How Virgin Media has found its place in football
Many brands try and play in the sports arena, but how do you drive credibility amongst your target audience if you aren’t traditionally a sports brand? Well, as part of The Clearing by Floodlight, Virgin Media’s Ginni Arnold told us all how they are doing just that.
Virgin Media had been associated with Usain Bolt for a number of years, but with football being so important in the UK, the brand took the decision to become more involved with the sport and began this journey by partnering with Southampton FC and becoming their official shirt sponsor this summer. But they didn’t just want to be a shirt sponsor, they wanted to connect with football fans in an authentic way which resonated with them and made them feel glad that Virgin Media was part of their club and the sport.
This started first with special package deals for Southampton season ticket holders ahead of the new season, allowing them to watch all the football they wanted to when they weren’t at St Mary’s. This was swiftly followed by offering discounted tickets to home fans for the pre-season friendly with Athletico Bilbao and giving every fan a free pint of beer (soft drinks for the kids of course!) when they arrived for the first match of the season courtesy of the Virgin Media angels.
They knew they needed to drive awareness of their activities, but they also knew they needed to serve fans in a way which gave them credibility to play in that space. When they looked deeper into football fans, they saw the main challenges were the increasing price of tickets to watch games and that there seemed to be a growing gap between the fans and the clubs they support. Without the fans, football wouldn’t exist in the way that it does, they are the heart of the game, and Virgin Media placed themselves on the side of fans with the aim of getting them a better deal.
This led to them partnering with the Football Supporters’ Federation to support their Twenty’s Plenty campaign, which saw Virgin Media subsidising the ticket cost of every away fan that visits St Mary’s this season – meaning they pay just £20! This, coupled with several initiatives for home supporters including reduced tickets for Europa League matches and creating a series of Virgin Media football buses which has supplied free travel to a number of away matches this season, has showed Virgin Media’s commitment early on.
You definitely get the sense that Virgin Media have clearly demonstrated that ‘it’s not what you play, it’s how you play.’ The passion and belief that they have in their own brand has led to them creating a campaign that is all about the fans, and this feels true to a Virgin brand championing something that emotionally connects with people.