FA launches first brand campaign ‘to make England matter again’

The Football Association (FA) is embarking on its first brand campaign to try and convince fans to attend England matches more regularly as it looks to bounce back from record low crowds at Wembley following a disappointing World Cup.

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The FA wants the campaign to galvanise support of the England national team following its dismal World Cup.

The governing body says the “Together for England” push is a “step change” in its marketing, switching from specific activations for each match to a single creative concept. It will span the England team’s qualification campaign for the 2016 European Championship, which starts next week (8 September), and could extend to the tournament should the team qualify.

Digital, PR, print and outdoor ads play on the idea of the St George’s flag being the “plus sign” that unites the players and the fans. Split images of stars such as Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge paired together with fans convey the concept alongside phrases including “Pride + Passion” and “Hopes + Dreams”.

The campaign will eventually encapsulate some of the wider behind the scenes content the organisation began testing on fans during the World Cup. Sponsors such as Vauxhall and Nike can also use the platform to support their own plans.  Additionally, the FA has created the Club Wembley Private Box with a bespoke England theme that will host competition winners during home fixtures.

Football chiefs hopes the activations counter the apathy fans feel toward the national team following a dismal World Cup. The disinterest from fans was brought into sharp focus last night (3 September) when the team’s first game since the tournament was attended by some 40,000 fans, the lowest ever for an England game at the stadium.

Russell James, head of marketing at the FA, told Marketing Week at an event ahead of England’s match against Norway last night (3 September), that the low attendance reflected the scale of the challenge the campaign faces. The governing body needs ticket sales to rise from the dip in order to speed-up the payment of its outstanding £200m debt on the stadium.

“England fans were disappointed by what happened at the World Cup. You could say the half empty stadium  [at the England vs Norway] match is representative of how big that challenge is and how important it is that we make supporting England matter to fans.”

“We’ve developed the strategy not just to reach the 20 million plus fans we have in the UK but also the 800 million supporters worldwide. It’s an umbrella platform that we’re treating like a brand campaign and as a result have departed from the that way in which we would have promoted individual matches historically.”

The Futureproof-created marketing plan will also cover the FA’s “England Supporter Club” membership scheme, which launched just before the World Cup, and already has over 80,000 subscribers. The free-to-join scheme is being primed as the channel to reach the most loyal England fans with priority ticket access as well as exclusive competitions, content and targeted promotions.

Enhancing customer data has been a key objective for the FA over the past 18 months following the expansion of its insights team last year. It is part of wider changes to the marketing and commercial functions at the governing body, which aim to increase repeat visits to Wembley stadium.

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