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Commercial Winners of the 2014/15 Football Season

The 2014/15 football season has seen Chelsea win the Barclays Premier League and the Capital One Cup, Arsenal secure consecutive FA Cup titles, Sevilla win the UEFA Europa League and this weekend FC Barcelona recorded their 5th UEFA Champions League title.

But who are the winners off the pitch? GMR Marketing’s football experts Steve Watts and David O’Connor take a look at some of the standout performers.

Best Global Football Campaign | adidas

After a World Cup which had three stripes running through the heart of it, the battle between Nike and adidas continued post World Cup and throughout the 2014/15 football season. Despite two Nike teams taking to the pitch at the UEFA Champions League final, it was adidas who stole the show with a wide-reaching campaign promoting their new Ace15, X15 and Messi15 boots which were seen for the first time in Berlin. adidas created hype around the boot launches with a series of teaser content spread across their social platforms with the messaging that football is changing and adidas are at the forefront of the revolution.

The UEFA Champions League final provided adidas with another fantastic platform to continue to follow their story telling strategy that proved so successful during the World Cup. With their key protagonist Leo Messi at the heart of the action, as he was in the FIFA World Cup Final, the brand were able to engage with consumers pre, during and post event with a host of dynamic and edgy content.

From adidas’ real-time marketing strategy in Brazil, the #ThereWillBeHaters in March through to the #BeTheDifference campaign surrounding the UEFA Champions League final, adidas have fully embraced the millennial generation’s desire to engage with brands through conversation and can be seen as true industry front runners in this area.

Best Social Media Campaign | Football League

In 2014, 8 of the 10 most tweeted events in the UK were football related, proving football is, and as we all know a key conversation driver and at the forefront of the social chatter.

Statistics revealed by Twitter show that Arsenal are the most followed Premier League team with 5.8 million followers and Manchester United are the most talked about club with Juan Mata’s bicycle kick against Liverpool in March generating the largest single spike.

With the vast reach and engagement levels social media now provides brands and football clubs, digital and social channels must now sit at the heart of the marketing mix.

The Football League’s unique utilisation of Twitter represents our standout social media campaign this season. Ahead of the Capital One Cup Final, more than half a million tweets were posted in a week-long #OwnTheArch vote that gave fans the opportunity to decide the colour of the Wembley arch. In the first of a kind social media campaign, Tottenham recorded 51% of votes and turned the arch white the night before the Final took place.

The campaign highlighted how a simple, yet well thought-through idea can connect an online digital initiative with an emphatic physical PR moment to promote one of the Football League’s flagship events.

Most Innovative Partnership | Barclaycard and Southampton FC

Innovation is a word that is continually banded about in the marketing industry, with “innovative partnerships” becoming increasingly commonplace. The evolution of sponsorship and the wide variety of business objectives sponsorship is asked to achieve now has led to brands and rights holders forming partnerships that are mutually beneficial and add value to the fans.

Only last week, it was announced that EE trialled an instant replay service via 4G mobile technology at the FA Cup final at Wembley Stadium. The technology will allow fans to watch replays from multiple camera angles within one minute of the incident from the comfort of their seat. Whilst these technological advancements may not appeal to traditional football fans, there is no doubt technology can play a part in enhancing the match day experience in the shape of shorter queue times and a more seamless match day experience.

At the start of the 2014/15 season, Barclaycard teamed up with Southampton FC to offer the Premier League’s first contactless payments in and around the club’s St. Mary’s stadium through bPay wristbands. An innovative partnership that allows Saints fans to pre-pay for food and drink, jump queues and receive loyalty offers and special experiences. Whilst wearable technology and contactless payment technology is not new, it is the first time such technology has been used in English football.

Best Fan Engagement Campaign | Everton

Fans will always be the lifeblood of a football club and will continue to spend their hard earned cash to support their team, however their expectations are continuing to evolve. It is no longer enough for a fan to buy a ticket, queue up for refreshments, watch the game and go home. Fans now want to feel valued by the club, receive a memorable match day experience and be engaged by the club throughout the season.

Many clubs are yet to get to grips with how best to execute a fan engagement strategy, however Everton are one club who have certainly come to the fore this season. In the 2015 Premier League National Fan Survey, 96% of Everton fans stated they feel positivity towards the club and when asked about fan engagement, the club scored 26 percentage points above the Premier League average.

Everton have received such positive feedback by implementing an engagement strategy that encompasses the entire fan journey throughout the season. The club launched a new website that delivers personalised content to fans and launched its #WeAreChosen campaign to promote its 2015/16 season tickets by connecting with 13 different groups of fans on an emotional level. The campaign has received extremely positive feedback with one fan even having ‘chosen’ tattooed on her arm.

The club’s commitment to the future is also impressive, as highlighted by their annual Junior Fan Day. The event gave a group of 7-15 year olds the opportunity to go behind-the-scenes, with Goodison Park taken over by a mini team of helpers spanning from the press box to ground staff. There’s no doubting the value of such initiatives, with the club clearly understanding its position in the local community and driving real value for fans through such experiences.

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