Forsman & Bodenfors Canada Partners with Innovative Startup iVirtual

Forsman & Bodenfors Canada Partners with Innovative Startup iVirtual

Apr. 03, 2024

The worlds of sports and tech collide in the name of fan service as award-winning agency Forsman & Bodenfors Canada (F&B CAN) and pioneering startup iVirtual have partnered to launch the latter’s groundbreaking fan rewards platform, FanMore.

In what has been a multi-level effort spanning business and strategy to advertising, F&B CAN worked directly with iVirtual on the naming, branding, and crowd-investment launch campaign for FanMore on Meta-backed startup investing service Republic. Billed as the first entirely personalizable fan loyalty rewards platform designed for sports teams, FanMore  was built to connect teams with the 90% of “invisible” fans whose activities and behaviors are currently unknown, The platform not only integrates with existing team apps, but connects them and their sponsors with current fan user data, unlocking billions of dollars in potential value, while giving fans greater access to their favorite teams.

According to F&B CAN Managing Director Julien Bissuel, the partnership with iVirtual on the FanMore campaign came about rather organically.

He recalled:

"I met [iVirtual Founder/Product & Strategy] Meghan [Nameth’] at the 2023 P&G conference in DC. Her project and its potential, her rich background and the fact that Stagwell, our parent company, was already backing the backend development made it super attractive to me. iVirtual was in need of immediate support with their Republic kickstarter campaign and we naturally started talking about what it would look like if we were to support them."


After meeting with Nameth and fellow iVirtual Founder and CEO Sherif Kair at the F&B CAN offices, Bissuel and company gained more insight on iVirtual’s project, its evolution and the startup’s needs.

He noted:

"It quickly became clear that, like for a lot of startups, their offering had evolved over the years and that it needed help to clearly define new positioning and name of their product – before we started on the campaign."

 

From a strategic standpoint, F&B CAN Head of Strategy Andrew Carty says the biggest business challenge for iVirtual with this campaign is articulating a complex proposition– specifically, how do you talk about a B2B loyalty API in a simple way?

He explained:

"I think that’s exactly what [F&B CAN] was able to help with. Simplify the complex and make the value that iVirtual is unlocking in an already gigantic industry clear and simple."

 

To address the challenges, F&B CAN started with a workshop and discovery session, and then went through strategic development, from naming and design to building out the assets required for the investment campaign. With the next steps for iVirtual being ideation on how to help FanMore scale, Carty adds that the essential idea behind the initial brand positioning was about unlocking value and providing access.

Andrew Carty said:

"Sports fandom is a huge addressable market, and iVirtual is unlocking huge value for teams, brands and fans. There’s all kinds of unseen fan behavior, and by rewarding fans for things they’re already doing, iVirtual provides a ton of value. We’re able to provide fans access to rewards they’ve never had before, and teams and brands to fans where they’ve never been able to talk to or influence them."

 

Having not only launched FanMore in grand fashion by partnering with the NHL’s Seattle Kraken as its pilot partner, iVirtual has already raised $3.35 million in financing and has, as mentioned, launched a crowd-investment campaign on Republic, with the goal of raising another $2 million to help scale the business. For iVirtual Co-Founder Nameth, teaming up with F&B CAN on this effort was an invaluable – and ideal – decision.

She said:

"We were excited to collaborate with F&B because they could immediately see the raw potential of the idea, and they had the passion for the category. They have deep experience in both B2B, Sports Marketing, and working with large corporate sponsors for sports teams. And, they balanced speed with process – spending time on the critical aspects of the strategy so we could go faster in execution."

 

Collaboration is always crucial, particularly with new partnerships, and according to Nameth, there were several reasons as to why F&B CAN set itself apart on this project, the first being the fostering of a ‘true partnership.’

Nameth explained:

"They collaborated at all stages of the process, engaged us at all stages and really took our ideas along with their own to create the best outcomes. The second reason, according to Nameth, was great strategy and consistent execution. In all aspects of the program we saw the red thread coming through. [There were] no disconnects or ideas that weren’t consistent with our agreed concept and strategy."

 

Finally, Namath attributes the success of this partnership with F&B CAN to proactive leadership:

"They took ownership for the deliverables. We didn’t have to project manage the team – they helped us get the work over the line with very little executional oversight."

 

As to what this partnership means for F&B CAN today and into the future, the agency’s Global CEO Toby Southgate added:

"Marketing and agency relationships are changing constantly, more rapidly than ever, and we are always looking for new ways to help ambitious leaders grow their brands and businesses. This is an opportunity to build new muscles, explore new ways of working, and – at its core – to help bring new ideas and new thinking into the world. It’s exactly what Forsman & Bodenfors exists to do, and we have the beginnings here of another great partnership."

 

For Bissuel, the iVirtual collaboration further reflects F&B CAN’s model and marketing message built around the concept of "ideas that change things".

Bissuel said:

"We want to work with ambitious brands and leaders to create work that shifts culture, builds brand affinity, and drives meaningful results. One of our key differentiators to achieve this is what we call ‘Radical Collaboration,’ which involves the way we work internally, making strategy and creative one process, and externally in the way we collaborate with and involve our clients, their agency partners and their target audience. We believe that when everyone is aligned, our only focus should be on the task at hand and the change we want to deliver.'

 

Bissuel adds that the iVirtual partnership reinforces how F&B as a whole positions itself to work with startups:

"Startups and Forsman have a natural common ground in our willingness to create change and make the world a better place,” he adds. “We see these types of assignments and relationships as a great way to protect our entrepreneurial spirit and remain relevant as an agency. To succeed, you need to be resourceful, solution oriented and agile. You can’t hide behind big budgets. You need to be scrappy, strategic, have a long term view while acting fast."

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