England and Wales Cricket Board: The Hundred, Content Photoshoots
As a conference and events venue, Twickenham Stadium has always been suited to brand activations wishing to align themselves with health, teamwork, leadership and, of course, sport. That's why when The Hundred, the England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) new competition, needed a space for a media content event, Twickenham was delighted to be of service.
The Hundred is a brand new sports competition launching on July 21. It combines a new short, fast format of cricket, with each game lasting less than three hours, and incredible live music and entertainment off the pitch. The Hundred aims to make cricket more accessible to reach a broader audience. It features eight brand new teams from seven cities, with men's and women's competitions taking place side by side. Each team will feature some of the best international and domestic cricketers from around the world, including England Men's & Women's World Cup winners.
The Hundred has already gained amazing support from media and broadcasters alike, with Sky Sports and the BBC already signed up to air the games live. To support them in creating the very best content around these broadcasts, the ECB wanted to give their broadcast partners the chance to have access to some of the most high-profile players taking part in the competition, as well as capture content to be used on big screens in stadia, photography of players for use during the competition and film and footage to use across The Hundred's digital and social channels. Some of the most well-known male and female players from across England - both international and domestic stars - attended the event.
These events are difficult to produce, even in a non-Covid environment. Over 100 people were on site on each of the three days, representing six main broadcasters and sports media agencies. Their focus were the players, of which between 20 to 30 passed through the stadium each day. These professionals had their journeys mapped out carefully; starting off by changing into their team strips, posing for photography and video in front of green screens, before being interviewed by broadcasters, journalists and the ECB digital team.
In a Covid world this is even harder, these are highly valuable individuals and Twickenham needed to be mindful of player health as well as that of the ECB staff and their partners. Again, this was even harder to manage with players 'rotating' through rooms as they met each partner in turn.
The stadium was well adapted to make this easier on the organiser, being able to offer spaces large and small, with wide corridors and an easy to implement one way system that allowed players to pass through, meeting everyone they needed to, in a safe and secure way.
The organisers were able to place Covid checks at the entrance for everyone entering the event, including staff, and the team at Twickenham also stayed the same throughout, to minimise any chances of contamination. 'Red zones' were placed around the area so that other visitors to the stadium were not allowed into the event itself. Food was delivered directly to rooms in grab bags, again ensuring Covid safety, even the car parking at the stadium meant visitors could arrive in a more secure fashion and be met and brought into the event in a hospitable way.
As with many events, Twickenham's South Stand was used for the larger spaces, with the Live and Rose Rooms converted into green screen-backed batting nets to capture batting, bowling and fielding stings of all the players. These areas were complemented by the hospitality suites and executive boxes that served as interview rooms, green rooms and further photography areas.
However, what is most impressive about the event was the three-week turnaround. Despite the complexity of the organisation, the ECB was able to dictate its brief to the team at Twickenham and see it implemented and executed with minimum fuss. It helped to have the facilities, layout and space options that met the needs of the brief perfectly, but it also meant a lot to the organisers to have the experienced team at Twickenham, on site and ready to make sure the event was smooth, efficient and productive.
"We didn't have any major concerns about the short turn around, it's become a bit of a fact of life for events teams these days," commented Jamie, Event Manager for The ECB. "I had also worked with the team at Twickenham before and was really comfortable with how they go about their business. They know their venue incredibly well and had the vision to make the event flow smoothly and, despite the checks and balances we needed because of Covid, with quality hospitality for our guests."