After two rounds of Spanish dominance, the winner of Euro 2016 is considerably more difficult to call. Any one of Belgium, Spain, Germany, France or England could feasibly go on to win the cup, and you’d be brave to put a significant bet on any one of them to storm the competition. Beginning June 10, the world will watch on as 24 nations compete for the second most revered trophy in international soccer. The winners of the competition stand to win around €27 million, with each participating team picking up at least €8 million.
Off the pitch, too, there are many that stand to benefit hugely from the competition’s worldwide appeal. The predictable sponsors are all there - Carlsberg, McDonald’s, adidas, Coca-Cola - but its those outside of official sponsorship that manage to harness the hype surrounding the event that will benefit the most. An appreciation of the changing demographic of the supporter will be vital, as will plans to exploit the increase in connectivity in stadiums and the fact that an overwhelming majority (66%) of those planning to watch on TV will use a second screen throughout.
More so than ever in the competition’s history, brands will need to look beyond the core group of supporters and exploit areas otherwise left alone. Right off the bat, 24 teams will now compete, as opposed to the 16-team format in place since England hosted in 1996. More teams will by definition mean more engagement with the competition, over more games - 51, up from 31 in 2012. Five nations are making their debuts at European finals, and brands should be aware of the opportunities the 930,000-strong combined ‘digital communities’ of Albania, Iceland, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Wales present.
In terms of digital following, a few sides stand out - namely England, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Belgium in that order - and the English speaking market is bolstered by the involvement of the other seldom-featured British sides. And, of this digital following, a huge number will be women. According to Kantar Media’s 2016 SportScope study, there are 7.7 million female football supporters in the UK alone - that’s 33% of the total support. Though men are more likely to describe themselves as ‘fanatics’ (59% of men interested in the competition to 41% of women), women are more likely to identify as ‘followers’ (67% to 33%), and Marketing Week concludes that ‘while men are perhaps more obsessive in their love of football, there are a significant number of very interested women that brands should be looking to engage.’
One of these brands is Carlsberg. The eight-time Euro sponsor is about as aligned with a specifically male drinking culture as is possible, with every advertising campaign in living memory targeted at groups of men. But the beer giant sees Euro 2016 as an opportunity to alter the perception of the brand whilst reaching a huge portion of the population otherwise untouched. ‘[Euro 2016] offers us a broad opportunity to talk to just about everyone and we want to use that to show lad culture is not something we are about,’ said Richard Whitty, senior marketing manager for football at Carlsberg. ‘We have to move beyond it and the brand is now about being intelligent, clever and appealing to the widest audience possible. Female drinkers are very important for us.’
Another aspect for brands to consider is the huge renovation being undertaken on the matchday stadiums across France. The Grand Stade, Lyon’s brand new €405 million tournament stadium, is one of the first stadiums in France to be fully connected, with high-density wi-fi and 4G coverage throughout. The connectivity is unsurprising given how impressive Lyon have been as a club digitally in recent years, and the availability of wi-fi opens up some 58,000 people to being engaged digitally during the match. According to UEFA, ‘2.5 million fans are expected in the stadiums, including one million foreign visitors, and they are expected to spend €1 billion across the tournament.’
In-stadium engagement is a drop in the ocean, though, when held up against the ‘second screen fest’ - so called by RadiumOne - that will be TV viewing. 28% of those polled by the digital advertising company said that they’d read others’ comments online about the games, and the same number expected to chat with friends and family online during matches. 24% said they’d post on social media about the game and 20% said they’d search for extra information online. Targeting these audiences is a must for digital marketers, and they should be aware that the demographic is far less defined than the stereotype. With 20% of those interested in football being over the age of 55, the average number of touchpoints for adults standing at 5.3 in the UK, and a third of all interested being female, diversification is key. Yes, men between the ages of 35 and 54 are still by far the largest portion of the football-watching demographic, but exploiting the less targeted, less obvious groups could return value, both in the stadium and at home