Barclays #YouAreFootball Backs Fans & Sportsmanship

For the first time in several years, Premier League title sponsor Barclays is rolling out a fresh major marketing campaign – #YouAreFootball – with a focus on thanking fans for their commitment and supporting sportsmanship.


The bank celebrates its new three-year deal by emotionally engaging with fans through its flagship sponsorship property initially by thanking them for their ‘unstinting support’.


Initially a cornerstone UK TV spot – ‘Thank You’ – led the way when it was launched first on Facebook and then on nationwide TV and digital channels on 16 August (the day before the 2013/13 season kicked off).



This domestic ad (from agency BBH), which features the tagline ‘To Follow Is To Love’, is followed up by a more global film to reach out to the millions of Premier League fans around the world.


Both films take an emotionally-charged focus on committed club support – through triumph and tragedy – and revolve around real individual supporters and fan families (rather than actors or players).


‘We wanted to make the film as authentic as possible. Hopefully this comes through in the final execution,’ says producer Peter Montgomery.


For example, the UK spot features lifelong Everton fan Billy Ingham (who has supported the Toffees for more than 70 years), while the global film pays its respects to supporters around the world who turn up in droves to see their favourite Premier League teams on TV or on pre-season tours.


As the season gets underway, experiential initiatives and social platforms will take the hashtag-driven #YouAreFootball campaign lead – particularly via Barclays Facebook and Twitter channels.


These will act not only as community platforms for fan discussion, debate and interaction, but also as a space for fans to share their own experiences and post their self-created supporter content and receive rewards from the sponsor such as tickets and access to players and managers.


Barclays Football, the official title sponsor’s Facebook fan page, marks a new venture for the brand and aims to keep fans up to date with the latest news and information about the league through exclusive content, photography and videos. This includes strands such as a fan voting mechanics for the monthly Barclays Player and Manager Awards and the ‘BPL Best #YouAreFootball Moments Week’ photo strand.


In 2012 Barclays renewed its global title sponsorship of the Premier League through to the 2015/16 season with a deal that includes exclusive worldwide marketing rights, UK and international TV programme accreditation, extensive advertising rights, match day tickets and hospitality as well as joint community activity, plus the Barclays Asia Trophy tournament.


This new campaign builds on the bank’s existing Premiership activation strands which include the Barclays Premier League Trophy Tour



and its ‘Ticket Office’ (a competition for Barclays’ customers which sees the brand give away a pair of tickets every 90 minutes every day of the year).


The bank’s umbrella objective behind its backing of the Barclays Premier League, which claims to reach more than 500m homes worldwide in over 200 countries, is to bring fans closer to football which it now is doing through an array of initiatives.


These range from its Barclays Premier League Trophy Tour, and the established Barclays Ticket Office (which offers customer fans in the UK a chance to win Barclays Premier League tickets – which are given away every 90 minutes every day of the season), to new fan photo booths positioned around Premier League stadiums that give fans the chance to take pictures of themselves on match days and share them with friends.


As Premier League clubs join other sports organisations around the world clubs in beginning to offer more comprehensive in-stadium digital services through high density wi-fi networks (it seems Liverpool and Manchester City are leading the way this season), Barclays looks set to be at the forefront of exploring how these new live platforms can engage its brand to spectators in the fans live on match days.


Of course, this latter strand of the campaign builds on its recent mainstream branded photo both campaign, which saw the bank feature a custom photo booth as the focal point of a recent TV spot promoting personalised debit cards.



Barclays is also aiming to communicate its community benefit work more effectively through its football partnerships.


This will include a focus on both its ‘Spaces For Sport’ initiative



and its ‘Life Skills’ programme.



This latter campaign sees Barclays aim to teach 1.5m UK school leavers a set of essential tasks (such as how to prepare a CV) and it aims to roll the programme out further in partnership with a number of top Barclays Premier League clubs.


According to Barclays Managing Director of Brand, Reputation & Citizenship, the initial 2013/14 new season campaign objective is to say thank you to the people who make the Barclays Premier League what it is today.


‘There is so much that is good in football, and it should be celebrated,’ says Wheldon. ‘We are lucky enough to sponsor the most popular and exciting league in the world, and we want to say ‘thank you’ to the people who make the Barclays Premier League what it is today.’


But there will also be a focus on rewarding fans who uphold the true spirit of the game and work that showcases the moments of sportsmanship throughout the league’s 21-year history.




The issue of pushing the ideal of ‘sportsmanship’ in Premiership Football is clearly a tough one for any brand – especially considering the increased focus in football on issues as diverse as insulting referees, simulation, player reputation and racism.


Barclays certainly seems to have set itself a real challenge, but surely any brand that can do something to slow or even reverse this trend may well find an image boost amongst fans.


Thus far, the nationwide TV roll-out has been boosted by a further 100,000-plus YouTube views since its 16 August launch. Showing that, despite cricket’s Ashes summer series still being in full swing, the UK’s appetite for football still steamrolls over all other sports.


This initiative is, of course, part of an umbrella, long term Barclays strategy to reboot around a new set of ‘purposes and values’ in order to re-set the banking brand’s positioning and rebuild trust following several recent scandals ranging from specific events like the LIBOR scandal to the more general banking crises.


According to Wheldon this could be a 10-year programme.


Of course, as well as this fresh work from title sponsor Barclays, the new football season is seeing heavy marketing investment from News International’s papers after the company spent £20m acquiring the exclusive online and app rights to highlights and goals,



plus the more usual creative from Murdoch’s Sky Sports premier League broadcasting giant



which is engaged in a heavyweight, functional, price-led UK broadcaster ad battle with new rival BT Sport.



Added to this are new initiatives and campaigns from a slew of football related brands from club sponsors such as Fulham FC sponsor Marathonbet, to official partners like Carlsberg and equipment manufacturers like Puma.




Barclays UK TV Ad YouTube:



Barclays Football Facebook



Barclays Football Twitter




Barclays Ticket Office



Barclays Premier League Trophy Tour



Barclays Spaces For Sport



Barclays Life Skills Website



Barclays Website



Premier League Official Website



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