Thursday, February 05, 2009

Wotif to sponsor Canadian Football Team London City

How is this for a marketing first? An Australian based online travel company buys space on the shirts of a Canadian Football team named after an English city. Wotif.com have announced a sponsorship deal with London City football (Canadian team) that will include logos on the clothing and fan accommodation booking site (LondonCityAway). Not the first time we have discussed sports sponsorship in online trave here at the BOOT. Wotif as a company (up until recently) is not famous for pure brand spent marketing. If you'd ask me to bet on what would be the next brand spend announcment, then sponsoring a Canadian football team would have been a long way down on the list of items that would have got my wager. What do you think? Crazy for an online player to sponsor a football team?

16 comments:

John said...

Never heard of London City Football club...

Is this a good marketing tactic? Who knows but it probably isn't going to make Wotif into a household name unless Canadian Football makes it onto the airways and this club gets TV coverage.

Could the money have been spent better... that depends on what they paid for the sponsorship.

I know their trying to be more aggressive with the marketing so it will be interesting to see what else they come out with.

Good luck to them!

Bendos said...

Wotif we're underestimating the potential of offline media channels for online players?

Wotif London City win most of their matches?

Wotif they attract a tonne of media coverage as a result?

Wotif the take out the championship and end up on the front page, or as the headline story on the national news for a week or so?

Wotif they dedicate their success to the support of their sponsor?

Wotif this leads to a tonne of traffic to their site?

Wotif?

Stephen Joyce said...

Good on them. Canadian Football teams are notoriously undersponsored, so they need all the help they can get. I would consider it more of a charity play on Wotif's side though. Good will sponsorship maybe. (He says with a hint of Canadian sarcasm) ;-)

Adam V said...

Here we are in the middle of a period of time that is usually notorious for "knee jerk" slashing of marketing budgets to appease shareholders, as well as to demonstrate that the business is reducing costs to maximise profits.

As a shareholder of wotif, I say whatthe??

I hope this marketing folly is not at the expense of someone elses slashed marketing budget, who can ill afford to lose the funds.

Travolution Blogger said...

A bit leftfield it must be said. But clearly the Canadian marketplace is of huge interest to Wotif.com.

You asked if it is crazy for an online player to sponsor a football team?

In the UK, many will remember West Ham United's most recent sponsor, XL.com.

But we know what happened to them, don't we...

Tim Hughes said...

All good comments. I dont get it. There maybe an angle that it was so cheap that getting access to loyal away game watching Canadian Premier leagues watchers was a bargain but is lost of me.

Sam I Am said...

Do none of you see the real reason? Anyone in online travel should be ashamed of themselves for not immediately seeing this... Look closely at a company name mentioned in the url of the press release for example and look at what their specialty is.

I've only ever see Wotif buy text links, and when you know that, and look a little closer at the name of this football team, things start falling in place pretty quick, no?

Imo, brilliant, as long as Google doesn't take a closer look after they redirect the site 'london city' site in the future :)

Anonymous said...

Sam ... spot on

The sponsorship deal is irrelevant links from a site connected with the wrong London , pointing to the right London in the big UK market + a few others if you look .

Actually if you look a a little deeper Wotif has a whole network of links from soccer and sports sites to their site.

Hmmm ... interesting sponsorship deal.

Tim Hughes said...

@Sam - if you are right then I take it all back and this is a stroke of genius. Am still sceptical.

Anonymous said...

... but Sam is saying the purpose is to influence rankings.

This method is something that a Google Q & A editor would likely flick the switch and potentially penalise the entire site from the search engines. They might slip under the radar if nobody notices o/wise they could lose a lot of search engine visibility.

All in all i don't think it's the smartest strategy. It put's them at high risk.

John said...

If you want to buy links then just buy links (put the links into a text banner) call it sponsorship. Why go to all the effort of branding a sports kit unless it really was that cheap?

Anyways the buying links strategy is risky and they will have to watch how they do this very carefully.

Anonymous said...

More such associations , try this directory with maybe 100+ sports , basketball for instance :

http://www.trymysport.co.uk/basketball.htm

The pattern of link building with popular terms to rank seems to continue and grow in transparency as a motive.

Now if they sponsored Liverpool , Chelsea or Mancheter United - you might be talking serious sponsorship .

I also question who owns some of the sites in the network - maybe worth a bit more digging , i just don't have the time right now.

Steve Sherlock said...

GEE this got a run...i.e. the plan seems to be working.

wotif are very clever at leveraging for PR. greame wood built this into the culture (be tight and get free press)

The value of PR generated so far possibly has already covered the sponsorship.

as far as sam's seo theory goes, i doubt it mate.

I look at it this way; there are companies that rely on seo, build links and sweat on the next index update, & and then there are creative, innovative, direction drive brands that consumers follow in large numbers.

Sam I Am said...

Steve Sherlock, you forget there are companies that do both.... In fact, Yahoo Travel, Tripadvisor and quite a few other 'big brands' in travel all focus heavily on SEO *on top of* their focus on innovation and good products. Some of these big brands even sway quite heavily into the blackhat side of things... Being focused on one doesn't mean you shouldn't be on the other, in fact I'd say that any site big in travel today has to.

I've seen links bought by wotif all over the place, so I know SEO is an important part of their strategy. I'll let their product speak for itself as to whether they also focus on the other part of the equation.

Put it another way, do you think if this football club was called anything but "London" that they would still have done this, regardless of how much it costs? Do you realize what a top 5 ranking on a term like "London hotels" is worth? You'd make back what it cost to sponsor this tiny club in a matter of a week!!

Anyway, the footprints speak loud and clear here. If you're in the travel industry, you can either choose to learn from it or ignore it and watch your competitors learn from it ;)

Steve Sherlock said...

sam - thanks for comments. (im bit slow on reply - holidaying in japan)

I agree that SEO and SEM are important marketing mediums.

We just seem to differ on where the long term value lies in a company. i.e. does more value lie in being found for generic search terms (seo) or more value from consumers going direct to url or doing a brand name search?

If you can get both at high levels all the better. But if I had to choose where I’d rather have the majority of value coming from, i’d choose direct and brand search traffic over generic searches, especially if i was considering investing in a company.

its a real interesting area to me, and i dont believe anyone has the right answers. i.e. i could be wrong.

Steve

"Motella" said...

All very interesting!

I don't believe the charity theory as I believe that wotif only have self-interest (like all successful businesses).

From looking at the on-line sports betting odds, if London City win the championship, then this will be worthy of a Walt Disney movie. The publicity that a bottom of the league dweller will produce publicity within the sporting arena to qualify an obvious ROI for wotif is debatable.

The theory that the sponsorship is merely purchasing traffic generated from "London City" is interesting.

Maybe Wood is trying to create Richard Branson style feel-good publicity within Canada and beyond that "wotif is supporting the small struggling little guy".