We started our journey with FIFA in 2019, executing an ambitious YouTube strategy.
We expanded our relationship in 2020, and with the impact of the pandemic, alongside FIFA we conceived what would become the multi-award-winning #WorldCupAtHome campaign. This campaign would go on to become one of YouTube’s top 3 most successful campaigns of 2020 and achieve several industry awards.
In 2021, our relationship with FIFA expanded again, as we became their partner for all Digital Platform Services. This included:
Developing the content strategy for FIFA’s digital channels
Growing the size of the global audience and engagement
Driving commercial opportunities through direct and indirect revenue streams
Supporting media rights licensees (MRLs) with content and consultancy
Managing the relationship between FIFA and the platform partners (Facebook and YouTube)
Providing regular business intelligence and reports on content and channel performance.
The partnership with FIFA and our innovative approach proved to be a resounding success.
FIFA’s digital channels achieved record-breaking results in reach, video views, watch-time and audience growth in 2021. We manage to surpass every record for performance in a non-World Cup year and our 2021 performance was the second-highest ever, behind only that of the 2018 World Cup.
To implement a successful customer acquisition strategy, it is important to build a picture of the types of audiences and customers that our Partner is seeking to engage.
We always take a holistic approach to Growth Marketing, looking at audiences, data and consumer behaviours, to build a segmentation plan we can begin to act upon.
When it came to the UFC and their OTT platform, UFC Fight Pass, our approach to audience segmentation covered ingestion of data from the following sources:
site traffic for retargeting
lookalike profiles based on CRM data
people following the UFC page, who hadn’t converted
fans following fighters and rival MMA organisations
Our goal when reviewing the data, was to develop a network of fans who were displaying a higher propensity to convert at the point of purchase.
We analysed a variety of search data, from fighter names to event names and broader MMA terms. This allowed us to understand what users searched for online so media could be targeted more effectively with the right messages at the right time to the right person.
With these insights in hand, we implemented an effective customer acquisition strategy that would deliver paid subscriptions and reduce high levels of churn.
Using first-party data, our ‘connected audiences’ and a prospecting set of engaged combat sports fans, we activated global media campaigns that were both personalised and tailored to individual local markets.
Campaigns were optimised and developed through local language, which included markets such as Russia and Japan, whereby localised assets and creative were developed and deployed.
We also identified new strategic opportunities in countries with a large MMA fanbase and enough disposable income to afford the product, namely Mexico, Poland and Kazakhstan.
With pandemic restrictions preventing supporters from attending matches, AC Milan needed to find new ways to grow.
Our solution was a best-in-class D2C strategy to convert interest into action and build loyal audiences.
We unearthed insights revealing the club enjoyed a 170% increase in return on ad spend (ROAS) for social followers compared to general audiences. Social followers also spent twice as much online at the AC Milan store.
We also discovered purchase likelihood was increased by fan engagement. Those who downloaded the AC Milan app, for example, showed a 2.5x higher conversion rate than social followers.
Our commercial growth efforts aimed to convert new audiences into social followers, and social followers into loyal fans:
Ticketing strategy to bring fans back to the San Siro, using CRM, first-party data, search and social engagement, and creative visuals with strong CTAs
Merchandising with full-funnel audiences to drive engagement, traffic and sales through the online store via paid social campaigns on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok
Social growth efforts on the club’s Facebook, Instagram and TikTok channels to increase the size of commercially valuable engager segments
Amplifying club content – MilanTV on Amazon and the Racconti Rossoneri podcast – utilising paid media to drive traffic to official landing pages.
With a full-service approach that combines strategy, creative and paid media to deliver success, we are proud to have been able to drive scaled growth for the club, attracting more fans to the glorious San Siro, increasing average revenue per user and growing the overall AC Milan fanbase.
Ticketing – Return on ad spend
Retail and official merchandise
Global audience increase
Our relationship with WePlay has helped us to welcome new fans into the AC Milan community, which is an important part of our ambitious plans to drive revenue for the club
CASPER STYLSVIG , CHIEF REVENUE OFFICER , AC MILAN
We analysed Utah Jazz’s digital data points across social, web and CRM to collate audience learnings, and identify crossovers, gaps and opportunities. This helped us understand:
Deterministic data – purchase behaviour, subscription history, log-in/survey data
Third-party data – browsing behaviour, search patterns, content consumption
Demographic data – age and gender, location, profession/education
We know that engaged fans drive increased response so we defined the pathway to purchase and identified high-value audiences – including local, national and global fans.
Social growth focuses primarily on Facebook and TikTok. We run a ‘glocal’ campaign strategy to engage non-English speaking markets, using translated copy and localised assets.
To boost ticket sales, we target rich data segments with paid social and search campaigns to drive ‘fear of missing out’ by showcasing epic scenes fans can only experience in-person. This involves eye-popping creative in various ad formats, with conversion through response-optimised creative assets.
To boost merchandise sales, data-led planning and use of best-in-class biddable tech platforms optimises and serves ads in real-time to key audiences.
Paid media drives awareness and enquiries of summer camps, with data-led content and messaging that spans the full conversion funnel.
Working alongside the Utah Jazz as a strategic growth partner, WePlay has driven success across all of our core workstreams. This includes a substantial increase in social followers, achieving our season’s target in just two months, a marked uplift in ticket sales and new revenue streams for merchandising on the official Utah Jazz team store.
Yokohama Tyres is a global tyre manufacturing company based in Tokyo, Japan. Ahead of the 2015/16 Premier League season, Yokohama announced a £200m, five-year partnership with Chelsea FC, making it one of the most lucrative shirt sponsorships ever signed.
This partnership gave Yokohama a compelling opportunity to showcase its brand to a global audience, thanks to Chelsea FC’s ever-growing popularity.
We were appointed lead digital and social media agency to activate the partnership, creating outstanding social campaigns to amplify the brand to new audiences.
Our work with Yokohama Tyres is a seven-year story of client services and best-in-class content marketing that mirrors Chelsea’s on-field success.
When first partnering with Yokohama Tyres, we identified key target audiences to produce an engagement-led, social-first content strategy. This was the key to driving significant growth in global brand and product awareness.
Our objective was to engage, excite and delight audiences around the world, telling the brand’s story through the lens of football. The strategy involved owned and paid channels, and was activated across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
Content was designed to reach a global audience of fans. With an ‘always-on’ approach, we developed digital and social campaigns around Chelsea fixtures, player birthdays, seasons and cultural celebrations. We also rewarded fans’ participation with free tickets and merchandise.
Our seven-year relationship with Yokohama Tyres has delivered some remarkable results for the brand.
As of January 2022, Yokohama Tyres has a following of more than 740,000 engaged fans on social media, with a reach of more than 400 million people globally.
We’re proud to say WePlay has helped the brand surpass many rivals in the tyre industry as the second-most followed company in the category.
engaged fans on Yokohama’s social channels
most followed tyre brand in its category
"WePlay have provided Yokohama Tyres with digital marketing expertise since 2015. Our relationship with the agency has helped activate the shirt sponsorship with Chelsea Football Club and increase the brand awareness of Yokohama Tyres around the world and more importantly, our key markets"
Kazu Sekiguchi, Head of Chelsea FC Task Force, Yokohama Tyres
UK-based, David Beckham-backed professional esports company, Guild Esports briefed us on driving ambitious growth targets across its owned social channels, merchandise and commercial partner activations.
Guild’s brand awareness and fandom is key to helping the company secure lucrative partnerships.
We needed to develop a growth strategy that capitalises on booming tickets, merchandise and game publisher investment revenues, to create more loyal followers and convert fan interest into spend.
Our approach amplified content across multiple channels to maximise reach and engagement, using refined, data-informed audiences; including younger Gen Z segments with unique consumption patterns.
We needed to supplement our media plan with inventory and data sources outside the major platforms – such as Google and Facebook – and sought to incorporate emerging, innovative environments like Discord, TikTok and Twitch.
Using content as the engagement mechanism within an omni-social, audience-first paid amplification strategy, the campaign delivered numerous primary and secondary benefits to the brand. These included:
increasing value/performance of sponsorship packages, amplifying them to the most relevant sub-audiences for higher engagement rates
boosting reach and awareness of Guild and its products, catalysing membership applications, retail sales and stream viewers
growing the follower base by increasing monetisation/ad revenue and building first-party data
We’ve helped Guild surpass 1 million social media followers – cementing its position as the fastest-growing esports organisation in Europe – through tactical, high-performing audience acquisition and content discovery campaigns, as well as key partnership activations.
reach of hyper-targeted e-sports fans across social media
WePlay is a Growth Marketing Partner for the global leader in sports and entertainment, ESPN. Our main remit is the ESPN Player, where our brief is to drive subscription sales for the SVOD product.
This remit covers four areas:
Our campaigns promote the full catalogue of ESPN Player’s content, to grow revenues and generate year-on-year subscriber growth, aligned with monthly targets determined by the live rights and on-demand content release schedule.
As ESPN Player broadcasts a variety of live sports, audiences tend to behave in a seasonal pattern. Many fans subscribe before their preferred sports season begins – but unsubscribe once it ends.
This is a consistent trend across the subscriptions, live rights and OTT landscape, given that major sports leagues have a fixed start and end date. That means there is a short window when the platform is most valuable for specific fans.
Our search and programmatic campaigns therefore need to be highly targeted to each sports season and fan depending on the time of year.
To solve this, we employed advanced planning and strategy development, alongside our own proprietary data, to create the perfect platform for campaign expansion and growth for ESPN Player.
We used a data-led approach to pivot and plan campaigns based on current sports seasons, promoting content that would actively drive engagement for our target audience. This strategy ensured that ESPN Player would capitalise on relevance and demonstrate immediate value to prospects.
Our Creative Studio developed customised assets for each sports season, which helped ensure campaigns were optimised. The work included assets for individual high-profile games, which were promoted alongside key search terms immediately before the events took place.
During periods without premium live rights, we implemented a strategy to promote the depth of archive content on the platform – attracting new subscribers and mitigating churn.
Our strategy has enabled us to deploy learnings throughout the partnership, which has led to incredibly successful performance, including significant reductions to the CPA for a new subscriber as well an increase in year-on-year subscribers.
Red Bull endorsed Brazil captain Neymar Jr to engage the global 16-to-25 football market. After conceiving ‘Neymar Jr’s Five’ as a new way to play five-a-side football, we were appointed as a strategic growth partner to bring the brand and event to life through digital and social growth strategies.
Our objectives included:
Build Neymar Jr’s Five brand and community across Facebook and Instagram
Drive growth and participation among the 16-to-25 demographic
Liaise with 63 countries to provide localised content and strategies
Measure and provide monthly reports on results and KPIs
With the overarching theme of ‘outplay them all’, social sits at the heart of our strategy for acquisition and organic growth. We deliver a strong content and engagement strategy to grow awareness, drive fan engagement and facilitate participation in key global markets.
Calendar planning is key. It enables us to co-ordinate content output and community management globally. Using available content libraries as well as WePlay’s in-house creative studio, we strategically plan content with the clear objectives of driving event awareness, engaging users to the website and boosting sign-ups.
Serving as an extension of the Neymar Jr’s Five global communications team, we liaise with all 63 countries, co-ordinating content output to provide each market with social video, animated and static creative, copy translations and localised strategies. This commercial growth partnership helps the brand build and monetise relationships with new and existing audiences.
We unearthed insights that helped inform, fine-tune and maximise the effectiveness of PSG’s digital campaigns.
Due to the disruption of the pandemic in the 2019/20 and 2020/21 seasons it became clear that commercial revenue would be the most important source of income for top-tier European clubs such as PSG.
Our insights show that clubs need to innovate commercial revenue streams so growth can continue; particularly by investing in sponsorship activation, online retail, SVOD, membership and monetisation.
At the awareness stage, we sought to grow audiences via Facebook page likes, content boosting, and social engagement.
We adopted a variety of tactics, including data-led geo-targeting to PSG’s connected fanbase, elevating brand identity among tourists and leveraging international superstar players from the first team in media targeting.
We focused on lead generation activities and app downloads to drive audiences through the funnel. We created custom audiences of engagers to retarget and drive to the app; this was key given a 2.5x higher conversion rate from app users vs. social engagers, plus a 1.7x higher ROAS from app users vs. social engagers.
Paid media campaigns – including users directed to the MyParis subscription page offering PSG Store discounts – converted interest into action and boosted revenue.
The European Club Association (ECA) – the sole, independent body directly representing the interests of 246 professional football clubs across Europe – appointed us to help develop and deliver a new social media strategy.
The organisation wanted to align social campaigns with its purpose of ‘Placing Clubs at the Heart of Football’, by bringing Europe’s leading clubs together as friends off the pitch to drive and inspire the development of the game.
Our primary objective was to drive brand awareness across Europe, achieved through social media content strategy and production. We have also evolved the KPI management framework, and consistently measure and report on all relevant social activities.
Creating and monitoring engaging content has been central to our work with the ECA.
We have produced and published dynamic social content (including educational and informative videos) on an almost daily basis, as well as static and animated social media templates.
As part of this content remit, we conducted a social media audit to better understand how the ECA was performing online, which included audience segmentation and analysis of messaging. Based on these insights, we provided the ECA with a host of well-received recommendations for the future.
We also helped the ECA launch its maiden women’s football strategy, ‘Be a Changemaker’ in 2021. The programme aims to help clubs create a better tomorrow for women’s football through creative actions that deliver lasting change.
Our other activity has included providing communications support during the European Super League breakaway crisis and facilitating live streaming events and General Assemblies.
Thanks to our efforts, the ECA has continued to grow its reach and influence at a time when digital acceleration is driving fundamental change in the structures that underpin sport.
Increase in channel reach
Boost in profile visits
Increase in channel audience growth
"The appointment of WePlay is a statement of our intent to help our clubs to connect the dots between the sporting and commercial landscape. WePlay bring a strong track record in delivering targeted digital growth outcomes for leading rightsholders across Europe and beyond.”