5 Brands Winning Consumer Engagement In The Premier League

The Pre­mier League offers brands and spon­sors great oppor­tu­ni­ties to nur­ture sus­tained engage­ment.

Pat Hong By Pat Hong from Linkdex. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Carls­berg, Puma, and Bar­clays are among some of the brands that have real­ly impressed this sea­son, with cam­paigns and con­tent ini­tia­tives that nur­ture sus­tained fan engage­ment.

The 2014/2015 Pre­mier League sea­son has come to its inevitable con­clu­sion, with Jose Mour­in­ho’s Chelsea emerg­ing vic­to­ri­ous. While a FIFA cor­rup­tion scan­dal that emerged at the close of the sea­son may have put a mark on the sport’s rep­u­ta­tion, for many fans, these will blend into mere head­lines.

Brand mar­keters will also be tak­ing a well deserved end of sea­son rest. For key spon­sors, the Pre­mier League has long been an impor­tant oppor­tu­ni­ty to com­mu­ni­cate mes­sages about their brand and prod­ucts, to a hyper-engaged, and pas­sion­ate group of con­sumers.

As sea­sons have pro­gressed, mar­ket­ing activ­i­ty has become more sophis­ti­cat­ed; cer­tain pub­li­ca­tions have com­ment­ed on how the Pre­mier League has become a “data mine­field” for brands. Unlike sea­son­al or one-off events, sport­ing engage­ment span numer­ous months of the year and main­tains extreme­ly high lev­els of inter­est.

Con­sumers have been treat­ed to some clever cam­paigns that pro­vide fan­tas­tic exam­ples of how brands can fos­ter sus­tained engage­ment. Here’s a run through of the most excit­ing brand cam­paigns, stunts, and mar­ket­ing activ­i­ty around this year’s Pre­mier League sea­son.

Best Of The Brands: Premier League Edition

1. Carlsberg’s Year-Round “Moments”

Carls­berg start­ed this sea­son as the offi­cial “beer part­ner” of the Pre­mier League, as well as for Liv­er­pool FC with whom they have main­tained a long and loy­al part­ner­ship.

Kick­ing off the pre­sea­son hype, Carls­berg launched a TV spot with anoth­er clas­sic in a long line of punchy slo­gans: “That calls for a Carls­berg.”

The ad focus­es on cap­tur­ing Pre­mier League moments that invoke a sense of pas­sion. As Mike Thomp­son, mar­ket­ing direc­tor at Carls­berg Group, said: “The film ‘Take Your Seats’ embod­ies the excite­ment every fan feels ahead of the upcom­ing sea­son.”

For Carls­berg, the brands’ 21-year spon­sor­ship of the plat­form pro­vides a unique plat­form for the brand to mar­ket across an entire Pre­mier League sea­son. It’s an idea that the brand has whole­heart­ed­ly embraced – with con­cepts such as “A Carls­berg moment”, or “If Carls­berg did…” (revived again ear­li­er this year to cap­i­tal­ize on user-gen­er­at­ed con­tent and engage­ment).

Such ini­tia­tives illus­trate how it’s the long-term rela­tion­ships the brand fos­ters with con­sumers, the rit­u­al of set­tling down to watch the game with your mates and a six pack, that they are look­ing to cap­ture and com­mu­ni­cate. After all, these kinds of moments dri­ve year-round sales.

For all intents and pur­pos­es the beer brand has got­ten their mes­sag­ing just right, espe­cial­ly in the con­tent of dig­i­tal cam­paigns and social media engage­ment. Carls­berg drew 17,026 between May 2 and June 1 (the peri­od cov­er­ing the final weeks of the sea­son), with tweets peak­ing on May 24 around the news of Steven Ger­rard’s retire­ment, accord­ing to Top­sy data.

The lat­est fig­ures have showed pos­i­tive sales fig­ures, in it’s three-year spon­sor­ship of the Pre­mier League, with annu­al sales total­ing £532m in the year pre­ced­ing March 2014.

2. Puma — #LoveorFootball

In a shift from more tried and test­ed approach­es, based on adver­tis­ing or high-pro­file sports spon­sor­ships, Puma adopt­ed a dig­i­tal­ly-led approach in 2015 that looked to lever­age online and social media engage­ment.

In part­ner­ship with the Uni­ver­si­ty of Bris­tol, Puma con­duct­ed a study to find out whether foot­ball fans had greater love for the game, or for their part­ners.


The cam­paign has a clear social media com­po­nent, tap­ping into one of the great con­tro­ver­sies that sur­rounds foot­ball fanati­cism.

The study is a great exam­ple of how Puma seeks to engage with foot­ball fans via authen­tic con­ver­sa­tion. It’s part of what Puma refer to as a “com­plex mar­ket­ing pro­gramme… rely­ing on a blend of media part­ner­ships, PR, social media and POS to dri­ve engage­ment around reac­tive con­tent.” (The pre­sea­son reveal of the spon­sor­ship deal with Arse­nal foot­ball club was a fan­tas­tic exam­ple of this intent, which saw a brand­ed video pro­ject­ed onto the Riv­er Thames.)

3. Barclays — #YouAreFootball

To the mil­lions of fans who make the Bar­clays Pre­mier League what it is, we say thank you. You Are Foot­ball.”

Bar­clays signed a new three-year deal with the Pre­mier League in 2012 report­ed­ly cost­ing them more than £40m a year in spon­sor­ship. Sea­soned spon­sors, the brand devel­oped an emo­tion­al­ly charged video that cap­tures the pas­sion and com­mu­ni­ty of fans on match day.

This year was the 20th con­sec­u­tive year of the bank’s rela­tion­ship with the league, and year after year there is a sim­plic­i­ty to their mes­sag­ing which is effec­tive. Through­out, Bar­clays have been there as pri­ma­ry spon­sors, through the highs and lows, and there they remain. For a brand with such a strong asso­ci­a­tion with the league, they almost don’t need to engage in high pro­file stunts to win the atten­tion of fans.

In thank­ing the fans, Bar­clays pay dues the fact that their pres­ence have been accept­ed by many foot­ball fans as peren­ni­al spon­sors, and as part of their Pre­mier League expe­ri­ences.

4. Nissan’s — Global Sponsorship Reach

Japan­ese auto­mo­bile man­u­fac­tur­er Nis­san is mak­ing some big moves in the foot­ball world, replac­ing Ford as the offi­cial auto­mo­bile of the Cham­pi­ons League, as well as sign­ing a five-year deal with Man­ches­ter City secur­ing the brand’s place as the offi­cial auto­mo­bile spon­sors of one of the fastest grow­ing Pre­mier League fan-bases glob­al­ly.

This sea­son, Nis­san looked to use the pow­er of glob­al stars to raise brand aware­ness on social media:


In the com­ing sea­sons, Nis­san hopes to use “user-gen­er­at­ed cam­paigns crowd­sourc­ing in pic­tures or goal cel­e­bra­tions from fans [to] form the bulk of the strat­e­gy with Nis­san opt­ing to build long-term affin­i­ty to sport­ing suc­cess rather than dri­ve short-term sales.”

5. Subway — Grassroots Community Health And Well-Being

Sub­way announced a part­ner­ship with Liv­er­pool FC in April last year, with the inten­tion of pro­mot­ing a pos­i­tive health mes­sage amongst fol­low­ers of the club.

In an inter­view with Mar­ket­ing Week, Subway’s Euro­pean region­al mar­ket­ing direc­tor Man­aaz Akhtar, spoke of the mutu­al ben­e­fit of the brand’s part­ner­ship with the club and it’s con­tri­bu­tion to pub­lic health:

Over the past year we’ve been look­ing to help get every­day peo­ple more active. Our spon­sor­ship with Liv­er­pool FC and par­tic­u­lar its youth foun­da­tion is an exten­sion of that work we have already done in the UK and will help us take this to a high­er lev­el… we real­ly believe in the work they are doing with their youth foun­da­tion as it real­ly con­nects with what we are doing.”

Final Thoughts

The Pre­mier League offers brands a unique oppor­tu­ni­ty to encour­age year-long engage­ment around a sport fueled by tremen­dous lev­els of pas­sion, loy­al­ty, and rit­u­al. In the case of Carls­berg, and to an extent Bar­clays, those that man­age to weave their iden­ti­ty into the cul­ture of the sport can achieve the kind of aware­ness and loy­al­ty that all brands must hope to emu­late.

Who were your brand win­ners for the 2014/2015 sea­son?

Pat Hong

Written by Pat Hong

Editor at Linkdex/Inked, Linkdex

Pat covers the SEO industry, digital marketing trends, and anything and everything around Linkdex. He also authors Linkdex's data analysis and reports, analysing the state of search in various industries.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

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