News & Views

Football with Feeling

by Contagious I/O

This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O, our customisable research platform featuring the world’s most innovative, creative and effective ad campaigns and marketing ideas

TV provider immerses sports fans in the action with haptic-response footy shirt

Australian subscription television service Foxtel has launched the Alert Shirt, a wearable device that lets users ‘feel’ the emotions of the players, in real time.

By pulling the shirt on, and connecting it up to a dedicated smartphone app, the wearer can receive haptic sensations that mimic feelings of pressure, impact, adrenaline and exhaustion. It can be worn either when watching the game at home or in the stadium (provided there is an internet connection available).

The jersey, which is designed to promote Foxtel’s Fox Footy channel, uses real-time data from the matches to control the shirt. This information covers key parts of the match – tackles, passes, kicks on goal etc – and is transmitted to a set of smart electronics in the shirt, via the iOS or Android app. The shirt then recognises which emotion to convey: if there’s an important kick on goal, it will transmit the feeling of tension and nerves, and if the goal goes over, this will change to adrenalin-fuelled elation.

The shirt is being offered as a premium gift to selected Australian Football League (AFL) club members that purchase Foxtel and to 1,000 long-standing subscribers of the service. A direct mail campaign will be sent to the club members and the subscribers, alerting them about the shirt offer. A further 100 shirts will then be given away as prizes on the media company’s Facebook page.

The campaign was created by Foxtel MarketingCHE Proximity, Melbourne and wearable experiments company We:eX. AFL players, including Scott Pendlebury of Collingwood, Luke Hodge of Hawthorn and Trent Cotchin of Richmond also helped to give Foxtel an understanding of how the body feels during key moments in a game. There’s a ‘making of’ video here.


Contagious Insight

Above and beyond a savvy PR stunt, this campaign should help with customer acquisition and loyalty, bringing fans closer to the game and tying them into annual TV subscriptions.

Onboarding / Previous wearable devices from marketing departments, such as Durex’s connected Fundawear, earned the brand a good amount of PR but seemed almost impossible to come by/purchase. Foxtel, on the other hand, has made over 1,000 of these shirts and is using them as a new business driver (targeting the football-mad members of AFL clubs), a loyalty mechanism (rewarding 1,000 subscribers), and a promotional tool (competition prizes on social media). It’s reassuring to see that Foxtel is offering up the Alert Shirt to the public, and isn’t limiting its business objectives to simply raising awareness through earned media.

Connected experiences / At Most Contagious 2013, we gave the audience a rundown of the very latest ‘connected products’ – web-enabled devices designed to deliver multisensory experiences. Sport has been a key area of growth here – whether it’s Budweiser’s Red Lights offering ice hockey fans the ultimate at-home celebration, or the England rugby team using immersive gaming headset Oculus Rift to give fans a one-on-one view of the action.

The Alert Shirt shows the potential that these ‘connected experiences’ hold for fans looking to get closer to the game – whether it’s feeling part of the action when watching the match from your home, or mimicking the emotions of the players when you’re in the stands cheering them on.

As wearable technology becomes cheaper, smartphones become ubiquitous, and the internet of things gains momentum, these connected products could become a sure-fire way of creating bigger, better and more exciting experiences for enthusiastic sports fans.

Foxtel Alert Shirt


This story originally appeared on Contagious I/O. Contagious I/O is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious I/O contact