Leicester City FC: A Branding Fairy Tale

Introduction

Picture this, a football team at the bottom of the English Premier League (April 10 2015), almost relegated and having 5000 - 1 odds of winning the premier league. The underdog. Most people like the underdog. They warm to it; develop an emotional connection, because it reminds them of themselves, fighting against all odds to reach their ultimate goal. The David Versus Goliath. And this is what has happened to Leicester City FC, the rank outsider that beat all the odds, took on the might of the  multi-- million pound big clubs like Arsenal , Manchester United, Chelsea and won the premiership on the 2nd of May 2016. 

As their path took them on the route to victory, the Leicester brand began to grow not just in the UK but across Asia.  Leicester City FC has been propelled into the lime light, the brand exposed globally.  This is a fairy tale come true not just for Leicester City FC but also for the club's legacy partner Walker's Crisps and for their sponsor King Power who have their branding on the team kit and interview backdrops.


Photo of Jamie Vardy

Strong Brand Creation- Leicester City FC

Since winning the football premiership, Leicester City FC have had the fastest growing Instagram account according to PR weekly and 4.5 million Facebook likes (May 2016) . Leicester FC is now moving from being just a football club, to a brand that sells more than football. Hope, inspiration, the unimaginable. In parts of Thailand (where Leicester City’s owners are from), the team’s football shirts were sold out before they won the league. When team shirts ran out in Thailand, keen fans ordered Leicester FC shirts from the United Kingdom. The Leicester brand has broken international waters, crossed cultures and united people from two sides of the world. This is part of the appeal of the Leicester city brand it's ability to unite.

Benefits of The Brand - Leicester City FC

Commentators have suggested that the major star of the team Jamie Vardy, who was in the top three for the most goals scored in the premier league may be tempted by large figure contracts offered by other football clubs and leave Leicester FC. However the new found Leicester FC brand may actually encourage not only Vardy to stay with the team but also attract big stars to the club just like the Arsenal FC and Manchester United FC brand does.

What may further attract fans to the Leicester City FC brand is the movie that is being made about Jamie Vardy's life and record breaking rise to success. In 2012 Vardy was playing non league football for Fleetwood Town (who were in the 5th tier of English football division) and had a day job making medical splints. Now in 2016 Vardy has helped Leicester win the premiership and he is part of the English National Football team. to being part of the premier league champions. This will undoubtedly bring further coverage globally to the Leicester City FC brand. The other side to the fairy tale is the cost of the football team if we compare the cost of the squad Tottenham spent £161m on their team, Arsenal spent £251m, Manchester City £451million and Leicester City £54m. This adds to the magic of the Leicester brand.

Brand Benefits for Team Sponsors

On the 16th of May 2016 over 200,000 fans came out to watch Leicester City raise the premier league trophy in their hometown. The club were greeted by newspaper journalists and TV stations from around the world. Part of the audience viewing the media's output (TV and newspapers) may be potential new sponsors who may try to bid for main sponsorship of the club's football kits.

The stadium is currently called the King Power Stadium, which is the name of the company group that owns Leicester City FC. Will the owners be tempted to rename the stadium if they are offered large sums of money from firms who would like to sponsor the club and benefit from the attention the club is currently enjoying.

Branding and Promotion Aimed At Local Celebrations

Leicester City FC's premiership title has opened up global, national and local promotion opportunities. After Leicester City FC won the premiership Walker's Crisps produced a commemorative limited edition packet of crisps. The traditional crisp flavour of "salt and vinegar" was renamed salt and victory and walkers replaced the word "walkers" on their logo with the word "winners". The commemorative packets of crisps were given away at the club's last home game of the season on the 7th of May 2016. Due to the popularity of the crisps the packets subsequently went on sale at local retailers around Leicester; profits from the sale of the crisps were donated to the club's charity LCFC Foxes Foundation.

Photo of commemorative pack of Walkers Crisps celebrating Leicester City FC's 2016 premiership win

Conclusion

How Leicester City FC will perform in the future is anyone's guess? Is it a "one off" that will not be repeated once the traditionally strong clubs such as Arsenal and Manchester United come back next season stronger and fitter. How long will they hold the media's attention? Whatever the future it makes sense for the club to make the most of brand "Leicester City FC Surprise Champions" whilst it is strong. Football is an expensive business, large footballers salaries have sent some clubs into administration. If Leicester City FC can use this branding opportunity to generate money it will strengthen the club's future and support them towards further success.

 

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