How brands have worked with clubs, leagues and publishers to produce the best results of the season

Snack Media takes a look at some of the most interesting brand activations and branded content in football this year.

The Premier League season has finished, but the football season still has loose ends to tie up.

This is the time of year when trophies are lifted and awards are doled out, and with that in mind, here are some of the brand activations – or series of branded content – in football this season we think deserve a closer look.

New Balance and Liverpool: This Means More

New Balance and Liverpool launched their new kit in April last year and drew on the club’s passionate fanbase as the cornerstone of their campaign, but it was the following season when the ‘This Means More’ slogan really came into its own.

You’ll have heard about it, I’m sure: it’s been impossible to escape. This Means More has become something of a mantra and a rallying call to Liverpool fans all over the world and one that’s resonated with a group of fans who enjoyed one of their best seasons in living memory.

If they win the Champions League on 1st June, there’ll be room for at least one more mention – and a few more during the summer. It’s a testament to the strength of the campaign that this resonated so much and will surely be heard again.

Kia and Trophy Tour

A very on-brand activation from Kia saw the Europa League trophy driven around Europe ahead of this month’s Europa League final, taking the competition to fans around the continent.

By enlisting publishers and social media producers like Dugout, been able to spread the word of their Europa League sponsorship whilst also being able to provide UEFA with the more approachable, fun marketing that the second tier European competition seems to embrace.

Cadbury and Premier League

Cadbury’s Premier League sponsorship has seen the chocolatier put its name to the Golden Boot and the Playmaker Award for the player with the most assists, but it’s also been proactive in working with publishers to reach fans.

Putting a brand at the front of consumers’ mind is all any marketer really wants, and a simple sponsorship isn’t really enough. A bit of extra spend has gone a long way for Cadbury, who’ve seen their ‘official snack partnership’ speak to football fans around the world with content on JOE Media and by working with the likes of the Second Captains podcast.

Marriott Bonvoy and Manchester United

Partnering with Manchester United might seem like a sure-fire way to get in front of football fans, but Bonvoy – the newest rewards programme from hotels chain Marriott – are showing that getting creative pays dividends.

The brand have set about ‘rewarding’ Manchester United fans with money-can’t-buy prizes such as seeing matchday from the kitman’s point of view, and laying out the kits for the players before the game, or shadowing the stadium announcer at Old Trafford.

At the moment, that’s as far as the activation has gone, but Bonvoy only launched in February, in the middle of the season. So look out for how that partnership will develop next season and how they reward football fans for their loyalty to their club.

Paddy Power and Totally Football Show

Podcasts are booming and Muddy Knees Media have been dabbling in branded content and advertising as a means of bringing in the revenue to fund a quality podcast empire.

Creating what are essentially white label podcasts for the likes of Eurosport is one interesting way of going about it. Another is evidenced by The Totally Football Show, fronted by James Richardson. The podcast business’s flagship show features a five minute segment twice a week from Paddy Power, giving fans the weekend’s odds.

Rather than simply bombard the podcast with ads, this partnership has given both the brand and the podcast the chance to grow together over the course of a season and create something of value to the listener base as well as give the brand repeat exposure and the opportunity to really be part of the show.

Ladbrokes and True Geordie

If the partnership between betting company and podcast sounds familiar from the above, Ladbrokes’ partnership with True Geordie was definitely something different.

The True Geordie and his podcast guests are a compelling listen at any time, but streaming their reactions to a live football match – and especially one as entertaining as Chelsea v Arsenal was at the start of the season – made great viewing and was a great coup for Ladbrokes.

Visit Rwanda, National Geographic and Arsenal?

This is not yet branded content, but it is a reminder to take a look out for it next season.

Arsenal and National Geographic have signed a content partnership deal where the magazine’s rich video content could be distributed on Arsenal’s social media channels and used to promote tourism in Rwanda.

It’s a novel idea, for sure, and next season we’ll see how it works.

England Netball & Vogue

Ok, so this one isn’t about football: it’s a bonus. But we think there’s a big lesson to be learned here.

The point of this article was never just to take a look at “brand content” efforts, but to discuss how creating content in order to reach football fans and make the most of a sponsorship can have an enduring impact. The key takeaway is that there should be a defined plan when it comes to deciding which fans – or potential fans you want to reach.

England Netball have seen that their target audience isn’t necessarily fans of sport. They aren’t overly interested in back page headlines, but would rather reach a different demographic: those who might see sport as part of a lifestyle choice.

It’s hard to knock netball’s growing popularity, and that should be a lesson to those publishers, brands and rights holders working in football: what audience are you trying to reach, and what’s the best way of doing that?

If you’re interested in reaching Snack Media’s 26m football fans ahead of the new Premier League season in August, contact or call (0) 207 272 7582.

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 831 posts

Chris is a sports journalist and editor of Digital Sport - follow him on Twitter @CJMcMullan_

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