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SXSW Interactive 2015

We won the cup, Dad! Storytelling in soccer

When Arsenal were 2-0 down after 8 minutes of the FA Cup final last May it was all going wrong. This famous English football club needed a morale-boosting trophy and the Arsenal Media Group (AMG) had spent months meticulously planning to tell a success story.
It was going to be a long day.
Actually, it would be a long day and night (followed by another one) as the team came back to win 3-2 in extra-time.
At the final whistle the players sank to their knees in jubilation. And that is when AMG set to work. We scattered ourselves, scooping up content and serving it to fans in a timely, entertaining manner across multiple platforms.
And then there was the trophy parade the next day.
In our most ambitious ever production, we would stream all 4 hours live on our website. This is the story of how a major sports club covered a huge event to a global audience. We did not get everything right – in fact, like the team, we conceded early – but we like to think we came home with victory.

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  1. What content drives engagement around a big game? We built up to the FA Cup for weeks and tested many new formats. Not all of them worked but we had some big wins too. What content was based on analytics and what was a editorial judgement? Or should they be one and the same these days?
  2. Which content goes where? They all have different audiences and a different tone. But, with different people publishing all the time, what are your definitions and how do you communicate them so there is a consistent tone of voice?
  3. Where do you focus your resources? Every sporting club has a limited number of employees and money. You can’t be everywhere and do everything. So what do you decide to exploit and augment? And what do you leave out?
  4. Live events are notoriously hard to plan around. So, with a small budget and a small team, what do you do? We had four hours to fill and, for some of it, the players would not be available. At other times we could not get picture. How do you overcome these challenges?
  5. What are the business objectives? How did we frame our content and try to monetize it? What content was about pure engagement and what had revenue in mind and, most importantly, how did you come to those decisions?



Richard Clarke, Managing Editor, Arsenal Football Club

Meta Information:

  • Event: Interactive
  • Format: Solo
  • Track: Sports
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate
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