Manchester City FC R&D

Assisting fans with new ways to share love for their football team

Manchester City Football Club, founded in 1880, is one of the biggest names in world football both in terms of revenue and identity, growing in popularity each season.

Human engaged in small-scale rapid R&D, with a then new technology, to engage Man City fans on a deeper level.

“We want to be more innovative, more creative and we want to be the first”
Danny Wilson, Director of Operations at Manchester City

Dark social innovation and R&D

Innovation and digital transformation sits at the heart of Man City’s commercial strategy.

City were one of the first clubs to embrace eSports; one of the the first to craft a real time fan engagement area on their website - “City Now”; the first club in the Premier League to install a 360 camera in the player tunnel and one of the first to experiment with fan-centric virtual reality.

City also run hackathons to unlock innovative ideas; they are continuously experimenting with interactive sports data to enrich fan experience; they have partnered with a robotics firm to explore future technologies and they have recently launched a dedicated fan engagement platform for Man City fans around the world to utilise a community map to share experiences with other City fans.

Many modern sports properties talk a good game when it comes to ambition and innovation, but few back it up with true agile experimentation to ensure they’re always on the leading edge; as City does.

It is no surprise then that Man City, with Human, were the first Premier League football club to launch an iOS sticker pack.

Engaging fans through iOS innovation

Man City approached Human to rapidly launch a pack of iOS stickers to engage fans on a deeper level in comms channels such as iMessage, where fans often engage in personal group chats and football banter. MCFC opted to get a small pack out for free to support their fans’ loyalty to the club and increase engagement.

iOS stickers enable fans to express themselves in richer ways by providing stickers that can be used within their conversations on iMessage. In the vein of gifs and emojis, stickers are a way to express another layer of emotion; especially during the match day buzz or around big news stories. It’s a way for a community to share their pride and show their allegiance to one another.

iOS sticker pack 1

For Human, it was important to communicate the unique personality of the club across the thirteen small images; three of which were animated for increased engagement. Crucially, the images had to be emotive to connect with the fans using them.

On a user research level our designers and Production team also needed to consider in what instances the stickers would be used. At a functional level the colours used were also very important, as the stickers had to stand out and work overlaying messages, as well as working on white backgrounds.

Key to our approach with Man City was using a dedicated Slack channel, our go to communication platform internally, to liaise with the client directly for a collaborative, agile, highly responsive development process.

Human developed the assets, including animations, and delivered the iOS pack within a week. The stickers recieved a 5* rating on the app store.

MCFC impact

"Human works with true leaders. It's important we as a company embrace new technologies and work with others that recognise the importance of this to unlock opportunities for deeper engagement, experiences and commercial advantage."
Chris Ashley, Head of Engagement