Brands are consistently striving to reach the widest audience through partnerships with football clubs, the best strategy for achieving this however, is not always obvious.

Dean Akinjobi

InsiderSport spoke to Football Media’s CEO, Dean Akinjobi, who revealed how the agency helps bridge the gap between partners and the three main pillars of a club’s core audience, as well as the importance of unique content.  

InsiderSport: You’ve worked with some of the key sponsorship deals in football, can you tell us about some of the more sponsorship activations you’ve been a part of?

Dean Akinjobi: Football Media has been involved in delivering a number of key activations on behalf of various brands across our platform of sites and social media channels.

During bwin’s time as Manchester United and Real Madrid sponsor, we were involved in various activations throughout the term of the partnerships, including the activation of the Wayne Rooney football blindfold challenge, which involved Wayne Rooney being blindfolded and asked to perform various skills with a football, including replicating a memorable overhead kick goal that he scored against Manchester City.

The video series was promoted by Football Media across leading Manchester United fan sites and social channels as well as general football sites.

Further activations with bwin included Football Media creating a bespoke bwin World Cup bloggers league and the digital activation of a bwin Real Madrid football golf tournament, featuring Real Madrid players playing golf with footballs on a customised golf course.

We have also worked with TAG Heuer on their Premier League activation, promoting an engaging North London derby debate video featuring David Seaman and Tim Sherwood, that was promoted across our Tottenham and Arsenal fan sites and social media channels.

InsiderSport: How do you help partners reach a club’s core audience and how important is this for a club’s partners if they are to maximise sponsorship deals?

DA: A club’s core audience are across three main pillars, official club channels, fan sites and fan social media channels.

These core audience platforms attract varying audience behaviours, which can be described as short tail and long tail audiences.

Short tail behaviour tends to occur on official club sites, where fans regularly read official club news and spend a short period of time on the site after consuming news stories.

The long tail behaviour tends to occur on fan sites and fan social media, where fans spend longer periods of time on each channel, due to the engaging two-way nature of the content, it’s authentic communication tone and the volume of content available.

Fan sites and fan social media are key additional platforms to official club channels, for any brand wanting to deliver engagement through sponsorship activation to core fans.

Football Media helps partners to reach core audiences by devising highly targeted tailored multi-channel activation strategies, utilising content, social media, video, display advertising and data, which are delivered across our platform of fan sites and fan social media channels.

It is highly important for club partners to maximise their sponsorship deals as it helps to deliver what every brand is looking for, long term ROI, brand engagement and customer loyalty.

There are numerous cases of fans being completely unaware of what product or service a club sponsor offers, this is often because the brands have only ever regularly communicated to fans on official club channels, where the short tail audience are and haven’t communicate with fans on platforms where they spend more time, fan sites and fan social media, targeting the long tail fan audiences.  

When any brand enters into a club or League sponsorship, some of the primary questions that they should ask themselves is, how are we going to measure ROI? how are we going to use our assets to fully activate our partnership to target fans across all relevant channels? Have we allocated an activation budget?

InsiderSport: Could you tell us more about how partners should utilise creative content to maximise partnerships?

DA: For partners wanting to utilise creative content to maximise their partnerships, we always recommend the 3 E’s, Engaging, Educational and Emotive

Brands should create fun Engaging content but for it to have increased leverage, it should also have a narrative, Educating the audience and where possible be linked to a particular club milestone or event to create an Emotive connection with the content.

Other ways to maximum content is being able to produce reactive content and also leverage current worldwide trends that develop across social media as part of bespoke activations.  

InsiderSport: What are some of the more creative advertising formats that partners have utilise to maximise sponsorships with clubs?

DA: One of the most creative ad formats that partners have used to maximise sponsorship with clubs was an ad featuring a real time social media fan hashtag feed for a Real Madrid versus Manchester United match.

Fans from both teams were asked to generate the greatest number of tweets of a particular hashtag for each team before the match, the number of tweets were updated in real-time, causing mass fan engagement as the winning team would be the one with most tweets and fans could win tickets to further matches.