Shortlisted 2018




Lead Agency



The Challenge

Marking the highlight of the global athletics’ calendar, the IAAF wanted to build awareness for potential fans while engaging current followers on social media for the IAAF World Championships 2017.

The Ask? Create a campaign to build engagement and reach of the world championships driving the IAAF’s own social platforms.

The IAAF were keen to attract new fans and build on their social channels during the IAAF World Championships 2017. While they were looking to expand their content to build on reach and engagement, they also had to ensure to deliver the same detailed content die-hard athletics supporters expect from the IAAF.

While athletics and the event were sure to be a trending topic on Twitter, IAAF wanted to own the social platforms with an inclusive message and hashtag, transcending language barriers that can be exclusive of English lead sporting

Interestingly, the IAAF had strongest Facebook engagement and performance on digital across the 18-24 and 24-35 age groups – digitally native social users who access platforms for specific needs.

We worked with the IAAF to build a through-the-line campaign, recording and analysing social and digital posting and practice in real-time according to fans’ reaction to content.

For consumers this meant creating bitesize, digestible content, signalling race times for main events, and providing behind-the-scenes authentic access to world-class athletes.

The Strategy

Our strategy was to highlight the three pillars of track & field: running, jumping and throwing — through a series of countdowns and anthem videos in easy-to-digest social clips designed to increase organic reach and engagement by appealing to the digitally native audience.

Using real-time user generated content along with evergreen posts we covered the entire IAAF event from prelaunch, live event to post evaluation recommendations, reacting to live engagement of the events happening on the
field of play and how they were being depicted online. As well as engaging with fans through the in-stadium feeds, scoreboards, and fan village digital photobooth projected in-stadium, we provided the tools (custom emojis), shaped the conversation with a trending hashtag (#IAAFworlds) and appealed to a new audience with fresh content consistent with how millennials consume their media.

By monitoring and altering our posts per platform to reflect the online audience engagement in real-time, we were able to devise a 360° social campaign that would transcend language barriers, incorporate the fun and playful side of emojis and widen the demographic of engaged audience members beyond die-hard fans. We were reactive, in the time, maximising on trending topics to drive IAAF to the core of all sporting conversation.

The Implementation

By creating a three tiered approach to the IAAF World Championships, we engaged with fans in real-time to assess the way they wanted to consume IAAF social media.

Supporting the excitement and build-up of the championships themselves, IAAF launched a countdown with a series of 15 and 30 second social clips promoting the overarching brand message, ‘You Can’t Beat Them, But You Can EMOJI Like Them’.

From July 17th – August 3rd, we used emojis to break down language barriers, cutting traditional footage from the IAAF archive with UGC content created by the fans, telling a global story through pictures and emojis that everyone
could understand.

Amplifying this message, we customised 10 emojis representing the running, jumping and throwing aspects of the IAAF, which took over the in-stadium scoreboards, TV screens and interviews throughout the live event campaign
(August 4-13th) as well as creating reactionary posts responding to fan interaction (and the surprise moments) on the field of play.

A custom Snapchat filter, social live stream and commemoration posts of athlete favourites created a team atmosphere between the fans and the IAAF, boosting engagement and expanding audience share beyond the walls
of the stadium.

The real-time posting and interaction helped push IAAF to the top of the trending list on Twitter, increasing brand awareness and engagement while attracting new followers to the brand’s social platforms.

Ultimately, working with the IAAF, we built a reactive, relevant and ‘always-on’ approach to both the IAAF and its competition partners.

The Result

Storyful created a highly-engaged campaign that outperformed all KPIs over the competition period, increasing follower growth by 90,700 people, with organic reach of 40.1 million people and engagement of 12.1 million people
over a two-week period on the IAAF platforms. With an earned media value of +€515m if the IAAF were to have paid for reach and engagement, Storyful’s video posts garnered high engagement rates for each platform – with an
average engagement rate of 10% on Facebook , 5.7% on Twitter and 18% on Instagram.

The high engagement rates were matched with high follower growth increases of 7.9% followers on Facebook, 10.5% of followers on Twitter and 26.7% followers on Instagram. The video-led campaign also catapulted engagement on the IAAF Instagram account, whose engagement was stronger than 28% of other sporting profiles with similar numbers of followers.

The #IAAFworlds hashtag was also the most popular hashtag associated to the event, trending with 56.6% of users adopting the term, followed by 19% for #London2017 and 1.7% for #BeTheNext.

Finally, Storyful’s UGC approach has reversed the pattern of a drop in engagement post-event for IAAF, with all accounts now growing following the IAAF World Championships.