What Can We Learn From the England Football Team


Sadly, it’s not coming home. But what is coming home is an England team, manager, and backroom staff that have totally changed the perception of the England football brand. It is a lesson in rebranding and reconnecting with your target audience, and there is much that marketers and agencies can learn from them. Here are my four key takeaways.

1.     Transparency
England set the tone for their World Cup approach with an unprecedented pre-tournament press event with 23 stations giving full access to the entire squad (a move borrowed from the NFL). This access and openness got the media on side and continued through the tournament. The players’ use of social media here was exemplary, particularly the immediate reactions, family access and behind the scenes snippets. When you can set the context that you are judged against you’re on to a winner.

2.    Be reflective of current culture
One of the most powerful acts of the World Cup and a big part of the shifting perceptions of this team was Danny Rose’s incredible honesty about his struggles with depression. This showed a team that had such a bond and togetherness that he felt comfortable talking about it but it also showed that this is a group in touch with modern society. Male mental health is a big issue and they understood that a player like Danny Rose could do much to raise awareness, and normalise discussion, of the issue.

3.    Care about your audience
This has come a long way since Wayne Rooney’s sweary rant down the camera about being booed by his own fans. The England team and management prior to, and during, this World Cup showed an incredible level of gratitude and warmth to their audience, to the people that should care about their brand. They showed that they were fans too through their individual social accounts and a brilliant pre-tournament video on the official England account. They also continually referenced how aware they were of what was happening back home and how much it meant to them.

4.    Actions speak louder than words
England’s approach to this World Cup was a lesson in letting your actions do the talking. There were no grand pre-tournament predictions, there was much talk of the youth and inexperience of the team and they just focused on executing their plans. How many brands have been guilty of focusing on talk, bluster and wallpaper comms as opposed to improving their product and actually proving its worth.

Natalie Corbett