The Premier League’s new strategy will see it move away from its title sponsorship model from the start of the 2016/17 season. While it remains to be seen what the structure will means for sponsors, brands are looking to tap into the opportunity the 2015/16 season presents for global brand awareness and fan engagement on social media.
Building brand awareness
After a successful sponsorship of Celebrity Big Brother in January, classifieds site Gumtree has landed its biggest deal to date with BT Sport to back coverage of the 2015/16 Premier League matches.
The partnership will see Gumtree launch humorous idents connecting football to cars in the opening, breaks and closing credits of all live matches on the channel. Digital content will also run on BT Sport’s website and app as well as the Gumtree website with social activations offering consumers chances to win tickets.
Hannah Wilson, Gumtree’s head of marketing, said: “One of the key things for us is improving the awareness and consideration of our motors category. We have 95% brand awareness but our motors category is relatively new.”
She added that Gumtree was looking for a sponsorship that would run throughout the year and spoke to the brand’s target audience.
“So far this year we’ve had a bias towards targeting women and we wanted to find a property that was almost exclusively male,” she added.
“The Barclays Premier League is a really prestigious brand to be connected with and the BT Sport connection works well and matches with our brand.”
Meanwhile, Japanese tyre company Yokohama signed a five-year shirt sponsorship deal with Chelsea FC in February in an effort to build global brand awareness.
Kazu Sekiguchi, manager of the Chelsea Task Force for Yokohama, told Marketing Week: “In terms of marketing we have been doing motorsports but nothing in football. Our brand awareness is quite low all over the world except Japan, which is the main purpose for investing in the partnership with Chelsea.”
The deal is the brand’s biggest ever investment in marketing reported to come in at £40m a year – Chelsea’s previous deal with Samsung is believed to have cost the brand £18m per year.
In order to “be more efficient in spreading our word through the people” the brand has recruited digital and social media sports agency WePlay to boost its social presence through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
“Social media is new media – it’s very quick, simultaneous and customer and community-oriented,” Sekiguchi said. “Fans create the community and spread the word, and it’s very effective and cost-efficient.”
‘Cementing a position in football’
Carlsberg is looking to promote its position as official beer of the Barclays Premier League through a new TV, OOH, digital, PR and on-pack campaign, “If Carlsberg did kickabouts”, featuring former Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel and football presenter Jeff Stelling.
The 72andSunny Amsterdam-created spot shows a casual game of kickabout football turned into “probably the best kickabout in the world” to fit into the brand’s wider “Probably the best beer in the world’ marketing platform. It is part of a £13m investment in media for the brand over the course of the year, its “biggest investment in a long time”.
Rich Whitty, senior marketing manager of football at Carlsberg, told Marketing Week: “This is all about cementing our position within football.”
He added that the brand gets scale through its sponsorship of the UEFA European Football Championship, depth through its sponsorship of Liverpool FC and frequency through the Premier League.
“The Premier League is indisputably the best league in the world and with our move back to ‘Probably the best beer in the world’ it’s a great fit for us,” he said.
He added that in the “well-trodden” world of football brands need to “do something standout to get noticed”.
“We’re not Nike, Adidas or Beats,” he added. “We’re not there for the players – we’re there for the fans of football.”
Nike does indeed seem to be focusing on the player – when asked about its plans to activate around the Premier League, the Manchester City sponsor cited the team’s new 2015/16 kit as well as the launch of its new high-performance Ordem 3 football boot and ball.
Fighting the social battle through Vine
While the importance of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for brands cannot be ignored, according to short-form social video company Burst, Premier League teams are starting to see the commercial value of using Vine, a platform that offers six-second looping videos.
All 20 Premier League clubs have an active Vine account according to Burst and Chelsea is the biggest global sports club on the platform.
The club started the 2014/15 season with 9.6m loops (or views) and grew by 2152% year on year to 218m loops. Manchester United and Manchester City follow close behind.
“While you can’t directly monetise this content, there is an incredible opportunity for commercial partners to feature their brands and products in video content created by the football clubs they sponsor,” said Burst’s CCO and co-founder Simon Bibby.
None of Chelsea’s top three vines from last season were match highlights – its top Vine featured car brand Audi.
“While 3.1 million people tuned in to watch Manchester United vs Chelsea last season, those two clubs have over 12 million people combined following their Twitter and Vine accounts,” Bibby added.
“We are expecting to see a lot more brands taking advantage of this content marketing opportunity this season.”