“Playing for a Ticket to Birmingham”

“Playing for a Ticket to Birmingham”

How do you get your fan base excited about The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, Alabama? John Liljelund, Secretary General of the International Floorball Federation (IFF), explains how his team does it. The IFF can build on the successful advertising campaign for The Games 2017 in Wroclaw, Poland; Floorball reached 27.8 million impressions four years ago.

The International Floorball Federation launched its own campaign ahead of The World Games 2017 to raise awareness of the Games in Wroclaw. Did it pay off, and if so, why?

John Liljelund: Our Media Team built a specific World Games Media Plan for event promotion and then the Games themselves in 2017, including the IFF website, our Social Media accounts, our Event App and our YouTube channel. We also coordinated our activities with the participating teams, as well as Floorball media and the main independent Floorball webpages and web media; together we promoted the Games prior to the event. We also activated the Floorball countries through a Social Media campaign and a competition to receive some Floorball material. The campaign gave us really good visibility and reach in Social Media, and we were able raise awareness of our participation in TWG to a totally different level. Already for some weeks beforehand our channels were full of the event, and it boomed during the Floorball tournament in Wroclaw and still carried on for some time afterwards.

Can you provide some numbers?

John Liljelund: If I remember correctly, out of all the Social Media posts related to The World Games we had some 6.9k out of the 47k public posts, which is some 15% of all TWG posts during the event. I think that we had the most posts of all the participating sports, or at least were in the top group. For Facebook we had a reach of some 400k and gained over 1.1 million impressions, In Twitter we had over 260k impressions and in Instagram, which was new to us, some 70k engagement. The social reach of all The World Games posts was 750 million. Gymnastics had the biggest social reach with 34.6 million, and Floorball came second with approximately 27.8 million.

What did you do on the road to Wroclaw?

John Liljelund: We had a very broad programme where we cooperated with the potential TWG teams that were playing in the World Floorball Championships in 2016, which was the qualifying event. Here we made the plans for how to promote the event both internationally and nationally in each country. In the IFF events we had a campaign for a few years with advertisements and happenings, to make the fans aware of our participation in the Wroclaw Games. We also built an Action Plan for the event with a number of activities, both on the media and organisational side.

What have you learnt from all this, that can be used for TWG 2022?

John Liljelund: We know how important it is to be active in the city of the TWG, and together with the Birmingham Organising Committee (BOC) and our US Member Association we have started a promotion campaign for Floorball to make the sport more familiar in Birmingham. Here the Covid-19 pandemic has been slowing us down, but the plans are in place and we hope that US Floorball can play their National Championships in the TWG venue in September, which will also act as a test event. The test event is very important for finding out how the venue works.

Secondly, it is important to try to bring the biggest possible audience to the venue, to make it a special experience for the players. Here we are working together with US Floorball, and they have run courses for PE teachers in the region. We hope we will be able to do more in the coming 15 months to promote our sport. In Wroclaw we did promotion in the city prior to the event as well, to get people interested in coming and watching Floorball, and we are looking into this also for Birmingham.

What are you plans ahead of the Games in Birmingham Alabama?

John Liljelund: We had a lot of plans which have been delayed or altered due to Covid-19. We still plan to organise some Floorball clinics, our workshop programme in starting Floorball, and seminars for the PE teachers and YMCA’s to promote the sport in Birmingham. We are also preparing a similar activation programme for the IFF after summer. In addition to this, we plan to do a similar promotional campaign in relation to the IFF Men’s World Floorball Championships in Helsinki in December. This will be our qualifying tournament.

What are your goals on the ‘Road to Birmingham’?

John Liljelund: The goals are to showcase Floorball in Alabama as an interesting and competitive sport, with the object of gaining local visibility and interest, especially as our sport is not yet very big over there. We are successful if we can attract a local audience to the matches, and leave a legacy after the event in the shape of a new Floorball hub in Birmingham and Alabama. We are planning to do a lot of ‘Try-out Floorball’ promotions during the event, as Floorball has a really low entry level and can be played almost everywhere. We also hope to strengthen our position within The World Games programme, as this is only our second appearance apart from the one as an invitational sport in Lahti, Finland in 1997.

Do you need support, and are you getting it?

John Liljelund: We do need support, and we have received a lot of support from the BOC and the US Floorball Association. It has been difficult as we are living in these strange times, but the PE teacher seminar with 55 participants shows that there is a true will to help from the BOC to promote the TWG sports in the region. The cooperation with the BOC and US Floorball is working really well.

How will the qualification process for the Games work?

John Liljelund: We have built in the TWG qualification as a part of the IFF Men’s World Floorball Championships 2020, which will be played in December 2021. This gives us the possibility of keeping the TWG in focus during the Men’s World Championships, and it gives us an extra number of very important games during the tournament. We will be using the slogan “Playing for a ticket to Birmingham”. We will have the top 5 teams in the Event directly qualifying, so that in the quarter-finals we will get the first four qualified. Then the losers of the quarter-finals will play for placements 5th to 8th, and the 5th placed team will qualify for Birmingham. In addition the best Asia-Oceania and the best American team will qualify. USA as the host nation is directly qualified.

The USA was already on the floor in 2017, but had a very hard time against the strong European teams. How do you see their chances at the home tournament in 2022?

John Liljelund: The development of US Floorball has been positive in recent years and the National team has also developed. It will still be quite tough for the USA against the top teams, but I believe they will perform better on home ground.

Is there a question I forgot to ask?

John Liljelund: Not really, but we are really looking forward to bringing Floorball to Birmingham and we will do our utmost to showcase our sport in the best possible way, as this is the venue where we have a big chance of making a substantial move forward.

 The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association under the patronage of the International Olympic Committee. The 11th edition of The World Games will be held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from over 30 sports and 100 countries will take part in The World Games.