[Interview] How #ShowYourStripes Helped Southampton F.C. Sell 20% More Shirts With Social Media

In May of this year, Dr Barry Gale became an unlikely star in the eyes of football fans on social media. Southampton Football Club's new Player Integration Officer (played by comedian Tom Davis) led one of the most socially successful kit launches in a campaign that humorously overplayed the importance of the kit's iconic stripes. It has picked up a string of accolades, including scooping the Best Sports/Leisure/Travel Social Media Strategy award at this year's Social Buzz Awards. Southampton FC on Twitter.

The campaign received international acclaim for Southampton's kit launch, driving a level of awareness that even some of the biggest premier league clubs would be envious of. To give you exclusive insights into the campaign, Simon Bristow of Mischief - the agency responsible for the campaign - spoke with SocialBro about the role Twitter played, what gave them the inspiration for the idea, and how the club benefitted from it. Learn how to lace up your boots and earn your social stripes:

SocialBro: How did you set up the team who worked on this campaign?

Simon Bristow: "With exactly one month from the initial briefing to the date Southampton FC wanted the campaign to launch, we had to create a working group between Mischief, Saints' marketing and communications teams, as well as our chosen video production agency (Black Shark Media). The fluidity between the three groups - with clearly defined roles - allowed us to work quickly and nimbly in order to deliver the campaign. From a Mischief perspective, we used our creative and strategic resource in the development stage before the core team took the lead on executing the campaign."

How did Southampton Football Club help you in the creation of the campaign?

"As with all our clients, we worked in partnership to deliver the campaign with Southampton FC being integral to the quick turnaround and ultimate success. We understand the complexities of working with a Premier League football club and so we were working as a fully joined up team at every stage of the process, with clear timelines and approval requirements put in place. Saints were also instrumental in getting the buy-in from the players, manager and senior personnel." Southampton FC on Twitter

Where was the inspiration behind the creative angle you took with the #ShowYourStripes campaign?

"We decided to play on the unique connection football fans have with the colours of the team they support - the role those colours play in fans' lives and the bizarre ways that fans embrace them, from painting their front door to tattoos and the massive collections of old shirts. With Saints, it's all about the famous red and white stripes which led us to the concept of asking fans to 'Show Your Stripes'. Whilst we knew this would give us the fan interaction, we also knew we needed something bigger to explode the idea. We came up with the mockumentary concept because a new kit is, most of the time, pretty much identical to the last one so we thought it could be quite funny to have the club employ a colour and pattern psychologist to help with the 'transition'."

Why do you think this campaign performed so well on Twitter?

"Our insights show how important social media is to football clubs and football fans. You see a football related trending topic of Twitter everyday and social platforms are how fans share their views and things they like. The campaign was constructed to allow us to leverage this - with Twitter, Vine and Snapchat being our core channels as well as YouTube. By initially igniting the #ShowYourStripes conversation, getting fans talking and then releasing the hero content we knew we had an approach that would work well on social and be relevant to the audience."

What metrics were you using to measure the success of the campaign?

"In terms of business impact, Saints wanted the campaign to drive shirt sales - which we smashed with a 20% increase of sales on the club's previous best kit launch. The other key deliverable was setting a new benchmark for how clubs launch kits - and make everyone a little jealous of Saints' innovative approach. The media loved it too - with the Metro headline being one of several articles that acknowledged Saints for having 'the greatest media team in the world'. Finally, there was incredible fan engagement - and not just Saints fans - with Reddit and fans forums around the country full of praise, even Portsmouth FC fans begrudgingly acknowledged its brilliance."

What other key results did the #ShowYourStripes campaign achieve?

"There were 121,600 impressions from its Twitter account and 261,818 Vine loops were viewed. In total, across club channels alone the campaign reach was 1,445,353. There were over 100,000 organic views of the main video in the first 48 hours. But that's just facts and stats. The real success of the campaign is demonstrated in the way that Saints fans took it to their hearts. Dr Barry Gale quickly became a hero on a par with José Fonte and Jay Rodriguez. The fans even adopted one scene, where Dr Gale talks about the 'High Press' being a salute to a teammate, and began using it as a formal greeting for other Saints fans - months later it's still being used. Fans also created unofficial Dr Barry merchandise, with t-shirts and key rings produced adorned with the face of their new hero.

Dr Barry even gave a rousing speech and received a standing ovation from 32,000 adoring fans at St. Mary's on the final day of the 2014/15 season."  Southampton FC on Twitter. A version of this interview appeared here on SocialBro.

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