The Challenge Flag Is Thrown.
The Alliance of American Football was a single entity, eight-team spring football league established in 2018. Founded by Hollywood producer Charlie Ebersol and renowned NFL front office executive, Bill Polian, this league was designed to address the six month drop off in football viewership between February and August each year. As millions of fans turn off the television after the Super Bowl, the Alliance of American Football wanted to give them a reason to keep it on. One year out from the league’s first game, the Alliance was looking to put top-tier, quality football on the field and launch a new professional sports league.
In February 2018, the Alliance turned to Brand Knew to lead the brand’s digital launch.
Draw Up The Play.
The first phase included assigning, acquiring and launching all new digital handles for the Alliance across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn; the design and development of a brand new website; strategizing and implementing all branded launch communications; and managing the livestream execution of the league announcement itself.
The Brand Knew team had six weeks to covertly execute this large scale production. By the morning of the announcement, all efforts pressed play and the results were undeniable. The website went public, all social accounts went live, and the launch event began as an hour-long presentation streamed LIVE from New York City, welcoming the world to a new era of football. With fans as a key pillar of the Alliance brand, Brand Knew quickly followed the formal announcement with a Facebook Live Q&A, hosted by prominent members of the Alliance who fielded viewer questions and began representing the brand mission from day one.
Once the league concept was public, it was Brand Knew’s responsibility to continue to craft the intricacies of the brand voice, while keeping the public engaged with a league that had just under a year before games were to be played.
As with any league launching from scratch, there was much to capitalize on in the form of new announcements, and Brand Knew identified two that would significantly impact the early stages of the league. These elements were the cities that were about to be granted a new franchise and the respective head coaches who would be leading these teams — eight legends of the game, many coming out of retirement to coach in the hometowns or communities to which they are deeply connected. Brand Knew developed a teaser social campaign in the form of a cross country road trip that attracted fan attention and encouraged engagement, leaving fans guessing where the Alliance was headed next. Brand Knew leveraged the coaches’ strong social followings by conducting creative and authentic activations through Facebook Live streams, posting shoutouts on Instagram Stories, launching regional Facebook Group pages where coaches could welcome new fans to the Alliance, and engaging with these coaches’ social accounts at every relevant stop. These types of engagements allowed the Alliance voice to be shared through this growing network, fostering a sense of community, excitement, and playfulness, while also offering fans a platform to begin building their own respective alliances.
Put me in, Coach!
The Alliance had a unique, yet complex way of assigning players to its teams. With this in mind, Brand Knew created a series of educational infographic posts to educate fans as to how these decisions were being made and where they could expect to see some of their favorite players landing. Through proactive communication and direct fan engagement, by the time player signings began to take place, the marketplace was well-versed in the entire three-tier allocation process.
And For The Win…
Approaching season’s kick off, Brand Knew recognized the importance for fans to genuinely feel that they were a part of the movement, enabling them to be effective ambassadors for the brand. As the accounts steadily grew into the tens of thousands with engagement rates reaching nearly 20%, it was crucial that fan engagement remain a top priority as team-specific and league questions came thundering in. Averaging nearly seven hundred individual direct message conversations per month, it was the human capital spent on these accounts that fostered its continued growth and ongoing follower satisfaction, as no inquiries went ignored. This effort directly carried over into Brand Knew’s acquisition and preparation of all eight team social accounts, which were ready to launch upon the release of team names, and established to serve as permanent home bases for their respective fan communities.
Within a major sport that remains the highest-rated on American television, Brand Knew developed a strong brand that broke through chatter to establish a name for itself in a market previously dominated by one entity.