Going Beyond the First Idea: The Fake Footballer - Bottled Imagination Skip to main content

We pride ourselves on being a creative PR agency that drives organic growth. We do this through creative campaigns that have one integral focus. The idea. 

Now coming up with ideas is hard, time-consuming, and yes, it takes practice. How often have you gone into a brainstorm and heard the same ideas being pitched, the same formats being spun up, the classic go-to’s? You’re nodding, right?

Well, we’re not about that. These ideas can be great starting points, but as PRs, we need to be pitching ideas that get clients excited, that haven’t been done before, and that will stand out amongst the sea of stories for consumers.

So that’s why we’re starting a new content series where we break down either one of our campaigns or one of our ideas that are sat gathering dust in the ideas bank, waiting for the right client to come along. We are going to lift the lid on how we came up with the idea, and how we brought or would bring it to life. This isn’t about the results (everyone knows them), this is about championing the idea

So without further ado, it’s episode 1; step up Jordan Reece. 

The Idea

Now for this one, we are going to do things a little differently. We’re going to tell you the story of one of England’s most prolific strikers, a hot young prospect who is bound for international stardom. Yeah, he needs no introduction, it’s Jordan Reece.

It was a few weeks before the England football manager Gareth Southgate was due to release his final lineup for the Qatar World Cup. All the chatter online from influencers was whether Southgate would include the young hotshot striker in his squad to take to Qatar. You couldn’t get away from the conversation.

A company took advantage of all the chatter and offered an exclusive for punters to bet on Reece making the squad. Naturally, everyone who thought he was a surefire bet to make the squad clicked the link to take advantage of the amazing offer. It would be an easy bet, right?

But when users landed on the page they saw something they did not expect. A banner informing them Jordan Reece wasn’t real and they were about to bet on a player that did not exist. He was in fact, a random bloke from Chesterfield named after a regenerated Football Manager player with the happy coincidence of having a similar name to real England players Jordan Henderson and Reece James.

Over 5000 people tried to bet on him. But instead of losing their money, they landed on a campaign page dedicated to Gambling Awareness and a tonne of resources and information on safer gambling. 

We used this story to go out to press, securing coverage, links and most importantly an important message. Most gambling companies tell customers to gamble responsibility for Gambling Awareness Week, instead, we created Jordan Reece.  

How we came up with the idea

Random acts of creativity are rarely just random. They come through consumption, reps and research. As normal, we start with themes. Themes for gambling awareness that are both on brand for our client, and have high press evidence. I.e they are likely to land, get shared, and get people talking. 

Now usually these are filled up to the bream and completed before the brainstorm, we use various data from tools to help us validate just how high the press evidence is, this then gives us a gauge on how likely it is an idea on that theme will land in the media. But let’s be honest, if you Google gambling awareness campaigns you won’t find much inspiration and different types of campaigns.

We needed to focus on what hadn’t been done before. What would make people stop and think? 

From this, we started with the headline we wanted to create and then worked backwards. We reverse-engineered it.

But I know what you are asking now, how did you think of that headline? It comes down to the people we have in our brainstorms. 

  • Expert on the client
  • Expert on the industry
  • A creative
  • Campaign owner

We have some pretty big sports fans in the agency and we pride ourselves on living within our client’s industry (Make sure you get these people invited to your brainstorms.) 

It turns out that nearly 70% of Brits have bet on a player or team with little to no knowledge of them. A wild stat. We put the two together; we had the data that showed people gamble without a lot of prior research sometimes and we had the headline we wanted to create. We just needed to try and make people click through to “bet”. But this couldn’t be done without a hook and this is where being so locked into your client’s industry is so important. Through our theme analysis, we knew that the World Cup was both on-brand for our client and also very relevant in the media. We found our hook – Gareth Southgate’s announcement of who will be on the plane to Qatar. 

We decided to create a footballer that would sit at the heart of this campaign and so, Jordan Reece was created. The best English striker your mates have never heard of. 

The execution

A lot of PR campaigns would have stopped at the stat showing nearly 70% of gamblers bet with little to no prior knowledge. We could have outreached this to the press and we might have landed a small bit of coverage – but we definitely wouldn’t be remembered

 However, gambling awareness campaigns need to do more. They need to make people stop and think. Is betting with little knowledge really responsible gambling? We went bigger. 

The campaign was turned around on a very quick timeline – Gambling Awareness Week is and the World Cup squad announcement was looming. From production to promotion, we turned around the campaign in just a few weeks. 

We hired a model, bought a kit, and did a photoshoot. Jordan Reece was born.

We then worked with popular social media influencers and meme pages on Facebook and Twitter to directly engage with our target audience. The influencers posted a graphic of Jordan with odds of him making the England World Cup squad. We created copy such as “Jordan Reece, the most prolific English striker your mates have never heard of” and compared him to other strikers linked with the World Cup squad at the time. 

The traffic driven from these posts would go on to help fuel the PR outreach.

Was it a risk that these influencers wouldn’t drive a significant amount of traffic? Maybe. But if you have ever been in a pub with a bunch of football fans you will know they tend to believe whatever they see on Twitter.. 

So we launched, and the rest was history.

A true Bottled Imagination idea

Certain industries are pretty tried and tested and saturated, particularly within Digital PR. Gambling is one of those industries. Gambling awareness campaigns even more so. They have become stale and unimaginative. 

Jordan Reece really did stop people in their tracks and make them think about what they were doing. We set up Bottled Imagination to do these exact types of campaigns. To show how you can still be creative and achieve results in sectors where cookie-cutter campaigns have become the norm.