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#Pogba #inevitable

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Manchester United and Paul Pogba recently launched the Premier League’s first official player specific emoji on Twitter. All tweets containing the hashtag #Pogba on the social media site will display an animated image of the Frenchman’s face. Launched prior to the United vs Liverpool clash on the weekend and it will remain until post the Leicester game on the 5th of Feb.

Paul Pogba seemed delighted and is quoted as saying “I am happy and thankful for this opportunity and I look forward to emojing! Let’s have fun and kick some ass at #pogba.” Quite what he thought this opportunity was seems unbeknown given the curious quote and reference to kicking ass…

Ultimately this was likely thought up by the Manchester United marketing team. MD Richard Arnold said “Manchester United is the most connected and engaged club in world sport and we continually strive to find new ways to communicate with our global following of 659 million people.”

This is why we love social media and why it’s so difficult to get right

On the face of it it’s an interesting, new and engaging idea. Something we should be applauding Man United for and encouraging other football clubs to explore more interactive fan based comms. I’m sure the marketing execs were convinced Pogba would have a blinder, be trending positively globally and they (and Adidas) could sit back and wait for the Pogba shirt sales and boots to fly off the shelves. Pogba I’m sure wouldn’t have considered this being potentially embarrassing given his confidence and away they went…

Of course what happened was entirely predictable, Pogba had an absolute stinker of a game (whilst the pitch side advertising boards continued to mock him by advertising the emoji all afternoon). He was then comprehensively derided all evening and much of the next day on Twitter. Some will of course argue that trending for two days straight, making national newspapers and being discussed by footy fans around the globe is a great success regardless of negativity. I’m not convinced all that ‘earned’ media coverage will deliver on the KPIs Richard and his team had originally set out however…

I’m sure they were keen to instigate fan engagement using the hashtag and emoji up to the Leicester game, however such is the brilliance of Twitter and the fact you can’t control the platform, this opportunity I suspect has been lost and I imagine the emoji will be taken over by other fans poking fun and taking the mickey.

This is why we love social media and why it’s so difficult to get right. This was a brave decision and could have gone very differently indeed, however given the immediacy of the platform once something goes wrong it’s then very difficult to stem the tidal wave coming your way.

We can applaud the bravery behind the decision to launch this campaign, however the risk seemed to outweigh the reward here. I can’t imagine what Sir Alex Ferguson would have said had he still been in charge and if I was Pogba, the only ass I would be kicking would be my own after that shocker of a performance.

Will Brook Smith – Business Director

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