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Sporting metaphors

Thinking like a football team manager may not seem an obvious place to start when developing or evaluating a campaign strategy, but there is a lot to learn from the approaches and tactics employed in different games, including football.


Approaching campaign design from a different perspective can help avoid slipping into a campaigning-by-numbers mentality of proceeding through the same old steps of analysis and planning. There is a bigger strategic picture that needs to be considered before knuckling down to the details of who, what and when.

Campaigning as chess

In many ways and at many levels, campaigns resemble a game of chess: in their complexity, in the mutual dependence between ‘players’ – the impact of what one player does on the options available to the other – and in the dynamic between tactics (individual moves) and strategy (the overall approach to the game). Campaigners do not need to be good at chess, but they can usefully reflect upon the attributes that make up a winning chess formula. Read more...

What campaigners can learn from football

The defining feature of modern football is the tactic of pressing: the chasing and harassing of players in possession to win the ball or to at least stop them having time to pick a productive pass. Like football teams, campaigners should make a strategic choice as to what level of intensity their campaigns should operate to – whether to engage in total pressing, that is, pressing the opposition everywhere on the pitch, in partial pressing, that is, pressing the opposition at lower intensity and / or pressing only in your own half or in fake pressing, that is, pretending to press while saving energy. Read more...

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