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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.

Philip Panas is a sports journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on football policy and industry matters, drawing on his knowledge and passion of the game.

MyRepublic announced as Official Internet Provider for Melbourne City

Melb City

Melbourne City FC has announced that MyRepublic will be the Official Internet Provider for the club going forward.

MyRepublic is a next generation internet service provider. They will have their logos feature on the sleeve and back of the City’s Liberty A-League jerseys and will also be displayed on the front of the A-League Men’s training kit.

This new partnership is set to help City extend the reach of their matches to a wider audience, while highlighting the club on various social media platforms and delivering incredible experiences for City fans.

MyRepublic Group Chief Marketing Officer and Country Manager for Australia, Ji Jing:

“We are extremely proud to be the exclusive Official Internet Provider of Melbourne City FC. As an ISP in Australia, we are also a champion for diversity and inclusion by breaking down the digital divide. MyRepublic has brought fast broadband connectivity into many households in Australia.

“It is thus befitting that the theme of speed is chosen for this sponsorship deal. We hope to bring the fans closer to the football action, as we line up a slew of marketing activities for our customers with money-cannot-buy type of experiences.”

Melbourne City FC CEO Brad Rowse:

“We are thrilled to partner with a business that is focused on becoming a market leader in the next generation of networks.

“Our fans want to see the fastest players on the pitch and I’m sure they want their club to partner with the best brands off the pitch. With MyRepublic we have opened a door for them to experience a genuinely trailblazing proposition and lightning speed internet connectivity.

“We look forward to partnering with MyRepublic in using football as a key platform to strengthen social and community bonding in Australia.”

Australian Professional Leagues announce minority investment from Silver Lake

ALM

Australian Professional Leagues (APL), the entity responsible for the operation, commercialisation and marketing of professional football in Australia, have today announced that Silver Lake, a global leader in technology investing, has made a significant minority investment in the organisation.

The investment will drive technology enhancements and innovation aimed at improving the fan experience and driving further development of the game in Australia. The transaction values APL at approximately USD$300m / AUD $425M.

Silver Lake’s investment aimed at supporting APL’s sustained, long-term growth strategy for the leagues, with a measured deployment of capital over the coming years. Funds will be used to drive enhancements widely across many aspects of the professional game.

APL’s digital first strategy will continue to evolve with a focus on marketing, product development and strengthening its direct-to-consumer execution.

Funds will also be allocated to support the on-field enhancement of the A-Leagues including increased investment in all competitions with a specific focus on extended growth in the Liberty A-League Women and A-League Youth competitions. Additional investment is planned to be deployed for development of unique community engagement propositions to further connect the game.

Silver Lake Managing Director Stephen Evans will become a Member of the APL Board.

Commenting on the announcement, A-Leagues Chair Paul Lederer said:

“Silver Lake is a world-class leader in technology and media investing and this partnership is a testament to the compelling opportunities for growth and even better, deeper fan engagement that our leagues are cultivating. This valuation recognises the latent potential that has long existed in the professional game in Australia, and the ability of our board and executive team to realise that potential.

“We welcome the opportunity to work closely with Silver Lake to harness the team’s experience, including around new technology adoption and other growth strategies critical to realising the potential of Australian football.”

Silver Lake Managing Director Stephen Evans added:

“The Australian Professional Leagues has a large, growing and passionate fan base across its 13 teams and the organisation has made great strides as it focuses on leveraging technology to strengthen Australian football and enrich the fan experience.

“We are excited to partner with the Board, Danny Townsend, and the entire executive team to help further accelerate APL’s digital transformation and support its continued momentum and ambitious vision for long-term sustainable and inclusive growth.”

The Silver Lake transaction has been approved by the Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB) and Football Australia.

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