Beyond Local

Community Benefits on a Global Scale

Recent studies suggest a new generation of consumers is more likely to engage with brands that act in a more responsible, sustainable and ethical manner.

This is not new for sport sponsors that have long thrived when seen as contributing more than just being on the front of a club’s shirt. When a brand plays a genuine role at the heart of the community, long-lasting bonds can be made between sponsors and fans.

But with sports teams themselves becoming increasingly global in their appeal and behaving as international brands, it becomes harder for them to retain their position at the heart of their geographical community.

As football clubs in particular seek to extend their presence in new markets, they find themselves having to demonstrate relevance to new target audiences. After all, how strong can a bond between a child in Mumbai and a team of multi-millionaire footballers in west London ever be without a sense of relevance to their community?

The answer is doing something beyond local CSR initiatives. It’s to do with the overall behaviour of a club and the individuals that represent it. There have always been, and there always will be, charity football matches, community outreach from local club coaches and so on. However, as clubs continue to grow in stature and global relevance, and money continues to flow into sport from new markets such as China and Qatar and from new challenger broadcasters such as Amazon and Twitter, there is an increasing trend in clubs using this money to reach out to a wider global community.

Governing bodies, brands, teams and the players have recognised this and it’s leading to a new, more global, socially conscious sporting community. The best example of this new wave is the Common Goal fund, set up in part by Manchester United’s Juan Mata.

Its approach is simple. “Every time someone signs for a team, when the salaries are paid, when the accounts come in, at clubs, federations, agents and associations, 1% goes direct to social projects.” In fact, it’s what we would call Brutally Simple. 1% doesn’t seem like much but when players are moving for £200m and being paid £500k a week the money from a small percentage of top earning players soon adds up. The clubs and players that sign up to the initiative can only benefit from a brand positioning that shows they are concerned with building an increased connection with their global community of supporters.

This approach of increased investment in causes that are universally accepted to require funding shows a sense of purpose, responsibility and societal awareness. The key characteristics of a club at the heart of a community.

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