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Freeman Cebu Sports

Milo Pivots

BLEACHER TALK - Rico Navarro - The Freeman

One of the most common terms you’ll hear these days is the word “pivot.” No, we’re not referring the pivot foot that moves for a travelling call. Neither are we asking a big man to plant his pivot foot for a nice drop step or fade-away move against a defender. Pivoting is what everyone is doing now in this pandemic to survive, stay afloat, and stay relevant. Times have been tough but if you pivot the right away like a good low-post player does, you’ll be fine.

In the world of sports, we’ve written about certain pivoting done by coaches who are now into online selling of essentials and food products, things totally not related to sports. Without their regular jobs, they had to go into selling to make up for the lost income from sports. Sports teams or clubs have shifted online for practice sessions because they can’t conduct actual field practices like they used to at a gym or field. Zoom, Google meet and messenger rooms are their new practice gyms or field.

A popular face in sports that was hit hard and that has had to make its own pivot is Milo, a brand that whose image is all about sports: from “Great things start from new beginnings” to being the “Olympic energy drink.” All their activities were on the ground, whether these be the summer sports clinics or the regular competitions of the Milo Marathon and the Milo-backed SBP Passerelle Twin Tournament. But all these is now off the grid. So what to do in this situation? Sit and sulk or get up and adapt. Do nothing or do something?

At a virtual press conference on the launch of Milo Home Court held last Friday, Nestle AVP Lester Castillo clearly relayed the strategy. “It takes a certain level of agility to pivot all your plans, all those business models, and all those plans to make it relevant to the new reality that our consumers are facing right now,” Castillo said as he announced they were taking their programs to the digital platform. Milo is going online folks!

Milo actually started airing their online clinics last summer over its YouTube channel and Facebook Page, featuring different sports and partnering with competent private organizations and national sports associations (NSA). To-date, the online clinics have reached over 20 million Facebook users and have generated 1.5 million views on YouTube. For an advertiser or brand, those numbers are excellent; of course with the prayer that a good percentage of these translate into sales.

Castillo goes on to add that the creativity of the consumer who is now forced to stay at home was what Milo latched on to for going digital. Champion journeys, he said, never stop and can continue at home. “We can intervene at home and keep these journeys intact,” he explained. More importantly, he also said that going into sports wasn’t necessarily to produce Olympic champions per se but to teach and nurture time-tested values among kids. “We are into sports to learn the character forming values that go with it like discipline and confidence,” he said, sharing an insight from a parent. He then assured that regardless of business conditions, Milo will continue supporting sports, but this time on the digital platform: from the grounds to the web.

Props and kudos to Milo for making this pivot towards the digital platform. While we have seen an overload of online sports activities in the form of webinars, talk shows and the like, it looks like Milo is the first corporate brand to go into their sports programs on the digital platform with a comprehensive program that will last for a long time. And it completely makes sense. My guesstimate is that they can use the funds intended for their big-ticket projects and tide them over to the activities on the new platform. They might even reduce the airing of their TV commercials on the TV networks and air these instead online. I wonder how much was allocated for ABS-CBN. All these could be transferred online at practically no cost at all.

I’m certain that people are asking now if this will work. But given the current situation, what else is there to do when you can’t do it on the ground? Isn’t Netflix the king of movies these days and isn’t Spotify winning over FM radio? Hasn’t Facebook viewership or usage increased a hundredfold in this pandemic? Aren’t ordinary people like you and I putting up YouTube channels and/or our own Facebook talk shows? Hasn’t ABS-CBN gone online for “Ang Probinsyano” and “TV Patrol”?

Interesting times indeed we now live in. Milo has done something and pivoted towards the digital platform and on to the new age. Will we remain stuck in the past or move on to the future?

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