Fanatic live event challenges the rules and language of traditional consumer marketing…

Fan marketing specialists Ear to the Ground launched a series of events to help brands understand the mentality of fans and create better fan communications programmes. 

An unlikely bunch of people from across the UK fan landscape met up at the Hospital Club in Covent Garden. Record labels mixed with premiership football clubs, academics, artist managers, global apparel brands and key representatives from the worlds of rugby, horse racing, mass participation and cycling. 

They were all there to discuss whether or not you could ever use the ‘C Word’ when talking to Fans?

The discussion looked at whether it was ever appropriate to use the word ‘Consumer’ or whether it was important to operate in a different mindset when communicating to fans?

Steve Sayer Commercial Director of the O2 arena explained that their purpose was to elevate the fan experience and ‘intensify at every opportunity’. He discussed the importance of providing the ultimate level of customer experience but they had to remember they were a fan-centric business. Catherine Hawkins from Think Sponsorship felt that rights holders and their partners needed to work on longer term plans to build relationships with fan bases to authentically earn their respect. Geoff Pearson, a leading fan academic, echoed this with his comments on the importance of respecting rituals and the power of identity and belonging. The importance of understanding dress codes rituals and language kept re-appearing with Owen Laverty from the Fanatic Department of Ear to the ground explaining it was much easier to ‘enhance existing fan behaviours that create new ones’. A key take-out from Jeff Nathansen of Whistle Sports was for brands to never be scared to ‘insert themselves in the conversation’ on social media because it’s always better to have a voice where fans congregate and engage using banter than to avoid it. 

There was a general consensus that fans do behave differently to consumers when looking at the world through the prism of the fandom. It was agreed by the panel that the cornerstone of any communication with fans had to be built  on the foundation of authenticity, credibility and by truly understanding the things fans love. There were similarities with traditional consumer marketing but essentially communications with fans needed a different level of sensitivity, energy and subtlety to get the best results.

In conclusion, the first Fanatic Live event was a huge success pulling together a broad church of representatives from the world of UK fan communications. 

Steve Smith, Ear to the Ground CEO said…

“I’m so keen to keep this series going! It’s given everybody in the agency a lot to think about and I’ve been overwhelmed by the messages of thanks from everyone who attended. Lets get another one in the diary ASAP.”

To sign up for information on the next Fanatic live event please contact Millie Killeen,



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