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Brand Strategy Mergers and Acquisitions Sports Marketing

How the Euro 2020 delay helped Just Eat cook up a better sponsorship


By John McCarthy, Opinion editor

June 9, 2021 | 7 min read

Early in 2020 Just Eat and Netherlands compatriot’s hunger to merge was appeased, allowing it to form a pan-European food delivery giant. The new business was short on time to integrate the brands and marketing teams in time for a certain pan-European football tournament, a little something called the Euros. Marijn Luchtman, head of global sponsorships at the food giant, discusses how the subsequent delay to the football competition proved to be a “good scenario” for its sponsorship activation, if nothing else.


A European TV campaign courtesy of McCann has been regionalized for each market

In 2019, signed a global partnership with Uefa to become the official Food Delivery Platform Partner, securing in-stadium advertising, child player escorts and thousands of tickets for customers to win. Meanwhile, the Dutch firm was subject to competition watchdogs in merging with the UK’s Just Eat.

Marijn Luchtman, head of global sponsorships at Just Eat, said: “We couldn’t even talk to each other, it would have been impossible to activate the sponsorship in a fully integrated way in 2020.”

One year later, that’s not the case. Now Just Eat (note the merged corporate branding) comes to market with a global Euros sponsorship, activating on different names in different markets in what will be a highly localized campaign. While it operates as Just Eat in the UK, leads in the Netherlands and it is Pyszne in Polish (Delicious) and Lieferando in German – all shaped by a patchwork of acquisitions throughout the years.

“From the last quarter of 2020, we started to work as a fully integrated marketing team. We now work very closely with our brands and campaign team,” says Luchtman.

So what has it produced?

The Euros work

Just Eat has worked with McCann and Dark Horses to produce parts of the campaign. One’s a long-time partner and created the iconic Snoop Dogg work. Dark Horses came aboard in February (when it also picked up TikTok) with a different brief.

A European TV campaign courtesy of McCann, featuring stars Cantona, Buffon, Virgil Van Dyke, Podolski and Torres, has been regionalized for each market and will run around key fixtures.

From Dark Horses a multi-purpose social creative will work across all markets on social. It looks to drum up excitement about the thousands of tickets the firm is handing out to lucky customers.

With lower in-stadium capacity due to the pandemic, these tickets will be in higher demand than ever, and Luchtman has been aware of this. Both campaigns have to tie into delivery – something you have to nail in both football and food.

“It’s all about the marriage between food and football. All our activations have to tie into this delivery moment.”

The ticket giveaway “seems easy” but to “connect it to your product and take into account all the legal regulations, country by country, would have been literally impossible in just a couple of months”.

“Many sponsors give away tickets, but most of the time that’s only 20 tickets or 40 tickets – we are literally giving away thousands.”

This work can run anywhere. In the UK, the Just Eat team adopted the orange branding, as did others within the corporate structure in Europe.

Josh Pearce, a creative at Dark Horses, said it was a “lovely brief” because the team didn’t need to manufacture a “tenuous” link to explain the brand’s place in football. “There is a connection between the joy of your food arriving, mixed with the joy of watching your favorite team play. It’s such a seamless and lovely relationship and it’s almost a ritual.”

The team had just three weeks to deliver the ad, which demonstrates a fairly impressive powerslide. The team chuckled about how they tried to engineer the slide before CGI-ing out a pulley-system. An oiled-up man would have been a cheaper way to do it, he laughed.

On top of that, Just Eat’s considering how to showcase its exclusive escort experiences, which is bringing top players to the doorsteps of child fans. Moving the experience from in-stadium to fan’s doorsteps was the natural solution in Covid-19 times. Additionally, Luchtman was keen to say that Just Eat has in-stadium applications coming down the line. It is being piloted for food delivery – she ordered a hotdog at the Amsterdam Arena just one week earlier.

It’ll be a sure-fire hit and easier to predict than the tournament’s winner. As the competition advances, you’ll see fans receive tickets and children receive their escorts. National wings of the Just Eat family will be both hoping for (and dreading) the success of their team.

Luchtman says: “The local marketing teams are ready for their countries to progress. They’re prepared to have only a week for work to go live.”

Finally, she’s giving thought to more reactive data-centric marketing, like Spotify Wrapped. It will be able to tell fans how many pizzas were ordered at halftime during a huge fixture. Or who was celebrating a big win with, say, an ice cream delivery. There are fun executions in the pipeline.

Why the Euros?

It is fair to say the organization is all-in on the saturated sports sponsorship space. Its research with Nielsen found that a considerable chunk of people think about food delivery when watching sports with friends.

“Football is the biggest sport and the most logical choice, but then in that landscape you can pick clubs or federations or athletes.”

Rivals are picking away at other properties for a hope of legitimacy and a share of the voice in the space. She’s reluctant to comment on their strategies. For her, the Euros markets fit that of Just Eat

Luchtman argues that it is actually a “cost-efficient” media investment, rather than setting up huge teams to do it country by country around smaller events.

Since securing the Euros, the organization has since picked up all the top European competitions from Uefa, including in the women’s game. Expect to see hints of future strategies served up this summer.

Brand Strategy Mergers and Acquisitions Sports Marketing

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