Sharing a passion creates positive action

Passion is infectious. Successful content marketing campaigns establish a shared passion between marketers and audience, one which drives the latter to take action. At a recent Manifesto event I gave a talk on just this subject, showing how we used the concept to bring an audience of 2 million viewers to prime time boxing on ITV.

Crafting content for impactful campaigns and user-driven services

The event – aimed at people working in charity digital – was all about using content as part of campaigns or digital services to engage users or drive them to take particular actions. The two other speakers on the night were Emma Shepherd, Head of Brand and Communications at St. John’s Ambulance and Beatrice Lucy, Chief Digital Officer at the Citizens Advice Bureau. Naomi over at the Comic Relief Technology Blog has done such a good job of writing up those talks that I won’t try to outdo her effort here.

Instead, I’ll expand on the main idea behind my talk – the title of this post.

Finding a shared passion

As marketers we often face a significant hurdle at the outset of our campaigns: our audience doesn’t feel as passionately about our cause or product as we do. Our task then is to find areas where our passions (or values) overlap with the passions (or values) of our audience and then build a campaign around this shared passion.

The campaign

Since its move to pay-per-view channels, championship boxing had been off terrestrial television for over a decade. But all that was about to change with the fight between the world super-bantamweight champion Carl ‘The Jackal’ Frampton and contender Chris Avalos, which would be broadcast on ITV.

We were commissioned by Cyclone Promotions to not only ensure large viewing figures for the fight (which would be broadcast at the same time as Match of the Day on BBC1) but also to reintroduce boxing to a new audience of casual sports fans, and build Carl Frampton an army of dedicated fans.

In short, our mission was to

bring boxing back to the big time

Harnessing the McGuigan passion

Luckily, when it came to identifying the passions which we shared with our target audience – the casual fan – we had an ace up our sleeve. The owner of Cyclone Promotions is Barry McGuigan. While that name might not mean much to non-sports fans, Barry’s exalted career as a boxer, sports pundit and even as the star of his own video game was a huge asset when it came to enthusing casual fans.


But much more than Barry’s familiarity as a celebrity, what was dynamite for us was the passion that the man and his team exuded for the sport of boxing. Along with his son Shane McGuigan – one of boxing’s most in-demand trainers – and the champion boxer himself, Barry had built a training camp that buzzed with excitement. This was the passion that we were relying on to capture the imagination of our target audience, inspire them to share content in the run up to the night and then tune in for the fight itself.

So, our campaign would focus on the activity in and around the Frampton camp in the run-up to the fight. But what shape would this content take? Enter the Hero, Hub, Hygiene model.

Hero, Hub, Hygiene – YouTube’s content marketing model

I’m not sure whether YouTube invented the Hero, Hub, Hygiene model or if they simply cribbed it from content marketers of yore, but it’s certainly a useful way to think about structuring a content strategy and it made an excellent base for our thinking on this campaign.

In simple terms, the model lays out three kinds of content that make up a content marketing strategy:

  • Hygiene content – Always-on ‘pull’ content designed for your core target.
  • Hub content – Regularly scheduled ‘push’ content designed for your prime prospect.
  • Hero content – Large-scale, tent-pole events or ‘go big’ moments designed to raise broad awareness.

YouTube presents this as a strategy for building a YouTube presence but this model can in fact be used for any kind of content, not just video.

As it happens, our campaign would revolve around video since we wanted to harness the shareable nature of video to bring in a large new audience of Frampton fans via social media.

We don’t need no heroes

Or rather, we didn’t need to worry about what the hero content would be since that was fairly obvious – the fight itself was the main attraction. We needed instead to focus on producing a stream of hub and hygiene content to draw in potential fans over the six-week lead up to fight night, building their anticipation for the big event.

Our hub and hygiene content

This consisted of regular updates from the camp in blog and video format, releasing ‘Fight Camp’ videos every Friday evening in run-up to the main event and distributing across social for maximum exposure, as well as videos of scheduled events like the public training session and the explosive weigh-in.


We started in a characteristically Lean/Agile way by throwing a small bit of ad spend behind our Fight Camp videos, and then used the insights from the engagement stats on these videos to inform our approach to the on-going content produced.

On the night of the night of the fight itself we made the Cyclone website a hub where we offered viewers of the fight on ITV a second-screen experience with a live blog that featured exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes footage, also leveraging our social channels to capitalize on the digital conversation.

The results

Fight night was a spectacular success in more ways than one. For a starters, Carl ‘The Jackal’ Frampton retained his world title with a knockout in the fifth round, rewarding the passion and dedication of his fans with the musical sound of the words ‘And still the IBF Super-Bantamweight Champion of the World…’

But the icing on the cake was a large cohort of new Frampton fans. Here are some stats:

  • Over 2 million people tuned in across the UK
  • 76% of Northern Ireland watched the fight
  • 450,000 minutes watched on YouTube
  • 600,000 people were reached on Facebook during fight week
  • The content was reused by both local and national news media
  • The campaign has since been nominated for a Drum Marketing Award

We’d like to say that this was all down to our amazing content marketing skills but those wouldn’t have counted for much without the most important element of the campaign: passion. And that’s why I’ll leave Barry with the last word.


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