LONDON: Brands continue to invest in the English Premier League and its top players as they look to exploit a 4.4bn global football audience.
Carlsberg is the latest brand to associate itself with top-flight English football, in a three-year deal that makes it the Official Beer of the Premier League. As part of its plans it intends to increase the frequency of football-related content it publishes online.
"Any brand worth its salt would take a look at the Premier League [as an opportunity]," Rob Sellers, a director at shopper agency Dialogue, told Marketing.
"Football is still the heartbeat of people in the UK," he said. "Look at Twitter trends at any given moment: it's what people talk about."
And the Premier League is hoping to export that attitude to the US where it has a three-year deal with broadcaster NBC to show live games.
"Football is going to become the fourth biggest sport in the biggest market in the world, and that is huge," said Antony Marcou, group managing director at sports media marketing business Sports Revolution.
"It opens the Premier League up to more US brands because, unlike the NFL or Major League Baseball, the Premier League has genuinely global coverage," he added.
Sponsors are reported to want to go beyond a pure media buy and develop more innovative strategies. Andy Kenny, managing director at BrandRapport, told Marketing Week: "The challenge for Premier League clubs is helping marketers identify an area of football they can own and then get traction from that on a global scale."
Footballers too are being targeted by brands, as Repucom's Celebrity DBI Index has classified Manchester United's Robin van Persie as the Premier League player most likely to resonate with fans worldwide, followed by Arsenal's Jack Wilshere and Tottenham's Gareth Bale.
High-profile managers are also being utilised, with Audi said to be involving new Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho in a social media initiative.
The enthusiasm for association with the English Premier League has even extended to Wales, where the Welsh Government is hoping to use the presence of two Welsh clubs – Cardiff and Swansea – as a way of branding Wales as a good place to invest.
Data sourced from Campaign, Marketing Week, BBC, Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff