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The team at CFG outline how they're driving sponsorship growth across clubs with more consistent, far-reaching insight.

“We use this data to form a narrative to position ourselves as strongly as possible with potential partners."

City Football Group (CFG) owns eight clubs around the world, including its flagship club, Manchester City F.C. Its other clubs are found across the U.S., Australia, Japan, Spain, Uruguay, China and India.

For the Business Intelligence team on the ground, finding ways to maximize and drive revenue across the Group is key.

“Creating impactful and authentic partnerships with other businesses is our number one target”, says Pasi Lankinen, VP Partnership Strategy and Operations at City Football Group.

With multiple clubs to manage, this team is responsible for “creating, implementing and maintaining the commercial strategy on an ongoing basis across all eight - and our data is what guides that.”

But with the familiar challenge of finding good quality data that tells a strong story across markets, they needed the kind of insight that would drive partnerships across all clubs - not just one.

Here’s how they did it.

The challenge 

Getting good quality insight into all markets.

Despite football being a globally recognized sport, for Pasi, the biggest challenge lies in getting the right insight into all markets, with levels of sophistication varying hugely across borders.

“Take the Manchester City audience in the UK, for example”, he says. “That’s an extremely different audience to our core New York City FC fanbase. Understanding how these audiences differ from market to market, and from club to club, is essential to us.”

With limited consistent insight into each individual market and audience, the team was challenged with understanding which opportunities were worth prioritizing.

“Historically, we struggled to quantify the exact size or scale of an opportunity due to a lack of data. That’s where GWI came in.”

Using the platform, the team could dive deeper into the specific subsets of the data, easily and quickly analyzing why different clubs were performing better or worse than others.

Whether looking at buying a new club (identifying how successful it will be in the medium to long-term) or expanding an existing partnership, having ready access to this data empowered the team to do things differently.

The action

Using data to shape a strong narrative.

Using the platform, the team could dive deeper into the specific subsets of the data, easily and quickly analyzing how different clubs were performing, compared to others.

Whether looking at supporting the sales process to a new partner or expanding an existing one, having ready access to this data empowered the team to do things differently.

Pasi explains: “We use this data to form a narrative to position ourselves as strongly as possible with potential partners."

Every brand today is familiar with data storytelling and the power that lies in telling stories led by insight - placing the focus squarely on the consumer. So, to drive sponsorship growth, it’s no surprise that this is where the team places their focus. 

“We speak to a vast number of brands a year across all of our markets and clubs, so we need a story that stands out”, he says. 

To identify the strongest story, the team uses the global, local and regional data to do three things:

1. Fan analysis

2. Audience sizing

3. Consumer overlap

“Our fanbase growth is amongst the highest of any top team, so it’s important we align ourselves with that success story”, says Pasi.


Driving partnerships further with unique insight.

But shaping the strongest story is no easy feat. When it comes to nourishing and expanding partnerships, being able to go above and beyond is what makes all the difference. 

Having ready access to consumer insight that goes far beyond what brands are used to seeing gives the company an advantage where it’s needed most.

Seeing itself as a particularly innovative brand within the sports environment, CFG notes how certain attitudinal statements within the platform align perfectly with this narrative, helping the Group to solidify this image.

“These attitudinal statements and beliefs show that we, as an organization, have a more innovative outlook than our competitors, which is also reflected in the beliefs and perspectives of our fans'' says Pasi.

“It’s about going above and beyond - giving them that additional data layer to demonstrate as much of an overlap as possible.”

The result

Driving sponsorship growth across clubs.

“GWI provides that equality of data across all markets,'' says Pasi.

“It’s helping us enormously to drive sponsorship growth for our biggest club: Manchester City.”

“It’s also adding that extra layer of detail and insight that wouldn’t have existed for some of our clubs.”

For Pasi and the team, this “extra layer” is where the brand is seeing the most value; offering them something completely unique that has transformed the way they pitch to potential and existing partners.

“Some of our clubs don’t have a significant research budget, so there’s no way they could access this level of insight and analysis without GWI.”

Giving these clubs the chance to enrich their offering with these additional data points has been a “game-changer”, according to Pasi.

“It’s transformed the way we talk about our sponsorship offering for these clubs.” 

“We’ve had countless discussions where this data has proved invaluable.”

Highlighting an example, Pasi outlines how a current partner of theirs recently went through a rebrand. As a result, it had to change its entire brand message and re-assess their strategy. 

“We used GWI to show how awareness of the brand had changed since the rebrand, and how awareness in its key markets had grown”, says Pasi.

“Being able to explain that through a narrative has enabled them to tailor their message per market”, he says. “We used this data to achieve that.”

With the added ability of identifying trends more easily with waves constantly being updated, this empowers the team to stay relevant at all times. 

“We can break down data by market and get much more granular snapshot of our fanbase at any point in time”, he says. “That’s pretty powerful.”

Don’t take our word for it