing consumers to make the right choice for their health and wellbeing. But it shouldn’t be about taking the choice away from consumers. Those that are able to make healthy informed decisions, are taxed for the freedom to choose. Whilst mindful that not all have the liberty of choice, how do we strike a balance? In todays advertising overload world, where we have more product choice than ever, combined with production innovation and information, we know that all calories count. But just how much do we care? Only time will tell but in the meantime we know brands have to fight their corner, make choice easier, and continue to help consumers lead a more active, healthy life. But as consumers, we must play our part, sit up, pay attention, and make better choices now.

kim 3

Yahoo Search: Wireless Festival

Compiled by: Hussain Manawer

“The next station is Stratford, doors on this platform will open on both sides of the train, please allow passengers off the train first” – The words rang in my ears and brought back incredible memories of London 2012. But on Saturday, sport didn’t make the agenda because the Queen Elizabeth Park had had a makeover of the purple variety, as Yahoo! Wireless Festival came to town.

Walking through the Olympic Park, I was astounded at the variety of live activation’s that were taking place. From Yahoo’s Silent Disco and a high flying zip wire, to giant purple orbs located around the park, a bird caged area and a chill out zone, not to mention the food stalls and stages – It was almost overwhelming!  So I took it slowly and began my journey into an entertainment enthusiast’s paradise.

Most of my day was spent by the main stage, as I had work duties to commit to, but who was I to complain? I had a front row seat for Yahoo’s Wireless Festival!  Earth, Wind & Fire started things off, warming up the festive crowd as rays of sunlight shone brightly across East London’s landscape. DJ Fresh followed with a medley of smash hit songs.

During a brief break I headed into the backstage VIP entrance as I was intrigued to know what lived within the high security walls. There was a private hair salon, a variety of fine dining cuisine options, a Flickr photo booth, private luxury toilets, a miniature golf section, and of course Emeli Sandé enjoying some peace and quiet before her set. The VIP section was subdivided into three sections, one dedicated to Yahoo!, one for kiss 100 and the other for Pepsi. A real mix of celebrities were chilling out in each section, including Joey Essex, Dynamo, Kendrick Lamar and a brief appearance from Lewis Hamilton.

Back at the main stage, with the crowd strengthened in numbers, rumours began spreading that a special guest was due to appear on stage with Emeli Sandé. As excitement reached fever pitch, no other than chart topping UK artist Tinie Tempah suddenly appeared on stage! He was only on stage for a short time but he whipped the crowd into frenzy. That was the starter over, now for the main…

Emeli Sande

The rumour mill went into overdrive again that headliner Jay Z had a huge surprise up his sleeve. Some said Beyonce, others said Rihanna. The only thing we could do was wait and wait (as we did). As the MC HG logo appeared on the screen signifying his latest album release (Magna Carta Holy Grail) the crowd prepared themselves for the headliner. No gimmicks, no acrobats flying on stage or fire breathing dancers, just a plain white shirt, gold chain, a microphone and a man who has taken ownership of the rap game.  Jay Z, the most successful rapper of all time, walked on to the stage with a knowing smile on his face. He then rolled back the years to my time at high school with hits such as Bonnie and Clyde, Crazy in Love, Encore, 99 Problems, On to the next one and Forever Young. Jay Z had the crowd jumping, reminiscing and even screaming when he brought out Friday night’s headline act Justin Timberlake!

Yahoo! did an excellent job in creating such a positive, vibrant atmosphere for the festival. The question I kept asking myself was “if you’re not here, what are you doing?!” Yahoo’s Wireless Festival had something for everyone; I had the time of my life!

Challenging the call on participation

Compiled by: Rachel Hirst

With Wimbledon in full swing, the attention has once again returned to the state of British tennis, with participation levels under particular scrutiny following the recent announcement of funding cuts by Sport England.

Whilst the likes of Andy Murray, Laura Robson and Heather Watson are starting to take the elite side of the game to an exciting new era for British Tennis, there has been a suggestion that the emerging talent below these top players is a little less promising. Many would have you believe that we are still a long way off achieving any long term stability in the sport, with discussions around a failing grass roots structure never too far away.  But is this really the case?

Despite what we might read in the press, The Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) are in fact well aware of the challenge and are more active than many rights holders in working to improve grass roots participation in their sport. Over the last few years, numerous initiatives have been put in place to create a fun introduction to the sport and help foster an enthusiasm for tennis from a young age. For example, the Aegon schools tennis education programme has reached over 2.2 million children since its inception in 2009, with the scheme providing tennis equipment and training to schools across the country.  97% of teacher’s who take part in the initiative say they are now delivering tennis – or more tennis – at their schools as a direct result.

Whilst developing a successful long term plan for grass roots tennis is something the LTA are rightly challenged and held to account on, one of the greatest challenges the LTA face is the outdated public perception of tennis which creates its own barriers to participation.

The longest held perception and one which is firmly embedded in the origins of the sport is the idea that tennis is mainly played by the middle class. In reality however, interest in the sport is much more evenly distributed across social groups, with research showing only a small percentage (3%) of C2DE’s would mention words such as elitist or posh when thinking about tennis. In fact, tennis appeals to a very broad audience, covering all age groups and reaching more women than most other sports.

However, as a consequence of the ‘elitist’ association of the past, there is also the widely held belief among the public that tennis is too expensive, with perceptions about membership and court hire costs driving people away.  In reality, while tennis may not be ‘free’ like playing football in the park, it is certainly very affordable, particularly when compared to the ever increasing costs of gym membership.  For example, the average cost of tennis membership in the UK is less than £3 per week for adults and less than £1 for kids.

Finally, there is the familiar concern that our hectic lifestyles no longer allow us to spend a few hours a week playing sport, or indeed the motivation to engage in competitive play following a busy day at work. However, the traditional game of tennis is no longer the only way to participate, with the latest fitness craze of Cardio Tennis one example of the fun and sociable alternatives that are successfully making their way across the country, in parks, schools and clubs.

So, with Wimbledon one of the key drivers of participation in tennis, there is no greater time to dispel a few myths of the game and encourage the next Andy Murray or Laura Robson to pick up a racket and start playing.

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