Campaign Overview

In December 2009 TVC was challenged to plunge British Gas’s swimming sponsorship into the spotlight – making a big splash that couldn’t be ignored.

The sponsorship aims to:
• Drive brand reappraisal to build customer loyalty.
• Show that British Gas is about more than just energy supply.
• Create positive brand experiences.
• Support areas that are important to the nation and British Gas customers.

TVC had to blow all obstacles out of the water that prevent swimming getting significant media coverage in order to build British Gas’s association with swimming in the UK.
Sporting icons, celebrities from the world of showbusiness and fashion, and hundreds of thousands of people all took the plunge as part of consumer promotions, community programmes and major events. TVC generated newsworthy and eye catching content from this activity to engage both the media and the public.

As a result British Gas’s Swimming sponsorship presence increased significantly in the sports and wider media, firmly establishing the brand as swimming’s premier sponsor in the UK. Over 100,000 British Gas customers dipped their toes in the water thanks to British Gas’s 3 Free Swims consumer promotion. Throughout 2010, the coverage generated around the sponsorship was valued at £23.9 million.

The Challenge:

British Gas needed to communicate its £15 million swimming sponsorship, which supports the sport in the UK at all levels from grass roots to elite, to two core audiences: alpha mums and weekend dads.

Despite the increasing success of Britain’s elite swimmers and the fact that swimming is the UK’s biggest participation sport, it is still a minority sport in the eyes of the press and swimming events are not televised on a regular basis. Football, rugby and cricket dominate the sports agenda and swimming has been noticeably absent in the wider media.

TVC’s main objectives were to:
• Increase the level of consumer awareness (target 38%) and media coverage for British Gas’s sponsorship of British Swimming from elite to grass roots.
• Position British Gas at the heart of the sport.
• Sell swimming as an engaging spectator sport, fun family activity and important life-skill.
• Drive swimming beyond the back pages and connect to new and wider audiences.


Changing the narrative...
• We elevated the sport’s heroes and in return they became brilliant brand advocates.
• We started a new conversation for swimming in the media around glamour, physical prowess, life-skills, health and wellbeing.
• We took content seriously – creating and amplifying iconic photography, engaging video and interactive platforms.

Campaign Execution

Creative tactics.
• How to get British Gas customers swimming for free Recruiting an in-demand and pregnant Penny Lancaster-Stewart, brilliantly connected to our mums and families audience.
• How to show swimming at the heart of community life Celebrate the amazing Pools 4 Schools programme - showing what it means for children to get the chance to learn to swim.
• How to promote the British Gas Great Swim Series = Jodie Kid + wetsuit + crowd + more wetsuits + Millennium Bridge.
• How to get people excited about swimming as a spectator sport Giving consumers the inside track - webcasts from big events, behind the scenes content from training camps and a programme of eye-catching photocalls and media interviews.
• How to cement the British Gas and swimming connection Use Britain’s ‘hottest swimming property’, Double Olympic champion and media favourite, Rebecca Adlington as the face of the sponsorship, both in and out of the pool.


TVC generated over 1,600 pieces of coverage across TV, radio, print and online; with a total PR value of £23.9 million.

• The profile of British Gas’s association with swimming has been transformed:
- Prompted awareness of the sponsorship rose to 40.5%* from August to September, post European Championship and 3 Free Swims consumer promotion PR.
- TVC’s creative approach led to a change in the media attitude to swimming, which was reflected by coverage in new sectors and the increased prominence and value of coverage across all media.
- 177 pieces of national and regional TV coverage including BBC, ITV, Sky.
- Major lifestyle media including: Loose Women, Hello Magazine, Best Magazine, Express Woman, celebrity websites.
- 3 Free Swims media coverage was valued at £3.5 million.
- Jodie Kidd Great London Swim coverage reach estimated at 36 million.

• Swimming participation increased:
- 101,746 British Gas customers signed up for the British Gas 3 Free Swims offer, 45% more than the target number.
- One large high-end pool operator generated over 400 new memberships as a result of taking part in the 3 Free Swims promotion, representing additional annual revenue in excess of £300,000.
- Entries for the Great Swim Series increased from 10,000 in 2009 to 20,000 in 2010.
- Pools 4 Schools taught over 20,000 children to swim.