Meet the adman who thinks he's created the ultimate smartwatch for data-hungry football fanatics

Fantom

While smartwatches have atypically opened up to a less than warm response, a Swedish start-up reckons it has solved the main issue plaguing the tech: purpose.

Fantom is to release a smartwatch for devoted football fans that will be outfitted in team colours. The device is positioned to “fuel fans with insights and commitment,” with direct involvement from the top teams, according to company founder and former adman Carl Norberg.

On how he birthed the idea, Noberg said that he spent he spent his whole career in advertising selling people things they don’t need, and now he wants to change that.

“Eight years ago I decided to move on and started an app agency, when I founded Monterosa (since acquired by BBH/Publicis, and rebranded to BBH Stockholm) working for some of the biggest commercial brands in the world such as Mini, Google, Justin Bieber and more.

“Here I was working with audiences that are somewhat already convinced, otherwise they wouldn’t download, use, spread the word of the app. The natural next step for me was to move into a field where people are insanely convinced, and have a strong and loyal affinity to their favourite sports club or music artist, fans.”

Noberg spotted in a gap in the market, potentially desirable to football clubs and their fans: wearable tech that cultivates fan engagement.

“There’s a distance between fans and clubs that’s a true problem for both parties,” he said, adding that the club could control the noise on the Fantom, as opposed to fans on third party social media accounts and platforms. He branded his device “a media channel on the skin of the fans".

A potential factor that has hindered sales of smartwatches since Apple’s high-profile, low-impact launch of the Apple Watch is the fact that the devices don’t do anything that a smartphone can’t. “A smartwatch is like a swiss army knife, with zillions of features people rarely use. Fantom has one purpose and one purpose only. To connect fans to their club, wherever they are in the world, strengthening the relationship between fan and club.

“Fans want the real stuff, the inside info, when it happens directly from the source, the club. Fantom is a dialogue, not a monologue, enabling fans to share opinions directly with the club at the press of a button.”

The Fantom launches later in the year. The company is keeping a lid on which teams will be on board for launch and how much they will cost. At the moment, fans are being asked to sign up their interest at a microsite, listing their location and favoured club to help the company understand its leading audience.

Noberg keenly says there are passionate fans beyond football. He concluded: “Football is our first focus, we can move into other sports and verticals such as music artists, celebs.

John McCarthy

John is an entertainment marketing reporter at The Drum. He writes about the amazing marketing stories coming from the movie, TV, music and video game industries. He's also the hunt for the weirder trends in marketing and advertising.

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