Cup finals, kit launches, and viral ads – it’s been another busy week for sports brands and clubs on social media.

Will Atkins, Community Manager at The Playbook, has picked out some of the best sporting social media activity from the past seven days.

Chelsea lose the cup final – but win big with their virtual fan fest

It was an FA Cup final like no other, with no fans present at Wembley – but Chelsea did their best to engage their global audience ahead of kick-off.

Chelsea's Cup Final Fest was a winner on social media

 

The ‘Cup Final Fest’, a live show featuring fans, celebrities, players and legends, brought together Blues fans from across the globe for an interactive build-up show streamed on Facebook and YouTube.

The show, which has reached nearly 700k people (or over seven times the capacity of Wembley), pushed the boundaries for what’s possible for clubs to put on for their fans on social media, and made all the more remarkable given the short notice after Chelsea’s semi-final victory just two weeks before.

Following in the footsteps of Borussia Dortmund’s virtual watch party right at the start of the pandemic, it’s fascinating to see how clubs have adapted so quickly to an online-first fan experience. Expect plenty of other teams to follow this trend, even after fans return to stadiums.

You Can’t Stop Nike’s latest ad

One of the biggest videos of the year – let alone the week – is Nike’s jaw-dropping ‘You Can’t Stop Us’.

Combining 70 sports clips (having combed through a reported 4,000 pieces of footage) edited into a mesmerising split-screen, the ad takes in everything from diversity, the coronavirus pandemic, and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Nike's You Can't Stop Us ad went viral on social media this week.

 

Narrated by Megan Rapinoe, the ad is a welcome message of hope during some very tough times, and it is unmistakably Nike.

Already labelled the “best sports ad ever”, it has been unavoidable on social media – currently on 43m views on YouTube and 39m on Twitter, and is a sure-fire award winner soon too.

A champion launch for Liverpool’s new Nike partnership

Another hotly-anticipated piece of Nike content has been how they would launch their first ever Liverpool kit.

After months of build-up, the American giants didn’t disappoint – with the “Tell Us Never” campaign perfectly encapsulating the current feeling around the club after sealing their first Premier League title.

Tell Us Never. Nike dropped a great video celebrating their new partnership with Liverpool FC

 

The launch video, tapping into both the history of the club and of the city itself, gives Reds fans plenty to be excited about both on and off pitch in the new Nike era.

There was also some smart influencer work done too – sending personalised kits to some of the biggest Liverpool fans on social, making an unsurprisingly huge splash for the new Nike x LFC partnership.

Home visits and manager memories

It’s not all about huge marketing budgets or global fanbases – sometimes connecting with fans takes something really simple.

97-year-old Wycombe fan Leslie has been shielding at home and unable to visit Adams Park to see the League One play-off winners’ trophy – so the club arranged a special visit for it to be taken to him in person.

Indicative of a community club with their finger on the pulse, the video has received plenty of plaudits from fans all over the country.

Another feel-good piece of social content I liked this week was from Bournemouth, who celebrated the career of departing manager Eddie Howe with their #ThankYouEddie campaign.

Putting the disappointment of relegation, and the loss of such an inspirational boss behind them, the club focused on Howe’s many achievements, with a tone that resonated perfectly with supporters.

My personal favourite was a Twitter thread that shone a light on the many small things that Howe had done behind-the-scenes at Bournemouth, that made him ‘more than a manager’.

Federer and Barilla provide an ace way to engage fans

The final Play of the Week showcases just how important it is for brands and organisations to keep a watchful eye on fan-created content that goes viral.

In March, a video of two young tennis fans in Italy playing a socially-distanced rooftop match across two buildings reached millions – initially thanks to some smart social listening from the ATP Tour, who shared the video on their channel.

With lockdown now lifted, pasta sauce company (and sponsors of Roger Federer) Barilla followed-up by sending Federer to surprise the two girls and to challenge them to a rooftop game himself.

Roger Federer surprises two young fans in Italy after they went viral on social media in March

 

A simple concept, yet excellently executed – and a great example of how a brand like Barilla can put themselves into a conversation with sports fans by creating high-class and engaging content.

Will Atkins is Community Manager at The Playbook – the game changing communications, campaigns and content agency that has worked on the INEOS 1:59 Challenge, NFL UK, UFC and LaLiga amongst others.

For more information about how The Playbook can help you change the game, visit wearetheplaybook.com

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