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Michael Leavy: Arsenal’s strategy is trying to bring Chinese fans closer

By Chen Yaping Monday, 22 Aug 2016 18:00

Michael Leavy, Media, Marketing & CRM Director for Arsenal FC

Yutang Sports: You are the Media, Marketing & CRM Director for Arsenal, so how do you balance the different managing roles?

Michael Leavy: I have about 60 people in my group. The structure of my group is that I have a media director. I have a marketing director. I have a CRM director. They are really capable senior managers and they run their team. My job is to oversee obviously the stategy and overall businesses within that group. As a member of the main board executives, my job is to understand the objectives of the business, to make sure my group’s sporting objectives are delivering value for the club.

Yutang Sports: In terms of marketing, what is the biggest story of marketing of Arsenal?

Michael Leavy: Obviously, we are responsible for the brand. We are a brand custodian. We run the brand for the fans both locally and internationally. And then, as we go with the year, there are different ways of branding. So during the season, we’re talking to our members and developing the brand around them. As we move to the close season, we are building our brand in America this year. Next year, we are going to Australia. So as a marketing team, we are very close to our membership, and also our partnerships as well.

Yutang Sports: You mentioned earlier the strategy, so what is the strategy for Arsenal Football Club in China?

Michael Leavy: China is a very important market not just for Arsenal, but for the Premier League. The Premier League is getting more popular and more successful in China. I think we can see especially through the social media, we can see a growing appeal of fan base for Arsenal here. So our strategy is really trying to bring our Chinese fans a little bit closer, to be a club we really feel that part of feeling. I mean we hope that they can really identify our club. One of the biggest thing is to be not only successful on the pitch, but also make people feel proud of the club.

Yutang Sports: Arsenal FC has reached a partnership with CCTV’s Total Soccer earlier. What led to this deal? What can be reached through this deal?

Michael Leavy: Under the relationship, we have recently produced a documentary for the Chinese market. That’s great in terms of getting not just the live footage behind the scenes, the player profiles, all about the club information into the Chinese marketing strategy. People can really feel the personality of the football club.

I think we can do more than that. We’ve had a long-term media relationship with MP& Silva. So we work with them for a year’s certain partnerships, as we are announcing today. I think it’s a great opportunity we now get our content closer to our fans. I think that’s really great we take our content to Chinese fans. I think we will see all that partnerships with MP& Silva develops here, and we will have more close relationships.

Yutang Sports: From your prospective, what kind of role do you think that digital media is playing in the sports industry?

Michael Leavy: You cannot even begin to describe how the sports media would change 85 years ago. 7 years ago, we have no YouTube channel. We have no Facebook channel. We have no WhatApp. All of these platforms are developing all the time. You have to build into your strategy to deliver your content where your fans want to consume. So they want to be on a social media platform, then you have to push the content where they want to consume. That’s the difference. That’s the things that have really changed.

Yutang Sports: My last question, how do you see the Chinese football market given that the country is intereted in this market? Do you see extra opportunities?

Michael Leavy: I think it’s a great opportunity, because football as a sport is growing not just in China, but in America, in India. So when football is growing, I think the Premier League will have development opportunities as well. Hopefully, you know, the team coming to play two things: the opportunity to develop more partnerships with Chinese organizations; our relationships with MP& Silva will find us more media resources. I think it’s very exciting. It’s a great opportunity. 



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