Arsenal revs up digital marketing to attract global fanbase

Arsenal is set to ramp up digital marketing activity, including a raft of new social gaming and media initiatives, to keep pace with its Premier League rivals in the quest to engage international fans.

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The football club is rolling out a series of “companion experiences” for international fans and other fans who are watching Arsenal games on television to be able interact with the club despite not being at the club’s Emirates stadium.

A Facebook app is being launched for fans to design their own banners, which will be voted on for the winning entries to appear around the stadium on matchdays.

Further activity, such as social gaming, access to in-game player stats and a “one stop shop” for matchday social media streams are set to be launched in the coming months, led by Arsenal’s strategic digital agency Essence.

Arsenal estimates it has an international fanbase of about 100 million. The official Arsenal Facebook page has close to 8 million fans.

The club is also looking to interact with its international fanbase in a physical sense by forming a closer relationship with its global supporters clubs to help them hold events and add to Arsenal’s online content.

Charles Allen, Arsenal marketing director, says the club is placing a strong focus on international marketing this year as UK revenue growth from football fans becomes saturated.

The club went on its first Asian tour in the summer and recently signed up Carlsberg as its first ever beer partner to help to engage with its growing fanbase in the region.

He adds: “There is a massive opportunity to reach the general Arsenal fan who up until recently we have allowed to be served by third party broadcasters or sports shops in the main.”

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Arsenal’s Build a Banner Facebook promotion, created by Essence

It is hoped the increased investment in projects that are free for fans on Facebook and other channels will increase the number of paid-for memberships, which Allen says is the “strongest indication of affinity to the club”. The current membership scheme is already the largest in the English Premier League, he claims.

To increase the membership scheme’s attractiveness to international fans, Arsenal is building out the proposition, which is mainly focused around ticket access, to include access to Arsenal’s online TV player, merchandise and unlockable content on Facebook.

The Arsenal membership scheme is also set to include benefits from its sponsorship partners, which include Nike, Carlsberg and EA Sports.

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