Video: Puma launches Arsenal FC trilogy kit in London
The Premier League will be a season long tussle for brands once it kicks off this weekend (16 August), conjuring up twists and turns to stand out from the crowd. This year sees marketers picking up where their World Cup strategies left off and building sponsorships around year-long media plans.
Whereas previous efforts would have been separate to wider advertising campaigns, brands are uniting smart media planning, customer insights and daring creative ideas to exploit those moments of influence that will have the most impact on football fans. It sees brands employing connected planning to ensure they are led by the consumer rather than what media is available for sale.
For Subway, the approach aims to influence attitudes and perceptions towards its health and wellbeing positioning. The sandwich maker is working with title contenders Liverpool FC to create a road map of reactive posts, videos and promotions that fit into its wider, annual advertising calendar. It hopes the plan, which could in-play ads and social media powered in-stadium stunts, makes it better attuned to the ebb and flow of a sport and club it hopes to nurture strong ties to.
Carlsberg’s 20-year association with the Premier League means its objectives are different despite plotting similar game plan for the upcoming season. Instead of weighting the majority of its media outlay around the start of the season, the brewer hopes equity from its World Cup campaign will lift the early elements of its Fan Squad” football initiative.
It is building a hub, developed in partnership with The Marketing Store, that tracks potential viral content from football fans to amplify across its own channels. It comes as Carlsberg shifts more of its global marketing budget from TV to social content with it claiming the Premier League requires a shorter-term view on media planning to maximise investments. The initiative is backed by the brand’s global newsroom, which was set up in 2013 to gauge the return-on-investment of content marketing across different media.
David Scott, director of brands and insight at Carlsberg UK, says: “If you’re buying TV then that’s money committed two months before the consumer sees it and its tied up. The key thing for us is keeping money back and having a tactical budget so that when we see something that’s trending then we can put more money behind it to amplify out to the masses.”
In a marked shift from previous years, Puma is turning to real-time, digital interactions to push a more dynamic positioning throughout the Premier League season. The sportswear brand is banking on football to put itself firmly back into the sports ‘arena following years of flitting between performance and lifestyle. A “complex marketing programme” has been built to spearhead the charge, relying on a blend of media partnerships, PR, social media and POS to drive engagement around reactive content.
A spokesperson at Puma says while the bulk of dynamic promotions will be served across social media, this season is the start of a journey to be more reactive on other media channels. The business replaces Nike as Arsenal’s shirt maker this season and has overarching brand trajectory it wants to follow over the course of the long-term deal.
“With the best will in the world you can’t predict the outcome of a football match, so there’s much more of an emphasis for us to plan our spontaneity”, adds Stedman. “But it’s not just about jumping on moments. We’re investing a lot in making sure we have something interesting to say, offering our fans insights into the clubs we partner with as well as the players and national teams we support.”
James Hough, managing director of MediaCom Sport, which is working with Subway to develop its Liverpool FC sponsorship strategy says: “You’ve got to work harder to make fans feel like they are involved in the experience you’re promoting. It’s why a lot more [sponsorship] campaigns are being built around the media plan so that everything is much more integrated. When Subway are planning TV, press, outdoor or online activity then it all ties back to the work they are doing with Liverpool. It’s much more aligned so that there is no wastage.”
Brands new to the football space such as Nissan and Peperami see the growing trend of second screening around sports as a key way to exploit the Premier League’s popularity internationally, particularly in America. Nissan is preparing a global campaign with user-generated content at its core in the coming weeks, while Peperami, which was purchased by US food maker Jack Link’s in February, is using Twitter to introduce its anarchic take on the modern game to millions of potential fans.
Tyson Henly, former head of sponsorship at UEFA and head of international football at Fuse Sport and Entertainment, which brokered Nissan’s Champions League deal, says: “Much of the innovation will come beyond this season because you’ve got broadcasters looking for more marketing-led rights and sponsors pursuing more broadcast and content-led rights. That overlap creates a challenge for any rights holder that won’t be solved immediately.
“There is a middle ground where brands will be able to carve engagement out from things like post-match footage or in-game use of LEDs in more dynamic ways. What you’re seeing now are advertisers with a longer-term football strategy not happy to dip in and out around big events and instead want to be connecting with fans on a more regular basis.”