Fan Designed Football Kit Shows Business the Promise of Social Media Communities

Published Dec-31-12

Olympique Marseille become the first football team in the world to crowdsource the team strip.

Olympique Marseille, France

The Story:

Fan Designed Football Kit Shows Business the Promise of Social Media Communities Online social media communities are playing an increasingly visible role in helping companies to ideate, innovate and solve problems. In addition, a loyal and engaged online consumer base can pay enormous dividends and keep the tills ringing as the Olympique Marseilles football team has discovered.

The French side wanted to celebrate the fact that its Facebook page had received more than one million hits and reward fans for their devotion. So they turned over the design of their official kit to them. In collaboration with sportswear manufacturer Adidas the club developed a Facebook app that let fans select a range of styles, colors, and layout for the kit. Free-form kit ideas couldn't be submitted.

The response from the club’s international database of fans was huge as more than 60,000 submissions were received. After months of development, discussions and judging the club let the final decision rest with fans and presented them with a number of options from the original idea haul.

The resulting strip was worn by the players during several league and domestic cup matches, and went on sale in the club’s shop.

Closer Bonds

The idea was a simple but effective one. By engaging their fans in this way the club strengthened its bonds with them, giving participants a feeling of a sense of ownership of the club. Football fans are not shy about coming forward with opinions about their favorite teams and they want to play an active role in some of their activities, to be listened to and know that their opinions are valued.

This is also what is happening right now with consumer brands in multiple industries as through social media customers are having more of a say and influence. They want to be involved in making the brands they like the best they can be. They have the tools, time and inclination to do so.

For companies who can form strong online relationships with their consumers and use social media well, this is business dynamite. It’s no longer a one-way top down conversation, it’s a multi-level ongoing dialogue between brand and customer and customer and customer.

Untapped Potential

The potential of these interactions have barely been tapped into, but deeper consumer involvement offers a lot of brain power that can be put to good use in a number of areas:

• To design a t-shirt or logo – this is probably one of the most basic levels of
engagement, but nevertheless it can create big wins.

• To market research – you can engage your entire social media following, or a small
subset to really get some deeper and more prolonged feedback than you could
ever hope to receive from surveys and focus groups. These consumers may even
have ideas to improve your products.

• To create new products and services – this is frontier territory at the moment: how
to successfully work with an online community to create something new. The
crowd is willing and there is expert knowledge and ideas among their number.
Companies that are able to successfully tap into this could look forward to some very
bright tomorrows.

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