Football clubs command the levels of loyalty that brands can only dream of – something that is woefully under-utilised on so many levels.
Although there are the odd exceptions to the rule, with the likes of Bayern Munich and Liverpool exhibiting more innovation than lots of others, the majority continually fail at engagement and subsequently miss out on a potential financial goldmine. It beggars belief in all honesty, but it wouldn’t be the first-time short-sightedness and football clubs are mentioned in the same sentence.
Given the lack of interest clubs have in such practices, you do wonder what benefits commercial partners or sponsors actually get when they team up with these clubs to reach and engage with their respective global audiences? Indeed, you could argue why clubs would even care, given that there are a multitude of brands out there who would throw millions at them on an annual basis – so is there really any need to provide a duty of care to them to ensure they make the most of their partnership? I think we know the answer there.
There are some brands who are proactive in making their sponsorships work and look at innovative ways to engage themselves with their target audience. Rather than survive on producing contrived press releases and the odd sponsored post, they look at industry trends to shape their online and social activations. Heineken are arguably the leaders within this space and have activated their sponsorship of the Champions League expertly over the past decade with ‘Share the Sofa’ and ‘Star Player’ just a few of their multi-platform initiatives.
The work Vitality have done in activating their multiple Premier League club partnerships has been refreshing; however, it appears to me that there is a distinct lack of understanding from other brands on how to tap into the audience that they spend millions of pounds looking to connect reach.
We at Snack Media are continually approached by brands to assist in activating their respective sponsorships – something we have successfully done with Ford and the Champions League, Capital One and the League Cup and Europcar and Arsenal football club, to name a few. Fortunately, as a result of having one of the largest football website networks in the world, we are ultimately able to reach out and engage with the very same audiences that follow the official club’s channels. Being independent means that, without restriction, we can create an activation campaign across multi-platforms that will have a greater chance of resonating with fans – as we tailor the tone of voice accordingly, utilising modern methods of content delivery to engage appropriately. As a company, we have created our own division that serves these activations – something that is seemingly growing as the months goes pass.
It makes me question whether brands gain any real value by investing as an official club sponsor? In terms of brand awareness and exposure there are obvious benefits, but are Manchester United fans going out their ways to buy a Chevy anytime soon? I fully appreciate that every brand has its own methods and objectives when partnering up with a respective rights holder, but surely some form of ROI must be one of their primary goals? I remember the Champions League partner Ford approaching Snack Media back in 2014. They wanted to use the final in Lisbon to drive sales of pre-orders for their NEW Mustang – so we devised a multi-platform activation in the days prior and on the match day itself. 500 units were snapped up in the first 90 seconds of the final; highlighting the power of curating engaging content, directed at the necessary audience and executed at the right time. That’s a clear example of a brand that knows what it wants and an organisation that can make it happen.
Without such a clear plan for gaining some sort of ROI, a brand is essentially paying for a few perimeter ad boards and the chance to have a booze up in the hospitality boxes. So surely a rethink is needed if brands are to really get some bang for their buck.
For more information about our work with brands and rights holders as well as examples of our other activations, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.