Last week saw EE fill out Wembley Stadium for a football match that had nothing to do with any major league.
The likes of Jamie Carragher and Robert Pires were on the pitch, 21,000 people came to watch and a live stream of the match hit 275,000 viewers – most of whom were unaware the whole game was a sleek exercise in content marketing.
The match was the finale of the EE Wembley Cup, an eight-part YouTube series that EE produced in partnership football vlogger Spencer FC. The shows featured Spencer as he undertook a range of football related challenges alongside fellow YouTuber Joe Weller in order to win their dream team to play with at Wembley.
Now in its second year, the campaign is arguably one of the first to heavily invest in the power of influencers to appeal to a young male audience. “It’s about us trying to engage with, and have a conversation and a relationship with, a really hard-to-reach audience: super digital savvy young males,” Peter Jeavons, brand director at EE, told The Drum.
“It’s difficult because they just don't consume traditional media like TV, press and out of home. So having a having a series like this was the perfect way for us to do that.”
Much like Vodafone, which is currently after the tweenage crowd, the target audience is an important one for EE to get on side due to their proclivity for high data usage. “They recognise the need for quality in a data network,” said Jeavons. “We're always looking at ways to try and engage with people who really consume data in that way so they were sort of perfect audience.”
Working with agency Poke, EE pinpointed football as “by far the biggest interest” that enraptures that demographic. The brand’s sponsorship of Wembley Stadium was an easy bonus for the campaign, although this year was the first time the final match was broadcast live, thanks to social media’s sudden interest in the medium.
A campaign partnership with EA Sports was also inked to bring six ‘Fifa legends’ exclusive to Xbox to the pitch, piquing the interest of the young audience further. The Bobby Moore Foundation was selected as the charity partner for the initiative.
The quantitative success of the 2016 Wembley Cup has cemented the power of influencers – particularly YouTubers - in EE’s marketing mind, with last year’s series upping brand consideration in the target audience by 10 per cent, and providing 13 million retargeting opportunities online.
Jeavons added: “The challenge this year was to make The Wembley Cup even bigger and better than the hugely successful first series. Last year’s final episode has had nearly 14 million views and I don’t doubt that we’ll beat that figure this year.”