eToro’s Dylan Holman on Introducing Bitcoin to the Premier League

See how one game-changing football sponsorship brought Bitcoin to football’s biggest stage.

Ahead of the 2018/2019 season, eToro invested in a unique seven club partnership in the Premier League. Alongside football sponsorship agency, SportQuake, eToro’s Senior Manager Global Sponsorship, Dylan Holman and SportQuake CEO, Matt House discuss the background to the deal, the ‘watershed moment’ for football’s fintech revolution and the long-term impact that the partnerships have had for the brand.

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Background: Aiming to Capitalise on a Bitcoin Boom

Dylan Holman: As a business, eToro had always been well known globally. Our marketing budget had been concentrated on ad spend within digital (acquisition) based channels but we’d previously experimented with football sponsorship via a partnership with West Ham.

Timing was key following 2017’s bitcoin boom. We recognised this was a big moment for crypto, and we wanted to capitalise on this unprecedented mainstream buzz to grow awareness of eToro and our multi-asset investment platform.

Additionally, we felt that in the UK, eToro was facing significant competition in the digital space, and we needed to enhance our brand presence to raise awareness and build long-term brand loyalty. We wanted to explore new ways that would enable us to do this – not just in Europe, but globally.

Matt House: As Dylan mentions, this was a critical moment for bitcoin as 2017’s bitcoin boom had attracted mainstream attention on an unprecedented global scale. We understood they wanted to capitalise on this increased awareness of cryptocurrency to position themselves as a world leading investment platform, not just for crypto but a range of other assets too.

Football offered the perfect platform to do this given its worldwide reach. More and more trading brands were investing in sponsorship, so we focused our efforts on developing a unique strategy that would allow eToro to break through the noise.

Strategic Development: A unique Premier League Partnership

Holman: SportQuake was fundamental in helping us find the right strategy, using their industry knowledge to find the white space where we could have most impact. They highlighted parallels in the growth of the online betting industry in football a decade earlier and identified the success Bet365 had had with a multi-club aggregation model. Despite their success, no trading brand had employed a similar approach.

With this in mind, we developed a seven-club partnership across the Premier League, providing a high-density marketing platform that gave us guaranteed weekly global TV coverage via match day LED and interview back drop placement.

Our strategic objective was to reach as wide an audience as possible and this strategy gave us an ‘always on’ presence with 38 match days spread over 10 months. In total, eToro branding appeared at 35% of Premier League games in 2018/2019 (133/380), with an audience of approximately 1.12bn fans.

Focusing on credibility and reach, we enhanced credibility by partnering with a top six club. Tottenham Hotspur spearheaded the campaign, while we achieved global reach alongside six additional clubs in 2018/2019 – Leicester City, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Brighton & Hove Albion, Cardiff City and Newcastle United.

House: Our proprietary analysis showed a growing trend of online trading brands in football. The sector was reaching a tipping point, in a similar way to online betting before it, so we looked there for proven growth strategies. Bet365 had utilised a multi-asset strategy in their ascent of the online betting industry, but no online trading brand had replicated this approach.

Adopting an aggregation strategy would differentiate eToro and put them on the map as a Premier League sponsor, not just a club sponsor, elevating them alongside the league’s other blue-chip partners, including global financial leaders such as Barclays, driving credibility for eToro further.

Activation: The First Premier League Partnership Paid in Bitcoin and beyond…

Holman: As with any sports sponsorship, the activation is key. We wanted to achieve two main things with ours.

The first was to leverage the increased interest in bitcoin, generated by 2017s boom, to drive awareness of eToro across the globe. This was a focus of the first year. We did this by becoming the first brand in the league to pay for a partnership in bitcoin.

The move immediately caught the eye of fans and press alike, instilling increased trust in digital currency while simultaneously positioning ourselves as a progressive company at the forefront of the industry. We were recognised for this change, with Forbes citing the move as a ‘watershed moment’ and eToro as the leaders of football’s fintech revolution.

We maintained this awareness with various digital initiatives throughout 2018/19, including the Crypto Factor YouTube series. We amplified this message among our target audience by working closely with large sports portals such as joe.co.uk.

Cryptocurrency trading is just one of the services we offer though. After building initial brand awareness with our unique payment, our second objective for the remainder of 2018/2019 and into 2019/20 was to instil fans with a greater understanding of our full offering and the wide variety of asset classes we offer, including stocks and commodities.

To do this, we launched eToro FC, a fan community focused on educating supporters about investing. We built a standalone football website, working closely with each club partner to drive traffic to it, where we published insightful content and club-themed competitions. All of this was done to engage fans and get them thinking specifically about eToro and the prospect of investing.

House: The partnership really came into its own in the activation phase. The huge match day presence gave eToro the reach and credibility they desired, while the move to pay for the partnership in bitcoin proved a masterstroke, creating huge intrigue and positioning the brand as bitcoin pioneers.

Throughout their first two years in the Premier League, eToro excelled in activating in a way that would appeal to football fans while retaining relevancy to their brand. Their digital activation reached 50m+ supporters on social media alone and was complimented by educational offline activity, including stadium-hosted investment workshops and the eToro Fan Financial Statement in association with KPMG, all designed to get fans thinking about how they invest their money. 

Results: eToro’s Most Valuable Marketing Platform

Holman: In short, the partnership had a huge impact. The ‘always on’ approach gave us an excellent platform to accelerate global reach, while the additional activations allowed eToro to grow massive awareness and maintain fan interest to educate them on investing. It has become our most cost-effective UK marketing channel as a result.

House: It’s important to mention that the strategy has proved itself, grown and kept on growing with eToro now partnering with 15 clubs across the Premier League, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and the Danish Superliga. And it’s only just getting started…

Holman: As a leading investment platform with over fifteen million users, we believe sponsorships are a powerful tool that help build and reinforce eToro as a world class brand. We will be working with our clubs to make the financial markets more accessible than ever, using our partnerships to help bring fans closer to the action and educating them on investing.

This is the first in a series of articles in partnership with SportQuake exploring the growing trend of fintech brands investing in football sponsorships. The next article, looking at the development of Libertex’s European football strategy, will be published on Wednesday 4th November.

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