Manchester City Football Club, one of the world’s most groundbreaking teams, was preparing for their 2017 US pre-season tour and they were looking to score as many goals off the pitch as on it…
Their aim was to use the two-week tour to generate maximum awareness, grow the US fan base and increase engagement with the brand.
However, at the same time the USA was welcoming other giant football brands, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United, so we knew we had to be more credible, more engaging and more creative to stand out.
The first step was understanding that, as part of Gen Z, young sports addicts and soccer fans are not passive consumers. They want to see themselves in the picture and be co-creators of the story. They want a brand that inspires them and at the same time lets them in.
The second was to look specifically at soccer fans in the USA, who have different habits and interests than their European counterparts. Following a deep analysis of the market we uncovered two key insights:
These insights inspired us to create the #ManCityTrickshot competition, a challenge across the whole country to look for the best soccer skills and tricks and to reward them with a trip to join the team at the “Football Fest”, a big MCFC soccer-themed party in LA.
We selected Indie Cowie, the top freestyle influencer in the USA, as our ambassador to launch the competition together with Carli Lloyd, MCFC and US National team soccer star, and we invited the main soccer influencers to participate.
In addition to the trick shot competition, we created the Man City Influencer Office to build and strengthen relationships with key influencers over time
We applied personal listening using a cloud-based solution in order to detect interaction opportunities and generate influencer intelligence; we used a PR approach in order to build personal relationships and gave influencers access to exclusive content, personalised and adapted to each individual, maximising sharing potential. We identified influencer-content opportunities around each match, engaged with influencers before, during, and after and invited influencers to attend matches and create their own unique stories, posts and videos.
The influencer programme we delivered obtained very positive results, especially when considering that the MCFC star players were not involved.
Key to the success of the campaign was the branded, user-generated content that we were able to create due to the strategic selection of influencers. These influencers brought the team closer to the US audience and, through credible and authentic content, drove users to interact organically with the brand. The influencer-generated IG videos achieved four times the average number of views achieved by MCFC.
We are now extending the influencer strategy we developed in the USA and rolling it out into South America.