June 7, 2012
The city of Poznan, Poland, was selected as one of several cities in Poland and Ukraine to host matches for the EURO 2012, the UEFA European Football Championships in June. Over the course of 24 days, Poznan will be expecting around a half million Irish, Croatian, Italian and Polish soccer fans.
Poland is looking to capitalize on EURO 2012 and hopes to draw attention to its growing regional and global influence, as well as its tourism appeal even long after the soccer matches have come and gone. Ambitious traditional and social media campaigns have not only been promoting the games themselves, but also tourist sites, historical architecture and Poland’s many other attractions.
Looking at just one fragment of the communication efforts, reveals Poland’s thoroughness in planning to ensure the international spotlight reflects a positive impression.
Because every fan will not be able to attend the matches in person, Poznan, like other EURO 2012 cities, is creating a “Fan Zone” — a dedicated area where fans can gather to watch all of the matches on large video screens while still enjoying the camaraderie of the social experience.
The fan zone comprises 4.2 acres and is centrally situated in Poznan’s Plac Wolnosci (Freedom Square). The large open space is surrounded by striking, historic architecture including a library designed to resemble the Louvre, the national museum and beautifully detailed apartment buildings. The area is often the site for major artistic events, theatrical performances and concerts.
The 30,000-capacity fan zone will center on one 1,300 square foot video screen. Two grand stands and portable chairs made from recyclable material will accommodate fans.
During and between matches, fans can benefit from food and entertainment vendors. The Fan Zone will also include extensive security, emergency medical care and accommodation for the disabled. The city hopes the fan zone will provide a family-friendly environment which will properly showcase Poznan and Poland during Euro 2012.
As part of the planning process, Poznan wanted to make a concerted effort to involve area and regional residents in EURO 2012 strategies and approaches. For example, Poznan’s municipal PR bureau teamed up with Prelite PR to engage residents and community leaders in ongoing dialogue to discuss how to improve the city’s overall appearance and incorporate infrastructure improvements which would benefit Poznan long after EURO 2012 ended and the Fan Zone had been dismantled.
Among several community engagement efforts, Poznan and Prelite PR held an open competition to design a portable, inexpensive chair made of recyclable material that would be distributed and used in Poznan’s Euro 2012 Fan Zone. The competition was a master stroke, combining a fan-involvement strategy with the tournament’s emphasis on ecology as well as showcasing Poznan’s efforts to build a reputation as a design center.
Prelite PR organized the news conference to announce the winning design. The news conference was held in one of Poznan’s most popular disco clubs, fashioned from an old and dilapidated factory just outside the town center.
The fashionable location symbolized recycling through the creative re-invention of the old building as a trendy club. A large open space featured a museum-quality display of about 20 of the best entries. Poznan EURO 2012 officials moderated the event, and the captain of Poznan’s professional football (soccer) team was on hand to demonstrate the strength of the winning chair — an appropriate and modest element of celebrity endorsement.
The winning corrugated cardboard design is brilliantly simple, highly portable, lightweight, sturdy and can easily display sponsor logos. The event resulted in a wide-range of print and broadcast coverage.
In addition to its role with the cardboard chair design contest, Prelite PR will handle all of the communication efforts during EURO 2012. Their efforts include less obvious responsibilities, such as keeping residents informed about construction and transportation disruptions from this major event.
The Fan Zone alone is forecasted to attract an average of 18,000 fans per day from its opening on June 8 until July 2. Another part of Prelite’s PR effort has been to remind residents that each of them is an ambassador for the city, when the half million expected fans arrive.
Materials encourage residents to display the “thrift, industriousness, openness, friendliness and commitment of Poznan’s citizens.” Success depends, they are told, “on every citizen of Poznan.