Why Eni Aluko’s Under Armour Deal Is Bigger Than You Think

“Aluko’s unique position as a role-model to women and girls alike takes Under Armour in to a space where they can truly connect with consumers”

Last week marked another welcome breakthrough for women’s sport. Under Armour announced a long term sponsorship deal with Eni Aluko, the first of its kind for a WSL player, making the England international the first UK based female footballer to join #TeamUA.

But while we celebrate another positive step forward for women’s sport, we must also take a minute to applaud Under Armour. In signing Eni Aluko they have taken themselves into a new space. Forget Lionel Messi. Ignore Neymar. They both have their (obvious) merits. Eni Aluko is the secret weapon.

So why is this partnership so special?

As a female athlete (who, by the way, has been instrumental in raising the profile of the women’s game here in the UK), Aluko has the power to transcend football. Her impact will be bigger than selling a pair of football boots. With over 100 England caps to her name, Aluko has arguably been the most high profile advocate of women’s football over the past five years and is hugely respected within the game. After becoming the first female footballer to appear as a pundit on Match of the Day, Aluko headed to the European Championship’s in France this summer as part of ITV’s broadcast team. Suddenly we have an athlete that is not only inspiring girls to play football, but inspiring women within the wider confines of sport. She is famous for her determination and drive to succeed both on and off of the football pitch.

And guess what? Under Armour share these values. A match made in heaven may be a slight exaggeration, but it’s pretty special. The brand are no strangers to addressing stereotypes that exist in sport. In fact they are proud of leading the way in this field. In 2014 they made headlines with their (literally) hard-hitting ‘I WILL WHAT I WANT’ campaign alongside Gisele Bündchen. The point of the campaign? To inspire. To break down barriers. To overcome.

So, this is where the next 12 months will be interesting. Under Armour must now activate this sponsorship in a way that is only possible with a female athlete in Aluko’s position. Her unique position as a role-model to women and girls alike will take Under Armour in to a space where they can truly connect with consumers. Challenges that women and girls face in sport can be addressed and the next generation of young aspiring female footballers can be inspired. Eni Aluko is the only athlete on Under Armour’s UK roster that can tell this story in a truly credible way.

Will other brands follow suit?

Although they are the first sports brand to strike a long term partnership of this kind with a WSL player, it would be naïve to view Under Armour’s investment in women’s football as a risk. While a recent SSE campaign proved that Aluko is already a massive inspiration for girls around the country, the potential value for brands working in women’s sport is great.

According to Sport England, there are over 7 million women engaging with health and fitness in the UK today. 75% of women want to get into sport and those participating is increasing at a faster rate than men. Couple this with the fact that women’s buying power combined with increasing influence now drives 70-80% of all consumer purchasing in the household (Ernst & Young) and you have a marketing formula that is going to work.

As Synergy’s recent ‘This Girl Does’ event uncovered, brands must connect to their audiences in an authentic way in order to engage. When you talk to people in the right way, they can’t help but want to get involved. Sport England’s #ThisGirlCan campaign proved this by shifting women’s perception to feel like sport is a place where they can be.

So, what next?

In Eni Aluko, Under Armour now have the opportunity to engage with women and girls in a unique way. Let’s hope they do it. We can’t wait.

Canterbury & England Rugby 2016 Kit Launch

FACEBOOK LIVE – THE DISCOVERY TOOL

Before we begin, let me share with you two well-known facts:

• Google owns the largest search engine in the world
• Through YouTube, Google owns the ‘go to’ place to consume video content

Clearly then Google’s stronghold on our online behaviour is second to none, but with eight billion video views a day, Facebook are getting their own slice of the action. By identifying which content individuals want to see, Facebook has become the discovery platform for video content. Additionally, video posts have 135% greater organic reach than images on Facebook. This impressive statistic places Facebook and its new live broadcast offering as one of the leading tools to reach a target demographic with news about something they would not necessarily proactively search for.

For this very reason, Canterbury and England Rugby adopted Facebook LIVE for the launch of the new kit. Therefore, in a first for both Canterbury and England Rugby, we hosted a multi-camera Facebook LIVE broadcast treating viewers to an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the kit and the kit launch media day.

Having identified Facebook LIVE as the go to primary launch channel, the next challenge was to ensure the kit unveil was engaging, helping to gain traction online, while remaining of genuine interest to the England Rugby fan base.

Rather than go down the well-trodden path of a simple Facebook LIVE Fan Question and Answer session, we gave the viewer a unique fly-on-the-wall look of the kit launch from inside Twickenham stadium and England Rugby’s private/ exclusive quarters. In doing so we not only eschewed traditional media but gave Canterbury’s audience the chance to watch the event unfold via Facebook Live.

England captain Dylan Hartley, Maro Itoje, Mike Brown, George Kruis and Rochelle Clark MBE were all under the spotlight during the 40 minute live broadcast. With such an array of rugby talent featured, the key to the broadcast was to let the player’s personalities shine through. Recruiting ex-England international and British & Irish Lion Ugo Monye to host the broadcast not only helped us engage the players, but more importantly the audience.

With the talent in place and host prepared, we managed a ten man camera crew, helping to create a premium, high definition broadcast the launch deserved.

Alongside exciting player VTs, which featured the Canterbury kit launch campaign brand film, there were three engaging key scenes in the live broadcast from Twickenham stadium:

1) Fly on the wall look at the media photo shoot
2) A question and answer session influenced by fan comments feeding into the stream.
3) Fan led takeover where we asked the viewer to use relevant emojis to guide the players around Twickenham, giving the viewer unprecedented access to the England changing room, gym and tunnel – all usually out of bounds for fans.

The results of the launch speak for themselves with 114,100 organic views and 6,550 comments/ reactions driving massive exposure for the both Canterbury and England Rugby. Through clever planning, a lot of hard work and excellent execution, we managed to shine among the Olympic Games noise and show Canterbury as an innovative brand wanting to tap into the latest technology to reach their target market. The content already ranks as one of the most successful England Rugby Facebook LIVE mid-week broadcasts, driving traffic to the e-commerce website and thus capitalising on impulse purchases.For a glimpse into the launch day, check out the two minute highlight reel here.

Sports Fans, Social Media and the Millennial Myth

The world’s biggest brands tirelessly strive to deliver rich, digital, sports marketing experiences that stimulate fan conversation, ignite fan interaction and create new fan communities. But, is this what the millennial sports fan really wants? Our ‘Social Sports Fan’ research strongly suggests not. We present a much simpler perspective on what motivates global millennial sports fans to use social media. We expose some perhaps inconvenient truths for an industry more inclined towards ‘new ideas’ than ‘good ideas’ – those built on the solid consumer insights we all know feed the most exciting and effective campaigns. The headlines: - It is not interactivity and rich content experiences that millennial sports fans want from social. It’s real-time content, immediately and easily accessed. - It is not the most official and trustworthy content that millennial sports fans want. It’s a wide breadth of perspectives – they don’t care where their content comes from. - It is not recognition and reinforcement of their identity that millennial sports fans want from social. It’s much more ‘to me’ than ‘from me’. We explore the above and much more in depth. We discover that younger millennials behave quite differently to older millennials. They do want to share their opinion. They do want to use social as a means of expressing who they are.

Our aim is to help brands and rights holders come up for air and see through the relentless development of new social platforms, communities, products, apps and widgets…to focus on what sports fans really want from social media. Our mission is to champion a smarter breed of content. To cut through the crap and deliver the kind of results that can be achieved when the superpowers of sport and social come together. Enjoy the read…
Fill out my online form.