5 Apr /22

Viking chants and social media influence: why language and culture matter to sports marketers

Viking chants and social media influence: why language and culture matter to sports marketers
Viking chants and social media influence: why language and culture matter to sports marketers

I was at a big sports convention last month. Based at the impressive new Tottenham Hotspur stadium, its line-up of speakers was something from a sports fan’s dream. In a conference room (which was also the NFL locker room), there was a buzz in the air. It was the effortless hum of cool; the whole thing was dripping with cool. Everyone was excited to talk sports marketing.

I took my seat next to a gentleman who was there representing a Czech football club. He had come to “find some marketing and PR inspiration.” As we spoke a little, he asked what I do. When I responded that I work for a translation company, his eyes glazed over a little. He was unsure of the connection between sports and translation services.

So let me offer some context. The Icelandic football team will be the example.

Playing to your strengths: the world of Icelandic football

Apparently, local Icelandic fans don’t do the famous Viking chant. They find it a bit…tacky. This is according to the Head of Marketing & Commercial, Stefan Gunnarsson, from the Football Association of Iceland. He was at the conference to present the topic: Driving digital and commercial growth in football.

Nevertheless, the club knows that when they go out to the US or Asia, football fans love this Viking theme. So, Gunnarsson said they maximise on this quirky brand association and “sprinkle some Vikingness” across the digital experience for international fans.

Cut to social media content inspired by Game of Thrones and vast expanses of untamed nature.

Since tourists like to visit Iceland for the scenery, why not mix this into the content surrounding Icelandic football? For a comparatively small national team like Iceland, growing the fanbase beyond the domestic market makes perfect business sense. If the overseas fans like the Viking chant and all the associated paraphernalia, so be it.

Beyond the cultural perceptions of overseas football fans, Gunnarsson raised another significant point: the commercial opportunities that come with international players, especially those who have a huge social media following in their own country. Yes, they may be a little mediocre on the pitch, but their ability to draw in new international audiences from places like South Korea or Indonesia makes them attractive. (Apparently, South Korean fans love to attend international games and are not shy about spending a lot on merchandise when they arrive.)

Echoing these sentiments from Gunnarsson, was the Product Director, Fabio Gallo, from LaLiga Tech who presented on: Monetising your digital assets post-Covid.

He was asked by the mediator about how the organisation adapts to differing demands from international fans. He acknowledged that it is a challenge, but declared that Laliga Tech has been looking at different ways to communicate with its global fanbase in all the different languages and that they had found their solution, which would be revealed soon.

Supporting growth through multilingual digital content experiences

International marketing is always fascinating to me. How different cultures and therefore expectations impact and shape content experiences. Inevitably, when a business attempts to move beyond its domestic market, the issue of language quickly arises. How do you ensure the accuracy and the quality of all your digital content which now needs to go out in a different language? How do you facilitate rapid and seamless communication between content producers and international fans on social media? (And, if the fans like quirky chanting while wearing plastic helmets with horns, who are you to dismiss that?) The organisations that get this right can tap into lucrative international markets and secure further growth.

Perhaps at this point the gentleman from the Czech Republic understood why I was there representing a translation services provider.

This article was written by Lucy from our marketing team who attended the International Sports Conference at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in March.

Did you know that international football clubs are quite big buyers of translation services? Fan content but also sponsorship deals, player contracts and more. EVS Translations works with some of the German Bundesliga clubs as well as sports media agencies. Contact our team today to learn more and find out how we can help your organisation get ahead of the game.

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