From Ashes to Ashes 2015: Which brand is winning the digital war?

England may have won the first Ashes Test in fine form, but Yorkshire Tea has taken an early lead in the digital series amongst stakeholders. With a home crowd fully behind Alistair Cook’s England side having watched them play brilliantly in the recent series against New Zealand, now is a fantastic moment to capitalise on any association with the England team. Such optimism ahead of The Ashes gives sponsors of the England Cricket team an opportunity to hit for six.

This is the first look, in a series lasting the next six weeks, exploring the various strategies taking place around The Ashes.

Yorkshire Tea

Yorkshire Tea have sponsored the England cricket team since 2013 and have used their existing tongue-in-cheek brand tone to make cricket relevant to the trends of a modern social media audience.

A mix of quirky match updates, unique activations and fan engagement helps make Yorkshire Tea the place to go for light-hearted online Ashes content. Where other stakeholders are still yet to connect with their audience and make their sponsorship unique to them, Yorkshire Tea win.

Whether it’s creating unique content exclusive to them around England’s favourite Yorkshire star, Joe Root…

Or bridging online and offline engagement by asking fans to select their favourite songs for the Yorkshire Tea Band to play during the ‘tea break’…

Yorkshire Tea are the current social media winners of The Ashes for stakeholders.


Despite a slow start from England’s official kit sponsors, now is the perfect time for Waitrose to truly activate their digital campaign around The Ashes. With a first win to give the home side an early lead, it will be interesting to see how Waitrose build their campaign throughout the momentum of the summer until the final Test on August 20th.

With just a single tweet sent from Waitrose so far, wishing the England team luck ahead of the opening Test, their future social media plans are highly anticipated.

To still hit their target audience yet promote their sponsorship, Waitrose could tweet unique and relevant recipes and dishes – as they did with Wimbledon. Perhaps they could run a Vine competition as to who can come up with the ultimate Ashes meal and showcase it via video?

Stitching a logo onto the shirt of every England player heading out onto the field is one way of getting your brand seen, but using digital, there is the potential to reach thousands more people across the world at all times of the day – not just during the hours of play.

One activation that Waitrose are running throughout the 2015 Ashes is a £100 donation towards grassroots cricket for every boundary scored. This will be a great activation to follow and see how Waitrose look to evolve this. Imagine an automatic tracking dashboard that shows which player has hit the most boundaries and an interactive screen highlighting how each boundary will impact grassroots cricket. There is so much that can be done to engage fans and promote Waitrose’s investment and brand values.


Qantas, Australia’s shirt sponsor, also remained fairly quiet throughout the game despite creating personalised content pre-Test. A future blog in this Ashes series will explore the use of social media from Australia’s official partners.

Marston’s Pedigree

Before The Ashes Marston’s Pedigree, the official beer of the England cricket team, set out to capitalise on a big summer of cricket. Tweeting out an emotive graphic using a key player in England’s side looked set to be the start of a series of story-telling and emotive posts. If this runs as a series of emotional highlights around each Ashes Test, this content could be truly impactful with Marston’s audience.

The bitter also had a fantastic idea, using Jimmy Anderson again, to create the ultimate fan team-talk for England. Ahead of The Ashes fans were asked to send in their greatest motivational quotes that they would like to deliver to the England team and also get the chance to win tickets to a game. James Anderson then personally picked out his top ten, collated them onto a frame and then shared them with the England team. To improve the activation, Marston’s could have championed the creators of the quotes or shown a video of James explaining why he picked the quotes he did from the dressing room.

As Wimbledon dominated the past two weeks of online sporting activity, there is a chance for The Ashes to dominate the six weeks. Who will be the winner of the sponsors? Then, the transition will go from The Ashes and into the Rugby World Cup as the likes of Canterbury, O2 and Lucozade look to lift the digital trophy.

With dwindling viewing figures, swiftly falling participation figures and frequently empty stands at the domestic level, cricket in the UK has a lot to do to drive awareness to a mass audience and The Ashes presents the perfect opportunity to do that. If sponsors and teams create entertaining and engaging content… the fans will follow. We will be monitoring the social media strategies of key stakeholders for both the England and Australia cricket teams throughout The Ashes to see who comes out on top by the fifth Test.

Further Reading