It goes without saying, football fans are nothing short of passionate. With engaged fans, comes a connection to not only their team, but the shirt on players’ backs. Shirt sponsorships were introduced in the late 70’s and ever since, the relationship between the shirt and sponsor have gone from strength to strength. For brands wishing to amplify their brand awareness, utilising the power of football shirt advertising enables them to expand into global markets. In this campaign, we explore how sometimes marketing investment isn’t as costly you as you think if you come up with a smart concept with vast and effective reach.  

Marketing Insight: kicking off the partnership

As League Two football club, Stevenage’s, home fixtures saw on average 3,000 fans take to the stands, the club wanted to develop an idea that would not only generate additional revenue but also increase reputation for the lower league club.

The start of 2019/2020 football season saw the beginning of a two-year partnership between Stevenage and the fast-food giant Burger King. FIFA,  (now called EAFC) is also known for its realistic video game simulation with millions of people playing globally having the ability to choose their leagues and team. The shirt sponsors are visible throughout the video game and, with a main target audience of young males ages 12-30, this opportunity perfectly aligned with Burger King’s target audience.


Media Innovation: bringing the partnership to life and overcoming booing fans

The partnership was brought to life with the first campaign ‘The Stevenage Challenge’. Everyone loves a freebie, so for the campaign Burger King and Stevenage encouraged FIFA players to share footage of goals scored, repping the Stevenage home or away kits to win Burger King rewards. The two-week competition resulted in 25,000 goals hitting the back of the net being shared across social media!

Despite some initial backlash when the partnership was announced and home kits were revealed, Stevenage was the most frequently used team within the game for the campaign period. FIFA streamers and influencers also got involved on Twitch and YouTube, both playing as Stevenage in-game, but also wearing the home kit live on stream. Alongside this, high profile TV presenters such as Gary Lineker praised the campaign, leading to further exposure.

It’s believed that Burger King paid around £50,000 for the shirt sponsorship for the season, which is a fraction of the price you’d likely have to pay for a campaign that has reached so many individuals within their target audience on a global scale. Stevenage’s Chief Executive Alex Tunbridge told BBC News, “It’s PR that you couldn’t buy as a League Two Club, unless you reach the third or fourth round of the FA Cup.”


Accelerating Growth: building on campaign success to achieve brand goals

The campaign led to a huge increase in website impressions (1.2 billion) which generated value for both brands. Due to the success of the initial campaign, Burger King and Stevenage launched further campaigns, one being the Burger Queen with the Stevenage Women’s team to help promote and build awareness for the Women’s game.

The incredible success of the campaign was recognised in the industry, winning the Grand Prix in both the Direct and Social & Influencer categories at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

This campaign goes to show that for a low-level budget, you can really place your brand in front of the right eyes, whilst receiving huge engagement from your target audience. It shows the value a successful partnership can create for the partnered brands. For Stevenage, despite being a lower league club it was able to affordably increase shirt sales which generated revenue and exposure. And for Burger King, it delivered huge numbers of impressions for a fraction of the normal cost. Great success for all!

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