Watford Football Club Ladies’ latest sponsor isn’t a soft drinks giant or a telecoms brand but creative agency Creature, which hopes the deal will tangibly validate its mantra of ‘intelligent misbehaviour’.
The staunchly independent Creature joins the likes of Fitness 4 Less and Metro Printing on the club’s sponsor wall for the 2017-18 season. While it’s presumably immaterial to Watford where their cash flow comes from, it’s certainly an offbeat decision for any agency to get into the sponsorship game as a brand in itself.
“We quite like doing things that you wouldn't normally expect an advertising agency to do,” explained Dan Cullen-Shute, chief executive of Creature. “Women's football is growing at an amazing pace, and I'm sure we're not the only agency that's spent time over the last year telling our clients that they should get involved in some way, shape or form.
“That's why, when the opportunity to get involved with Watford Ladies FC came across our desks, we fought the instinctive response to start calling our clients, and snaffled it for ourselves.”
In general, London’s creative scene has a soft spot for Watford as place: many of today’s hot shots studied on Tony Cullingham’s advertising course there and recall their days in the Junction with fondness. This is true for Creature (“[it’s]given us a lot of our best creatives,” said Cullen-Shute), however it was a meeting with Ed Henderson, the team’s general manager, which led the shop to inking the deal.
“It's also a club that's going through a really exciting period, and we're properly excited to be going through it along with them,” Cullen-Shute added. “Also: Creature and the Hornets [the club’s colloquial name]. It just makes sense.”
Creature’s chief is realistic when it comes to looking – or not looking – for return on investment. While he’d like to “unearth a whole host of chief marketing officers with a massive, yearning affection for Watford Ladies FC, who will now refuse to work with agencies who haven't sponsored their beloved Hornets”, the sponsorship is simply about the agency placing itself at the heart of the women’s game constantly growing in popularity; the Women’s Euros this summer saw a 116% rise in viewership.
Creature has – naturally – announced the sponsorship with a campaign video, featuring members of Watford FC Women’s ‘disrupting’ the agency’s Shoreditch office environment.
“If the first seven days is anything to go by, it's going to be a pretty fun season,” said Cullen-Shute.