First off, Happy New Year 2015. May it be a healthy, peaceful, and prosperous one for all of us, with loads of exciting football entertainment.
Like every year, clubs, athletes and football associations around the globe sent out their best New Year’s wishes on December 31st or January 1st. In most parts of the world it is customary to do so in business as well as in private life. The internet has made it much easier for football brands to directly reach fans with a short message that can be of high importance to the receiver.
Sanderson and Kassing (ed. Billings, 2011:115) assess that traditionally, [sports brands] and fans have been comparatively non-influential in the production of sports media, but social media like blogs and Twitter have unhinged this traditional architecture, in unprecedented ways, shifting how sports stories unfold. This means, fans can reply to such a New Year’s message instantaneously and show their appreciation to the brand and the entire internet. Rein, Kotler and Shields (2006:54) underline that the first critical step in reaching, attracting and retaining fans is understanding how the fan connects to a sport. Of special interest in regard to the topic of this post is what Rein, Kotler and Shields (2006:59) refer to as the communication connectors—social currency and family, where social currency serves as a common bond between groups of friends, communities, and business and professional relationships across all geographical regions and economic classes. In the same vein, Tara Hunt (2009:115-116) suggests to participate in the community a brand serves, because [social currency] is built through forming strong relationships with customers and potential customers. And, in my opinion, wishing someone something nice cannot be bad for forming a relationship.
Goldberg et al. (2009:263) cite the New Oxford American Dictionary that defines a wish as a desire or hope for something to happen, and they add that some wishes are far-reaching fantasies and aspirations, while others deal with everyday concerns like economic and medical distress. As we will see in the examples below, most brands decided to keep it simple and just wish a ‘Happy New Year’. That could of course be due to the 140-character restriction in a single tweet. Nevertheless, a simple wish, for what Bühler, Chadwick and Nufer (2010:64) call “the lifeblood of the sports business and the most important customer group for sporting organisations,” is already much better than no wish at all.
Bühler, Chadwick and Nufer (2010:64) explain that the whole sports business depends on fans, and that companies engage in sports sponsorship because they want to reach their target group (i.e. fans) through their association with the respective sporting organisation. For this matter, football brands strive for a formal relationship with fans, which results from the transformation of a follower into a member; hence, strengthening the bond between the sports property and the fan (Fullerton, 2010:547). Such a formal relationship refers to an ongoing cooperative behaviour aimed at establishing, developing and maintaining successful relationship exchanges (Ferrand; ed. Robinson et al., 2012:240), and there is widespread acknowledgement that mass communication [—and we consider Twitter a mass communication channel because of its one-to-many feature—] influences attitudes and behaviour because individuals learn and share information through communication (Funk and Filo; ed. Robinson et al., 2012:282).
By now it seems common knowledge that people feel the need to be connected and communicate with people and brands they care about. I was once in a meeting were a manager demanded not to communicate any ‘best wishes’ for occasions such as Christmas, New Year, Easter etc., since, according to him, everyone does that and it is a washed up routine. After spending a few moments on that thought and doing research on that matter, I came to the conclusion that he was partially right. Yes, most brands do it in a similar way with mostly the same wordings. Yes, it seems like a routine. However, if a brand can come up with an original idea, it can cut through the clutter and maybe win a few new followers or even potential fans.
In this case, I suggest that clubs, athletes and football organisation take any opportunity to send best wish to their fans and followers. Because that is simply what anyone would do with their loved ones, friends, neighbours, colleagues or business partners.
Here a few tweets and posts with best Christmas and New Year’s wishes from various football properties. Which one was your favourite?
Billings, A. (2011). Sports media. New York: Routledge, p.115.
Bühler, A., Chadwick, S. and Nufer, G. (2010). Relationship marketing in sports. Amsterdam: Butterworth-Heinemann, p.64.
Fullerton, S. (2010). Sports marketing. Boston: McGraw-Hill Irwin, p. 547.
Goldberg, A., Fillmore, N., Andrzejewski, D., Xu, Z., Gibson, B. and Zhu, X. (2009). May All Your Wishes Come True: A Study of Wishes and How to Recognize Them. In: NAACL ’09 Proceedings of Human Language Technologies: The 2009 Annual Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics. [online] Stroudsburg, PA, USA: Association for Computational Linguistics, p.263. Available at: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1620793 [Accessed 3 Jan. 2015].
Hunt, T. (2009). The whuffie factor. New York: Crown Business, pp.115-116.
Rein, I., Kotler, P. and Shields, B. (2006). The elusive fan. New York: McGraw-Hill, pp.54, 59.
Robinson, L., Chelladurai, P., Bodet, G. and Downward, P. ed., (2012). Routledge Handbook of Sport Management. 1st ed. London: Routledge, pp.240, 282.