Capital One hails cup sponsorship for UK brand growth

Capital One has hailed its first season as sponsor of the of the League Cup, claiming it has ‘breathed new life’ into the brand in the UK and helped it achieve its “strongest” reaction on social media to date.

US financial firm encouraged by potential for brand growth following positive online fan engagement around the League Cup.

The US financial firm, which began its three-year deal with the League last June, says its UK Facebook page has grown from 10,000 likes to 100,000 and generated a “marked uplift” in the number of people sharing content on the social network.

The company points to “stories” such as Arsenal’s 7-5 victory over Reading and Bradford City’s “inspiring” cup run to next month’s final  (24 February) against Swansea as examples of when it saw a lift in online awareness.

The business has allocated a significant proportion of its marketing budget to the cup in a bid to boost awareness. Prior to the deal, its marketing had been limited to direct and press channels.

Michael Woodburn, chief marketing officer at Capital One, told Marketing Week: “We’ve seen an increase in prompted and un-promoted awareness.  I was looking for this shift because we weren’t the best known brand in the world. With us being a credit card company, that level of engagement is something  we’d never have been able to achieve without something like the Capital One cup.

The company is planning to run more PR initiatives next season in a similar vein to it agreeing to cover the travel costs for Middlesborough FC fans last December after the team was drawn away from home 12 consecutive times in the tournament. Additionally, it plans on producing more social content around matches to encourage fans to drive affection for the brand.

“I don’t think we’ll use the League Cup as a platform for specific product promotion”, adds Woodburn. “Instead we feel as though there is a distinctive resonance between the Capital One brand and the competition that we can build on over the next two seasons.”

Capital One has been using the sponsorship principally in the UK and US, with ticket promotions on social media platforms and mobile campaigns for its customers.

Despite the global reach of the tournament, Woodburn says he is not “disappointed” at the final lacking a high-profile Premier League side to attract casual overseas fans.

He adds: “One side of me is saying two big Premier League teams would have maximised TV audiences and got us loads of mentions [on social networks] but increasingly those metrics are becoming like wall paper in sponsorship strategies . What’s more important is how you tap into people’s emotions and how you develop content around that to deliver ROI.”

The company is planning a tactical campaign on the day of the final to celebrate its first season as the League Cup’s sponsor.

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