27th April 2021
by Charlotte Wilson
How not to do a brand launch…
It didn’t quite go to plan, did it? In fact, the announcement of the European Super League last week was a complete and utter car crash of a PR disaster. One that the history books will be delighted to file under “catastrophic f**k up.” Oh dear lads.
Detested by fans, discredited by pundits, derailed by politicians and, most enjoyably, taken down a peg or two by little Gazza Neville, the launch of the Super League was very much a marketing own goal. Possibly the worst ever. Although Kendall Jenner resolving the deep political divide in the United States of America by offering up an ice-cold can of Pepsi Max is still a personal favourite.
With a backlash that could permanently damage the relationship clubs have with fans, and with billionaire club owners continuing to risk alienating their supporter bases in an effort to line their own pockets, just what can we learn from footballs elite on how not to launch a new brand? As always, we’re here to spill the tea…
1. Don’t replace research with arrogance
Little to nothing was (or still is) known about the foundations set for footballs worst laid plans, suggesting that market research into the on-the-ground impact such an announcement would have was absent. Aside from a weakly-worded shared corporate statement posted to each club’s website, the rest of the industry seemed to be blindsided when the news dropped. The result? An almost impenetrable brick wall of opposition that lead to the ‘big six’ withdrawing from the league a mere 6 days later. As branding goes, not only does this show a lack of understanding or care for customer needs, but it also shows incompetence in doing your job properly – something which does not inspire customer loyalty and retention.
2. Money over ethics no longer flies
Against a backdrop of financial uncertainty for many, the announcement of the Super League appeared to be putting greed over anything else. Careers would be jeopardized, fans would be alienated, and pundits would be out of the loop. Not great for something that relies on those very things to flourish and succeed. It’s no secret that a successful business is a profitable one, but when it comes to a sustainable brand (especially in the current climate) ethics must be seen as a priority to make sure that customers respect, prioritise and return to you. Change isn’t always bad, but the way it’s perceived can make or break a campaign launch. If you’re not willing to plan, strategise and compromise for the benefit of your target audience, then it’s unlikely that you’ll get very far in a hurry.
3. Have a game plan
Ironically, these teams did not. If you’re going to do something that has the potential to divide opinion and drive criticism within your industry, then you need to make sure you’ve planned ahead in order to counteract it. You’ll need brand ambassadors on your side from the get-go, to-ing the party line and extolling the benefits of your launch, no matter how far-fetched they may seem at first. That goes for employees, current customers and media outlets. All should be prepped, sold the dream and know what to expect in advance. What you do not need is a house that’s not in order at the time of launch, causing chaos from within and showing quite clearly that your plans are unstable and ill-thought-out. If you’re going big, plan from the bottom up and make sure every avenue is water-tight before taking the leap, your staff and your customers will thank you for it.
4. Get good comms
There must be some benefits that the Super League could bring to the future of the game, despite the uproar. But what are they? Well, we don’t really know because no one bothered to tell us. Instead, the narrative has been overrun by cries of foul play and fat-cat gluttony. However, if you take the disastrous comms away, a far more open-minded reaction could have been achieved. Football is now a global business, and at some point, it will have to expand and adapt to move forward. A better approach might have been to create a launch strategy that centered around comms that supported this notion. Instead, we’re faced with what appears to be a lazy attempt to bulldoze in a half-baked idea that hasn’t been given the time it needs to seed and grow. The result? A fanbase and industry now overrun with anger and animosity toward each other that threatens to shake the very foundations of its own economy. Ooops?
All in all, the European Super League ‘launch’ was a masterclass 101 in how not to do it and expect a glowing and successful outcome. The mistakes that were made are relevant to any business and remind us that a resilient marketing communications strategy is essential in growing a successful brand. It’s either that or face the wrath of the Twitterati. To find out more about how we can help with your next campaign launch, get in touch today.