#MarketingExcellenceAwards spills: How T2 APL pivoted its marketing from event to brand based

T2 APL bagged the silver for the Excellence in Sports/esports Marketing at Marketing Excellence Awards 2020 ceremony. The campaign that caught the judges’ attention is its execution of the T2 Diamond 2019, a global Table Tennis tournament.

As a brand, T2 looks to realise the vast potential of the sport Table Tennis. It aims to reshape the image of Table Tennis while upholding the highest standards of global competition. We speak to Belinda Liew, marketing director on the brand’s plans for the future.

 This interview is done as part of MARKETING-INTERACTIVE’s winners and finalists’ interview series for Marketing Excellence Awards 2020. To find out more about the awards, click here.


What are some of the expectations your consumers now have for your brand?

Liew: T2 champions innovations and has always been the fearless driver of table tennis, constantly challenging the way this sport has always been traditionally expressed. We’ve revamped the gameplay format, advanced the broadcast content to provide a more visually thrilling experience, and re-visualised the fan experience to captivate audiences in and out of the venue.

With more emphasis on digital innovations this year, we’re constantly challenging the status quo, allowing ourselves to see and do things differently, and deliver an equally immersive experience online to our global fans. We’re looking at building more creative, deeper, and ambitious partnerships with brands and partners to co-create solutions within the digital and media space to take sports-entertainment experiences to greater heights.

We aims to be part of the journey to reshape the image of Table Tennis while upholding the highest standards of global competition. That means, we will continuously pushes the boundaries of what is acceptable in the world of Table Tennis by being fierce, provocative, and fresh. And most importantly, to stay relevant to what and how the world wants to evolve and see it.

How has your marketing/your clients' marketing plans shifted this year?

Liew: With the world of sports coming to a halt in 2020, T2 had to strategically re-shift our marketing from an event focused marketing to a brand focused marketing strategy. Early on in the year, instead of sitting on the sidelines while the world quarantined, we went back to the drawing board to see what could we do to continue reaching our fans and authentically engage with them, even without a packed event calendar.

We went back to the core and focused on what we know best – our fans and the sport. Took our time to understand the current consumer sentiment, personalised our content, dug deep into our golden archive of previous events, and started piloting on our digital capabilities (Example: T2 CHALLENGE - our 1st virtual tournament with remote collaboration with USA Table Tennis) to continue engaging our core fans through meaningful content that really spoke and resonated to them. 

What are some of the trends you see carrying on post-pandemic, and how are you readying your workforce to be ready with these trends?

For us at T2, we’re constantly working in beta-mode, exploring how we can challenge the status quo and come up with out-of-the-box approaches. To do this, it also starts with talent training and building an explorative mindset internally. Throughout this year, we’ve encouraged the team to build on their own unique passions, take courses and seminars outside of the sports industry (digital marketing, analytics, e-commerce), and learn from best practices outside of the sports world so that we can come back with a fresh perspective and value-add to our existing ideas. With a thirst for innovation, it’s becoming more common to see partners from different industries collaborating on projects to co-develop unique strategies and solutions.

What do you think makes for great marketing these days?

It’s all about really understanding both sides of the story – connecting authentically with your audience and understanding your unique value proposition and sticking to it; be it yesterday, today, or tomorrow.

Marketing should be a balance between creativity, authenticity, and analytics. Trends are always changing so it’s important to constantly keep innovating, and be willing to experiment, but most importantly sticking to your core brand values and maintaining that
genuine human narrative and integrity in your brand marketing.

How are you planning for 2021?

While the sports event industry came to a halt this year, we’ve used this time to realign and rethink our brand, business, and value proposition. We continue aspire to be one of key players and influencer in the Table Tennis space.

With the new norm, new way of content consumption, new way of reaching and engaging fans, we are dedicated to continue evolving new ways to take Table Tennis forward and make it relevant to current and future table tennis fans.

We’re looking at driving more digital innovations within the sports industry, collaborating with partners to explore how we can co-own and create solutions that mutually work for both parties. With our experience from organizing table tennis’s first online virtual tournament (T2 Challenge) this year, we’re excited to put our learnings from this year to practice and continue experimenting on how we can take sport-entertainment experiences to the next level.