Sponsors bank on Premier League ‘soap opera’ to maximise ROI

Carlsberg, Audi, Barclays and Chevrolet are looking to tap into the unfolding drama during the upcoming Premier League season by implementing sponsorship campaigns capable of driving fan engagement throughout the tournament.

Brands are looking to go beyond traditional broadcast solutions to ensure they remain relevant throughout the 2013/14 season.

The League will step into the unknown this season with the return of Jose Mourinho to Chelsea FC, David Moyes’ arrival at Manchester United and the tussle for viewers BSkyB and BT Sport. This unpredictability has created an untapped outlet for marketers looking to capitalise on newsworthy events around the sport and some brands have already set in motion plans to use it to bring more immediacy to their sponsorship activations.

Carlsberg, the official beer provider of the League, plans to use the 10-month-long season to increase the frequency of football-related content it publishes online, according to sources close to the matter.  It is understood a smartphone app developed to tap into the rise of supporters sharing content during matches will support the strategy alongside five-to-six spikes in more traditional advertising activity, including a TV campaign.

The brewer declined to comment on the upcoming campaign but says its deal with the League offers a “unique range of rights and opportunities for consumers to engage with our brand”.

Elsewhere, Chelsea sponsor Audi is said to be preparing a social media push with the club’s manager Mourinho in an attempt to capitalise on the excitement around his return, according to a source close to the matter. It is understood the German car marque wants to move beyond traditional broadcast solutions to digital football initiatives that tie into its wider activity around innovation and progressiveness.

Sponsorship experts say the desire from sponsors to go “above a pure media buy” and take risks with their brands this season stems from rights holders’ willingness to be more flexible with their assets in the wake of London 2012.

Andy Kenny, managing director at BrandRapport, adds: “The London 2012 Games showed what can be achieved when sponsors don’t rely on camera inventory to grow their brands. The challenge for Premier League clubs is helping marketers identify an area of football they can own and then get traction from that on a global scale.”

James Hough, director of sport at MediaCom, says: “Brands will continue to spend money around live games, but a lot more of them will look to amplify those ads with press and digital advertising around those matches. It’s up to the rights holders to come up with clever activation ideas to encourage sponsors to be more creative with their media strategies.”

Chevrolet, which sponsors United and Liverpool, is gearing up for the next phase of its football strategy which will see it ramp up social media activity from its “Chevrolet FC” Facebook and Twitter profiles in order to respond faster to on-the-field events involving either team. Meanwhile Barclays is preparing a major push to own all moments of sportsmanship around football.

The level of investment required to activate around the League has put many sponsors off using it as a marketing platform in the past, despite its global profile. The blurring of the lines between technology and sponsorship is changing this, however, with sponsors and rights holders working closer than ever before in the run-up to the new season to ensure their brands stay front of mind with fans worldwide.