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Brand Strategy Football EA Sports

EA Sports FC v Fifa: marketers score chances of rebrand’s success


By Amy Houston, Senior Reporter

April 26, 2023 | 9 min read

Experts offer their thoughts on the football game’s new look and name. Let’s hope they have better judgment than VAR officials.

EA sports FC

Harris Poll’s Gen Z brand tracker rated EA at number five in the top 20 brands for equity growth / EA

After the announcement in May that EA Sports and Fifa would be parting ways after three decades of partnership, it’s been hotly debated what would come next for the franchise. Last week we got our first look.

For James Whatley, who is chief strategy officer at Diva Agency, Fifa is shorthand not only for “football video game” but also “nights in or online with your mates”. Amid Fifa’s – the governing body, not the game – reputational plunge in recent years, the ball is safely in EA Sports’ court.

Uncommon was the creative agency tasked with the mammoth reinvention, one that an EA Sports’ top executive likened to the hypothetical rebrand of Coca-Cola.

But Whatley worries that EA Sports FC is a bit of a mouthful. He then proceeded to make a series of “Fee-fah” and “Ee-ay Sports Eff-see” noises to prove the point.

And while Fifa can follow up with its own title, it’s got an uphill struggle ahead.

“EA Sports has been doing this for 30 years. It has made the game, built the brand, and there isn’t a single football video game-playing fan who doesn’t immediately recognize the EA Sports logo (and the related 90s sonic branding),” he says.

“EA has the fans, the partners and the gaming know-how to ensure that its long-term fans will follow.”

But EA has had its share of reputational issues. Arguably the company’s biggest challenge is the perception that as the home of the Fifa license, it was “the bad guy, a necessary evil or home of loot boxes. The fans were not fans. However, over the past five years, it has done an incredible amount of work shoring up and rebuilding brand perception.”

From women’s football to educational partnerships, EA Sports has been putting in the work to mend its reputation. He cites Harris Poll’s Gen Z brand tracker that rated EA at number five in the top 20 brands for equity growth. “EA has never been stronger.”

It’s a sentiment that Amar Singh, head of content and communications at MKTG, echoes.

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Due to the popularity of Fifa Ultimate Team (or Fut to the fans), where the contested loot box mechanics prominently feature, the franchise entered a league of its own.

Its growth has been powered by elements that are quite unique in marketing terms, from a significant global ecosystem of unpaid creators and content channels to genuine love and support by some of the most influential people in the world: footballers.

“In terms of pivoting to a new brand, there is a temptation here to overstate the power of the brand over the power of the product and confuse ‘brand love’ with ‘product love’,” Singh says.

“Gamers will get behind and evangelize about a product based predominantly on the quality of the gameplay and if EA Sports FC retains the elements of gameplay - along with the rights to players, teams and leagues – then I expect it to retain much of that product love.”


The opportunity here to make EA Sports FC stand for more than just a game is massively exciting. “It goes beyond the elegant, triangular logo it has released,” continues Singh.

“The world has changed since Fifa emerged in the late 1990s, and therefore launching a new gaming brand in this new reality with the new creative freedom EA Sports can now enjoy outside of the Fifa tent should be seen as an opportunity more than anything.”

For the brand, it’d be wise to take the game through the nexus of football to other passion points from music, tech, and fashion. The key component is fan culture, Singh says he would advise the publishers to look closely at purpose-driven opportunities and keep Gen Z consumer values in mind.

“The European Super League debacle in 2021 showed us that many fans are disillusioned with the modern game and the mega-wealthy custodians of football’s biggest clubs,” he continues. “That tension offers rich territory for EA Sports FC to explore in their marketing strategy going forward. Can they position the product as being the game of the fans versus the game of the ‘industry’ ahead of a new Fifa game release? It’s quite an exciting creative premise and one that goes way beyond simply making a cool game.”

Chris Allen, managing director at Pitch Marketing Group adds that this all comes with the assumption that the product, its gameplay and the way it innovates, continue to be best in class, as EA Sports is promising. Product is after all one of the four marketer Ps.

“There’s no reason to think that Fifa’s removal will affect that; EA Sports is, after all, the experts in this space and were simply borrowing equity from the Fifa name,” he continues.

“But if EA Sports doesn’t get the product right, then the marketing will fall on deaf ears among a gaming community that over the years have not been afraid to voice their dissatisfaction when other gaming franchises don’t deliver on their gameplay promise.”

EA Sports FC - 01

Naturally, he says, it will take a bit of time for the new brand to become part of the vernacular of its community as the Fifa franchise is something that transcended the world of football and gaming, becoming a cultural reference point for millions.

“The key to getting the new brand to catch on will be ensuring that it activates the idea of ‘FC’ in a way that lands the feeling of fans being truly part of a club and gives them a reason to call it by its name,” he advises. “EA Sports has first mover advantage, so it must make the most of this and move quickly to demonstrate the added benefits to ‘EA Sports FC’ versus the old Fifa.”

He adds that EA Sports has been smart with the launch and its line, ‘The World’s Game’ is “clearly a dig at the very idea of Fifa being the governor of world football and a call to arms for its fans to embrace a footballing democracy through the most popular sports gaming franchise,” he continues.

He wonders if EA Sports FC, free of the license restraints, can now “invest away from Ultimate Team and in areas that their communities want to see,” Allen continues. “EA Sports has the opportunity to turn a challenge into their biggest opportunity yet.”

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