Last night saw Liverpool FC launch their new kit. Actually it was more than a new kit launch as it saw the dawn of a new era in terms of their kit with new manufacturers ‘Warrior’ – a US company founded by a former Lacrosse player, acquired by sports giant New Balance in 2004.
This is their first foray into football with their specialism coming from lacrosse (obviously) and ice hockey. So it was always going to be important to shake off the shackles of previous incumbents adidas, who had been making the kits since 2006, by making the first kit launch an impressive one.
So, aside from the usual press release and pictures, what did they do in the social media space? Here is what Paul Rogers, LFC’s Head of Content and long-term friend of the site, told UKSN (there are more quotes throughout the article too);
“When we sat down to work out our content plan around the ‘reveal’ of the new LFC kit, social media was at the forefront of our thinking. We know from past experience that kit reveals generate enormous excitement amongst fans and we wanted to reach out to and engage with as many supporters as possible when the clock struck midnight.
With our last kit launch in the summer of 2011, we used our own official website, TV channel, Twitter and Facebook accounts to create a buzz but even in 12 months, things have moved on a lot. This time around, we were keen to maximise the reach of all of our social media channels including our new YouTube channel as well as Pinterest and Tumblr”
The club and Warrior launched the usual video to accompany the launch showing some behind the scenes shots of the photo shoot, interviews/quotes from players and pictures of the new kit. The players appear to be happy with it (no surprise there) as it brings back the gold into the kit so its a bit of a throwback to the 1970′s/1980′s in that sense. It also appeals to the die-hard fans with a tribute to the 96 fans who lost their lives in the Hillsborough Distaster in 1989 with the inclusion of the number on the back of the shirt.
Interestingly in the video it shows an integration with a bigger campaign by the inclusion of the #LFCkit tag, encouraging fans to talk about it on twitter and talk to other fans. So far the video has gained 61k views since its launch at midnight last night.
The new kit sponsors also released their own video showcasing their ‘expect us’ activation today as the push to link the club and brand starts with a vengeance. It is pretty cool and offered a teaser to the fans as they walked past the ground by projecting images of the players and the brand tag line onto a wall. With £25m a year being paid to the club we can expect much more of this with a hefty marketing spend to back it up.
The #LFCkit tag has been used many times and was reported to have trended in Liverpool after the midnight kit launch, showing fans were anxious to show their feelings (mostly good) about the kit. It’s always a sensitive time for clubs when it comes to such a major change in design, as has been shown recently by Cardiff City’s plans to change from blue to red (something that was retracted after the predictable fan outrage).
As of 9am this morning there had been some 12,972 tweets using the hashtag. Something that will taken as great success by those involved. This was all before it had been picked up by the press or blogs so this number will increase significantly as news travels past the city walls of Liverpool. The club also posted a new image on their Twitter background which showed the kit and, once again, the #LFCkit hashtag. (stats below taken using MAP).
“We went big on a dedicated twitter hashtag #lfckit – which we promoted across multiple sites, not just on Twitter – and it worked very well as it was trending worldwide soon after midnight” said Paul.
As part of the clubs push onto new platforms, of which Pinterest has been a focal point for the last few months. The new launch was an ideal opportunity to make use of this highly visual platform with pictures from the launch event as well as the video being posted on their. This gives fans another of many touch points where they can find information about the kit as well as links to the club store.
“As the reveal of any new kit is a very visual experience, we changed our facebook Cover photo and Twitter background to showcase the new kit and used both Pinterest and Tumblr to showcase some amazing images of the players for fans to share.”
Finally, the club used their long established Facebook page to bring the imagery (and store links) to the fans. With just under 10m fans on the page the reach would have been pretty wide and with the late night timing of the launch, the majority of fans would be able to get their first taste of what they are going to see on the pitch in August when they checked their Facebook this morning.
The use of cover photo’s as a way of bringing a highly visual approach to campaigns is something we have already highlighted here but it also provides a picture that fans can upload and use as their own cover photo. Something a friend of mine did this morning. There was no big tease as we saw with Rangers but there was no shortage of likes, shares and comments on each post.
Last, but not least (though originally left off from this post! – ed) was the inclusion of the clubs Tumblr page to provide more visuals to those who have subscribed to their page in their news feed. The page is still quite new and it will certainly boost the number of people heading their page.
“On our website, we asked fans to mark the kit out of 10 – and so far we’ve had just short of 20,000 votes with a score of 10 coming out on top with 25% of the votes, with 74% of all fans voting for 7 or higher. To encourage engagement with fans, we’ve picked out 20 of the best tweets about the kit and embedded them in a news story on the official site – which lots of fans appreciate as fans all over the world can quickly follow them via the news story.”
The approach was that of hitting as many touch points as possible. At the end of the day it about raising awareness, gaining coverage and selling kit (at the moment through pre-orders). It has not been anything new or spectacular but shows good use of all the platforms at the same time, an integrated approach which proves that departments within the clubs – and the new sponsors – are talking to each other and working together as one. Something very simple but often not achieved.
“It’s been an exciting launch so far, created a great deal of excitement and we’re on target to break the record for the number of pre-order sales on day one. In terms of exclusive content, we’ve got loads more kit-related videos planned for the coming days and weeks.”