In late 2022, Simone Moro left Italy to attempt the first winter ascent of Manaslu (8163 m), together with Alex Txikon and a team of Nepalese mountaineers. It would be Simone’s fifth attempt in winter on this mountain.
This winter ascent of the mountain would have been Simone’s fifth winter ascent of an 8,000-meter peak
the other four being: Shisha Pangma (8027 m), Makalu (8463 m) and GasherbrumII (8035 m), Nanga Parbat (8126 m).
The first winter ascent of Manaslu was made on January 12, 1984, by Poles Maciej Berbeka and Ryszard Gajewski, as well as the concatenation of the ascent in succession of the two peaks of the Manaslu massif: the 7992-meter East Pinnacle and the 8163-meter main summit. The latter ascent was also made by two very great Polish mountaineers, Jerzy Kukuczka and Artur Hajzer, on November 10, 1986.
Simone’s penultimate attempt to climb Manaslu in winter was last year, 2021, with Alex Txicon, with whom Simone reached the summit of Nanga Parbat together with Ali Sadpara, who lost his life during the winter expedition to K2 in 2020.
The first four attempts in 2015, 2018, 2020 and 2021 failed because of the amount of snow that fell in a few days that made the ascent impossible.
This was his 72nd expedition, including 22 in the cold season. Before leaving, in an interview with Corriere della Sera, he said:
“With lucidity I must recognize that in the previous four attempts, three months for each, so a year of my life, I managed to reach only 6,200 meters, a route I usually complete in three hours. Manaslu is considered one of the easiest in the propitious season, which explains well how upsetting it is if you go in winter.”
In this fifth time, however, the weather conditions were propitious but it was not enough: Simone had to give up due to a physical illness (dysentery) that took away his strength and forced him to make the decision to forgo the climb and invite the rest of the team to continue without him.
What for Simone was surrender and thus failure to achieve the goal, for Alex Txikon, Chhepal Sherpa, Tenjen Lama Sherpa, Pasang Nurbu Sherpa, Mingtemba Sherpa, Pemba Tasi Sherpa, and Gyalu Sherpa was full success with a summit conquered 39 years after the first ascent.
We at Sports&Beyond congratulate everyone, for the success to the team that made it to the summit and to Simone for his lucidity in making such a difficult decision.
If you want to read Marianna Zanatta’s behind-the-scenes reflections you can read the article Simone Moro and the Manaslu – When it’s not just about resilience, success and failure.
Ferragosto is a holiday of ancient Roman origin, celebrated on August 15 in Italy, San Marino and Canton Ticino. Ferragosto day is traditionally devoted to out-of-town trips, barbecues, picnic lunches and, given the seasonal heat, refreshing swims in swimming pools, sea, river or lake waters. Also widespread is the exodus to mountain or hillside locations in search of refreshment.
The term Ferragosto comes from the Latin phrase Feriae Augusti (Augustus’ rest) indicating a holiday established by EmperorAugustus in 18 B.C. that was in addition to the other holidays falling in the same month. It was a period of rest and celebration that originated from the tradition of the Consualia, festivals celebrating the end of agricultural work, dedicated to Conso, god of the earth and fertility. The ancient Ferragosto, in addition to its obvious purposes of political self-promotion, was intended to link the main August festivities to provide an adequate period of rest, also called Augustali, needed after the great labors expended during the preceding weeks. [Taken from Wikipedia]
The Invisible Team participated again this year – the 6th in a row – at Southern Warriors, the Crossfit event in Monopoli, one of the coolest Italian events in this discipline.
By the side of an athlete who in the past editions collected two first places and a silver for his category and this time instead gave way to younger and ça va sans dire more performing athletes (read his concluding remarks on Instagram @mirkopriolatrainer).
Two (just saying) scattered post-event reflections that apply to all sporting events.
Those who practice Crossfit on a regular basis, even if only as an alternative to other physical activities for wellness and fitness, should attend a competition of this magnitude, either as an athlete or as an audience member, to benefit from the motivation and drive to raise the bar in their daily lives and invest in their sense of self-efficacy. Hence
-> let’s get inspired!
In-person sporting events (how I hate to specify!) continue to be an important time of inspiration for the audience (see above), confrontation for the athletes, and aggregation* for the community: competition leads to healthy rivalry, and even through rivalry beautiful friendships can be born. If we don’t value relationships, what else! Far from being foolish and underestimating the covid danger, let’s still try to find good solutions so that we don’t jeopardize such important moments and contexts again. Hence
-> let’s preserve sporting events!
The logistics of such a sporting event are a huge headache (I know from firsthand experience!) and usually the rewards are not enough to counterbalance the disruptions and discontents (unbelievable but mathematical!) of those who participate or those who watch. I would say it is worth applauding those who are committed and have the courage to invest resources in time, money and soul. Hence
-> yay for the organizers!
A sporting event that wants to aim high does not only think about the athletes but also thinks about its audience, and the first audience is the family&friends around the athlete. The clearly open and direct invitation to the family&friends with related “deluxe” treatment guarantee the athlete’s lifetime return to the event. In addition to the athletes’ natural families and cheerleaders, there is a potential audience that needs to be attracted, which is why it is important to find a way not to put up barriers and instead to open doors: the potential is outside, not inside the competition field. Hence
-> organizers, let’s think about it!
Rules and referees, in this case judges, are crucial to a competition. Their preparation and professionalism can make all the difference. There will be no competition that will make everyone go home happy, but even those who are unhappy with the result must be assured (and admit they are) that everything was done according to rules and correct judgment. In this case we are talking about judges who have done three days in an open competition field at +40°C and have shown no signs of letting up. Hence
-> chapeau to the judges!
After yet another behind-the-scenes experience, I confirm that an athlete’s invisible team must:
be phenomenal with logistics;
learn the race (in this case) program better than the Athlete (trust this is needed!!!);
adapt to every situation – e.g., 4 a.m. wake-up call, 2 full days in +40° without drinking so as not to go to the bathroom -;
always be there-behind, beside, in front of the Athlete-never letting him/her perceive it and be ready to appear instantly upon request;
keep morale high;
know how to use carrot and stick well (which sometimes means camouflaging stick as carrot and carrot as stick);
be able “breathe” the context and be prepared to analyze it, reframe it, and make it one’s own.
-> teams of invisibles, let’s equip and talk about it!
I witnessed a tirade – in fact more than one – by an Athlete who was evidently convinced that he would win and, from the first WOD (first competition), that he had suffered injustice (all verified and dissolved), which he then concluded with a fitting finale:
“No, I am not taking the picture with you! This WOD did not need skills but only luck!”
There it was a real disappointment to hear these words. I hope it was just a moment of outburst after three days of intense and tiring competition and the adrenaline swirling. I hope today with a cool mind he agrees with me that damn if luck is part of the game and not only in sports but in life! A reaction like that, to a moral gap that clearly needed to be bridged, has no justification anyway. Opponents on the field are comrades off the field – Crossfit demonstrates this well – and if family and/or life experiences have not taught humility, sport certainly does.
It is true that one can also continue not learning. Indeed, I always hope so! Vero is that my first thought at those words was, “Madonnasantaincoronata thankfully you are not one of my athletes.” There you go, thankfully not!
In our first meeting last year with Fiorani & C., we set a very specific goal:
To create distinctive communication for the brand in the sports world through a social media campaign featuring sportspeople as testimonials for Fiorani’s new “prêt-à-porter” products, which are fresh, balanced and ready-to-eat even for those who, like our athletes, can easily find themselves eating their meals in other than comfortable situations.
Being an entirely new experiment for the company, it was the case that we needed to think of a first step in the world of sports to create a replicable virtuous model.
That’s how we decided to start with an athlete, and we made the choice of Tamara Lunger, who would shortly be leaving with her motor home for the Tamara Tour Spain to climb the highest mountains in Spain. What better occasion?
Strategy and communication plan shared and coordinated with the company, Tamara’s availability and the authenticity of the content above all else led, less than a year into the collaboration, to being able to announce an outstanding result!
The company has reached new heights with our athlete, achieving an important recognition:
during the 14th Tespi Awards at CIBUS International Food Exhibition 2022 (FiereParma) Fiorani & C. was awarded for:
Best new media campaign “Social campaign with testimonial Tamara Lunger.”
We thank the company for the trust and congratulate them on the award!
THE OPPORTUNITY – the key role of athletes in the digital world
Companies today have a great opportunity: in the development of influencer marketing activities, they can in fact choose subjects who, on a digital level, are able to accompany a community in their world of reference. And if (IF) they are good, they can also sell products.
In a marketing budget, companies can reserve a more or less large space for both pseudo-digital athletes and professional athletes with a variable economic/financial commitment (therefore not necessarily economic) but certainly light and short-term from a contractual point of view. ROI is measurable whether it’s getting the brand rolling or selling products.
For companies that have a sporting DNA, this opportunity is even more structured and diversified: they can also think of activating influencers, therefore investing in a totally digital plan to reach a wider and more diversified audience, but they must be very careful how to do it.
This type of activity must be included in a strategy that continues to prioritize the sponsorship of professional athletes, and the activities must be aligned in order to work synergistically.
Because there are two different levels through which to communicate that do not touch each other and are divided by the only human peculiarity that can pass from the real through the digital: EMOTIONS.
But from a company’s point of view, as we’ve seen, what really differs between sponsorship and influencer marketingis the intangible assets that sports sponsorship brings to the table.
Sports represent certain values, they have emotional significance to their fans. When you start sponsoring a certain sports team, or athlete, you’re “buying” the loyalty of those fans, and at the same time you’re associating your brand with the values that the team, athlete, and sport represent. With influencers, this is much harder to achieve.
RESPONSIBILITY – preparation, knowledge, strategy and structured plan
When comparing different marketing strategies, the most important factor to consider is the goals and impacts that said campaign would have. Every business ventures into marketing to achieve certain goals, and every marketingactivity will have tangible and intangible impacts. And this is where we believe Responsible Marketing plays a huge role.
Because a company that intends to be competitive in the long run is not only thinking about making a profit, but also and most importantly about bringing about change and creating value for its customers and society at large.
And from a Responsible Marketing perspective, Sponsorships will always be a better option than Influencer Marketing. Firstly, sports and sports teams are relevant across generations, they appeal to different age groups and some of them even have a legacy of over a hundred years. And that association and credibility is something you, as a company or brand, would want to be associated with. Whereas influencers can have very high impact and “numbers” but have a very short shelf life. They may be relevant today, but will they be relevant tomorrow? No one knows for sure.
Also from a social perspective, clubs are a part of the community, they give back to the community, they add value to the community and to every single person within the community. Whereas the vast majority of influencers today are mostly promoting a lavish lifestyle and flaunting the good life they’re living. And that’s not exactly a good influence on the younger generation.
When a brand partners with an influencer and pays them a certain amount of money, do brands know where this money is going? Do they care about the use that is made of the money they just paid? Well, we believe they should, and that’s what responsible marketing is all about.
When it comes to a sports club, you know that the money paid to the club is going to the club’s management, salaries, resources, base and academics, and even the community and society. But when it comes to an influencer, more often than not, the money goes to fund the “Instagrammable lifestyle” of said influencer. This only leads to more and more kids idolizing a fake and unhealthy lifestyle.
Again, we’re not saying that all influencers are the same. There are some really good ones who add real value to their particular niche and also go out of their way to “educate” their audience. But it’s still unfortunately a minority.
That’s why we believe sponsorship, especially in sports, is a more effective and sustainable marketing strategy for brands than influencer marketing. Do you agree?
AUTHENTICITY – which rhymes with veridicity
As long as we are human beings and retain a part of humanity we will be able to distinguish, consciously or unconsciously, and choose.
Even in an age that is accelerating towards a totally virtual world, the beacon that guides us is still – at least today – made of dreams, fear, effort, successes and failures. Possibly real and not simulated.
Whatever choice is made, this should always keep us very alert and in control of the cross and delight par excellence of all our actions: authenticity.
When authenticity is questioned it shines a powerful light: what’s underneath? Is it all true? Or is it all false?
“Is that an ironman for real or is he just pretending to be one???”
Doubt alone makes every good thought, every good deed creak, and sends every good strategy and every good plan up in smoke. But all is not lost if, on the company side, there is constant awareness of the strategy and the choice of action plan.
And at this point, let’s think about it, the important question is another one and it has deeper roots:
Where do I want the truth to start?
To help us answer this question, we could watch The Truman Show, which for decades has set the standard… and today we could also look at it through the lens of Anna Soroki aka Delvey, who can help us give new keys to interpreting real worlds through the worlds invented in the digital world thanks to selfies placed in “where I would like to be and where I am, even if for all intents and purposes I couldn’t”.
Yeah, life is hard! We still consider a well structured and “educated” sponsorship program with an authentic team of authentic athletes learning how to make good selfies as valid (= able to bring a good ROI),
But let’s think about it again, how many Anna Delveys from the sports world does each of us know? Can we really pretend they don’t exist? Or can we instead make the various worlds coexist peacefully producing the right results for companies?
Our answer is yes. If you want to know how, contact us!
THE STAGE – the physical world and the digital world
To look at possible meeting points and to evaluate the pros and cons of a possible coexistence between sponsorship and influencer marketing projects, we must first look at the starting point of these two realities.
The athlete is based in the physical world, which is also his first stage: a soccer field, a tennis court, a basketball court, a volleyball court, a mountain, a desert, a paved road; his activity is characterized by interactions with other people: rivals, teammates, a technical entourage. And it is precisely in this physical world that the athlete moves, accrues recognition, makes a journey, obtains recognition, measures his value, and builds and develops his storytelling.
The influencer takes his first steps from a digital world, which is his stage, in this context the physical world becomes in fact only a “scenography” and a background on which to build a narrative, but his story, his value, his storytelling are structured in the digital world and respond to its dynamics.
An athlete has his first recognition when his performance is measured and evaluated in the physical world and, consequently, may decide to use this recognition in the communication of the digital world.
An influencer, on the other hand, builds his recognizability entirely in the digital world.
BEING AND SPEAKING – communicating in the digital world
To pursue a career as an influencer, as we have said, the first and fundamental thing to do is to build an identity in the digital world. An influencer must first choose an area in which to act – in the case of sport, perhaps a discipline – and what he or she must aim for is to attract and grow a community around him or herself that wants to belong to that world, wants to know more and more about it, and decides that that specific influencer is his or her point of reference in that area. This crucial choice can be driven by different reasons: aesthetic sense? Relevant content? Consistency in the context of the environment? Exposed friendships or celebrity acquaintances? Or other elements that exert appeal.
The influencer who succeeds in having a target community in the outdoor world -from trekking, to first steps in climbing, to rainforest exploration… – doesn’t have to excel at what they do, doesn’t necessarily have to have come a long way in that field, have a history of success.
All it takes is for him to be credited in that world through the images – videos and photos – that place him where his community at some point “expects” him to be.
An influencer exists because there is a digital stage that has sets, scripts, co-stars and extras that are consistent with the world the influencer builds around him or her. You don’t even need structured copy, just captions built from the messages you choose to send.
The objective on which success or failure is assessed for an influencer has to do with numbers and percentages: followers, views, engagement.
In order to become a professional athlete the first thing you must build and cherish is a dream, preferably a long lasting one. Without a dream the chances of becoming a professional athlete are ZERO. Because only the strength that a dream can give us can sustain an athlete while going through fatigue, sacrifices and failures.
To be more precise, what creates a professional athlete is a dream transformed into a goal, which grows with him. A goal that must always be measurable in reality.
The field of action of an athlete is always real and measurable, whether it is the athletic track, the soccer field, the red rectangle … Even athletes who do not have a well-defined field of action, do not have rules written by a federation, do not have a federation, however, must be able to transform the goals and fields in something measurable: for example, mountaineers have the summit made of meters and the history of ascents to that peak. Another instrument of measurement in reality is then represented by “opponents” and competitors.
At this point, the main difference between a professional athlete who also communicates himself in the digital world and a sports influencer becomes evident.
An athlete may decide to leverage his or her history, background and storytelling built over years of goals measured and achieved in the real world to speak to the digital world as well.
So an athlete can potentially be suitable for influencer marketing, BUT an influencer will never be an athlete.
However, there is a middle ground between the two categories, actually two:
The athlete who is already at a good point in their career but hasn’t brought home any major successes, in which case the digital stage can become the space/time through which to capitalize on a life dedicated to a sport;
Non-professional athletes who have pursued a dream or passion for sports in parallel with a “normal” life outside of sports. The fact that they have dedicated all their free time to their sport-passion can make them become points of reference for a given community when they decide to share their experiences and acquired knowledge on the digital stage.
THE AUDIENCE – who we’re communicating with
“To each his own audience.”
Is this statement enough to pacify our souls and lead us to believe that everything is simple?
On the contrary, it is a statement that should push us to try to understand even better who the audience is. And not only in terms of target audience because today the numbers are much more “jumbled” than some time ago. If we want to communicate effectively in the digital world we have to look at everyone: monitor the trends of the youngest, most vulnerable and dynamic targets to try to predict their next move and at the same time pay attention to where and how those with wallets move (which I remind you are always the oldest in Italy, the myth of the 30-year-old millionaire remains in the USA).
What I mean is that reasoning in “honest” terms about the role and importance of the audience also means letting go of the snobbish attitude of those who know a lot about how the digital world works (in the end, the wallet always rules).
Beyond the (more or less scrupulous) targeting, one of the things on which we must focus some of our attention are the transversal behaviors that have a sociological, philosophical, psychological, anthropological impact… and from these we generate the most important question that dictates the law on the digital stage:
How is content being enjoyed? What has it come to?
To speed of fruition, little dedicated attention, zero in-depth analysis, generation of opinions not necessarily based on facts but on other opinions that dominate thanks to SEO, zero culture of the topic, and visual and textual language that fit this logic.
While I admit this is the thing that scares me the most since I come from the belief “words shape thought and thought shapes behavior,” in this context I’m simply interested in pointing out that we practitioners are all inclined to respect the will of the audience, especially the paying audience.
Which means that the distinction between influencers and athletes (and the shades of gray in between) on the communication level is not so easy to make.
And beware, this does not mean that the solution is to wash your hands of it, this awareness must above all remind us that it is very important to be vigilant, to be honest, to be respectful, to be loyal, towards your audience, towards your client.Values that are still valid beyond the generational boundary of the baby boomers.
Values that if we can preserve and make our own can help us to bring out the differences and peculiarities that distinguish influencers and athletes.
For a few years now, in the world of sports and, more specifically, in the world of sports marketing, there has been a topic that has been taking up a lot of space: the trend, and consequently the usefulness, of giving space to influencer marketing activities within company budgets, even for companies with sports DNA.
If we broaden our view, this is certainly not a “new” topic, but then again, it is a well-known fact that “if it happens in fashion today, we’ ll see it in sports two years from now”. It is true that in this specific case, however, I want to think that the reason is not to be found in this old tradition (or bug) of physiological delay of the sports world in the fashions of the moment, but in the immune system of marketing and communication strategies of the companies that are the leaders of the sports world inextricably linked to
to the unbreakable and unquestionable emotional connection of the brand with its audience through high-level ambassadors, real sportsmen who do real things, in a real world and who feel real emotions doing what they do.
As professionals born and raised in sports marketing and communications, we’ve been dealing with change – albeit not abrupt change – for a few years now, and we’ve found ourselves pondering the topic several times.
It’s clear that as experts in sports marketing, first as managers of teams of athletes in companies and then as managers of athletes as freelancers, when influencer marketing was introduced into the world of sports we had an initial reaction of rejection. It is known that novelty and change are always scary first. And they generate the first questions that bring with them doubts and negative criticism.
THE QUESTION – is a partnership possible?
So from our own experience we approached the phenomenon, and fortunately in doing so we adopted the attitude we always try to have when looking at something new: an openness to the Eastern philosophy of inclusion rather than exclusion. So it is that before giving in to the natural instinct of defense and closure – “What’s that guy doing? Can he pretend to be an ironman?? And look how many listen to him…” -we tried to better understand what was happening, what new dynamics the phenomenon could give birth to and grow, looking at it a little closer.
And the first question we felt like answering is:
Are we really faced with a choice, a crossroads? Or perhaps a sponsorship program can coexist with an influencer marketing plan? And if so, in what way?
On the surface, sponsorship and influencer marketing may seem very similar: in both cases, a brand pays a subject a certain amount of money (and/or with product) and in return, the subject promotes the brand and products among its fans.
But there is meanwhile an important difference that has to do with duration: sponsorships are done for long periods of time (usually multi-year), while influencer marketing collaborations are temporary and usually calculated on X number of posts to be published in a given time and in most cases, campaigns do not last more than a few weeks.
What we’d like to do now, with a series of articles on the topic, is to try to look at the two marketing activities from different perspectives and try to understand how one influences the other.
Simone Moro and Alex Txicon, together with all their team, announce the anticipated conclusion of the Manaslu expedition.
This was the fourth attempt to climb the Nepalese mountain in winter for the mountaineer from Bergamo.
This was the fourth attempt to climb the Nepalese mountain in winter for the mountaineer from Bergamo.
Bergamo, February 9, 2022 – Simone Moro and Alex Txicon, together with their entire team, announce the early conclusion of their 2021/2022 winter expedition that included the ascent of Manaslu (8163 m.), the eighth highest mountain in the world, and the Manaslu Pinnacle (7992 m).
“Today we are using this sunny day to pack everything because it is already starting to snow tonight and will continue tomorrow and the day after,” declares Simone Moro. “The problem is that you can’t really go beyond Camp 1. Up to Camp 1 you can easily because it is protected, but after, when the real climb begins, the danger of avalanches is high and the wind is a real problem. If the weather remained stable we could also try, but it continues to snow. Today, all together, with the Sherpas, the climbing parteners with whom we shared this experience, we looked reality in the face and decided to call it a day. Even this fourth attempt of mine was not enough, and today I can say that I have spent exactly one year of my life here on Manaslu”. I always said “we won” and “I lost.”
This was Moro’s fourth attempt and, like the precedenti, the winter expedition to Manaslu in January and February was an attempt at a modern revisiting of two great climbs of the past.
Simone Moro has to his credit 23 winter expeditions on various mountains and regions of the planet, thus relaunching the attention and the winter exploration of the 8000m peaks, after the fantastic season of the first ascents carried out by the Poles in the 1980s. Only he so far has accomplished 4 first ascents of 4 8000 meter peaks in complete winter season: Shisha Pangma 8027 mt in 2005, Makalu 8463 mt in 2009 and Gasherbrum 2 in 2011, Nanga Parbat in 2016.
Here I am, a little dazed and bruised. It seems like a nonsense, but it all gives a feeling of total well-being and happiness. Anyone who tests themselves in a competition knows what I’m talking about.
Winning this Southern Warriors 2021 (Cat. Regular Master 45) was different than winning the 2019 (Cat. Regular Master 40): a good, strong emotion, but diluted.
I wondered why and answered myself:
because even just being here, after a forcefully skipped 2020, was already having won;
because after a year of (victorious) competitions of a completely different kind (body building), I arrived at this one better prepared, both physically and mentally stronger;
because I started out calm and focused;
because after 5 years, this is now home and at home you feel good.
If on the one hand everything went smoothly, and perhaps for this very reason, this year this race has made me question some of my fixed points, and confirm others that I may have underestimated. Points on which I will work:
CROSSFIT IS A COMPLETE DISCIPLINE, IT MUST BE RESPECTED IN ITS COMPLETENESS
I was lulled by the guarantees of the context of competition over 45 “where certain movements are not included” and zaaaaaac a nice WOD with handstand walk – which tactically I skipped, but it makes me feel “dirty” so chapeau to @davidegre who learned it in 5 days while I have “snubbed” … now daily handstand walk for a year … THANK YOU.
PLAYING “EASY” GIVES MEASURED SATISFACTION
Since thanks to bb competitions and the fact that this is now my full time job, I can work my ass off to compete with the elites and leave the masters in peace – @kajakko pointed it out to me! and he’s right! THANK YOU.
This time I was coaching myself and it worked. But it worked because I had the doors open to comparison with other coaches who I THANK!!! Omar Mohamed Alì Coach for the support and the confrontation in a moment of crisis – that there are always – and Alberto Grazia Coach for giving me a different key of interpretations of the training with the safety of the bb as base. THANK YOU
TEAM SPIRIT IS NOT A BULLSHIT
We easily fill our mouths with the importance of cultivating and growing team spirit. In fact, in addition to a medal around my neck yesterday, I took home the pats on the back and the sound of laughter from the great master 45s who competed with me! THANK YOU!
Professionalism can never be taken for granted and the ability of an organization – Southern Warriors and Project Judge Rules – to hold on in times of difficulty and reopen the doors as soon as possible to be there and always welcome with enthusiasm is to be recognized and rewarded! THANK YOU.
And THANK YOU ❤️ to you, my life partner, for being a force and passing it all on! (along with your innate and boundless competitive spirit 😂)