Having spent hundreds of millions on top players, oil-rich Manchester City is also mounting an unprecendented digital onslaught in preparation for the new season: its Endemol-produced flashy new website has completely free video content while search marketing and creative agency deals are designed to win over fans worldwide. Here’s a breakdown of what’s going on…
– Free VOD: City’s multi-platform deal with Endemol means fans get match highlights and exclusive video interviews — all free of advertising. Fans of City’s more illustrious rivals Manchester United can and do pay up to £45 per year (or £4.50 per month) to get MUTV Online. City, owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, hardly needs the cash and is keen on extending its brand footprint worldwide. Or in the words of chairman Gary Cook, become the “darling of world football” (via Guardian.co.uk).
– Rights auctions?: Endemol says it will manage all the club’s media output and organise “international syndication and localisation in priority markets” — meaning City could soon be selling online matchday highlights abroad as well as archive footage and printed magazines.
– Search marketing: iCrossing has been hired to push City’s brand through natural and paid search, with a view to increasing “engagement and commercial value”. The agency will monitor online chat and buzz around the club hand over the data and look for ways to monetise that interest — but with City’s site being entirely free, they must be playing a very long game in boosting brand awareness, merchandise sales and content deals.
– International push: Importantly, City’s new site comes with an Arabic version and more languages are on the way courtesy of digital creative agency Poke, which says it’s made a “global platform” for the club. The EPL credibly claims it is the world’s most-watched domestic football competition and the race is on to win over fans in Asia, Africa, the Middle and Far East whether to secure pre-season tours, merchandise or content syndication deals — so that’s why City has employed marketing consultants Flamingo International (according to Marketing Week) to “connect” the business to foreign markets.