Innovation by linking the offline and online economies

Messi? Neymar? Mbappé – playing for?

“Innovation is doing different things and doing things differently”

Innovation is simple, as I wrote about here with this definition.

How much do you think it would cost a company to be the main shirt sponsor of the very top football clubs in the world? In excess of $50,000,000 per year. Gulp.

How about the same for a team in the lowest league in professional football in England, League Two? What about the worst performing teams in that league? At the very most this would cost $50,000, or 1/1000th of that of sponsoring Manchester United or FC Barcelona.

Hmmm.. someone thought two years ago, but what about FIFA online?

Today I have an amazing story to share around innovation at the intersection of the offline world (in this case football in the real world) and the online world (in this case the FIFA game).

A little about the FIFA online game

I know a little about this as my sons played it non-stop in “career” mode for years. In career mode you build up your team and, gradually, can buy some of the top players in the world to play for your team.

As, through family ties, they are fans of a relatively small team, I watched on year as Hibernian FC won the European Champions league under the stewardship of one of my sons. This would never happen in real life, but happened on FIFA!

Innovating with shirt sponsorship

So, back to the “hmm” creative moment.

In the FIFA game every team in almost all the professional leagues worldwide are featured, including not only all their players as at the start of each season, but also full replicas of their team shirts, including their sponsor logos.


So, in 2018 Burger King started to sponsor a team called Stevenage, languishing towards the bottom of the lowest rungs of English professional football, League Two, emblazoning their team shirts with the Burger King logo as they played their games in the lower reaches of professional football to tiny crowds in out of the way stadia.

They then started something called the “Stevenage Challenge”, allowing FIFA game players around the world the opportunity to win gifts from Burger King for such things as simple as scoring goals in FIFA career mode.

Of course they also had to have picked Stevenage as their team so they scored those goals wearing the Stevenage kit, which again had the Burger King logo on.

Well, this succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of the innovative and creative minds behind the ideas. By this year, 2020, Stevenage was the most chosen team in career mode on FIFA, with over 25,000 rewards redeemed through Burger King for the Stevenage Challenge.

Now, given that Stevenage FC were and remain right at the very bottom of League Two, my guess is that Burger King effectively paid, effectively, only around $1 per winner to promote their brand, in addition to which many, many more FIFA players will have seen their logo as they competed in career mode against people who had chosen Stevenage as their team.

My guess is that, for “DAVID the agency”, the WPP agency in Miami that handles the Burger King account, this most innovative of campaigns has generated the highest returns ever for their client, and by a massive margin!

“Innovation is doing different things and doing things differently”

For a very cool two minute video:

Also published on Medium.