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Everton’s Angry Birds Partnership – will we see more of this in an independent A-League?

After Barclays’ title sponsorship ended with the Premier League in 2016, a new opportunity presented itself for teams to sell lucrative advertising space on the sleeve of the club’s playing shirt.

In a competitive market at the time, Premier League club Everton signed a multi-year deal in 2017 with Finnish video game developer Rovio Entertainment, the creator of popular puzzle game Angry Birds.

Angry Birds was released in 2009 and since then has amassed over 3.7 billion game downloads.

By the beginning of the 2017/18 season only eleven of the Premier League clubs had secured a shirt sleeve sponsor.

“At the end of the Barclays deal with the Premier League it was a competitive market,” head of partnership management at Everton, Mark Rollings.

“Every club was going to market at the same time, but it was really important to find the right brand fit for us, one that we could work with and create a great partnership.”

Everton was one of the teams that started the season without a sponsor, however the Angry Birds logo finally debuted on the sleeve of their jersey in a mid-September clash against Manchester United.

Everton is a club that was established in 1878 and has a rich history, however there is an understanding to move with the times and enter innovative partnerships with companies such as Rovio.

“Throughout the process of securing our first sleeve partner we spoke with many brands. When we met with Rovio at their HQ in Espoo it quickly became apparent how exciting and mutually beneficial this opportunity was going to be,” Rollings stated.

“They’re great to work with. Whenever you partner with a brand from a business sector which is new to you, we take learnings from each other. The creative, flexible and can-do approach is definitely something we felt from day one of the partnership.”

Both sides initially faced a big challenge in launching the partnership.

“The leading character of the Angry Birds series is a red bird and it is ironic that this is both a colour and symbol commonly associated with the club’s city rivals.” Rolling explained.

“True to Rovio’s dynamic, bold nature, rather than skirt around it we decided to hit it head on so, in line with the trend around over exaggerated player signing content at the time, we announced the character Red as a Blue.

“Angry Birds created a great video of Red signing a contract with Everton and that gained positive traction for the launch. It was a fantastic way for a partner to tackle a potential issue and also immediately pledge their support to the club.”

Everton and Rovio continued to discuss more unique possibilities between the two organisations.

Eventually, these creative discussions would lead to Everton players Theo Walcott, Cenk Tosun and Gylfi Sigurdsson being re-imagined as playable Angry Bird’s characters.

This occurred at the start of the 2018/19 Premier League season, with the digitisation of these players into the Angry Birds Evolution game.

“It was a world first, there’d never been football talent in a non-football focused mobile game. And that gained a lot of attention with over one hundred pieces of coverage in newspapers and on back pages. It also achieved over five million views across related social media content.”

The integration of the playable Everton characters led to a 60% increase in downloads for the Angry Birds franchise over a two-week period.

It was also important for Everton that the partnership was well received by its fanbase.

Rollings claimed: “What you see with Angry Birds is if you create good activations that fans can see, enjoy and engage with, then you start to earn your place among the fanbase. Angry Birds’ approach was to bring the partnership to life through stories, content and activations that fans would enjoy. People will engage with quality partnership activation that adds value to their experience and the stats prove that.

“Our data and insights team run a regular partner tracking survey and that showed that in the first year of the partnership the opinion of Angry Birds improved by 22% among our fanbase. Angry Birds has been really received and people have understood the mutual value that it has driven for both brands.

“We also commissioned independent research which not only tracked Everton fans, but also Premier League fans, and in that survey awareness of Angry Birds as a partner of a Premier League club was between 60 and 70%, which for the length of deal they’ve had so far is pretty remarkable. So we’re seeing it’s not just Everton fans that are engaging with the partnership, Premier League fans are too.”

On a local front, will we see more of similar partnerships in the A-League now that rules look to be relaxing on a sponsorship front?

Time will tell.

The best of Asia unite for the AFC’s #BreakTheChain campaign

The AFC

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has united with some of the biggest names in Asian football to launch a new campaign that encourages people from around the world to play their role in the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19.

#BreakTheChain carries the message of solidarity in these difficult times and promotes the guidelines put in place by the World Health Organisation (WHO), focusing on good personal hygiene practices, social distancing and respecting the rules of self-quarantine.

The first instalment features eight of Asian football’s finest including 2018 AFC Women’s Player of the Year, Wang Shuang from China PR, Suwon Samsung Bluewings duo Terry Antonis and Doneil Henry as well as Korea Republic and Chelsea FC star Ji So-yun. The quartet are just some of Asian football’s stars who are doing their part to support communities across Asia.

It is part of the AFC’s continued commitment to its Member Associations and the Asian football family.

“In these unprecedented and challenging times, the AFC extends its wish that all members of the Asian football community remain safe and healthy,” said AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa.

“Football will have an important role to play in the weeks and months ahead as the world returns to normality, but now our focus is firmly on protecting the well-being of all those who are involved in our great game.”

He also praised the AFC Member Associations for their cooperation and valuable feedback following the AFC’s decision to postpone several competitions, matches and events as part of efforts to ensure the safety and wellbeing of teams, players, fans and all stakeholders.

“These changes to our calendar were aimed at ensuring the safety and health of our Members, their officials, their players, their staff and, of course, the millions of fans who engage with football in Asia each year,” he added.

“Their health is, and always will be, our priority and that is why it is important that the AFC and all our Member and Regional Associations work with Governments and Health Agencies to curtail the threat of this virus and that everyone should take all precautions.

“The AFC strongly urges all its Members to follow the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to exercise the highest levels of hygiene and are pleased to note that some Members have also declared a ‘work from home’ initiative.

“The AFC has built its strong foundations on unity and solidarity – particularly in the face of adversity – during the last six years and this situation is another challenge which we will take on together to protect not only our communities but also the future of our game.

“Of course, the AFC will take a strong lead and will, as always, be on hand to offer advice and assistance to any of our Member and Regional Associations in these uncertain times.”

La Liga’s FIFA 20 Esports tournament attracts over a million viewers

La Liga’s charity FIFA 20 Challenge Esports tournament held over the weekend had more than one million viewers in total who tuned in, according to the Spanish top-flight soccer league’s organising body.

Collectively there were 18 teams from Spain’s top-flight who took part in the competition on 22nd March, which was streamed live via YouTube, Twitch, the LaLigaSportsTV over-the-top (OTT) platform, as well as on La Liga’s official social media channels to ensure everyone could get access to the coverage.

Barcelona and Real Mallorca weren’t allowed to participate due to their sponsorship with Konami – the makers of FIFA 20’s main competitor, Pro Evolution Soccer.

The tournament was organised by Esports commentator Ibai Llanos and endorsed by La Liga, where it took shape in partnership with Spanish banking group Santander, La Liga’s main title sponsor, as well as EA Sports, the producers of the most recent FIFA 20 title.

It raised more than €140,000 ($250,000) to fight Covid-19, as Spain has become one of the hardest hit countries in the world.

La Liga commentator Miguel Ángel Román joined Llanos in presenting the matches, and players gave interviews in the aftermath as an effort to replicate the feel of a traditional match day experience.

The tournament was created and launched whilst the La Liga season is suspended amid the coronavirus pandemic. The final itself saw more than 170,000 viewers tune in as Real Madrid striker Marco Asensio beat Leganés player Aitor Ruibal to claim the title.

In terms of linear distribution, La Liga’s domestic broadcast partner Movistar+ also showed matches on Spanish television, via its Deportes 1 channel, while Eleven Sports also aired the tournament in Belgium and Portugal.

La Liga has said that it is also carrying out further analysis to clarify the tournament’s reach via the #LaLigaSantanderChallenge hashtag, which was shared by influencers, clubs, and players, as well as Movistar and La Liga’s US broadcast partner, BeIN Sports.

Judging by the numbers for this tournament, it proved to be the winner as gaming proves popular while people are having to self isolate.

The EA Sports FIFA franchise has connected fans all around the world, continuing to be a popular source of competitive online gameplay.

Can E-Sports Captalise on this Monumental Opportunity?

The world has been brought to a near standstill as a result of the coronavirus.

Many businesses across the globe, namely small businesses have been seriously hampered. Many may struggle to resurface once everything calms down.

Football clubs are not exempt to this, either.

Around the world, nearly every league competition has been postponed to avoid players, staff and fans from contracting the virus which has claimed nearly 19,000 lives worldwide at the time of writing.

It all started with the Serie A postponing all fixtures. Italy has been ravaged by the virus and it was no surprise that they were the first to temporarily shut up shop.

Spain and La Liga followed suit, before the Premier League and nearly every other competition decided to also bite the bullet and call it off.

Other sports have also been hit hard, with Australian rules football, cricket and basketball in the same boat.

Many clubs and organisations will suffer substantial financial losses as a result and when the dust eventually settles, they will never be the same again.

However, in these dark and bizarre times, one sporting arena has the opportunity to take in the spotlight and grow like they’d never imagined they could.

E-sports have always been a topic for debate. There aren’t many who out and out hate the concept of it, but there is a strong contingent who aren’t fond of it, purely because it’s not the real thing. That it is not a sport.

On the contrary, there are many who believe it is a great niche for some who do have great ability on their respective platforms and that this is a way for them to display their abilities.

With nearly every major sporting code called off until further notice, E-sports is the only sport that will be consistently available to sporting fans around the globe.

There are lots of different games that are played in E-sports. For example, Dota 2, Counterstrike and Fortnite lead the financial market for E-sports.

Nearly $400 million has been handed out to winners across all three of those platforms.

When it comes to sports though, FIFA is well and truly ahead of the game.

Online FIFA has a massive audience around the world, especially in Europe, where many football clubs have signed E-sports players to represent their clubs in major tournaments.

FIFA Ultimate Team has been a huge part of many kids’ lives and now, as they grow into young adults, they now have the unprecedented opportunity to make money off of playing the game they love.

This massive opportunity for E-sports could help them catapult onto a level that could be equal to that of the everyday sports we’ve become accustomed to.

Despite the terrible nature of these circumstances, E-sports leagues across the world would see it as a huge chance gone begging if they were to let this pass up.

There are literally no other sports of note taking place right now.

Unless you can’t get enough of the Russian volleyball, there is not much to turn to at this moment for sports fans.

Granted, tournaments won’t be held in one venue due to restrictions on public gatherings. But as the only requirement is for two players to be present and on a steady internet connection, there’s no reason they can’t keep playing.

FIFA is a universally appreciated game and many fans will begin following their respective club’s representative for E-sports during these tough times.

To simply treat this as normal would be the worst thing clubs and organisations associated with FIFA E-sports could do.

They must take advantage of this enormous opportunity before they never get it back again. Sure, the coronavirus is a large distraction, but if E-sports is to be taken seriously, they must take action.

You can never truly grasp how great an opportunity is until you’ve lost it.

Would you like to see E-sports become more prominent in the wake of the coronavirus? Let us know on social media @Soccersceneau and join in the conversation.

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Above all else, stay indoors and be sensible over the next few weeks or months and look after each other.

 

 

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