Week in week out, we’re used to seeing some of the biggest brands on the planet plastered all over the kits of the Premier League heavyweights.
Liverpool have a multi-million-dollar deal with the international bank Standard Chartered.
Manchester City have their affiliations with world-renowned airline Etihad Airways.
Last year, Chelsea recently announced their partnership with telecommunications powerhouse Three.
And everyone knows that Arsenal goes hand-in-hand with Emirates.
So when fast-food giants Burger King teamed up with League Two battlers Stevenage FC, we were all left scratching our heads.
But, as we’ve now come to find out, it was all part of a genius marketing strategy that took over the gaming world and helped catapult both parties to new levels.
Back in June of 2019, the American fast-food chain decided to team up with English football minnows Stevenage in a partnership that would see Burger King support the club financially in exchange for a place on their home and away shirts.
But with Stevenage sitting rock bottom of League Two, it wasn’t difficult to work out that the team wasn’t exactly attracting many eyeballs.
Most of their games weren’t even televised, plus their fan base was very small.
But, unlike the rest of us, Burger King had worked out something that most had missed.
Stevenage weren’t just your average football team that trained three or four times a week and played every Saturday at 3pm.
No, Stevenage – along with most other professional clubs in the world – also existed virtually through the popular EA Sports video game FIFA.
If you haven’t played FIFA, it’s basically just a virtual football game where users can play as any team or player they like – meaning little old Stevenage could line up against footballing giants such as Barcelona or Real Madrid in a friendly match.
And it didn’t take long for Burger King to clock on to this.
|Kylian Mbappe, Lionel Messi and Neymar line up for Stevenage FC in Ultimate Team. Credit: YouTube|
But their grand marketing strategy wasn’t done there.
Burger King then launched a social media challenge where fans were urged to play as the fourth division side on FIFA and send in their best goals, skills or moments from games in exchange for prizes.
Simply dubbed #TheStevenageChallenge, the scheme would see any user receive a prize for scoring a goal with Stevenage and posting it on social media with the relevant hashtag.
And, unsurprisingly, it went down a treat with fans from all corners of the globe flooding online to play as Stevenage – and therefore seeing Burger King’s big shiny logo on their red and white jerseys too.
When the partnership began in late 2019, Stevenage FC CEO Alex Tunbridge said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Burger King on the Stevenage Challenge which is an innovative concept that aims to turn the club into the biggest online team through the power of video gaming and social media.
@BurgerKingBR #StevenageChallenge gol de bike pic.twitter.com/Iwu0hgowDN
— Antonio BOCO (@BocoAntonio) October 24, 2019
“We hope to see millions of people interacting with the club and showing their support both in person and online. You don’t have to be a big club to think big.”
It didn’t take long for football fanatics to fall in love with the unknown club.
From Ultimate Team to Career Mode, it’s understood more than 25,000 goals were shared online by gamers with Stevenage’s shirt sales going through the roof at the same time.
As a result, Stevenage FC ultimately built up a cult following in the gaming world and Burger King’s logo was being seen by millions on the weekly basis.
The genius piece of marketing saw Burger King clinch several prestigious awards while Stevenage are still one of the most popular teams on FIFA to this day.
Featured Image Credit: EA Sports/PA