What a season. The English Premier League—the world’s most popular soccer league—is nearing the end of one of the most memorable seasons in recent memory. Fans are enraptured by a months-long battle royale between two of soccer’s strongest teams, Liverpool and Manchester City. It has come down to the final weekend of games to decide who will win the league title and lift the coveted sterling silver trophy overhead.
While many captivating stories played out in this banner year—like this game-stopping furry pitch invader that brought one stadium to a standstill—the most memorable moment for me was seeing my first game in the flesh. After five years of following the Premier League and nearly a year of planning, three friends and I made the trek to London to watch the storied game, known as the North London Derby, between London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur. While the team I support, Arsenal (go, Gunners!), ultimately drew with Tottenham at the final whistle, it still felt like a win for us Seattleites. The nine-hour flight, and cost of tickets and hotels didn’t dishearten us in the least.
We were so enamored with our experience, despite neither side winning, that we committed to do it again next year. Are we soccer fanatics? Quite possibly. But it goes deeper than that. Looking back on that weekend in London, I can’t help but appreciate how the storytelling of the Premier League’s brand lured me to super fandom.
Until 2012, most Americans could not readily access the Premier League. While sports fans may have known the name Ronaldo or that some guy named Beckham could really bend it, hardly anyone paid much mind to English soccer. That all changed when the Premier League inked a deal with NBC Sports. Americans were given a front row seat to the best soccer on the planet and like other Anglo-imports such as the British Invasion, New Wave, and Downton Abbey, we ate it up.
With a platform on American tellys, the Premier League had an outlet to educate Americans on the values and heritage of the clubs and the league itself. Before kick-offs commentators would regale viewers about the club’s rich history or meaning of the rivalry match told over decades of footage, effectively making their history ours. Through storytelling, they positioned each club as full of lore, rich with tradition, and even familiar. They bet that we Americans would fall in love with Premier League not only because of the athleticism, but because they had beautiful narratives to share—narratives we could easily make our own.
While 2A hasn’t done branding work for the Premier League (at least, not yet), we approach the challenge in much the same way. From new businesses to established enterprises, we help our clients demonstrate their value and create captivating stories to support brands. Because what businesses wouldn’t want their customers to find a similar, fly-across-the-world bliss in their brand?