Burger King’s decision to become the front-of-shirt sponsor for Stevenage FC has not only gained the club attention in the real world, but also in the online world.

 

The Burger King and Stevenage FC sponsorship is an unlikely pairing that has had a huge impact after their bold plan to go virtually viral succeeded beyond all expectations and gained the club increased popularity online amongst the video gaming community, leading to Stevenage FC becoming FIFA 20 Career Mode’s most used team as a result. 

 

In 2019, Stevenage FC announced their partnership with fast food chain Burger King and introduced the Stevenage Challenge which encourages people all over the world to try and turn Stevenage FC into the biggest club in the online world.

 

“You haven’t heard of Stevenage Football Club, right? Well, neither had we but we realised that even though they’re at the bottom of England’s fourth division, they were going to appear in the same video game that all the expensive players were going to be in. And that’s when, almost two years ago, we decided to sponsor Stevenage,” a Burger King spokesperson said. “Because if we put our logo on their real shirt we would definitely have our logo in the game.”

 

Gamers around the world started playing as members of Stevenage FC, signing the best players to their team and for every goal they shared on social media, Burger King gave them rewards to their favourite items from the menu, including the Whopper, Chicken Royale and Chicken Fries. The challenges varied depending on which country you were from, ranging from simply scoring a goal, to scoring direct from a corner, all whilst wearing one of the two new Burger King sponsored Stevenage FC shirts. Once players completed a challenge, they just had to share their accomplishment on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram to claim their prize.

 

During the campaign, lasting just over two weeks, Stevenage were the most-played team on the game’s career mode and more than 25,000 goals in the club’s kit were shared online. As a result of the campaign, the club sold out their home shirt for the first time in history. The campaign was praised by a number of high-profile figures on social media, including Piers Morgan, who called it “world class marketing” and Gary Lineker. The likes of Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah have all also been signed by players taking part in the Stevenage Challenge, meaning Burger King have somehow ended up on the virtual shirts worn by football’s biggest stars.

 

As the Stevenage Challenge was a huge success for both the club and the fast food chain, Burger King then made plans to use the same strategy with the club’s women’s team. As part of the sponsorship, Burger King created the Burger Queen logo, symbolising the sponsorship of the women’s team of Stevenage FC. The new logo was displayed on the team’s kit throughout the 20/21 season to celebrate the launch of the sponsorship. To show support, fans were able to purchase the limited-edition Burger Queen kit from the official Stevenage FC store online. 

 

“After successfully spotlighting the talent of the Stevenage FC men’s team last year, we wanted to do the same for the women’s team in 2020,” said Soco Nunez, Marketing Director of Burger King UK. “The women’s team faces the same challenges and hurdles as the men’s team and it’s only fair that it receives the same support from our brand with an equal sponsorship.” 

 

The sponsorship may have been an unlikely pairing, but this genius marketing strategy saw Burger King receive several prestigious awards while Stevenage FC are still one of the most popular teams on FIFA to this day.