The memorability for the classic Barça kit and colours is massive worldwide. But this coming season, Barcelona have, for the first time, shunned their red and blue stripes in favour of a Croatia-esque kit with checkers in those famous colours. With Frankie de Jong and possibly even Antoine Griezmann and Neymar Jr. joining in the summer, the Blaugrana will surely sell millions of shirts and keep their incredible amount of followers and fans engaged on social media or in their own online shop. Nevertheless, opportunities for even more growth will always be there – and Barcelona are taking one of them as they cooperate with online game creation system company Roblox. This specific cooperation will see Roblox users, who can create their very own online and mobile games, being able to equip their digital avatars with the brand new Barça kit. And that means, what once was just kind of a uniform for people playing football and those liking the respective team or club is turning into an unmissable opportunity to create new meanings around it in totally new ecosystems. Gaming and kits do have a great connectivity.
For more brand awareness: Barcelona avatars take over on Roblox
As the FC Barcelona is trying to connect with audiences growing up to online and mobile gaming, they have partnered with Roblox, a digital platform where users – they have over 90 million already – can create their own games. As those players can experience different worlds in a 3D-environment, they can now do so with their avatars sporting the new and somewhat unfamiliar looking Barça shirt. The shirt itself was launched with the slogan ‘Talent takes different shapes’ and shall be reminiscent of Barcelona’s Eixample district where a number of Antoni Gaudí’s famous buildings are located. Dídac Lee, FC Barcelona board member and head of Digital Area, said on the official club website:
We are proud to promote this innovative project that will blaze a trail in the world of football. It will enable us to bring FC Barcelona closer to millions of children and teenagers around the world in a way that is authentic to them, all the while helping to foster their creativity through a unique gaming experience. In the FC Barcelona Digital Area, we firmly believe that the best way to connect and generate engagement with our audience is by creating new communication channels to enable interaction across the digital realm, entertainment and sport. This is the first of many initiatives that we will be presenting shortly.
Roblox, with a mission to unite the (digital) world through gaming, will offer the FC Barcelona avatar bundle from July 9th.
Roblox refer to the uniting character of football and gaming and are thereby looking to turn the admittedly strange sight of gaming avatars in a full football kit into something quite logical:
Together with Barça, we want to inspire players to live like true champions, to achieve greatness as one united community. No matter how far apart we are, football and Roblox bring us together through play. So, get out there and make your dreams a reality.
Gaming and football are closely tied – and branding profits
The FC Barcelona have announced their partnership with Roblox the same month they have extended their a partnership with gaming giants Konami. As part of their collaboration, Lionel Messi will be the cover star of eFootball PES 2020.
Additionally, Pro Evolution Soccer will be releasing a special Barça version. This one is being made available to fans in order to get both parties more revenue; and in order to get those fans buying the game, they will be given the chance to decide on the cover of this particular game.
Konami, for their part, will have advertisement shown inside the Nou Camp and in several FC Barcelona contexts as well as having access to the players for further marketing ideas. Josep Pont, FC Barcelona Board Member responsible for the Commercial Area, stated the importance of an approach towards eSports:
We are delighted to be able to renew our partnership with KONAMI. Our relationship began three years ago and this new agreement as Global Partners is testament to our shared journey, with clear commitment to the quest for excellence and to such common values as effort, teamwork and respect. It also reinforces our commitment to connecting with fans all around through the e-sports universe.
The growing importance of eSports and gaming is considered for marketing and revenue-driving efforts at many clubs, as Reza Abdolali from blackbird eSports told us in an interview:
We are dealing with a highly networked, young target group, which is also very consumer-friendly and open to new products and services. The fact that games and thus also eSports from the pop and youth culture have become indispensable, makes presence in the eSports sector more and more a ‘mandatory event’ for clubs and advertising companies. A long-term commitment to this area is therefore increasingly being examined by a growing number of companies.
However, clubs should not only tap into eSports for the sake of it, because that might just deter gamers or eSports fans. As Media Chain found out for the UK, the gaming community is very diverse and therefore you have to appraise the audience. The introduction to this study says: “Many brands find it challenging to navigate these audiences due to the cognitive and emotional distance between gaming culture and their marketing teams. Many marketers are guilty of lazily clustering gamers under one banner, creating unsuccessful campaigns built on basic and ineffective insights”. That’s why clubs need to create the right cooperations in a gaming context. The simple idea of selling kits that had been a success on FUT and were actually only a digital asset, was an interesting experiment that had the clubs’ respective brands in the media – and several shirts sold for additional revenue.
Media Chain’s director of gaming, Tom Sweeney, has emphasised in the study that:
Brands, if they haven’t already, will need to start shifting their spend away from programmatic, away from traditional media, and into social content – either creating it themselves, or supporting a creator or channel that the audience is already connected with.
Some have done that by creating marketing opportunities via their eSports connection under their brands. The FC Barcelona has reacted to that by supporting a “channel that the audience is already connected with”, Roblox, and getting their own brand as well as their main shirt sponsor valuable visibility in effect. Eventually, we might have to judge this cooperation later, but the idea of a marketing approach like that is definitely contemporary and leaning towards the demands of modern day digital users. Even the effects of such partnerships that possibly are rather unwanted could help clubs like Barça grow and optimise their own gaming marketing strategy, which will only stand them in good stead for the super football brands’ marketing war that is going on in a digitised world – and increasingly in a gaming context, too.