By Seb Floyd: This summer’s transfer window has seen a growing trend of creative, and often extravagant, signing announcements. The highly anticipated player reveal has become a fantastic way for clubs to engage with fans through social media, especially as they look to grow their own followings through the arrival of new stars.
Some of these announcements have hit the mark, others have been way off, while many have presented a new way for club sponsors to get more visibility for their brand.
Th idea of announcing a new player through creative video content was sparked by Manchester United’s 2016 effort for the return of Paul Pogba. United’s kit supplier Adidas announced the return of Pogba with a cinematic music video featuring rapper Stormzy alongside the hashtag #Pogback. The video received huge attention across social media with 353,256 retweets in the first 24 hours of airing.
Another sponsor led announcement came from Watford this summer, who used their shirt sponsor, Football Manager, to reveal their new striker Andre Gray. The video used footage from the computer game to tease a new signing by showing some of the striker’s stats, before Gray appears on screen to confirm the move.
One of the big talking points in early July was John Terry signing for Aston Villa and the social media team at Villa mocked up a fake Whatsapp group to announce the former England skipper. This received mixed reviews with many Villa fans finding the announcement cringe worthy. One commentator said: “Why do we have to do everything in such an embarrassing way FFS.” However, some praised the club’s marketing department saying: “This is one of the best pieces of social media marketing I’ve ever seen in my life,” and despite some fans’ preference for a more traditional announcement, the fake Whatsapp group proved engaging with 21,000 retweets, 29,000 likes and 1,600 comments.
The best parody came courtesy of Southampton who produced a Hollywood blockbuster-looking film to announce the one year contract extension of perennial bench sitter Stuart Taylor. The video was widely lauded as the best video of this nature as the Saints openly mocked other signing announcements by calling it “Another unnecessarily elaborate football club signing video”.
Deadline day threw up a number of quirky announcements, including Swansea’s tweet announcing Wilfried Bony’s return to the club. In the video the Swans fan favourite is filmed singing his own chant: “SO COME ON WILFRIED BONY SCORE SOME GOALS FOR SWANSEA. WE GO WILD WILD WILD.” The video went down a storm with Swansea fans and football fans alike who are pleased to see the big Ivorian back at the Liberty Stadium where he rose to prominence and played his best football.
Special mention goes to Chelsea and their announcement of Antonio Rudiger, which featured the worst acting performance since Nicholas Cage in Face/Off. The video features a young lad asking his Dad for a shirt with Rudiger on the back, even though the German hadn’t been announced by the club yet. However, thanks to Rudiger’s arrival at the club and flawless editing, the 24-year-old was able to print his name on the shirt for the youngster.
Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid have, by and large, stuck to the traditional tried and tested methods with player announcements, whereby the new signings head out onto the pitch to do a few keepy-uppies for the crowd. This way is generally risk free, until you sign players who are unable to do a few keepy-uppies. This was the case for Barcelona with £135 million signing Ousmane Dembele, whose air-kicks and failed flicks went viral earlier this week. The same can be said for Real Madrid signing Theo Hernandez who aimlessly hoofed a ball up in the air for a few minutes, before giving up.
AS Roma seem to have won the award for the strangest announcement video of the summer when they signalled the arrival of Patrick Schick from Sampdoria. The video included a bizarre amalgamation of clips ranging from a monkey bashing a keyboard, a tuneful lion and an angry goat playing chess. Roma have previous too. Earlier in the summer they poked fun at the elaborate announcement videos of other clubs when Aleksander Kolarov joined the team. In the clip, a club representative tries to sell an extravagant announcement idea to the deadpan left back, only for him to say no.
It’s no surprise to see brands and clubs collaborating to elevate the player announcement into a bigger platform for fan engagement – and more and more it looks to be following the same pattern as kit launches, which have grown from a simple photo op to evermore elaborate releases across the past decade.
Thankfully, with the window now slammed shut for another four months, we can get back to concentrating what happens on the pitch.