The Source chats to The FA’s Charlotte Hughes about what’s in-store off the pitch.
After an unbeaten qualification period, England will be beginning its 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign with a strong retail and licensing programme.
Kicking off what will be a number of World Cup product launches, Nike launched the Official 2018 England Collection, including a new home kit in March and an away kit to follow.
Charlotte Hughes, licensing partnerships manager at The FA, elaborates on the design: “The outfits will be worn by all 28 England national teams, and the new designs are rooted in Three Lions history while embracing Nike’s latest game-changing kit innovation.”
The home kit is a classic look of white shirt, blue shorts and white socks, while the away kit is a two-tone red design with white shorts and red socks. The shirt is dominated by a tonal graphic that depicts a modern St. George’s cross.
A wider England Collection includes a range of training products, including a pre-match top which is a nod to the Three Lions’ 1982 look. The kits, training wear and Official England name and number (Sporting ID) is available to purchase across retail channels, including Englandstore.com and Wembley Stadium outlets, with a range of activations in place to promote.
Panini, as the official collectable partner of Wembley Stadium, continues to go from strength to strength with its popular sticker and trading card collections.
“The official FIFA World Cup Collection was launched in March with a range of activations to kick things off, including in-stadium album giveaways and sampling at the pre-tournament friendlies, sticker packets on match day programmes and strong promotional support across major retail and social channels,” continues Charlotte.
The Official Adrenalyn Trading Card Collection launched in late May, with fans given the opportunity to further build up their collections, also seeing the return of the #gotgotneed hashtag. Panini is also working closely with SoccerStarz to launch a 2018 England collection of the two-inch smash-hit football collectable from Creative Toys Company, which will be available in a variety of forms, including blister packs.
Meanwhile, in the gaming space, the FIFA 18 franchise, from EA Sports, fully licensed with Senior England Men’s players, will have great exposure and exciting marketing activations planned to mark the tournament. “Gaming and Digital products remain an important area for the FA licensing programme, providing fans with additional touchpoints and ways to interact with the players,” Charlotte adds.
In the first of a series of new licensing partners, Playmobil has been welcomed on board as a new licensee for the tournament, and has launched the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia collection featuring nine national teams, with a kick-functioning England player and a replica arena available. Ecell Global has launched an official range of England licensed mobile accessories, including phone and tablet cases, plus power adaptors. In addition, Merchmaker will be working with retailers to provide personalised product through its online merchandise platforms.
Charlotte is quick to point out the important role that retail plays with the England licensing programme. “Demand and visibility of official product at retail has gained prominence across the country with Lidl, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Primark, Asda, Sports Direct, to name a few, all stocking Official England Licensed product,” she says.
A number of products from key licensees – ranging from footballs (Hy-Pro) to gifts and souvenirs (Forever Collectibles) – have been launching in-stores nationwide from May onwards.
“Apparel is a driving category,” says Charlotte and to this point, VF Imagewear Majestic, has created exciting new ranges across adult, kids and babywear to suit every fan and price point.
Lidl, the official supermarket for the England team, is just one of the grocers supporting the World Cup campaign with a range in-store from May. Alongside this, a long-term partnership with Aykroyds and TDP Textiles, will see the launch of fresh designs in nightwear product supported across retail. The England retro range, by licensee Score Draw, continues to see strong success with increased distribution, and a new capsule England Navy collection of heritage inspired polo shirts and track jackets launches exclusively for the independent retail market. Outside of apparel, Forever Collectibles will be bringing its new product Brxlz, including a constructable England player, to retail and available in Tesco stores in the build-up to the tournament.
With the international appeal of the England team, Charlotte highlights the importance of reaching these fans. “Building on the growth of the international licensing programme, EZ Shop International, an Asian e-commerce and retail football specialist, has taken on the rights to run merchandise promotions in malls across Hong Kong and China, through May and June,” she says.
“As the excitement to the tournament builds, we can also look ahead to exciting opportunities which present themselves in the coming months and years for all of our England teams,” observes Charlotte. These include the FIFA Women’s World Cup France in 2019, which will see our Lionesses on the global stage, with product opportunities to complement, as well as Wembley Stadium connected by EE hosting seven games at UEFA Euro 2020, including the semi-finals and final.
“As the governing body of English football, these licensing partnerships enable The FA to invest in developing more opportunities for people of all ages to play at the grassroots, as well as connecting fans with their England heroes,” Charlotte concludes.