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Vodafone Fan Academy keeps the fever alive

During the recent football tournament, the local telco decided to shift focus to fans of the game

The nation lit up with floodlights, fans and cheers as Qatar took on the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to host the world’s most important sporting event. People from all over the world united to show their support, and Vodafone sought to keep that connection alive by celebrating not just the teams and the players but the people who genuinely shape the game – the fans. Without being officially tied up with the event, Vodafone had to take up the challenge to put fans in the spotlight first and make this tournament even more unforgettable for them.

How Vodafone lifted fans up

Vodafone Qatar partnered with Wunderman Thompson Doha to create a platform to help supporters discover what it takes to be a true fan. With Vodafone not being an official sponsor, the real challenge lay in being unable to use branded assets or logos, the official jersey, player names, stadiums, matches or team names anywhere online. However, Vodafone rose to the challenge by putting the spotlight on the fans. A website was built in collaboration with four iconic international fans, whose names have been etched in history, giving them one crucial mission: to coach people on how to be the best fans ever.

The fan coaches 

Vodafone brought together four international fans to create a series of videos to introduce people to all they need to know about how to stand out in the stadiums and during the games. The aim was to show fans how to catch attention, be the best host, pick the best costumes and cheer the right way. 

The four fans who took the role of coaches were: 

El Fil, who won the award for the best fan in 2018, is known as a standout face for Tunisia and is recognised for always being in the stands supporting his nation. Fil created videos teaching fans the art of face and body painting. The aim was for people to learn the importance of picking the right colours, patterns and methods of prepping skin for paint. 

El Cole is a Caribbean icon who was Colombia’s number one follower for more than 30 years and is known for dressing up as a bird man. His videos focused on teaching fans about dressing up creatively, accessorising and understanding the fine art of costumes.

Caramelo is known for his iconic Mexican themed outfit and has travelled around the world supporting his country with an attendance record of more than 450 games. He introduced fans to the right way of cheering, chanting and leading other supporters in the stadiums. He also spoke about protecting one’s voice, warming up before cheering, and starting and participating in a wave.

Finally, Mohammed Saadon Al-Kuwari is a famous Qatari figure in sports and media, as well as a sports presenter for some of the biggest tournaments globally and locally. He gave fans essential etiquette and hosting tips to help them discover how to be the best fans and hosts during this football season and how to behave towards other local and resident fans as well as visitors coming into the country. 

The coaching videos

Each of the four coaches created 20 educational videos, each lasting sixty seconds over five modules. The course was paired with a quiz at the end to test the knowledge and understanding of fans who have taken part in the academy. Fans received e-badges and e-certificates on completion. More than 4,250 fans from countries including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Germany and Spain joined in and took part in the Vodafone Fan Academy courses. 1,122 fans received badges and more than 1,540 each received a certificate acknowledging their participation in Vodafone Fan Academy. To celebrate this honour, Vodafone hosted an online graduation ceremony in the metaverse, where all those who took part in the Fan Academy could join in.

Content and channels

Vodafone sought to apply learnings and build a campaign that would capitalise on this sporting opportunity by creating fun, light-hearted content and by staying always-on. 

To promote and build awareness of Vodafone Fan Academy on social media, the brand teamed up with the coaches to create videos documenting stories about themselves and their individual fan journeys. Each video was posted on Vodafone’s social channels and linked to the microsite. 

It also targeted fans with short tutorials that served as teasers of 15 seconds each, effectively linking the audience to Vodafone Fan Academy and encouraging fans to join in. Weekly draws were conducted where graduates were eligible to win smart devices throughout the tournament.

In the end, Vodafone saw an opportunity to be part of the excitement of the sport by not just being a brand that focuses on teams, players or glory but by putting the faces that cheer on through the wins, losses and draws at the forefront of it all.