An underwhelming transfer window for brand marketing

Transfer deadline day presents a great real-time marketing opportunity for brands, so why did so few get involved?

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There are few sporting events, in the UK at least, that cause such a stir for such a prolonged period of time like the football transfer window does. Football fan or not, it’s hard to escape transfer news when it’s being kicked relentlessly into your ears and eyes all summer long.

Unless Paul Pogba literally bicycle kicks a ball into outer space and then flies around Old Trafford on Zlatan Ibrahimovi?’s back this season, I’m going to be thoroughly underwhelmed, considering the hype surrounding Manchester United’s appointment of these real-life human men, but I digress.

On Wednesday at 11pm the the summer transfer window “slammed shut”, and while flicking through Twitter in the lead up to the close of what has been the wackiest window to date, I couldn’t help but think, where are all the attention-hungry brands?

Typically, it only takes the faintest whiff of a trending hashtag to attract every washing detergent, shed paint and fat-free yoghurt brand within a ten thousand mile radius, looking to get a piece of the action. Yet despite a seemingly glaring opportunity to jump aboard the very popular #deadlineday bandwagon, efforts were thoroughly underwhelming.

There were of course some exceptions:

As usual, betting company Paddy Power were on good form throughout deadline day, providing lots of LOLs for the #lads, and things like this:

Relevant topic Bingo, a timeless content classic.

Netflix did this:

football deadline day - real time marketing - netflix - browser media

Don’t do drugs.

Petitioners, SaveGrassRootsFooty, took the opportunity to raise awareness of the extreme gulf that exists between grass roots football and the professional game:

A sad state of affairs.

While Mirror Row Zed produced this amusing Jim White soundboard.

An honourable mention should also go to Sky Atlantic, for this Jim White & Game of Thrones Mashup, which was released back in February.

If Rupert Murdoch could orchestrate a permanent transfer for Jim White, to the outer regions of Westeros, that’d be fab.

Fear of real-time marketing

As a marketing industry we are obsessed with planning.

This transfer deadline day has proven to me that brands are still reluctant to deviate from those plans and take risks. The very nature of real-time marketing means there is no proven formula for success – it relies on being responsive, being creative, and being brave enough to do something the competition may not be – it is inherently risky.

But as many brands have shown in recent years, such risks can bring great rewards: see, Oreo’s timely response the power going out at the Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, numerous responses to the birth of the royal baby, and of course, that dress.

With so much emphasis on customer engagement and relationship building in marketing, it is more important than ever for brands to take risks in order to engage audiences through creative, real-time marketing efforts. This year, for most, transfer deadline day has been a huge missed opportunity.

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