Betway, West Ham United sponsor, is striving to overcome the sponsorship snag of shirt deals which delivers value beyond awareness by offering content that fans want – a unique insight into the club.
Betway has partnered with Sky Sports’ flagship football program Soccer AM and global media company Whistle Sports to create a new six-part series, which offers fans of West Ham a rare look into everyday life at the club.
In the ‘Academy of Football’ series, a bunch of everyday Hammers fans are followed. These fans are gifted with the great opportunity to experience the life of a player via training sessions with the coaches and facilities of the club.
Putting emphasis on branded content is a natural reaction to the typical tactic of ‘badging’ which is dominant in most shirt sponsorship strategies. However, the bookmaker is trying to make use of its privileged and respectful position to tell a story to its fans while putting itself within that narrative in a subtle way.
Speaking to The Drum, Anthony Werkman, Betway’s marketing director said that they were very cognizant of how their brand is placed within their campaign, but they always knew that the series would be successful as the story told is a genuine one.
While kit sponsorships still do have merits of their own, generating TV coverage and huge exposure, they do not do much to build not just a strong sentiment but also positive association with the fans. This is the reason branded content has become more prevalent for brand marketers. Brands are able to show themselves in a more human light and show that they are supporters, just like the fans, and not just sponsors.
According to Werkman, the best way to introduce the brand to a valuable, but hard-to-reach demographic is content. He said that it is not enough to just produce something, share it on social platforms and your website and simply sit back.
He said that the focus is not direct sales. Betway is a brand that is going through massive growth in a highly competitive market. The objective is to create awareness, establish the company as a credible outfit and set itself apart in what can be crowded sector.
He also added that the Academy of Football series is rooted in the brand’s desire to create content that conveys its passion for sport and understanding of the bonds and emotions that fans have with their team or sport. When these fans are given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to live the Premier League life, Betway distinguishes itself as a brand that has a unique tone of voice.