Campaign of the Week

19 December 2023

Xbox offers Football Manager 24 players a shot at real club role 

Microsoft-owned console partners with Sega and Bromley FC to give Football Manager fans the chance to win a stint as a support performance tactician.

Anyone who has ever watched a game of football in a pub or from the stands can vouch that, when it comes to giving opinions on the game, few shy away from suggesting they know better than the coaches in the dugout. Now though, one avid gamer is set to be given the chance to put their ideas to the test, after Xbox partnered with Sega-owned game Football Manager 24, to launch a competition that offers its players an opportunity to win a tactician role at professional football club Bromley FC.

The Everyday Tactician campaign, produced by McCann, London, will see the National League side offer the winner a five-month paid role as a support performance tactician (the National League is the lowest professional league in England). During this time, they will report to the Bromley FC first team manager and head of performance analysis, getting the chance to contribute to all first team analysis before, during, and after a match. They will be trusted to present detailed reports to the first team manager and support team selection, tactics and scouting.

FM24 players need to follow three steps to enter the competition. Firstly, they must complete the ‘Championes’ Xbox achievement by winning a domestic league title in the game on Xbox or PC. Secondly, entrants must fill out an application form, including a one-minute video explaining why they are the ideal candidate. Finally, shortlisted entrants will attend an interview with Bromley FC staff.

Once the role has been filled, Football Manager fans can follow the winner’s journey from January 2024 until the end of the season via regular updates posted online and on social media. Progress will be shared across the channels of Bromley FC, Football Manager, Xbox UK, and TNT Sports (official broadcaster of the Vanarama National League). The Everyday Tactician’s journey will also be filmed for a three-part documentary planned to air in 2024.

A 40-second ad was released online and across social media to promote the campaign. The spot showed a bemused gamer being flung from his living room onto the pitch in his gaming chair before being welcomed to the club by Bromley FC players.

The competition launched on 14 November, following the release of FM24 on 6 November. People have until 4 December to enter.

Xbox stated in a press release: ‘This is not a gimmick. We are being innovative in our approach to how brands can hire incredible talent and think this is a fun way to give back to football fans who often think they know best.’

Contagious Insight 

The gaffer’s approval / For Football Manager, this campaign does more than promote the launch of its new game. The seal of approval from a professional football club affirms how playing Football Manager can translate into professional coaching, giving the game serious credibility. Unlike other football games such as EA FC and Pro Evolution Soccer, Football Manager is a more tactically involved affair. It’s made for those who love the game’s tactical side and aren’t afraid to dig deep into stats and spreadsheets. This group is drawn to the game because they want an experience that replicates real-world football management as closely as possible – and not much relays the authenticity of the experience like a professional football club endorsing its ability to upskill people.

The involvement of Bromley FC in this campaign also speaks to the authenticity of FM24 by playing on our authority bias. This is the mental shortcut people use whereby we take the opinion of experts to signal that something must be true or false. Football Manager could have presented all the facts and figures in the world to back up its game’s ability to hone a player’s tactical nous, yet getting a professional football club to do it for them does that job in a much more believable way.

The campaign comes when a growing segment of football fans is showing a desire for stats and detailed tactical analysis, who may believe they could give a professional tactician role a good go. A 2021 report into football fandom by Sky Sports identified ‘Stattos’ as one of its key fan subcultures – a group who are likely to ‘chew their mates' ears off with facts’, and are 2.5 times more likely to tune into pre-match analysis than other fans surveyed. 

Raising the stakes / The chance to win a coaching role in professional football is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Launching a campaign that gives back to gamers in this way, raises the game's stakes and the appeal of FM24 and Microsoft’s Game Pass subscription model – through which the game is free to download.

The added appeal is in part driven by our bias for reciprocity. This is the idea that people have an innate drive to reciprocate positive actions made towards us. In Xbox’s case, by offering gamers the chance to compete for a professional coaching role, they are much more likely to follow the steps required to enter and download the game by subscribing to the Xbox Game Pass.

This campaign follows a trend for games that have paid back by upskilling their players and elevating their performance in professional roles. In 2023 Sony released the film Gran Turismo, based on the true story of a gamer becoming a professional race driver thanks to playing the game of the same name. 

Formidable partnership / For Xbox, teaming up with Football Manager for a competition that can only be won by playing its console or subscribing to one of Microsoft’s Game Passes, is a shrewd move to one-up the competition. Not only does it mean Football Manager fans who are in the hunt for a console may choose Xbox over PlayStation, but it also means people who own a PlayStation may view their version as inferior as it lacks the perks of the competition.

Xbox and PlayStation have previous when it comes to striking exclusive deals for football games. Ahead of the release of Fifa 18, PlayStation agreed to a $50m exclusive marketing deal with EA Sports that meant while Xbox could still sell the game, it couldn’t show any game footage, or mention the product in any of its ads. Over the following years, Xbox responded with a number of creative ads for the game that skirted around the rules, including the Score more with Xbox campaign for Fifa 22. Xbox offered rewards such as match tickets and deals on the in-game currency of Fifa points, ultimately making Fifa on Xbox more rewarding than its rival.

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