It’s not even December and the rumour mill is in full flow regarding the opening of the Barclays Premier League’s January transfer window. Already dominating football-related conversations in pubs and bars across the UK, can we take a leaf out of our American counterparts’ book and capitalise on this excitement?
Football is right at the epicentre of British culture. With revenue reaching €3 billion last year in the UK alone, it comes as no surprise that brands have attached themselves to every perceived point of value, from stadium naming rights to TV ad spots.
With speculation rising as to how teams are aiming to strengthen through the mid-season transfer window, it seems an apt time to discuss the potential of the transfer market as a whole. As of the launch of Sky Sports News HQ in August this year, ‘Deadline Day’ is gaining traction and fast becoming a staple in the diets of football fans across the UK. As we saw last autumn, the transfer window offers a unique opportunity for brands to both reach and engage with their core audience in the off-season.
Furthermore, transfer deadline day is impossible to miss on social media. This year, Radamel Falcao’s switch from Monaco to Manchester United sparked a surge on Twitter with his name being mentioned over 1.6 million times before the window had even closed. Above all else, this clearly demonstrates the active participation of viewers.
The market is growing too, in just the last decade, due to the influx of wealthy overseas owners, English clubs have increased their spending in the transfer market from a combined £265million to £835million.
One of the challenges that we face is that in its current form, transfer deadline day is actually pretty dull; moments of excitement are surrounded with hours of ‘dead time’ and speculation. Whilst advertisers are aware of the increased interest on news outlets on deadline day, as yet none have been bold enough to do more than pay a premium for advertising space.
It’s Not Impossible
The NFL – America’s most watched sport on TV, and one that is making real progress in terms of successfully opening a London-based franchise, has proved that the transfer market is an area that holds great potential for the sponsorship industry. Their incredibly strong commercial strategy has contributed to their increasing success in the UK, having sold out Wembley for the Dallas Cowboys vs Jacksonville Jaguars game earlier this month.
Bud Light signed on as the official beer of the NFL in 2011 and has since adopted the NFL draft (a once-a-year event in which NFL teams select eligible college football players to add to their rosters) as a core aspect of their strategy. According to Mike Sundet, senior director at Bud Light, “the NFL Draft has become an unofficial holiday for fans – something they begin looking forward to almost as soon as the previous season ends.”
This year Bud Light is offering 32 fans, one representing each NFL team, an opportunity to be directly involved in the second-round draft, aired live on primetime US TV. Bud Light not only provides a channel for fans to directly connect and interact with their favourite teams, but also engages with fans increasing both brand advocacy and awareness.
If a brand were to take total ownership of transfer deadline day with a clear strategy on how best to exploit the vast interest from the fan-base, there are huge potential gains for both the brand and the English Football Leagues.
If cooperation from the Premier League Football Association and Sky Sports could be secured, the space would be a blank canvas for a brand to create something both memorable and incredibly effective. The only part of the equation missing is the brand that’s willing to think outside of the perceived limits of the existing area.