Manchester United kit launch to deliver Adidas’ most successful online campaign

Figures released today by Repucom, the trusted advisor in sports and entertainment intelligence, show that Adidas and Manchester United’s new kit launch has generated over $2.3m in social media value in the first three days of its launch, making it the fastest value generating football kit launch campaign ever, for the sports apparel giant.
The campaign, launched on 1st August 2015, sees Adidas take over from previous kit supplier, Nike, in a $1.2bn (£750m) deal spanning the next 10 years.
The 2015/16 season kit launch using Adidas Football’s #BeTheDifference hashtag has almost delivered the same amount of value in those three days as Real Madrid’s campaign has achieved since launching in June. The rate at which Manchester United has driven such value back to their new kit supplier is based largely on two factors, club activation and how engaged its social media fan base is.
The club has produced 38 posts relating directly to the kit launch, across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, more than any other Adidas club since June, including AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Real Madrid. United’s digital enthusiasm around its renewed partnership with Adidas is matched by a social media fan base which despite being just over half that of Real Madrid’s, (76 million compared to 123 million) – the value generated through fan engagement is set to overtake Adidas’ other clubs.
Max Barnett, Head of Digital UK&I, Repucom believes that social media has been the key behind the success of the kit launch.
“This was the big one for Adidas. They needed to show they made the right decision following their world record deal to kit out Manchester United for the next decade. Value generated through social media was always going to play a huge role and the figures so far for the brand are encouraging.
“Kit Launches are a fantastic example of what we call ‘Fan Stories’; content that is related to one theme, delivered across multiple digital platforms. Other examples of pre-season ‘Fan Stories’ include training, tours and transfers. Once the season has started digital activity will focus more on game related ‘Fan Stories’ such as squad announcements, score updates or player interviews. A key trend developing in sponsorship is brands and rights holders collaborating around content. While Kit Launches provide an obvious opportunity for apparel partners, we’re seeing others actively look for their own ‘Fan Stories’ to use as an activation platform.
“The 20-time league champions have been relentless in this campaign and as a result, the club will certainly provide more value through social media than Adidas’ other major clubs this summer. This shows that building an engaged social fan base is key and something other teams around the world should be looking at.”
Before the Manchester United kit launch, Real Madrid had been Adidas’ biggest value driver. Combined with AC Milan, Bayern Munich and Chelsea, the four clubs have generated over $4.6m in value for the Adidas brand via social media, while the average value per post has been $40,000.
When the Manchester United figures are included at the end of the campaign, Adidas can expect to have received well over $7 million in media value generated through social media alone and during a period of limited TV exposure for such teams and brands, digital is beginning to make meaningful contributions to the bottom line.