Scott Hutchison

Soccer Influencers, Fan Advocacy and a Bucket of Chicken

We read a lot about a perceived lack authenticity in marketing these days. Consumers, especially the millennial ones, are tuning out messages they feel are artificial, phony and contrived. You could argue (for example) that the days of Cristiano Ronaldo selling fans a bucket of KFC aren’t dead, but they may soon be fried.


Want to use soccer to sell fans a bucket of chicken? With all due respect to Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, maybe he’s better suited to promote the Colonel’s 11 secret herbs and spices. Speaking for myself, I revere the new Ronaldo’s “soccer bod” but I resemble the original Ronaldo’s “dad bod.” That resemblance is a much stronger point of connection, and it’s much more believable when pitching me on a few finger-licking-good meals.


So here’s a 2016 resolution for all us brand marketers: cut the crap.

Be real. Engender trust. Inform and involve customers so you can develop real relationships. From a sports marketing perspective, one way we can all do this is by embracing a new definition of superstar influence.

It should come as no surprise, but in today’s world soccer players on the field are now complimented by a whole slew of equally important players off the field. Bloggers, vloggers, supporters groups, digital evangelists and social media mavens, to select just a few. They may not be the household names, and they may not even have a registered Q Score, but here’s what they do have…large audiences, loyal followers and strong relationships.

Just look at the difference between US Soccer YouTube content on the team’s owned channel (where videos are routinely viewed 5,000 – 35,000 times) and YouTube content from a FIFA Gameplay influencer like Japes who bleeds red, white and blue (currently delivering routine viewership of 25,000 – 75,000 per video). Beyond views, think about the relatability of the messenger. While this still may feel somewhat counter-intuitive to me and you, younger soccer fans are more motivated by a relatable spokesperson.

Lastly, and most importantly, let’s leverage the emotional connection from sports to bring out the superstar in our existing consumers. Make them feel empowered and willing to share their own user-generated content. Why should we make such an effort to drive consumer advocacy? Check it out c/o Mashable, below.


In soccer terms, fans love their Clubs and love their players. Most critically though, fans love this sport. Brand marketers who use the power and breadth of soccer to its fullest should be able to kick ass in the marketplace while also kicking back with a tasty bucket of KFC.


Categories: Digital Content, Featured, Soccer Marketing, Social Media, Sponsorship, Supporters Groups, Thought Leadership, U.S. Soccer, YouTube