Honouring the Spirit of DHL Newlands

This Saturday would have been the Springboks’ first home Test since being crowned world champions in November last year, while it’s also the very last international to be played at the iconic DHL Newlands stadium. The COVID-19 pandemic, though, has sadly seen the Test being put on hold.

But thanks to BrightRock’s vision a few legends and some of the DHL Stormers’ finest players will set DHL Newlands alight in tribute by lighting braais on the field to remember the magical moments that have lit up the stadium for 130 years.

Treble is proud to be part of this great event at a rugby ground that’s close to our hearts and it’s fitting that our expertise was called upon to manage the event with the DHL Stormers bringing their fire to DHL Newlands in a special live-streamed broadcast.

Treble MD, Kyle Nel, applauds BrightRock for creating a silver lining and is excited as the COVID-19 pandemic has given sports fans very little to cheer about. “We are privileged to have been asked by BrightRock to work with them to conceptualise and deliver this very special live broadcast from DHL Newlands on Saturday.

‘The grand old lady of rugby stadiums is close to all of our teams’ hearts, and as a collective, to be able to light up a fire for DHL Newlands on this day is very special,” Nel added. “I am so looking forward to the rugby legends and current heroes interacting with their passionate supporters. – I hope you will all join us online and enjoy the fun-filled live stream.”

In true South African spirit, combining our nation’s passion for rugby and braais, BrightRock is giving fans the chance to be there at DHL Newlands – from their homes.

It’s Test match Saturday in COVID times, so join us from your home on the day as we pay tribute to the faithful fans, DHL WP and DHL Stormers teams, players and magic moments over the years that have made DHL Newlands such a special place for so many people.

The world has embraced enormous change over the past few months, learning to connect with others in new ways thanks to technology. According to BrightRock Executive Director, Suzanne Stevens, some of these changes provided the inspiration for the livestream and a different way for South Africans to celebrate DHL Newlands and its iconic place in international rugby lore.

“DHL Newlands is as much a part of our DNA as rugby and braaivleis. At BrightRock, our philosophy is to Love Change – to embrace the opportunities that change brings to try new things. We’re excited to have the opportunity to put this thinking into practice to create an exciting new way for fans to honour and celebrate DHL Newlands.”

Fans are invited to join in, by lighting up their braai fires at home; and then sending in their most memorable DHL Newlands moments and their Saturday family braai day pics on 4 July. These pictures will be shared that same Saturday afternoon on the DHL Newlands stadium screen via YouTube LIVE, giving fans the opportunity to be in the stadium from home.

So right now book your 5pm seat … light up a fire and get online! For more details click here

Re-imagining the Sport Industry in SA

The global Covid-19 pandemic has been a catalyst to critical thinking, honest engagement and a recalibration of the sports and entertainment industry.

As everyone in the sports and events industry scrambles to react to the unforeseen situation that Covid-19 has forced upon us, I have spent most of my time engaging with the Treble team, our clients, and our valued partners.

I recently wrote a piece that was published on Sport24 discussing potential ways to reshape our vision in the sports industry, and internally within Treble, I have focused on proactively managing the financials to keep the business afloat, whilst stretching the team to seriously review our business offering and how it might be affected going forward.

I have read a number of published pieces on how our industry will never be the same, and yes, we have addressed the same questions such as, “How will our existing offerings need to be realigned? Should we be moving aggressively into the digital space? Etc.”

This effort has been against an uncertain backdrop of trying to keep the team positive, while you communicate salary reductions and the ever present ‘elephant in the room’ – potential retrenchments.

Our senior management team have consulted extensively as to how businesses are approaching the balancing of books and handling the human resources factors responsibly. This is a first for many businesses and I have adopted a principle of total transparency and dialogue across the board.

We are a “Treble team” and I will work as hard as possible to hold the team together. This is highly challenging for any business as there is an unknown to a major variable, being the “duration” of the impact of this global lockdown.

I have explained to our team, it’s not about whether we can return to the office at level 3,2 or 1. We are an industry that needs the entire economy to open up, businesses to recover, marketing budgets to be committed and more critically, a medical solution be found so that the passionate supporters and athletes can attend our live sporting events.

Externally, I have watched past and present professional sports personalities, their teams, rights federations, sponsors and media partners all dive into the digital space. We have seen players showing themselves training at home; explaining good hygiene practices; challenging each other to various challenges; using this time to help where they can and joining online streaming platforms to engage with supporters via posting comments into the feed.

Treble has been no different, we have updated all our communications platforms to showcase our work, promote our offerings to try and stay top of mind and remain positive. However, I seem to be grappling with more fundamental questions.

Have we as an agency, and all the relevant stakeholders, used this opportunity to fundamentally look at themselves and broaden their reference points to understand what has been changing anyway? The Covid-19 Lockdown has given us an opportunity to stop the bus and think critically about the rapidly changing sports industry and what is global best practice in other industries.

I will borrow the words of someone I recently had an enlightening conversation with, who until recently held the position of Global Head of Sponsorships for a multinational financial institution. Over a long online conversation, we grappled with the above points and he strongly believes that sponsorships are a critical and powerful tool in the market mix.

But rightsholders, and even professional players, need to appreciate that the real value lies with the end customer – the passionate supporter. A large part of the sports industry is sold on the number of eyeballs – being spectators and audience ratings. Major domestic, global rightsholders and personalities market and sell themselves by stressing their attendances, the number of followers they have on their social media platforms, the world-class players that are part of their product, and broadcasting audiences.

The issue is sports still does not control the access or have detailed intelligence on their supporters. Sport and individuals are beholden to the social media platform algorithms and T&Cs regarding their partners engagement on their social media platforms.  Even the online ticketing solutions are often provided by third party service providers, whose aim is to drive foot traffic to their stores or online platforms.

Sport can learn from the music and gaming industries, where I use the following example during the lockdown. Travis Scott released his new soundtrack within the Fortnight gaming platform. Who is Travis Scott, and what does the launch of a song in a game have to do with anything?

Thinking critically, I watched my teenage son contact his friends to ensure they were in the special “world” within the game at a specific time. They spent an hour playing within the game running around as they waited for Travis to appear. The event was the same as a concert of old! Thousands of fans singing and cheering waiting for the main act. Travis finally appeared as a huge hologram of himself, with his new track playing and the boys went mad.

This is my point when I say we have a lot to learn. We are looking at the convergence of entertainment and technology platforms. Sport needs to fully immerse itself into utilising those platforms to capture the minds of this new generation.

Currently, Treble is unpacking how do we effectively stage a virtual FIFA 2020 tournament, which is great, but I don’t believe it gets to the fundamental questions and opportunity we have right now. The value is in having a direct relationship with the fans. Do we really have a direct relationship with them or are we still just pushing content across our communication platforms and counting “likes”?

Do teams and players have any detailed understanding as to their passionate supporter base? Even better, do they have any diagnostics in place to develop bespoke solutions for those supporters?  Yes, Treble could dive into the digital space, but where do we begin? We should start with the end customer in mind. The technology is available, and the passionate fans are open and prepared to engage.

This lockdown has proven that young and old have been immersed in using technology (my 70-year-old in-laws discovered this ‘new’ TV channel called Youtube). Passionate fans want to get closer to their teams and players. They are prepared to grow with them and are willing to share information if their team or favourite player can create a valuable proposition that they trust and speaks to them.

Covid-19 has been a catalyst in recalibrating the way we view sports as a product, and we need to change our mindset if we are to succeed in ensuring that this industry remains relevant in the brave new world we are currently entering.

Infinetix joins WP Rugby as official IT supplier

Treble is proud to announce that Infinetix have joined WP Rugby as its official IT supplier, which will see Infinetix providing valuable technological equipment for use by both the players and the entire team management.

Treble was approached to assist with a need to bring the DHL Stormers team up to standard from a technology perspective. The connectivity, process speed and lack of number of devices was hindering the team. Treble engaged with Director of Infinetix, David Musikanth, to conduct a review of the DHL Stormers current needs and requirements.

With the help of Infinetix, a technology blueprint was set up to assist the team and work towards adding to the solution going forward. Infinetix are experts in their field and have an end-to-end solution in assisting WP Rugby with their technology requirements. Working with Infinetix and understanding their initial commitment, Treble was then able to work with WP Rugby to structure the commercial terms between the parties.

Infinetix have been dominant leaders in the IT industry over the last 12 years, with a national footprint in most major provinces in South Africa. The company specialises in Enterprise Solutions, Platform Integration and Managed Services. As official IT supplier to Western Province Rugby, Infinetix have provided laptops, backpacks, locks, monitors and external hard drives at the High Performance Centre in Bellville for use by players and management.

DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson says the equipment provided by Infinetix has been invaluable during the nationwide lockdown, with players and coaches relying even more heavily on technology to stay connected from home.

“The timing of this incredible support from Infinetix could not have been better. Rugby is becoming more reliant on technology as the game evolves, so the new IT equipment from Infinetix allows us to keep up to speed in terms of our analysis and understanding of the game,” he said.

Director of Infinetix David Musikanth said that his company are thrilled to join the Western Province Rugby fold as official IT supplier and look forward to growing the relationship in the future.

“The DHL Stormers’ brand power expands far beyond the reaches of our borders and we are proud to have this opportunity to support them in the coming season. We like to think of ourselves as the 16th player of their squad where remote working and off-field game analysis is critical during these prodigious times.

“We are also looking forward to fantastic new technology opportunities that Infinetix can incorporate into the DHL Stormers’ already powerful playbook going forward,” said Musikanth