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Manchester United’s Official Digital Transformation Partnership with HCL Technologies

Executive Summary

On 2-September-2016, HCL Technologies launched its Official Digital Transformation Partnership with Manchester United – the biggest partnership launch in terms of visibility and engagement in the 137 year history of Manchester United (a list which included global Top 50 brands such as Nike, Adidas, General Motors among others), and the biggest football partnership launch for the IT industry.

So how did a B2B IT services provider achieve a bigger launch than some of the biggest brands in the world?

  1. The partnership was strategic to HCL’s business, thus ensuring that all units of HCL worked together to achieve results:
    1. HCL had been a late comer in the digitalization space, and needed a platform to launch its digitalization business and leapfrog competitors for mindshare among its global business audience
    2. Europe, and specially UK, was a key growth market for HCL – and a world class customer engagement platform would help drive business growth

    After evaluating multiple options, Manchester United was identified as the ideal platform to achieve these objectives.

  2. In parallel, Manchester United was looking for a technology partner to help transform its digital landscape to drive closer engagement with its massive global following. HCL’s strong domain and technology credentials, its Relationship Beyond the Contract customer engagement model and its desire to setup a co-innovation hub at Manchester United made HCL the partner of choice for Manchester United’s and its technology department

And so, on 2-Sep-2105, Manchester United Football Club, the worlds most followed and most valuable football team brand (Brand Finance) with 659 million followers globally, announced HCL Technologies as its Official Digital Transformation Partner, to help bring the club and its global fans closer together.

The launch generated USD 74+ Million in earned media, 257 MN million digital impressions, 200+ key account and influencer interactions across the world and 40,000+ employee interactions – making it the biggest partnership launch in the 137 year history of Manchester United.

The partnership has subsequently generated immense impact for HCL since its inception on 2-Sep-2015 (these numbers have been achieved in 10 months since launch, and are against 12 month targets):

  • Business pipeline influence: $4.4 Billion (440% of target)
  • Deal influence: $857 Million (286% of target)
  • Customer/Analyst/influencer engagement: 824 (103% achieved)
  • PR Visibility: 1034 articles with $74 Million Notional Media Value (370% of target)
  • Digital Media Impressions: 705 Million (141% of target)
  • Brand value: HCL retains spot on Brand Finance Top 500 Brands (100% target) 

Problem statement

50 years ago, the shelf life of a firm in the Fortune 500 was 75 years (Forbes). Today it’s less than 15, and declining. The winners in this new reality are a breed of experience focused companies – the 21st century enterprise.

Numerous organizations are aspiring to transform themselves into the 21st century enterprise, with increasing demand for technology solutions such as digitalization.

In this environment, while HCL had been rated No. 1 among Indian IT organization for digital transformation capabilities by analyst firm IDC, the organization:

  1. did not have a dedicated business unit for digitalization solutions
  2. had been a laggard in taking its digitalization capabilities to market
  3. was consequently not a top of mind recall brand for digital transformation among IT services buyers and influencers

Additionally, while USA contributed 55% of HCL’s revenues, Europe was increasingly becoming a growth driver for the organization.

Accordingly, a business decision was taken that HCL needed a platform that would:

  1. launch its digitalization business and leapfrog competitors for mindshare among its global business audience
  2. provide a world class customer engagement platform to drive business growth in Europe
  3. provide an innovation platform to develop 21st century technology solutions

Manchester United, with 659 million followers spread all across the world, operating in the digitally engaged space of sport, was identified as the ideal platform.

HCL Technologies was set to become the Official Digital Transformation Partner of Manchester United, and develop 21st century transformation solutions for not just the club and its fans, but also for forward looking organizations globally.

HCL Technologies was set to become the Official Digital Transformation Partner of Manchester United, and develop 21st century enterprise transformation solutions for not only the club and its fans, but also use this as a platform to develop 21st century enterprise transformation solutions for forward looking organizations globally.

Strategy Execution

The strategy was to first have a world class launch that would set the pace for the partnership, and then have a marketing, sales and technology delivery setup in place to drive long term ROI from the partnership.

Launch strategy Execution:

Step 1: The target audience was clearly mapped across customers, prospects, influencers, employees and media

Step 2: A target of USD 20 MN earned media was set, to be operationalized with a limited budget of USD 70,000. The focus was on cut through messaging and razor sharp targeting to meet this objective.

Step 3: Channels were identified and measurable metrics set on each

Step 4: A core message was finalized and signed off, and adopted across all channels for message consistency

Step 5: A multi-channel integrated approach was finalized to go-live on 2-Sep

Media:

  • Cut-through messaging was co-created by HCL and Manchester United
  • Journalists were invited personally to attend
  • The official press launch was conducted at Old Trafford, and 20+ 1:1 media interactions were organized with HCL’s CEO and senior leadership

Web and Social Media:

  • Twitter Banter: HCL Manchester United twitter handles bantered to launch the partnership, a first for Manchester United
  • Jersey App: HCL created a Jersey app which went viral
  • A partnership film was launched
  • Manchester United’s website was taken over with HCL branding for 24 hours
  • All HCL digital properties were rebranded

Customer communication:

  • CEO sent out 1:1 Communication to 100+ key CXOs
  • Global LinkedIn campaign was launched for customers and prospects
  • 100% Sales was enabled with content and collaterals for customer communication

Manchester United Partners:

  • All MU partners were briefed by HCL in the partner meet that followed

Employee activation:

  • On ground selfie booths were setup at 7 HCL centres including Cary (USA), Krakow (Poland), Singapore, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Noida, Chennai, covering 80% of employees
  • An employee training webinar by the CMO and CHRO was streamed to all employees

Sales:

  • A sales portal was setup with collaterals and templates to standardize communication
  • A training module was setup and rolled out to all sales
  • A sales force linked rights booking portal was setup for all sales

Analysts and advisors:

  • Analysts and advisors were personally briefed on the partnership, and how it stood to transform HCL’s digital transformation capabilities and go-to-market

Post launch activation:

Step 1: Setup a central team to drive and given the partnership with Manchester United, reporting directly into the CMO

Step 2: Align and train all business heads and all marketing teams to ensure that the platform ROI was maximized

Step 3: Train all employees and all HR teams to ensure that all employees understood the partnership and felt engaged

Step 4: Enable all stakeholders with a central training, content and collateral platform – accessible at all times to sales, marketing and HR teams

Step 5: Empower all business units with equitable access to activation rights – including matchday rights to host customers, access to senior management, players and ex-players etc.

Step 6: Monitor, measure and report impact with all stakeholders

Results

Launch result:

On 2-Sep-2015, Manchester United Football Club announced its Official Digital Transformation Partnership with HCL Technologies. The partnership launch became the largest in the football club’s history, generating USD 74+ MN in earned media, 257 MN digital impressions, 200+ key account and influencer interactions across the world and 40,000+ employee interactions.

The detailed results are as follows:

  1. PR Visibility:
    • Total Clips: 1034
    • Notional Media Value: USD 74 MN
    • Key Publications: Forbes, Reuters, BBC, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent, The Daily Mirror, The Daily Star, Daily Express, Hindustan Times, The Economic Times, The Financial Express, The Times Of India, The Hindu
    • Key Television Coverage: Sky Sports, CNBC TV 18, ET NOW, Bloomberg TV
  2. Social Media Engagement:
    • Social Media Impressions: 157 Million
    • Engagements: 437,555
    • Downloads of MyManUtdJersey: 36,192
    • Partnership Launch Video Views: 640,000+
    • Hcltech.com/UnitedByHCL page visits: 41,072
    • Increase in HCL Tech website visits : 347%
  3. Customer Communication:
    • 147 CEO to CXO communications in 67 Key accounts
    • Communication to customers by sales
  4. Manchester United Partners:
    • All MU partners were briefed by HCL about the partnership – over social media, via mails and subsequently at the Manchester United partner’s met
  5. Influencer Engagement:
    • Analyst briefings: 27, including Ovum, Forrester, Gartner, IDC, TechMarketView,
    • Advisor briefings: 30, including ISG, PwC, Deloitte, KPMG
  6. Employee Engagement:
    • Employees Reached: Email by CHRO to 100% employees
    • 36,192+ jerseys created on MyManUtdJersey App
    • 5000+ employees engaged on ground.

Post launch, the platform has had a 360 degree activation across customers, influencers and employees. Some key activations have included:

  1. Customer intimacy:
    1. Running intimacy events at Old Trafford such as HCL’s most important Customer Advisory Council, and using Manchester United speakers such as Sir Alex Fergusson, helping create over 300 customer engagements
    2. Driving a well-structured match day hospitality program across business teams, helping deliver $1.64 billion of funnel influence
    3. The TeamsWork (teamswork.hcltech.com) app launched in collaboration with LinkedIn and Manchester United that has created 2000+ engagements till date
    4. Global customer engagement through the Manchester United Soccer Schools in Australia, creating engagement with 42 key decision makers from Australia’s leading organizations including CBA, ANZ, Westpac, Worley Parsons, BHP Billiton among others, and providing a model for using the Man. Utd. brand to drive customer engagement internationally
  2. Influencer intimacy:
    1. Leveraging Manchester United senior management as speakers at key analyst conferences in the UK and USA to present the case study on the HCL-Manchester United Digital Transformation Partnership roadmap
  3. Employee intimacy:
    1. Indian employees and prospects: The #GetAJob campaign with LinkedIn MTV, making HCL India’s #1 employer brand with 35% of job applications (22,016 applications) amongst 12 participating organizations including Flipkart, Adidas, Uber, Amazon, Reliance, Pepsi, Marico, Godrej, LinkedIn, MTV, Airtel
    2. Global employees and prospects: Twitter campaign with Manchester United legends Bryan Robson, Denis Irwin and Andy Cole on Winning through Teamwork, generating 37 million impressions and 681 participants in a 45 minute chat. A total of 485 million impressions generated through continued daily social media engagement
  4. Media:
    1. Periodic engagement and interviews with media, driven by the corporate PR team
  5. Shareholders:
    1. Driving messaging and creative in quarterly reports around the partnership

Outcome:

Mindshare among customers:

The HCL-Manchester United partnership launch, with USD 74 Million of earned media, became the biggest partnership launch in the 137 year history of Manchester United: 50% higher than any Manchester United partner and exponentially higher than the Microsoft-Real Madrid partnership and the Wipro-Chelsea partnership launches. The massive visibility generated from the launch created enquiries for digitalization from CXOs of leading organizations globally, including from partners of Manchester United.

Subsequently, the performance of the platform, measured across 5 parameters has been as follows:

  1. Target: (12 Month Targets set on 02-September)
    • Business pipeline influence: $1 Billion
    • Deal influence: $ 300 Million
    • Customer/Analyst/influencer engagement: 800
    • PR Visibility: $20 MN Notional media value
    • Digital Media Impressions: 500 Million
    • Brand value: HCL retains Brand Finance Top 500 Brands
  2. Results: (with 4.5 months still left to achieve targets)
  3.  
    • Business pipeline influence: $4.4 Billion (440% of target)
    • Deal influence: $857 Million (286% of target)
    • Customer/Analyst/influencer engagement: 824 (103% achieved)
    • PR Visibility: 1034 articles with $74 Million Notional Media Value (370% of target)
    • Digital Media Impressions: 705 Million (141% of target)
    • Brand value: HCL retains spot on Brand Finance Top 500 Brands (100% target) 

The HCL Manchester United partnership was a strategic business decision to take HCL into the future and help it tap into the demand for 21st Century Enterprise Technology Services. The ROI from the platform has been exceptional thus far.

Links

Launch:

Partnership launch film: Link

Launch event highlights: Link

MANCHESTER UNITED SOCCER SCHOOLS :LINK

BIG LEAP: 21ST CENTURY GLOBAL SUMMIT:LINK

Media Coverage:

Coverage by ET Now: Link

Coverage by Forbes: Link

Coverage by Bloomberg: Link

Coverage by Financial Express: Link

Coverage by Economic Times: Link

Training:

Employee training video: Link

Sales Training Video: Link

Sales training video for hosting customers at Old Trafford: Link

Digital destination:

Partnership Launch microsite: Link

Social media activation:

MYMANUTDJERSEY Application: Link

TeamsWork App:Link

Item 1: Manifesto of the partnership, linking business in the 21st century to football

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Item 2: Clutter breaking messages deployed across digital and social media 

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Item 3: Twitter Banter Between @manutd and @hcltech

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Item 4:The HCL Manchester United Partnership covered on Sky Sports

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Item 5: Employee activation at HCL offices in Krakow (Poland), Singapore, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Noida, Chennai

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