How brands are putting football at the heart of travel promotions

Football fans are currently spoilt for choice when it comes to enticing sales promotions. Walkers is offering the opportunity to win a trip to the Champions League Final in Milan at the end of May, with its on-pack instant win promotion, while Heineken drinkers can scan their bottle for a chance to win a trip to the Champions League semi-finals.

Carlsberg Export has also tapped into the footballing action this summer, giving consumers the opportunity to win a trip to an England group game at Euro 2016 in Paris, which kicks off in June.

But why do football related travel prizes pack such a punch? And how can brands ensure they lay on a trip to remember?


The Champions League and Euro 2016 have form…

As the Champions League reaches the final stages, and Euro 2016 approaches, both tournaments give brands a chance to tap into the passion and emotion that is synonymous with the sport.

The stats speak for themselves:

  • The England v Italy game that saw England crash out of Euro 2012 was watched on TV by a 23.2 million peak audience, beating the 19.9 million peak achieved by 2011’s Royal Wedding coverage (source: BARB)
  • An estimated global TV audience of 180 million in over 200 territories tuned in to see Barcelona beat Juventus in the Champions League Final in 2015 (source: UEFA)
  • Over 28 million people had 76 million Facebook interactions related to the Champions League Final in 2015 (source: UEFA)
  • 150 million spectators are expected to follow each Euro 2016 game live (source: UEFA)

It’s a cliche but…men like football

One advantage with football related promotions is that they are able to successfully engage with men, who are harder to reach through more generic promotions.

“Women are more inclined to enter promotions regardless of the prize, whereas men tend to enter those that hold a very specific appeal,” says Amy Nield, Head of travel management specialists, ProTravel. “Football-related travel prizes do tend to have a pretty wide reach, but they are certainly effective at engaging men.”

Beer and crisp brands know the score

It makes sense that the brands tapping into such prizes are seeking to reach a largely male audience. “The brands that historically tend to invest in football related prizes are those in male personal care, home entertainment, crisps and beer,” says Nield. “It sounds like a generalisation, but many of these brands lean more towards males, and football promotions are an effective means of reaching this group.”

But there are some golden rules brands should adhere to when organising a sales promotion around a trip to a big footballing event…

Don’t mention the ‘f’ word…unless you have permission

“One of the first things brands have to be clear about is that, unless they are an official partner or sponsor for the event, they will be unable to explicitly state that the promotion is in connection with a specific football tournament or match,” says Nield.

But don’t despair. Brands can work with a specialist (and their legal team) to find a way of addressing this to keep everyone happy. It’s all about semantics.

Prepare for the big match well in advance

When a big match or tournament is taking place, many hard core fans – as well as corporates – will be quick to book their tickets, flights, transport, hotels and even restaurants. It means brands wanting to offer a memorable trip need to be ahead of the game.

“The city – or cities – where the event is taking place will be a lot busier and it is therefore harder to arrange the logistics,” says Nield. “The sooner a brand gets a quote and signs off the package, the better.”

Make sure the experience is top notch

Brands want to not only ensure that their prize winners can get to the game, but enable them to have a relaxing and enjoyable trip. A positive experience will reflect well on the brand and, in the age of social media, this is of huge importance, encouraging winners to spread the word.

Working with a specialist will allow brands to plan ahead in a way that they can’t if they operate alone. “We have contacts and can hold flights, accommodation and transfers without specifying names, something brands will be unable to do themselves,” says Nield.

Brands can score a late winner – but at a price

That said, if brands come to the party a little late, a good partner should be able to use their network to overcome such challenges. But it will cost extra.

“A big mistake many brands make is leaving the organisation of such a promotion late – the later they leave it the more expensive the tickets get. They sell out and we have to go through other channels to procure them, which can be done, but it can be pricey,” says Nield.

Ensure winners can travel to the big game

Once planned, ensure that winners are able to travel. It may sound silly but it is a crucial consideration. “It is a date specific event so winners will need to ensure they are available – and eligible – to travel,” says Nield. “Unlike other travel prizes, the dates can’t be changed to suit individuals.” Winners must also have a valid passport, for example, and one of the winning party must be over the age of 18.

Don’t be lured into cutting costs

There are also lessons to be learnt around ensuring a brand gets value for money when investing in a promotion centred on a football-related trip. Some brands, such as Heineken, are offering a prize that includes the full monty – tickets, travel and a hotel stay. This way it can ensure that it has more control over the experience, and that winners are well looked after.

Others, such as Continental Tyres, which has teamed up with Camskill to offer consumers a chance to win four tickets to see England v Wales in the Euro 2016 group qualifying stages, or two tickets to the final, take a different approach. Instead of organising and funding travel and accommodation, they are offering the winner £500 to ‘help get you there.’

Providing cash instead of flights and hotels could backfire…

In reality, such a prize will still require the winner to part with a fair sum of cash in order to travel to the game, and there is always a risk that they won’t be able to secure direct flights or convenient accommodation. Such variables can contribute to a poor experience which risks reflecting badly on the brand.

“From a client perspective, you ideally want to ensure everything is arranged for the winners,” says Nield. “If everything is pre-booked, brands have peace of mind that the winners will actually get to the event and that things will run smoothly. Yes, it is more expensive but it is worth it – it gives brands much greater control over delivering a great experience.

Minimise the margin for error

“Offering cash can turn out to be false economy – there is so much room for error. If it goes wrong, the experience will be associated with the brand and it will risk bad feeling, negative press and a social media backlash.”

Football is big business and can enable brands to generate huge goodwill by laying on a very memorable trip for winners. But the devil is in the detail.

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