Umbro – From Zero to Hat-Trick Hero With Social Media
Perhaps it’s because Umbro can’t easily be turned into a catchy acronym for loving sports like their competitor Adidas (All Day I Dream About Soccer).
Maybe it’s because Umbro makes the kit for hometown also-ran Manchester City, while Manchester United, popular around the world, boasts the Nike Swoosh. Nike purchased Umbro in 2007, while Man U has just seemed to own their crosstown rivals for much of the last decade or two.
Regardless, Umbro, once the world’s leading supplier of soccer clothing, has fallen on some tough times.
In response, the Manchester-based company has turned to social media in an effort to right the ship. As you might expect from a company looking to boost its reputation with a large audience, Umbro is pretty much anywhere you’d want to be including Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, and interacting with its audience well.
What is interesting is the evolution of their approaches to increase participation online, that have grown from the uninspired to the innovative.
Their first attempt (shown) can be considered the baseline of their efforts because while it reached a large audience, it didn’t offer any kind of explanation of what Umbro had to offer online (i.e. it was pretty lame). During a widely-watched Manchester Derby in January, Umbro posted a scrolling advertisement pitch-side announcing “Follow us at twitter.com/umbro.” Even though Umbro put its Twitter page out to roughly 47,000 soccer fans present at the game, and a significantly larger audience watching at home, it failed to really give its audience any compelling reason to connect with them on Twitter.
Still, as a result of the game, they gained more than 4,000 followers. According to one blogger’s calculations, that came out to roughly one pound of spending per follower, which isn’t much, particularly considering that it was the beginning of a campaign to build the Umbro brand leading into the World Cup. In the end, even though Umbro gained a decent sized audience, the efforts certainly lacked the imagination and creativity that may have significantly increased the response.
In May, Umbro again made an in road into social media. At another Manchester City game, Umbro challenged City supporters (Citizens, to those in the know) to break the record for check-ins on Foursquare at a single event. The failed to break the record, but were able to get just more than 100 fans to check in from City of Manchester Stadium. Umbro also offered a free t-shirt to 11 of the fans that checked in, and everyone earned the “Swarm” badge for joining the event. Interesting, but still not an overwhelming amount of imagination.
With the World Cup, however, Umbro unveiled a unique Twitter monitoring page, Terrace Tweets. The page shows tweets during a game, attempting to show “who wins off the pitch as well as on it.” Terrace Tweets also shows the pictures that are being shared about the game and shows the actual statistics from the game. All in all, it’s a great way to follow how fans are reacting to the game online. It was last used for USA v England, and you can still view how the game progressed on Twitter by replaying the feed, which is pretty cool.
Looking back, Umbro seems to have used the first half of 2010 as a testing period to see what works and what doesn’t while building the audience.
Looking ahead they promise to continue to offer ways to interact with their audience online, and if they can build on the creativity and originality they used to create Terrace Tweets, or their new iPhone app “Umbro Chants,” they should take strides to regain their once proud status.