Cannes Lions


PRIME, Stockholm / ADIDAS / 2009

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”Fan culture” is an expression with many negative associations. For many years the media have placed focus on the violence that is associated with football clubs. AIK from Stockholm, the most attended team in Sweden, has often been represented as a case study of this violence. ”AIK is Sweden’s most hated football club” is a common expression, which also was confirmed to be true in a massive fan survey carried out. So with this background, what role could a sponsor play?Many sponsors choose to end partnerships when all hell breaks loose. Adidas instead decided to light a flame to conquer the darkness.

Adidas sought to highlight the positive elements of AIK fan culture, and created a common forum for the entire fan base. For the first time, accompanying this was positive media coverage. From this the sentiment ”Black at Heart” was created, incorporated by players and fans alike.The result was a series of articles centered around positive fan culture, 80% rise of merchandise sales, and 64% rise of match shirts, compared with the same time period the previous year. The campaign resulted in shares analysts' recommendations to purchase AIK stocks!


February:1. Countdown on 2. Valentine’s Day full-page advertisement in Aftonbladet March:3. A small black heart pin was initially given out to a tight circle of players, supporters and AIK figures. 4. Banners5. Black Box Limited Edition. Individually numbered boxes with 11 invitations to a weekend day with the players 6. Viral film showing the recording of the heart beat of profile player Mjällby 7. VIP-launch in Råsunda Stadium with invited players, supporters and partners8. Partnership: Heart-Lung Foundation April: 10. Black heart featured on the left arm of players’ match shirts for the entire season 11. A large black heart is featured over the centre circle before the home premier 12. Mjällby’s heart rate pumped over the loudspeakers before every home game September:13. Launch of – a community site completely run by the supporters 14. Fan Leader, TV profile Lars Adaktusson and AIK’s MD, among others, sent texts about “My Black Heart” 15. Exclusive sell-in to the Football Channel focusing on a positive supporter culture.


• Sales of match shirts had exceeded the entire previous year’s sales by August. Merchandise Manager estimates total sales for 2008 to reach around 9,000 shirts (an increase of 64%). Sales of merchandise up 80% Q1-Q2 2008, compared with the same period 2007. Black at Heart t-shirts sold out.• The same day the site was made a fan community the Football Channel ( highlighted BAH as a prime example of positive fan culture; it became the catalyst for an entire series of articles on the subject. (500,000 visitors weekly)• The new site was supported by the regular fans, club officials and die-hard fans. 20,800 visitors counted at from February 27th to March 3rd • Despite the anti-commercialism sentiments amongst dedicated fans, the core fans painted a flag with the Adidas logo, which is held up in the middle of the stand, although it’s almost an unwritten rule that commercial messages never gain true acceptance.

• 54 hrs of TV time in SVT, TV4, C+ et c. throughout the season. (acculumated reaching 70 M viewers)

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