In late August 2021, Spanish side Club Deportivo Leganés (CD Leganés) leveraged its new partnership with fast food giant KFC by symbolically switching the team skippers’ title from the traditional ‘captain’ to the branded ‘colonel’.
The move was highlighted by the new colonels wearing a captain’s/colonel’s armband bearing the brand’s famous Colonel Sanders face logo throughout the 2021/22 season.
Plus, for the first home game of the season against Burgos CF on 23 August, Colonel Sanders ‘himself attended the game ‘in person’ to celebrate and support alongside the home fans and award the skipper his colonel armband.
A branded armband presentation took place on the pitch during the team’s first home game which also saw the return of 5,000 fans to the team’s Estadio Municipal de Butarque for the first time since the pandemic enforced in-stadium fan ban. Unai Bustinza Martínez, a Spanish right back who captains CD Leganés, became the first player to ‘ascend to the rank of colonel’.
KFC also placed a huge branded banner in the stadium and distributed matching armbands with the new design to kids at the game.
The on-pitch activation was supported by a social media and PR campaign which kicked off on 24 August and featured the club’s three skippers – Bustinza, Javier Eraso and Rodrigo Tarín – fronting a hero spot distributed across club and brand channels.
The ‘De Capitan a Coronel: KFC x PS21’ films features the trio of captains in the dressing room as they prepare to take to the pitch at the start of the new season (with the aim of returning to the top division) when Colonel Sanders gives them each a new armband (bracelet in Spanish) in recognition of their promotion to colonels.
A further food-specific strand of the season-long sponsorship activation saw KFC launch a limited-edition burger specifically honouring CD Leganés supporters which is available in its restaurants located in Leganés from early 2022.
The restaurant brand is also preparing other surprises for fans of C.D. Leganés for next year, such as the Legabox, with which the team’s followers will be able to get photos of the players signed in September, and throughout the season, in the restaurants of the municipality on match days in Butarque.
The initiative was conceived and executed by creative agency PS21 with the production company Fight Films.
“CD Leganés faces the new season with renewed hope this year to return to the First Division. We wanted to promote our captains to colonels with KFC to celebrate the beginning of a new campaign with all our fans in which we hope to have more and more fans on the field. It is a tribute to the fans and players of C.D. Leganés, which makes us the first football club in history to have colonels, instead of captains,” said CD Leganés.Marketing Director Víctor Marín.
“We are delighted to have been part of a unique moment in the history of football and that CD Leganés is the first club in the world with colonels instead of captains. An event that takes place on a day as special as this, in which many of the fans return to the field after months without being able to support the team from the stands,” added Beatriz Martínez, Brand Manager of KFC in Spain. “KFC’s relationship with C.D. Leganés dates back more than eight seasons and the harmony between both entities cannot be better. We have planned a series of activations to be carried out in the coming months that begin with this promotion, to start the season with extra motivation,” added the KFC spokeswoman.
Another notable 2021 armband centered football activation was Nedbank’s pandemic-linked ‘Play Your Part‘ campaign leveraging its title sponsorship of South Africa’s Nedbank Cup competition.
CD Leganés extended its partnership with KFC, arguably the world’s best-known chain of fried chicken restaurants, following the success of its previous eight-year sponsorship which was based around value based similarities between the team and the brand focused on determination, struggle, perseverance and the desire to excel.
KFC, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, Inc, is a global fried chicken restaurant brand with a history dating back 80 years ago to the legendary Colonel Sanders’ original fried chicken recipe. Today it boasts more than 25,000 restaurants in more than 145 countries. KFC launched in Spain in the 1970s and currently has 17 franchisees and more than 220 restaurants between Spain and Portugal.
The Club Deportivo Leganés, which is 92-years-old in the 2021/22 season, spans 58 football teams (40 belonging to its school, 14 to its youth ranks, 4 women’s team, plus the men’s first team which currently plays in the Liga Smartbank.
The team play its home matches at the 12,454 capacity Municipal Butarque Stadium, whilst its combined social channels boast 8,200 subscribers.