Rich Clark Marketing

Opinions from Rich Clark one of the UK's leading Marketing Professionals


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Footballers on Twitter

So as anybody who is reading this that knows me will testify, I am a huge football fan.  I am also quite active on Twitter although post mainly random nonsense.  As a result I thought I would compile a list of the footballers (thats soccer players to anybody from the states reading this) that are also on Twitter.  Whilst the list may not be exhaustive I will update it as I find more.

Let me know any I should add to the list

Rio Ferdinand @rioferdy5

Robbie Savage @RobbieSavage8

Kaka @RealKaka 

Landon Donovan @landondonovan

Dion Dublin @DionDublinsDube

Diego Forlan @DiegoForlan7

Izzy Iriekpen @Izzyiriekpen

Ronaldinho @10Ronaldinho

Cristiano Ronaldo @Cristiano

Darren Bent @DB11TT

Anton Ferdinand @anton_ferdinand

Wayne Routledge @WayneRoutledge

Cesc Fabregas @cesc4official

Xabi Alonso @XabiAlonso

Maurice Edu @MauriceEdu

DaMarcus Beasley @DaMarcusBeasley

Juan Pablo Angel @JUANPABLOANGEL

Ryan Babel @RyanBabel

Edgar Davids @esdavids

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Football Sponsorship in the changing climate

Is the backdrop for sponsorship changing?

There is a lot of talk in both the marketing and sports arenas that the climate for sponsorship is changing.  Sponsorship in football isn’t new.  During the 1920s Lillywhites negotiated exclusive rights to publish FA fixture lists.  In the 30s the top players of the time such as Sir Stanley Matthews, were seen to endorse and advertise a range of products from cigarettes to mens cosmetics.  So David Beckham was beaten in his endorsements by some 70 years.david beckham england

In the 70s football was in the midst of a mini economic crisis, crowds were falling and players’ wages increasing.  The Football League decided to create some (short-lived) tournaments such as the Texaco Cup and the Watney Cup (won by Bristol Rovers).  However it was the Football League Cup that secured the first major sponsorship deal in 1982, the Milk Cup was formed.  Most of the major tournaments have since secured sponsorship deals, either associate or title sponsorship.

The combined factors of the economic downturn and the rise of online for more than just purely acquisitional methods of promoting your brand, has helped to create this perception.  Examples of the changing commercial climate in football were cited, when the likes of Setanta failed to make their rights to major football pay.  The collapse of Setanta in the UK despite rights to Premier League football and Scottish Premiership and several other high profile sporting occassions could be perceived as the end of the commercial euphoria that has changed the English game.

Never has the English game been under this kinf of pressure since ITV Digital collapse put a number of English clubs at risk.  The increase of clubs entering administration in the game at the lower levels also adds fuel to the fire.  The current decline of the pound against  the Euro (combined with 50% tax rate) is also resulting in some top players such as Ronaldo moving abroad or considering the move.

All doom and gloom?

However, there is still an influx of cash from (in the main) overseas backers, meaning football at all levels is still getting investment.  This isn’t just top flight any more, the likes of Southampton and Notts County are also being pushed.  The fact that Setanta had their rights replaced so promptly by the likes of ESPN also helped ease some of the concerns.

There are also some key sponsorship deals that have been signed recently including Chelsea‘s deal with Samsung.

A new approach

Obviously it isn’t always possible to rely on investment from overseas billionaires.  For every Chelsea and Abrahmovic there are 50 not so fortunate clubs.  So how do they survive?  Well frankly, some don’t, however others have discovered more creative approaches to their sponsorship.

Some of the clubs have benefited from giving away naming rights.  For example when Arsenal moved from their long-term Highbury home to their new stadium, Emirates Airways secured a reported 10 year muli-million pound deal to create the Emirates Stadium.   A number of traditional supporters think this is a step too far, however most accept that this is the current trend and the only way to stay competitive.  So stadiums have been sponsored, shirts don logos, individual players have become commodities, the only thing left is the club itself, steeped in tradition and part of the community.  Not for too long.  Whilst accepted overseas with the likes of Eindhoven being name PSV (Philips) and Salzburg (FC Red Bull Salzburg) bringing corporate life to the centre of their existence.  Now financially troubled Stirling Albion are looking to go the same route and offer naming rights on a five year deal.  Whilst it will undoubtedly annoy the real traditional football followers it is better to keep the club going.

Whilst other lower league clubs continue to grapple with the current climate not all are going down the extreme route of auctioning their identity.  Bristol Rovers took the creative route to gain revenue by raffling its shirt sponsorship.  The club claim to have come up with the idea as they feared their sponsorship revenue would decrease if they managed to secure one at all.  The raffle is estimated to have generated double the revenue that they would have expected for sponsorship in a growing economy.  It also created a lot of buzz around the community and generated some good PR.

Whatever happens to the economy overall, the British game will continue and will without a shadow of doubt continue to generate revenue, either from wealthy investors, major sponsorship tie-ups or the inventive methods shown by smaller clubs such as Stirling Albion and Bristol Rovers.

What about the sponsors?

Never has the need for sponsors to connect to the recipients of their sponsorships been so great.  With the growing consumpion of alternative media, people are now driving the news and owning the media agenda.  With the likes of Twitter or Facebook, users can endorse or undemine a sponsorship within mintues of its announcement or perhaps more importantly within minutes of being exposed to it.

Big Brother LogoAny organisation that sponsors any property, whether it is a football club, event or a broadcast property such as Big Brother, needs to have a reason to be associated.  When I was at Nationwide we developed a whole campaign that enveloped our sponsorship properties (primarily the England Football Team).  Our “Sponsored by You” campaign put all the perks of being a corporate sponsor back in the hands of our members and the average fan.  Members of Nationwide could win VIP tickets to see England, get a player to a local school or get signed merchandise.  It also encourage winners to post videos or photos of their experience.  This kind of approach allows the organisation a place within the recipients passion, and makes them feel welcomed. 

Sponsors need to move away from thinking about sponsorships as merely a means to get their name out to a mass audience.  They really need to make them work or face a waste of marketing spend that could have been utilised to a far greater degree elsewhere.


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Teenagers Don’t Regularly Read Newspapers

Morgan Stanley Revelation

Well it seems to take a 15 year old boy to tell the corporate world the blinking obvious.  Matthew Robson a 15 year old school boy had a work experience stint at Morgan Stanley.  As part of his spell there he was asked to write a research paper on teens media consumption.

Now this isn’t a dig at Matthew Robson, or particularly at Morgan Stanley, but does it demonstrate a distinct lack of awareness at large corporations about online and other emerging media channels.  Matthew probably didn’t expect to become when he wrote a summary of what he and his mates thought.  Yet it seems his work hit the tables of analysts, investors and CEOs.

So what inspiration did Matthew afford to his six-figure salaried friends?  Well here are a few items:

Teens prefer streaming sites (e.g. Napster and Spotify) to regular Radio – as, wait for it, they don’t like adverts

Teens prefer Facebook to Twitter as it is seen as a better way to stay in touch – (apparently Stephen Fry isn’t cool for teens)

Teens also watch TV (a lot) but via internet rather than TV, so they can watch what they want when they want on channels such as iPlayer

Teens don’t buy newspapers, or indeed don’t buy CDs

Teens also find online advertising pointless

Well as I said, this is not against Matthew, I just think the stating of the blooming obvious really illustrates a lack of corporate understanding.  This lack of understanding is both lack of education of online and also most are so far out of touch with ‘youth’  the obvious becomes a breakthrough.  I just hope Matthew’s efforts opens the eyes of some corporations. 

I have thought of some other bright ideas that Morgan Stanley can get excited about:

Top 5 ideas

1. School boys like football and can often be found to wear replica football shirts

2. Very young children struggle to eat solid food, they prefer liquidised food which is easier to swallow

3. Kids enjoy sending text messages on their mobile phones

4. Children play games on their consoles

5. Girls and boys are different, as a result they should be treated differently when targetting products at them

Matthew is also quoted as saying that he is now considering a career in investment banking.  Matthew, I am not surprised, good luck.