What's Kraken: Down Under - Melbourne FC

During uncertain times, it can be tricky to engage fans. It has been incredible seeing how sports organizations have been able to engage their fans despite games being on pause and league openings delayed. Curious how they’re doing it?

Following our first two installments in our What's Kraken content series where we talked to the Arizona Coyotes, Dallas Mavericks, Tennessee Titans and the Columbus Blue Jackets, Washington Football Team, and Portland Trail Blazers, we went Down Under and caught up with the Melbourne Football Club’s Head of Digital, Ryan Earles.

While the Australian Football League has now seen games return, Ryan was able to offer some insight into the MFC’s approach while games were paused: tapping into the fans’ love of nostalgia to maintain supporter engagement and deliver successful outcomes for commercial partners.

Ryan Earles is the Head of Digital at the AFL’s Melbourne Football Club, based in Melbourne, Australia.

Q: What are some of the toughest challenges you've had to tackle since games have been paused, and how have you overcome them?

A: With games on pause, a lot of our usual weekly sponsored content and campaigns were also on hold. With that in mind we faced two key challenges which would have been similar to most sporting clubs during that time;

  1. How do we maintain supporter engagement?
  2. How do we deliver commercial value for partners who rely heavily on brand exposure in-stadium and via broadcast?

As a content and marketing team, we immediately turned our attention to throwback content to fill the void of football-free weekends. We celebrated past players, revisited classic matches and dusted off some of our strongest performing content series from previous years. This content played an important role in maintaining supporter engagement across our channels, but also provided our commercial team with assets they could use to deliver brand exposure for our partners while we patiently waited for football to return.

Although we turned to throwback content, we were also mindful of maintaining a strong focus on the recommencement of the 2020 season. Prior to the start of the season, we had released a 6-part series that documented the club's pre-season, this series was pivotal in building excitement amongst our fan base for the team's prospects in 2020, and we were conscious not to lose that momentum while games were on hold. We had players host regular Facebook Live sessions, take over our Instagram and be involved in member-exclusive Zoom sessions to maintain engagement and momentum for the 2020 season.

Q: Explain your proudest/most successful fan engagement campaign or strategy you've activated since games have been paused; what were the results?

A: We had a number of successful campaigns during the shutdown period, but one that came together really easily and naturally was our Greatest Goals campaign.

A major partner of the club, Haymes Paint, is the presenting partner of our weekly 'All the Goals' segment which, as the name implies, is a video recap of all the Melbourne goals kicked in a match.

With games on hold and no goals being kicked, we needed to find a new way to deliver value for Haymes, so we went to the archives and uncovered 16 great Melbourne goals. Utilizing the Tradable Bits platform, we created a fan-voted bracket using the Tug of War template and had our fans determine the greatest Melbourne goal of the past 30 years. The four-week campaign was a success for our partner as it gathered valuable consumer data and generated qualified leads. The content was also consistent with the content they would usually sponsor on a weekly basis.

From a club perspective, the campaign was a huge success because it tapped into the fans love of nostalgia, allowed us to collectively embrace some of the great moments in the club's history, and on a more practical level, allowed us to fill a significant amount of space in our content calendar.


Q: What's a piece of valuable advice you've heard from someone that you think might resonate with your sports marketing peers?

A: Practice physical distancing, practice good hygiene and isolate yourself if you need to, still seems like valuable and appropriate advice for this time.

Looking for ways to engage your fans in the new world of fan engagement? Contact us to book a demo and learn how Tradable Bits can help future-proof your marketing plan and help keep you ahead of the curve.


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