Southampton’s YouTube sensation is a timely reminder not to take things too seriously

Southampton Football Club have a reputation in the Premier League for great producing young footballers. Now they’re gaining a reputation for producing quirky social media videos.

One of this summer’s biggest tropes was the transfer video, taken to extremes by clubs of all sizes before being dissected, deconstructed and parodied in a frenzied summer where the digital teams behind the social media accounts were almost stealing the show from the players themselves, whose transfers were the real news story.

Southampton’s effort seemed to add an additional spark to the smouldering fire. Their announcement of the signing of third-choice goalkeeper Stuart Taylor from Manchester City started the parodies: creating a purposely over-the-top, Netflix drama-style video for the announcement of what is a fairly un-notable signing received quite a bit of media attention. Then AS Roma jumped on the back of Saints own ironic video with a plethora of odd creations of their own, bringing football clubs into a fevered game of social media one-upmanship.

For Southampton, they were just reacting to what others had done before. And, after all, Taylor wasn’t going to be a new first-team regular and his signing was unlikely to move the needle in terms of interest or excitement. Without the innovative video, that is.

We all expected the frenzy to fade once the summer ended. Football clubs would have games to play, and so digital teams would be busy taking video footage from training, interviewing players and producing matchday content. They wouldn’t have time for more over-the-top videos. Right?

But then, recently, we’ve had a spate of some of the biggest clubs in the world partnering with online-streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and even Facebook in order to create behind-the-scenes documentaries, giving fans polished, expertly-edited, long-form content to watch on-demand.

That sort of content looks a far cry from the summer transfer videos, but perhaps it shouldn’t. Football clubs producing the sort of transfer videos that look like they’re taken from a rejected Hollywood blockbuster is clearly a step too far – hence the tongue-in-cheek parodies – but is that really much different from partnering with Netflix, themselves known these days for producing high-octane dramas?

Perhaps, once again, there’s potential for clubs to go too far, and maybe the opportunity to take a jibe at that is what has led Southampton to their latest social media video sensation, Secret Southampton.

Made to coincide with the release of the second season of Stranger Things on Netflix – and, indeed, Virgin Media, Southampton’s shirt sponsor – Secret Southampton features the paranormal investigator Robert Crust on his mission to expose the secret alien clone farm located at Southampton’s Staplewood training ground, taking his camera operator with him as he breaks into the campus at night before being apprehended by coaching staff and, of course, Stuart Taylor, posing as a tea-making security goon in goalkeeper gloves.

The films were created by Dark Horses, the sports marketing agency co-owned by Lucky Generals, and star comedian David Earl as well as Matt Hale of the Southampton academy, Oriol Romeu, and the inimitable goalkeeper Taylor.

Steve Munachen, Creative Director of Dark Horses said, “Southampton is consistently one of the most
creatively brave football clubs, and together we challenged the norm to develop content ideas that go
above and beyond what each of their rivals is delivering. So to tell the story of Southampton’s outstanding academy programme and training facilities we took a leap into the supernatural space, developing, what we think is, an entertaining piece of content that all football fans will enjoy.”

James Kennedy, Head of Marketing at Southampton FC, added, “We are extremely proud of our player
development facilities and the fantastic work our team carry out daily to consistently develop and nurture talented young prospects. As we like to do things differently at Southampton FC, we wanted to work collaboratively with our creative agencies to create a piece of content that would highlight this in a unique style.”

“Through the eyes of Robert Crust, we wanted to take people behind the scenes, from the innovative Sport Medicine and Science facilities to our Indoor Dome and training areas, through to the secretive Black Box, all lifting the lid on the cutting-edge environment we’ve created to help our young players turn potential into excellence.”

The point of the series – if series is indeed the right word, as we’re talking about three videos which are, essentially, comedy shorts – is to take the club’s fans behind the scenes of the club’s training complex and show off the club’s youth development prowess, mentioning the likes of Alan Shearer and Gareth Bale, but there are plenty of others who have come through the academy.

But it also serves to highlight the ways in which football clubs can go to excesses with their content. The speed of the proliferation of partnerships between the likes of Real Madrid and Facebook or Juventus and Netflix has the potential to take things too far in a similar vein to last summer’s transfer madness, especially when it comes to a very serious behind-the-scenes docuseries.

Secret Southampton is a timely reminder that we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously.

About author

Chris McMullan
Chris McMullan 831 posts

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

You might also like

Premier League clubs still planning to finish the season

In a meeting that took place on Friday 17 April, Premier League clubs remained unanimous in their desire to complete the 2019-2020 campaign. However, the issue about completing the season

The seven essentials for achieving successful sports branding

By Daniela McVicker When it comes to sports, great branding is a must. Your brand influences how people see your company or team. It helps you to forge connections with

Footy Addicts: The social platform enabling grassroots football for everyone

This article was provided by Footy Addicts Picture it, a cold winter’s night at Haggerston Park in East London, the air is so crisp it creates a puff of smoke