Football: How On-Pack Promotions Score Big in Football Marketing Strategies

Football being one of the biggest sports in the world, has a tremendous following specifically in Europe with an estimated 131 million fans within the five big European markets - Spain, Italy, Germany UK and France

Abigail Hickey

Football being one of the biggest sports in the world, has a tremendous following specifically in Europe with an estimated 131 million fans within the five big European markets - Spain, Italy, Germany UK and France. These big five markets in the 2021 and 2022 generated revenues of 14.7 billion pounds. We can expect to see this rise in 2024 with the UEFA EURO kicking off in Munich on Friday 14 June. In this article, we’ll look at the impacts of technology, opportunities for promotional activations, and more.

Technology impacts how viewers can watch and experience the game, fans can access player information, stats, and more through a tap on their phone. With streaming services being widely available, the ability for people to watch the game no matter where they are is a new norm. With many stadiums levelling up, fans' experiences at the game with many stadiums featuring big digital displays showing significant gameplay moments or extra information, for these fans who are present, this can help create an immersive environment and make the sporting event even more memorable.

What benefits does football have in the UK specifically?

Football is one of the most popular sports in the UK, bringing a wide range of benefits with it. Like other team sports, the ability to bring people together no matter where they are from or their differences is a key benefit. Football facilitates friendly social interactions and creates connections with people all over the world, who can unite under a common goal. The power a common interest and football have on society can bring attention to specific topics and open up many brand marketing opportunities.

Football is, for some, a factor to happiness and excitement. A recent survey of 1,500 in 10 countries by the Sondea Market Research Institute showed that 71% of people are happier on the day their team plays, and 80% feel football brings them closer to their loved ones.

So how do brands leverage positive emotional associations related to football in their promotional activity?

Brands have been taking advantage of the relationship football has with its fans for years. Cadbury is one example. Cadbury has indirectly partnered with the Premier League for three years starting in 2019 and 2020, the brand then used this to their advantage to promote the Match the Minute to Win It promotion. The promotions gave the public a chance to win one of six match day experiences at a Premier League club, plus up to 600 match tickets along with thousands of vouchers to be won. The idea of the promotion was when you enter, you'll be assigned an upcoming match and a minute during the game - if there is a goal scored within your given minute, you are entered into a weekly prize draw. From the 8th of January 2024 until the 22nd of March 2024 they are running a Win a Weekend in Their Boots promotion with top prizes available for 6 lucky people to win an exclusive experience for the winner and a guest that includes, two consecutive nights of accommodation, 2 hospitality matchday tickets for the selected dates which include - Arsenal FC vs Everton FC, Chelsea FC vs Bournemouth, Leeds United vs Southampton FC, Liverpool FC vs Wolverhampton, Manchester United vs Arsenal FC and Tottenham Hotspur vs Burnley FC. A stadium tour, meet and greet with a club legend, full kit for the winner, Cadbury hamper and standard travel for winner and guest. Cadbury has been able to build a strong relationship with the so-called ‘big six’ clubs.

However, Cadbury is just one of many brands that have taken advantage of this opportunity. As Coca-Cola is a partner of the Premier League, Coca-Cola inked this deal with the Premier League in 2018 with it being the biggest sponsorship agreement in the UK of the time. Although, this isn't Coca-Cola’s first foray into football. They were already sponsors of the FIFA World Cup and previously aligned football clubs in the UK through a sponsorship of the English Football League and the Coca-Cola club. Coca-Cola is a prime example of a brand that uses the sport’s global appeal to connect with diverse audiences.

With the EFL's official partners being brands such as Kellogg's, eBay, EA Sports, and Jamesons, it's evident that numerous brands are making significant inroads into this domain. The current landscape presents unprecedented opportunities, proving highly advantageous for brands. These opportunities extend beyond enhanced brand visibility, global reach, and fan engagement, encompassing the often-overlooked access to a new realm of data and analytics. Underscoring the potential for strategic growth and optimisation within the business context.

By acquiring access to a previously untapped audience that willingly shares its data with brands, numerous opportunities arise for our sponsorship partners. This not only facilitates targeted marketing initiatives but also enables seamless sponsorship activations, creating a strategic and mutually beneficial collaboration within and for the project.

Sponsorship activations allow brands that have access to performance and engagement metrics to optimise the activations of these sponsorship deals. This includes tailoring campaigns, events, and promotions to be the most effective strategies based on data-driven insights. Not only does the partnership provide this as a benefit, it can also create opportunities for negotiations with football leagues or clubs as it allows sponsors to assess the value of their sponsorship and change terms based on concrete data.

PepsiCo, a dedicated collaborator with the UEFA Champions League (UCL) since 2015, has officially declared the extension of its strategic partnership for an additional three years, solidifying its position within the prestigious football arena until June 2027. PepsiCo's decision to extend its partnership with UCL for an additional three years is strategically driven by the immense benefits derived from this collaboration. By aligning with the globally acclaimed football tournament in 2015, PepsiCo gained immense brand visibility and exposure, reaching a diverse and widespread audience. The UCL's global appeal enables PepsiCo to engage with fans on an international scale, contributing to the enhancement of its brand image through associations with excitement, competition, and excellence. 

The extension also signifies a commitment to long-term collaboration, providing stability for strategic marketing initiatives, product launches, and promotional activities. Furthermore, the partnership offers access to valuable fan data and analytics, facilitating informed marketing strategies based on consumer preferences and behaviour. 

Some brands have taken the sponsorship even further such as Turkish Airlines. Since the 2023 UEFA Champions League finals were held in Turkey last year, not only did the Airline run a promotion, but they also streamed the matches on selected aircrafts. This promotion achieved participation reach in more than 200 countries.

Car marketplace brand, cinch, is a significant event sponsor, their always-on promotional platform provides an outlet for sponsor tickets and merchandise. Offering a particular advantage with any tickets that may not have been utilised in traditional corporate hospitality, converting them quickly into promotional prize activations across other channels.

Women's EUROS 2025

With July 2025 being the month for the women's euros being held in Switzerland, Amazon will be the proud partner to this occasion. This means the first time Amazon sponsors a major international tournament, it will be broadcast worldwide next year.

Sanjay Balakrishnan, VP of EU Prime & Marketing, said: “We at Amazon are excited to partner with UEFA Women’s Football. UEFA Women’s EURO 2025 will be our first major international sports tournament sponsorship and comes with a commitment to create a meaningful impact on the women’s game. We are committed to using our scale as a force to drive even more momentum for the women’s game, and plan to support the associated communities, improve fan experiences and work with UEFA to continue the incredible growth achieved in the women’s game, so far.” But Amazon is only one of many businesses that are sponsoring the 2025 EUROS. Joining the fray is, Adidas, Alipay, Atos, Coca-Cola, Engelbert Strauss, Hisense, Lidl and Vivo who will be official global sponsors of UEFA EURO 2024 and Adidas, Amazon, EA Sports, Euronics, Grifols, Heineken, Hublot, Just Eat, Lay’s, PlayStation and Visa as the official global sponsors of UEFA Women’s EURO 2025.

Getting impact on-pack, and elsewhere

The logos for football clubs and tournaments are instantly recognised by consumers, using them in marketing comms, on-packs and elsewhere in shopper tactics is key, despite the inevitable licensing hurdles. Regardless there will always be some die-hard fans who will be put off buying a promotional pack featuring their rival team!

Careful wordplay association with ‘football’ can avoid some of the official collaboration routes, such as ‘A chance to win your Summer of football’ - but tread carefully and seek legal advice.

Branded physical merchandise will always be popular; use digital journeys to keep prize claims organised and data secure. If you can get tickets to the major football matches and finals, with or without VIP treatment, these are consumers’ favourites - and ours too if you have any going spare 🙂

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