Adidas’ carefully crafted reveal of Paul Pogba’s switch to Manchester United has been praised by many but what did it actually do for the brand? New data reveals the secrets behind its social success.
It’s hailed as the first transfer to play out over social media, with everyone from Pogba’s agent to rapper Stormzy playing a part in teasing what quickly became football’s worst secret. When the switch was finally announced on Tuesday (9 August), excitement was at fever pitch and analysis from Burst Insights spotlights where and how Adidas was able to benefit from it all.
Much of the immediate uplift came from United’s social media presence, which the German brand was all too happy to piggyback on given the limited scale of its own in comparison. None was this more noticeable than in the way music video with Pogba and Stormzy was viewed; Adidas have a follower count that’s 10 per cent of the Premier League giant, though only 5 per cent of views for the music video within the first 10 hours came from the brand’s original post, revealed the study.
United shared 15 social video posts across Twitter, Instagram and Vine between 12.20am BST and 5pm BST on 9 August, all of which featured the Adidas logo except for three that showed the back of the Pogba’s club shirt. Most (10) of the 15 videos were posted in the early hours of 9 August, which suggests a strategy of targeting a global market of time zones including Asia and the US as key markets.
The timing of the announcement had such importance that by the time fans in the UK woke up to the news, the majority of the engagement on the short social video announcements by United, Adidas UK and Adidas Football accounts had already been and gone. The initial United announcement on Twitter, ‘Are you ready? #POGBACK', achieved 95 per cent of likes and 83 per cent of retweets before 9.30am BST on morning of the transfer.
“What was immediately fascinating to me was the global co-ordination and timing of the announcement that everyone had been waiting for - Pogba signing for Manchester United,” said Michael Litman, chief executive of Burst Insights.
“The timing certainly didn’t happen by coincidence considering it was the evening in LA, New York and Chicago while also being the early morning before the work day began in Tokyo and Beijing. This has been a long time in the making. Even down to Pogba being driven to the training ground in a Chevrolet Camaro targeting fans in USA and China. (Chevrolet no longer produce or sell cars in Europe.) This was a masterstroke in joined up thinking across geographies, channels and brand sponsors.”
Across the 10 videos posted in the early hours (BST), the engagement metrics accrued were consistently between 84-89 per cent - Twitter Retweets (89 per cent) ; Twitter Likes (84 per cent) ; Instagram Likes (85 per cent) ; Instagram Comments (86 per cent) ; Instagram Views (65 per cent) – highlighting how key the timing of the posts were to getting maximum exposure for both Adidas and United.
Interestingly, Instagram views before 10am 9th August represented 65 per cent of total views (up to 10am 10th August BST). This suggests that video viewership has a longer tail than consumers are willing to wait to put their social engagement seal of approval on it, according to Litman.
Twitter won the platform wars, with 9 videos posted versus 5 on Instagram and 1 on Vine driving people to get their shirt with Pogba on the back.
Pogba is where Adidas want him and if the data is to be believed that union could blossom into a powerful platform for the brand going into the new season.