In relation to my research within the intersection between sports branding, sports economy and sports management, I wrote a post (in Danish) on the 11th of June on this web site concerning the application of different media platfoms in professional sports in Denmark (the post was about football, i.e. soccer in the US). It was interesting to see that the general overview pointed towards an exploitation of social media platforms, which was far from optimal. Of course that is a matter of resources and Danish football is usually behind the ‘BIG PLAYERS’ in the industry (i.e. UEFA, the English Premier League, the German Bundesliga, Europe’s top clubs etc.), but from my point of view it does not take that much to effectively implement and execute good social media strategies. And in today’s postmodern sports culture, it is a relative ‘cost effective’ and imperative marketing tool, which football brands should prioritize rather than neglect.
According to UEFA, it has been decided to allocate most of its marketing budget for EURO 2016 on social media. Such a strategy has already been applied in other major sports event, e.g. Super Bowl, London 2012 Olympics etc. More specifically, the plan is to establish a worldwide (brand) community of fans via social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook. These tools are meant to create buzz, excitement and fan engagement via ‘emotional equity’ from now and until 2016. Recently, we have seen large corporate sponsors, e.g. Heineken (UEFA Champions League), do the same in relation to other UEFA assets. UEFA will invest in similar activities for EURO 2016, i.e. competitions and special promotions. UEFA’s marketing activities on social media platforms will include offers to go to fashionable music and cultural events in the host nation France (the tournament is brought back to France for the first time since 1984) during the next three years.
All activities will be branded under the umbrella ‘Celebrating the Art of Football’, which is related to associations with ‘France’s renowned cultural appeal’ and ‘the quality of football’. As UEFA states on its web site, the 2016 tournament will be extremely cosmopolitan and “fans already got a feel for the osmosis between the hosts’ rich cultural heritage and the football that will reign throughout the championship when a giant replica of the Henri Delaunay Cup shared pride of place on the Champ de Mars alongside the Eiffel Tower on Sunday and Monday”. All this adds a ‘dynamic face’ to the tournament and bring fans closer to the tournament and its destination (France). Therefore, social media and the natural link to interactivity and engagement of these media platforms seem to be perfectly aligned with the ideas behind the applied strategy and with trends of contemporary sports marketing. In that sense, I am also sure that UEFA’s plans will be backed by similar activities initiated by the tournament sponsors, i.e. corporate giants such as Coca-Cola and McDonalds.