On June 1 2012, Capital One embarked on their first major UK sponsorship when it was announced the credit card company had entered into a 4-year agreement with The Football League, and thus the Capital One Cup was born.
Synergy has been with Capital One every step of the way, from creating the sponsorship strategy to identifying the League Cup as the best property and activating it during the first season – and what a first season it has been!
League Two side Bradford City created the story of the competition, knocking out Premier League sides Wigan, Arsenal and Aston Villa to reach the Final. However, on the day it was Swansea City who finally overcame the underdogs, with the Swans beating the Bantams 5-0 to win their first major cup in the club’s Centenary year. Despite the match being a rather one-sided affair, the atmosphere in Wembley Stadium and enthusiasm of all the fans was electric up to and beyond the final whistle, when Fabrice Muamba, Capital One’s chief guest, handed the Trophy to Swansea City skipper Ashley Williams.
The Football League has always described the climax of The League Cup as being ‘The Fans’ Final’, and this statement was truly brought to life in 2012/13, not only by the uniqueness of the Final line-up, but also by Capital One as the title sponsor, who fully embraced this philosophy, to surprise, delight and reward the fans every step of the way, from Round 1 right through to Wembley.
Throughout the season, Synergy helped Capital One deliver fan experiences at Swansea, Bradford, Aston Villa, Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United. These experiences ranged from attending team training to interviewing players, watching a match with the commentary team or even being pitchside during a game.
The Synergy PR team, meanwhile, embarked on two trophy tours, organised a penalty shoot-out between The Sun and the invincible Bradford City squad, provided breakfast and entertainment for Bantams fans as they queued around the block for semi-final tickets, enlisted the help of Kevin Keegan to launch our own tension-releasing spray, Je l’aimerai, (“I’d love it”) AND laid on free coaches for Middlesbrough fans as they were drawn in their 12th consecutive away match.
But Capital One and Synergy didn’t stop there, because the Final was to act as the biggest Thank You the fans had seen yet.
Sunday 24th February saw every single one of the 70,000 fans at Wembley Stadium receive a free club-branded flag when they reached their seat, which were waved with pride throughout the match.
2,000 Fans – 1,000 from each club – were transported to the Final free of charge on the ‘Capital One Convoy’, activity which was again amplified through PR via Synergy’s use of Bantams’ coach Steve Parkin with the ‘Parkin the Coach Challenge’.
Additionally, 20,000 Capital One branded giveaways, including headphones, mobile phone covers and signed shirts and balls were given away as instant gifts to match-going fans on Wembley Way.
In our 30 years’ experience working on title sponsorships, we’ve never seen more media engagement with the sponsorship. One Sky Sports presenter described the day as “the most talked about Cup Final in years”. Not bad for Year 1!
The big question is how do Capital One make Year 2 even bigger and better. We’re on the case – after a well-earned beer or two, of course.
By Charlotte Smith on February 27th, 2013