#MARKiesAwards 2021 case study: Exceed Sports glows in trying times by turning to virtual events

Exceed Sports and Entertainment, and its agency, Construct Digital, had to overcome the challenge of carrying out the Glow Festival 2020 amidts the COVID-19 pandemic. Taking into account safety and health precautions, both parties designed the events on an invite-only basis. It implemented various startegies to ensure that it could tap on the reach of reputable brands and KOLs in the wellness industry to further increase its reach to new target audiences. Through its various executions, the brand saw 17 million KOLs and partner posts impressions and a total of 4.3 billion publication impressions. The duo impressed the judges with the results they received and secured the silver award for Most Effective Use - Influencers/KOLs at MARKETING-INTERACTIVE's MARKies Awards 2021.

Challenge 

Operating in one of the worst hit industries in 2020, Exceed Sports and Entertainment had to rethink plans for its Glow Festival, a full-fledged two-day event when the effects of COVID-19 hit Singapore hard in March last year. Originally scheduled for end May 2020, Glow Festival 2020 was postponed with no new date announced. The unpredictability of hosting large-scale events presented unique and unanticipated challenges that made it impossible for Glow Festival to take place as planned. This forced an entire rethink on the strategy for keeping audiences engaged until their next project. 

The event dates were 10 December 2020, 27 January 2021, and 8 March 2021. The key objectives were to keep the Glow brand top of mind during this period, in preparation for the next big Glow event, position Glow Festival and Singapore as key wellness destinations regionally, and test out modular-based events as a new large-scale festival format. The target audiences were wellness enthusiasts and festival-goers from SEA region with key competitors being Garden Beats, Wonderfruit, and HydeOut.

Introducing Glow On, a three part pilot series in collaboration with Singapore Tourism Board to further the Glow ethos and position Singapore as a key wellness destination on the world stage. To test out a brand new festival format, Glow partnered STB to run three pilot events. The goal was to test out modular-based events that could be scaled up as a larger festival if successful. While this was only a pilot project and was invite-only due to safe distancing measures, Construct Digital worked closely with Glow to amplify the experience through the use of KOLs and online videos. In order to stand out in the sea of virtual events already happening all over the world, it picked some of the best spots in Singapore to hold its events and partnered with key local and international wellness brands, strengthening Singapore’s position as a wellness destination.

Strategy 

Due to safe distancing measures, Glow On was designed as an invite-only event. However, the duo wanted to find the most effective way to continue reaching out to audiences to keep the Glow brand top of mind. Additionally, the team wanted to give fans both locally and internationally, something small to enjoy at home. The team decided that one of the most cost-effective ways to build up brand love and reputation for Glow was to invite KOLs to experience the pilot Glow On events, and let them share the experience with their followers. Allowing the wider public to experience these events through the eyes of their favourite KOLs was an effective way for the team to reach a wider audience locally and internationally while running these events at a limited capacity.

The KOLs chosen also had some international reach to ensure that it positioned Singapore as a wellness destination to its international fans. This was in line with the long-term plan of establishing Glow Festival as a key wellness festival regionally that will drive tourism when borders open up. Additionally, the team wanted to have a good mix of local and international brands when working out the programme for the Glow On events. This was to ensure that it could tap on the reach of reputable brands and KOLs in the wellness industry to further increase its reach to new audiences, yet be able to spotlight local brands on the international stage at the same time.

Execution 

The KOLs invited were handpicked from its past collaborations (Glow Festival 2019) and also included KOLs well known in the wellness and fitness industry. The team also picked some lifestyle influencers who have championed holistic wellness to be part of the event. This helped us reach a wider group of audience and fits in well with Glow’s belief that wellness is for everyone, and should be all encompassing. Among them were Christabel Chua, who was Glow Festival 2019’s ambassador and members of The Sam Willows, who performed at the inaugural Glow Festival in 2019.

The team managed to secure 28 KOLs for the campaign, many of which had good international reach to anchor Glow as a key wellness festival for the region. It also used third party tools to measure the reach of its target audience, so as to ensure it was getting a good mix of local and international reach. 

Some notable KOLs and brands it worked with when programming Glow On included: Bebe Ding, CRU’s co-founder, who led a SCULPT yoga class at Glow On: Mould Your Glow, Christabel Chua, who debuted Face Yoga after her certification with Face Yoga Method’s founder Fumiko Takatsu at Glow On: Yin to Gin, PURE and COMO Shambhala, two key international brands, curated meaningful experiences for Glow On. Additionally, the team worked with these KOLs and brands to film video tutorials for fans locally and internationally to follow at home. These included a SCULPT yoga class with CRU’s Bebe Ding, a Yin Yoga session with PURE’s Gabriella Mendoza, Gin masterclasses with Madame Fan’s June Baek and LAUT’s Kye Seng, and a sound healing session with COMO Shambhala’s Wendy Lum.

To top off the event series, the team picked some of the best venues in Singapore to increase the “wow” and “instagrammable” factors. This ensured it got sufficient coverage from its KOL and media friends attending the events, and impressed its fans worldwide. Pre-event special invites were sent to KOLs to secure their attendance. Each of the invites was signed off by Glow’s founder Martin Capstick or Glow’s project director Leah Teh, and one lead KOL per event. Event launch KOLs experienced the event and shared Instagram stories live from the event. KOLs were also given media kits during the event for more post-event coverage. Post-event KOLs continued sharing images and videos from the event and the buzz about the event was sustained through paid programmatic ads and media editorials.

Results 

Throughout the three Glow On events, the team achieved almost 200 posts on Facebook, Instagram, Instagram stories and IGTV, with over 17 million impressions from KOLs and partner posts only. On its social media accounts, it reached a total of over 38,000 people organically with paid media not included, and recorded 322 profile visits on Instagram from its Instagram posts and stories. Its Instagram posts also recorded reaching on average over 35% of new users that are not currently following Glow Festival’s Instagram account.

The brand saw 17 Million KOLs and partner posts impressions, 38,000 people organically reached, 200 post achieved through KOL Facebook, Instagram, Instagram stories, and IGTV, and 35% new users.

What’s more, its event series garnered plenty of favourable coverage in the media, with 43 pieces across print, online, and social media. It also totaled potentially over 4,330,000,000 impressions across the various publications. Overall, its KOL-led strategy for Glow On was a successful way for Glow to engage audiences while preparing for its next big event. This was key since the last event for Glow was in May 2019, and Glow needed a way to continue the engagement with its fans despite the pandemic. As a pilot test event, Glow On allowed the team to collect data and information about what works for modular-based events, and these valuable learnings will be applied to Glow Festival 2021. The results of the successful KOL engagement from Glow On has also laid the foundation for future Glow events.