Forget your moaning, THE MAN says everything’s just dandy!!!!!!!!!

8 11 2013

Yesterday The Football Business Awards took place in what was probably a very lavish ceremony at Stamford Bridge.  If you were unaware that this awards ceremony was taking place all you need to know is that the awards are very, very important. The words of David Sheepshanks, Chairman of St George’s Park, remove any doubts in this regard;

 “These Football Business Awards are so important to the industry and the recognition that they bring to the leading operators in their various fields is invaluable. It is not only the many, diverse elements that comprise the business of Football that make it so compelling but also the constant need to adapt and change, to embrace the continual advances in sports science and technology that keep it so vibrant”

It really is fabulous that football feels able to reward itself, especially when the rewards are decided by business criteria in these austere times. When you gaze at the nominations of the leading operators  in awed silence it becomes obvious that the leading operators in football simply had to be rewarded. For example here’s what they said about Liverpool Football Club, one of the nominees for Best Corporate Social Responsibility Schemeaward;

In November 2012, Liverpool Football Club and their main sponsor Standard Chartered launched a global multi-platform campaign raising awareness for World AIDS Day and the Bank’s HIV and AIDS education programme ‘Living with HIV’.

Activity was focused on the LFC vs. Southampton match on December 1st where the World’s largest red ribbon emblem was unveiled at Anfield.

Leveraging LFC’s brand and platforms enabled Standard Chartered to reach extensive new audiences with their HIV awareness messages, educating people on a global level of this important cause, delivering an astounding 15.6 million impressions across LFC’s digital platforms.

It’s wonderful to know that Standard Chartered leveraged Liverpool’s “brand” and used the issue of AIDS and HIV to “reach extensive new audiences” and “deliver an astounding 15.6 million impressions across LFC’s digital platforms”. Debasing a noble idea in order to increase website traffic is as good a justification for an award as I’ve ever heard, now let’s have a look at a nominee for the Best use of Social Media in Football” award.

Opta

Opta’s family of accounts is a genuine Twitter phenomenon.

We’ve used the stats in our database, which were previously only ever supplied to a b2b audience, to create a set of must-follow accounts.

The results have been spectacular, with the accounts resulting in a following of over 600,000 and regularly topping 30,000 retweets and 5,000 mentions in a single week.

We’ve used Twitter as a central facet of a B2Bc marketing strategy in which we’ve targeted the end users of our products (football fans) in order to drive pull-through and increase revenue from our core business audience.”

Another triumph for another leading operator!!! It’s already fantastic that Opta have tried to reduce football to an emotionless statistical calculation, it’s even more fantastic to know that they’ve done this to encourage people to throw money at their business.

Here’s what they said about the nominees for the “Best UK Club Marketing Campaign” award.

Aston Villa Football Club

“‘Missing 15’ saw us attract 5,270 of our 15,730 lapsed season ticket holders back to Villa Park in 2012-13.

Following extensive analysis, the ‘Missing 15’ were whittled down and split into groups, helping us identify the most valuable supporters and families.

At Christmas, club legend Ian Taylor delivered cards to the homes of 30 families and spent around 30 minutes with each one.

This along with several other initiatives led to 34% of the ‘Missing 15’ returning as ticket or half season ticket purchasers, generating £584,000 in ticketing revenue. 620 of these are now 2013-14 season ticket holders.”

Everton Football Club

“The Season Ticket campaign is the biggest and most important campaign for any professional football club and relying on team performance is no longer enough so consumer knowledge is key.

Everton Football Club undertook an investigation of data on consumer purchasing habits, attendance figures, ticketing analysis and churn rates to gain a scientific insight into lifestyles, behaviour as well a greater understanding of brand perception and feeling among fans.

The knowledge gained from this research was key to the development of a creatively exciting, well-targeted and relevant marketing campaign to sell 2013/14 Everton Season Tickets, enabling the Club to exceed the sales targets set.”

QPR Football Club

“Having pushed the boundaries of innovation in their CRM and fan engagement strategy throughout the 2012/13 season, QPR Football club worked closely with agencies Sports Alliance, Ticketmaster and Blueclaw to design and implement the highly-personalised ‘#ForeverRs’ Season Ticket pre-sale campaign, driven by insight. The use of pioneering technologies allowed the club to gather real-time insight, which was innovatively applied to give fans a tailored customer journey across multiple channels, leveraging personal relationships with fans and ultimately driving sales. The campaign resulted in exceptional ROI and record sales despite relegation from the Barclays Premier League.”

If you’re like me you’ll really love the idea that football clubs are now not only identifying “the most valuable supporters and families” they’re gaining “a scientific insight into lifestyles, behaviour as well a greater understanding of brand perception and feeling among fans”. It feels even better knowing that some clubs use “pioneering technologies” to gather “real-time insight, which was innovatively applied to give fans a tailored customer journey across multiple channels, leveraging personal relationships with fans and ultimately driving sales”. Thank God there’s an award for this type of behaviour!!!

The need to reward the Football Brand of the Year” is so self-evident one nomination can speak for all.

Budweiser

“Having secured strong awareness of the sponsorship during the first season, Budweiser sought deeper engagement with football fans and therefore put social media at the heart of the solution through its #ToTheDream campaign in season two. In an FA Cup first, collecting user-generated photography via Facebook and Twitter, the main innovative solution was to produce an FA Cup Fan Film that would be broadcast on TV, and inside Wembley Stadium, minutes before The FA Cup Final. In addition, all other activations were developed to ensure Budweiser’s key objectives were met and allowed for continual conversation around the sponsorship to remain throughout the tournament.” 

The Football Business Awards are literally so fantastic there’s an award – “Best Professional Service Business Serving Football” – that Financial Administrators can win!!

Pinsent Masons

“In February 2012, Portsmouth FC entered into insolvency for a second time in a matter of years. With Premier League football and winning the FA Cup still a recent memory, the rise and fall of the club was a tragic reflection of how fortunes can turn. Pinsent Masons were appointed to advise the administrators, BDO, on the complex web of issues that had lead to insolvency and to find a long term to provide a sustainable, positive future. Working tirelessly with previous owners, players, creditors, supporters and other stakeholders we structured a creditors’ voluntary arrangement and challenged the validity of the secured debt that had threatened the ability to find a solution. A series of complex, ground-breaking legal challenges eventually led to the supporters’ trust taking ownership of the club.”

This category is so good that it attracts companies that use financial bullshit as a medium of communication.

Sport Value Credit Management

“Sport Value Credit Management is the first European rating agency dedicated to the Football Industry.

We help clubs to manage their credit exposures on other clubs in guarantying and/or financing clubs’ receivables following the sale of a player in case the transaction includes installed payments. These structured solutions are provided in partnership with leading credit-insurers, factoring and forfaiting companies, with banks and investment funds in 10 countries in Europe.

We also deliver specific reports to stakeholders thanks to our unique date base about clubs and championships. These reports aim sponsors, suppliers, agencies, creditors, investors or media to identify critical success factors in their business with clubs and relevant decision criteria.

Sport Value Credit Management’s experience and positioning refer to First©, the unique software application dedicated to the Football industry.”

The Football Business Awards simply never stop rewarding the just. For example, if anyone ever needed the good publicity an award would provide it’s a payday loan company and Wonga were up for the “Football Sponsorship/Partnership of the Year” award. Just gasp at the golden words…..

Wonga.com & Newcastle United FC

“In October 2012 Wonga.com agreed a record breaking four-year sponsorship with Newcastle United FC. The digital finance company returned the stadium name to St James Park to launch the partnership, has invested £1.5 million into the club’s academy, worked with the fans to return the historic St James Park gates and are running various community programmes in the wider Tyneside area including Wonga Codemakers.

Following research carried out in August 2013 before a Premier League ball had even been kicked, Wonga was the most widely recognised financial shirt sponsor and second highest associated football brand in the Premier League.”

As the quote at the beginning of this article illustrates, football would wilt and die without innovation. Naturally innovation is celebrated in the “Innovation Award” category. Look at the brilliant nominations this award had.

We R Interactive

We R Interactive, a pioneering social entertainment company, are the creators of I AM PLAYR – the world’s only game that lets you live the life of a professional footballer, both on and off the pitch. 

Many of us have dreamt of becoming a professional footballer.  I AM PLAYR makes this dream become a reality for millions of football fans across the world. 

Played by more than 14 million users across 200 countries, I AM PLAYR blends 3D game play with first-person perspective premium quality video footage, creating an interactive story-telling experience through multiple real-world scenarios, authentic brand integrations and incorporating top football talent to create a unique game that brings football fans closer to their passion.”

Mask-arade

MASK-ARADE – CHANGING THE FACE OF FOOTBALL

Mask-arade  shot to fame on TV’s Dragons’ Den in 2009, now every football fan in the country must be aware of Mask-arade’s hilarious masks. This unique company now supply officially licensed player and manager masks to clubs across the leagues, from Chelsea and Manchester United to Leamington FC in the Conference North.

The owners of Mask-arade (The Three Maskateers!) are all passionate about football (West Bromwich Albion) and their efforts to raise money for well deserving charities have made numerous headlines over the years. In May they donated 6,000 Stiliyan Petrov masks to Aston Villa and Celtic fans as part of the Cure Leukaemia campaign.”

How could a civilised society not celebrate “The Three Maskateers” or the creation of “an interactive story-telling experience through multiple real-world scenarios, authentic brand integrations and incorporating top football talent”?

My favourite award category was “Best/Most Innovative use of Technology in Football”. I based this decision on the possible category winners. The winner could have been either, a company that describes itself as the “speed-dating of football”;

Wyscout

“Wyscout has revolutionized scouting, match analysis and transfer dynamics, providing the best support to 450 Clubs, 200 Player Agencies and 25 Federations all around the world. Top teams like Bayern Munich, Barcelona, Manchester City, Real Madrid, Juventus, Boca Juniors and  Zenit chose Wyscout services. Wyscout Platform, the biggest database in the industry with 220.000 players analyzed action by action. Wyscout Forum, the “speed-dating of football” for Clubs and Agents. Wyscout Transfer Zone, the online marketplace for players transfer. Started in 2004 as a hobby, Wyscout is grown through innovation, passion and a unique team of talented professionals.”

Or, a company that infringes the civil rights of footballers;

Social Pundit

“Social Pundit is the world’s first Sports Social Media monitoring and insight service that not just allows teams to measure their return-on-investment from Social Media, but also track their athletes on Twitter. Using a database of over 5,000 “trigger words”, Social Pundit monitors athletes and staff in realtime and will alert your club everytime a player tweets something potentially embarrassing to the brand. Additionally, by combining an online dashboard and access to a team of analysts, Social Pundit offers real full service consultancy, reporting and monitoring whether you want to a track a hashtag or get advice on your season ticket campaign.”

The absolute best thing about these awards is that the best run club in the premier league, Cardiff City, featured prominently in the nominations.  They may have alienated a lot of their “core audience” and made the ones that stayed really angry but these are mere trifles in a world that truly respects the leading operators in their various fields. Here are Cardiff’s nominations;

For the Best Football Club Hospitality award……………

“Over the course of last season we saw the clubs first ever hospitality brand created with a huge amount of success, we also created two new hospitality lounges which had unprecedented levels of sales. In all areas of the stadium we attempt to create a matchday experience that far surpasses what happens on the pitch and our hospitality lounges are no different. From our new Croeso Suite with a fine dining five course welsh themed experience to our Sony Experience Suite containing Playstations, table football and the latest Sony products we aim to create a package suitable for everyone’s needs.”

For the “Football Sponsorship/Partnership of the Year” award it’s Peter’s Food Service Ltd AND Cardiff Football Club…………..

“Peter’s Food Services Ltd, pie supplier to Cardiff City FC, joined up with their local club as “Family Stand” sponsor for the 2012/13 season.

Under the campaign title “Feed Your Passion”, the objectives of the partnership focused on embracing & enhancing the passionate family culture at Cardiff City community, building relationships with new sets of supporters, whilst engaging with current fans by creating interesting & new initiatives not undertaken before.

The strength of the partnership contributed to the club winning the “Family Club of the Year” award at the Football League Awards 2013.”

For the Innovation Award………

“We strive to provide the best possible match day experience for everyone that enters the stadium and the away end is no different. We have made a huge changes to make our away stand feel like a home from home. We ensure that all the information visiting fans need to know ahead of their visit is communicated to them efficiently so that they make the most of out of their time not only at the stadium but in the city as a whole. The staff that work within the stand work incredibly hard to ensure that everyone has a great day and leave happy whatever the result. We have had a fantastic response from all of those that have visited and boast a large array of thank you letters.”

For the Best Corporate Social Responsibility Scheme award………

“Last season the club was astounded to discover the number of children in South Wales who would not receive a present for Christmas. In association with local charity, the Big Wrap, we pulled together the local community to donate presents for children which were then distributed in time for Christmas. The response was astounding! We had donations from players, staff, local businesses and fans alike with over 1,000 presents donated! In addition our owner donated a further cash fund to the scheme to allow it to cover the whole of Wales this coming festive season. Some of the children helped were invited to our Boxing Day game and at half-time thanked the crowd for their generosity. It was an honour for help facilitate a programme that saw the community come together to help those in need.”

Nothing says “corporate responsibility” like an owner acting on personal whims. Somebody actually typed “…..whilst engaging with current fans by creating interesting & new initiatives not undertaken before” and “We strive to provide the best possible match day experience for everyone that enters the stadium” about Cardiff City with a straight face.

The judges’ comments about the award winners succinctly sum up this farrago of a social activity.

Social Pundit (The brand holders’ thought police) won the Best/Most Innovative use of Technology in Footballaward and here’s what the judges said: “A neat and effective solution to a genuine problem. It brings together multiple dynamics and ensures an output that anyone in the business can utilise. Extremely user friendly and simple. Great stuff.” Three cheers to them for curbing players’ opinions!!!!

Aston Villa, The Missing 15 won the Best UK Club Marketing Campaign award and here’s what the judges said: “This is an outstanding example of how CRM can be used effectively to support a sales campaign. A well segmented and personalized marketing campaign, which delivered impressive results and significantly increased revenue.” Three cheers to them for screwing more money out of fans!!!!

Cardiff City won the Innovation Awardand here’s what the judges said: “Excellent innovation. Cardiff seem to have got the ‘service culture’ into their staff. A great example of how a true engagement strategy can deliver impressive commercial results and delight both home and away fans.” 

How really bloody wonderful that Cardiff are being rewarded because their ideas are “…A great example of how a true engagement strategy can deliver impressive commercial results and delight both home and away fans.”  Three cheers for Cardiff!!!!

The “Outstanding Contribution to Football” award went to…………………Richard Scudamore. Three Cheers for humanity!!!! Incidentally, Mark Lawrenson was one of the smiling hosts.

In short, The Football Business Awards truly beggars belief.

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