The World Chess Championships were coming to London in 2018, but chess had a serious image problem in the UK: Russians, the 1970s, spotty geeks. It wasn’t even considered a sport. Given a British player wouldn’t even be participating, the initial media response was ‘sorry, not a story for us’.
W was appointed to drive re-appraisal and challenge media and public apathy. We decided to create a sense of mass participation, making 2018 ‘The Year of Chess’ – a cultural, entertainment and sporting event not to be missed.
We worked with our client, The Evening Standard to launch World Chess at a VIP event hosted by George Osborne. Throughout the year we developed compelling storylines from board design and brain power through to unlikely chess players such as Tom Hardy and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Reigning champ Magnus Carlsen had a cover feature interview with The Saturday Times Magazine and he conducted masterclasses with London schoolkids for BBC TV News. The final was packed out with news and sport media from the UK and around the world – even Talksport took a break from football to provide updates – and made front page news on The Guardian and The Financial Times. Checkmate.