Man City partners with EA Sports to boost brand

Electronic Arts, maker of the FIFA series of football console games, has launched a “permanent pop-up” at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium, as part of a wider content partnership that will see a range of club-specific content developed.

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The structure, located in the stadium’s City Square event space, houses Playstation 3 and Xbox 360 machines playing EA’s FIFA 12 game.

Fans are able to compete online, head-to-head and in organised tournaments on matchdays. A second EA-branded installation is sited inside the Etihad’s family area.

The partnership also sees two staff at EA’s FIFA headquarters in Vancouver, Canada, dedicated to producing game-related content around Manchester City, which forms part of the club’s three-year mission to increase engagement with fans around the world using digital channels.

A virtual kit launch and screenshot images prepared ahead of the signing of striker Samir Nasri were created earlier in the season.

Manchester City head of partnerships Luis Vicente says the tie-up with the FIFA games also helps the club reach new markets. “They touch demographics that, for us, are very important – the younger demographics. Also, in some countries there are more fans for the virtual game than there are for the real game.”

For EA, the pop-up initiative, created by Circle Agency, is aimed at boosting its authenticity with football fans.

It also provides a platform throughout the year for the developer to promote downloadable content as it becomes available for purchase, and a planned add-on title for the FIFA 12 game.

Nick Harford, head of football at EA Sports, says: “Historically there has been a big push around the build-up to the launch, the launch and the build-up to Christmas. All the activity would have been focused on those key areas. What EA is looking at now are ways we can be more embedded in the world of football and relevant season-long.”

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