The Europa League – a missed opportunity?

The Europa League – a missed opportunity?

Chelsea and Arsenal met in Baku in this year’s Europa League final but eyebrows were raised at the issues the clubs faced in planning for one of the biggest matches of the season.

Only 12,000 tickets were made available to Chelsea and Arsenal fans in a 68,000 capacity stadium and the limited capacity of Baku’s Heydar Aliyev Airport meant anyone trying to get there for the final was in for long hours of travel and expensive plane tickets. Many tickets were returned meaning fans didn’t travel in huge numbers, while Arsenal’s Armenian international Henrikh Mkhitarian didn’t travel due to safety concerns.

Despite the very real issues that staging this final in Azerbaijan caused though, this was perhaps a unique opportunity for brands. With the vast majority of the fans of both clubs watching on at home, the official sponsors may have made more of the chance to reach those fans who would have been second-screening across social media channels while watching the game on TV.

So for some, this was a missed opportunity.

Official UEFA Europa League partner Enterprise Rent-A-Car, for example, activated its sponsorship with the “Legendary Journeys,” campaign where fans would be selected from across Europe to take a football legend on their trip from home to the stadium.

These legends were former Chelsea midfielder Michael Ballack, former Arsenal winger Robert Pires and Frederic Kanoute, who won the Europa League twice with Sevilla.

Competition-winning fans brought the stars on the journey with them to get to the match. A VIP Match Day Experience, pitch side tours and plenty of other goodies were thrown into an all-inclusive experience for the winners.

Sounds like a great experience for the winning fans, but could Enterprise have done better in promoting this?

A post on two of three (Kanouté doesn’t have an Instagram) of their Legend’s Instagram pages seems a bit lacking. A combined Instagram following of 1.3 million followers is nothing to scoff at but one post is limiting all the new potential entrants or even new customers that could have been reached. There was little to no Twitter activity on the campaign and Facebook was seemingly the outlet Enterprise chose to use the most since they have a following of over 400k.

The problem is that while the combination of social media spend and influencer marketing can be a powerful tool when it comes to generating publicity, Enterprise might have done a bit more than just using their ex-footballer talent to promote and create a buzz for their undoubtedly creative campaign.

At Snack, we know the value that social media can have in promoting campaigns such as this one. Back in 2014, Ford showed just how effective this can be. As a longtime partner of the UEFA Champions League, Ford worked with Snack to create a more interactive customer experience around the final which took place in Lisbon that year. Thanks to a concerted strategy, the car company were able to pre-sell all 500 of their allocated new Mustang models within the first 30 seconds of the match.

Enterprise had a creative campaign and one that really tied the brand to the experience of travelling fans. It’s hard not to think that it might have had that little bit more impact with a more concerted influencer marketing, branded content or social media strategy than they seemed to have.

Ford and Snack Media showed what can happen when brand activation is done right around a major final. With two English teams taking part in the final of a major European competition in a land far far away, it was the perfect opportunity to really make a return on the money laid down to become a UEFA partner in the first place.

To find out how Snack Media can help your brand engage with fans or to hear more about our other activations, contact adam@snack-media.com