I was fascinated to read that Adidas publicly declared their unhappiness with Manchester United’s current brand of football. It seems that when Adidas agreed to be the short sponsor of United, they thought that they were buying into flamboyance, entertainment and success. Instead, they feel that they’ve received caution, stagnation and, ultimately mediocrity.
Unusually for me, I felt a little sympathy with Manchester United at this point (before you ask, I’m a Wrexham fan. I know; they should be sympathising with me.) With such an organic product – a game of football - how can you guarantee that those ingrained and expected Man U values shine through? Whereas we can help influence and guide what happens when a guest turns up at a theme park, gym or restaurant, you can’t control the outcome of the football game.
But as I pondered this point, it got me thinking about another of our clients: The Jockey Club. The Jockey Club run 15 of the finest racecourses in the country. Not only are they working in a situation where they cannot predict the outcome of the sport in question, they’re also dealing with incredible equine atheletes. So how do they create an experience where each racecourse’s values come shining through each and every time?
What the Jockey Club understands is that when customers buy tickets for one of their meetings, they want a complete experience surrounding the main event. So, whilst the brand can’t control the outcome of the race, it can control everything else that happens around it. Ladies Day of the Grand National Festival at Aintree Racecourse is a classic case in point. In order to arrest the decline in attendances they worked out the core drivers and motivations that triggered attendance at Ladies Day (and the barriers to visiting), and built a new customer driven experience around them. They focused on ‘Fabulous Friday’ and through a series of fantastic brand amplification moments (such as the ‘star for a day’ entrance photos), they’ve managed to make the event a celebration of fashion, style and the women of Liverpool once again.
The whole experience at Aintree is so irresistible that, dare I say it, the races themselves almost don’t matter – a great day out is guaranteed regardless. The proof of success is that pre-bookings for the 2016 event are over 40% up on last year.
Whilst football is clearly a different beast to racing, there’s been a tremendous neglect of the punter in football for years. A customer experience that brought to life those values of flamboyance, entertainment and success that Adidas so want to be associated with could help the Manchester United brand ride out the rough results until better times come round again.