Fantasy football plus smart data make a marketing win with "It’s not cheating when it’s your dream team"

Posted on Oct. 14, 2015 by @canadapostcorp in Marketing solutions

The result is over 630,000 paid registrations, even with a first time paywall


Dream Team is one of the largest online fantasy football leagues in the U.K. Soccer fans create their ideal team by choosing their favourite players from the teams of the Premier League. As the football seasons progresses, points grow, based on the performances of a fan’s selected players. The goal is to create a “make believe” team better than everyone else’s.

In the U.K., football is everything. People go through life supporting just one team. It’s an allegiance handed down from generation to generation. No fan would ever dream of switching sides or supporting rival players.

News UK, the owner of Dream Team, turned to the Wunderman agency in London to come up with a campaign that would increase membership – it was more than the usual challenge because, for the first time, members would face a pay-wall before they could play.

Data inspires the campaign’s creative

When the agency looked at Dream Team’s data, they saw that despite lifelong allegiance to a single team, fans chose players from rival sides when building their ultimate Dream Team.

In the previous season, 76 per cent of Chelsea fans had chosen players from their sworn rivals, the Spurs. And 92 per cent of Crystal Palace fans didn’t pick a single Crystal Palace player. The insight revealed by the data, that an unspoken taboo was being broken, inspired a campaign that featured fans trying to deal with the guilt of betraying their beloved team.

Data inspires the campaign’s creative

The marketing campaign

An integrated multi-channel campaign was created. It included online video, press ads, social media, digital displays, emails and direct mail. Fans of football clubs were targeted with their own team scarf (the equivalent of a Canadian fan’s hockey jersey), embroidered with a salient fact about their fellow fans’ cheating behaviour. Every channel drove traffic online to sign up and create a Dream Team.

The results

The campaign was a hit. It reached over 4 million people on Facebook and over 12 million fans on Twitter. Dream Team was mentioned an average of 1,905 times a day, reaching over 500,000 people every day. Dreamteam Facebook fans and Twitter followers increased by 5 per cent.

Despite the introduction of a paywall for the first time in 20 years, the campaign achieved over 630,000 registrations (5 per cent above target). The use of the Sun Goals app increased by 678 per cent, creating a massive annual revenue stream (that cannot be disclosed).


At the heart of this campaign is data intelligence. Knowing which team an individual supported and then seeing exactly how many other fans of the same team had treacherously invested in an “enemy” player was a gift that the creative team capitalized on.

Though it was an integrated campaign with important online and TV components, direct mail was crucial to its success. It helped drive both sets of action, signing up and sharing on social media. This was achieved because the mail piece’s personalization went far beyond the recipient’s name – it knew who he supported and how, as a member of a football tribe, he was supposed to behave.

The direct mail “scarf” showed each fan the essential contradiction between his rational selection of players for his fantasy football team and his irrational but heartfelt support of his actual team.

Data, one of the three pillars of Canada Post Smartmail Marketing™ solutions, was applied at the right time in the right place. Combined with a creative mail piece that was right on the money for its male target audience, the campaign inspired hundreds of thousands of fans to pay up to keep playing the game online.


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