8 July 2021
Author: Kathryn Bishop
Are social media channels shaping the way footballers or sports players communicate?
HS: Everything’s raw and unfiltered on social media now. Young players in particular are really honest; it’s their identity and they're not ashamed of it. Yet they can be major outlets for brands. Karim Benzema, for example, has almost 50m followers across Twitter and Instagram, and high engagement.
Does this honesty affect the sort of content or campaigns you create with brands?
JW: There is a real appetite among athletes and musicians to tell their stories, but they’re protective over how these will be projected and making sure that they are really premium. It’s about brands taking into consideration the perspective of the talent and working with them rather than putting them into completely contrived situations.
HS: I used to shoot with brands and the players wouldn’t be engaged at all. They didn’t want to push the content themselves [online] because it didn’t feel like them. Now, every time we have a shoot, we say: ‘Bring whoever you want down.’ We make sure the music is loud, there’s a bar, there's loads of Nando’s. Whatever it is, we make sure that it’s an environment where they’re not looking at their watches or phones every five minutes.
For luxury brands, why is it crucial that they reach a football or sports audience?
JW: I don’t think brands really have a choice. If they want to relate to the [Gen Z] consumer, which they have to do, they have to become rawer and more honest themselves, which we’re now seeing.
HS: It's showing that they’re more in touch with this generation, as seen with the campaign we did with Nike and England Football in early 2020. It featured new players coming through who embodied everything we're talking about here. Nike let us run with it; it didn’t try to shape it or get the players to act in a certain way, and the results speak for themselves.
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