Will EE’s new partnership with Wembley open new doors for marketing and communication inside stadiums?

By The Earnie Team

At this current point in time heading to a stadium like Wembley to watch sport is pretty standard fare. You get your ticket and probably a pint at the ground. You watch the match and see sponsors brand plastered on every corner of the stadium, across digital hoardings and in the programme.

Other than that marketing directly to fans at the match is pretty difficult once they are inside and settled in the stadium. Up till now it was mainly done pre and post-match using print, outdoor and online marketing.EE’s new partnership with Wembley may change this. For one you would expect your phone to actually work and not take forever to load. Secondly and more importantly from a marketing standpoint, it allows brands direct access to their customers at the match. For the FA they have a direct line to people who attend their matches. They can try different content to see who engages and this opens up a whole new world of possibilities for the FA’s sponsors too. William Hill will be licking their lips at the prospect of in-match betting whilst fans are actually at a match.

The EE/Wembley app has already been launched and looks at the moment that they are focusing on upcoming events and travel information for getting too and from Wembley. I am sure the more they learn about the Wembley audience the more that this will be built upon and more content introduced.

The app is a great first step but it will certainly need content at its heart if it is to be a success with fans heading to Wembley. This is what drives people to action and keeps them engaged. Finding what hooks a person at a match is key. For me personally I would love to see in game stats particularly if a report could be created at half time demonstrating where the match is being won and lost and who has had the most touches, tackles, passes, who is the key influencer etc (David Moyes may need that kind of help at Old Trafford pretty soon!)

The importance of this partnership is it demonstrates how essential it is to communicate with fans at the right times. Even when you have got your customer to buy a ticket, it is about creating an experience that makes them want to come back and engage further. So you would assume they would want the app to become personalised to each fan once they sign up so the consumer feels like he/she is being directly spoken to by the brand. It opens up so many possibilities gambling / stats / matchday programme content / offers / competitions / social / gaming. All beamed directly to your target audience in an environment where they can interact with it.

Most brands are about ‘adding value’ so you could always look to lock off part of the app and make it exclusive to members thereby encouraging sign up. Or make it so wifi can only be connected to through the app, I am sure EE will be looking at ways for the app to have exclusive areas only EE customers have access to. You could even look to sell tickets to the next match to people in the grounds which looks as though this is one of the main features of the app. It gives brands the freedom to be instantaneous and react to what people are doing. The NFL always do a great job at the Superbowl with their social media centre, reacting to fans questions in real time. This immerses them in the experience and makes sure they have a positive reaction to the event. The EE partnership lets the FA do the same thing and can be particularly leveraged at their flagship FA Cup Final. Even things as simple as telling you which beer queue is the shortest!

I certainly believe that a successful in ground app is the future of sport marketing in stadia. However anyone can have an app it is the content that drives it and there are so many options to how it could work that getting it right might be far harder than it seems…