#birdysdate: Marketing madness or genius gimmickry?

#birdysdate: Marketing madness or genius gimmickry?

With the World Cup over and done with (sadface), attention has quickly turned to the domestic football season that gets underway next month.

Transfers tend to dominate debate during the summer, but kit launches are a major event for all clubs, with merchandise sales hugely important to teams despite ever-increasing TV revenues.

One club to cause a buzz with their kit launch this week has been Blackburn Rovers, who are no strangers to viral video stunts after a chicken advert for the club’s owners – Indian poultry company Venky’s – featuring stars such as David Dunn hit the headlines in 2011.

But the club’s marketing department has been the talk of Twitter this week after a promotional clip for the team’s new home kit called Birdy’s Date was released yesterday afternoon.

No matter what you think of the video, whether you think it’s hilarious or tacky and weird, it’s certainly done its job and Rovers have got plenty of publicity for their kit launch. Thousands of tweets were posted and various media outlets are running with the story to get their own clicks for the video today.

However, many of the club’s own fans are unhappy at what they perceived to be an “embarrassing” video that has made them a “laughing stock” among the wider public.

This is the balance clubs have to be careful with when they plan marketing stunts such as the Birdy’s Date clip. Is it worth the trade off of a bit of attention for a day or two if it upsets supporters?

After all, people will already know that a new home kit is going to be released – it happens every summer at most clubs without fail these days – so how much awareness really needs to be raised?

And is a viral clip going to persuade anyone to buy the kit anyway? It doesn’t seem likely that Birdy’s growled “you know you want it” at the end of the video will seal the deal, especially as it directly references the controversial Blurred Lines song by Miley Cyrus’ crotch-grinding target Robin Thicke. Rovers have probably missed that pop culture boat given Thicke’s new album Paula recently sold only 500 copies in the UK in its first week on sale.

It also doesn’t look as though the Blackburn Rovers Twitter account @OneRovers has seen a particularly strong rise in followers on the back of the video either, so HASHTAG ENGAGEMENT appears not to have seen a substantial boost as a result of Birdy’s Date.

But the clip has had 80,000 views and counting on YouTube, so it’s clear people are enjoying it, even if it hasn’t quite had the desired effect. The club’s videos on YouTube typically only get a few hundred views, but it’s unlikely people who watch Birdy’s Date will come back for dry interviews with players and staff.

Only sales of the new kit will prove whether Birdy’s Date was a success or not, but Rovers’ marketing team have certainly got people talking and that’s arguably half the job.