This weeks Notes From The Front Line is from Will my mate. He’s a good writer Will is, a pro and as he is well versed in all things ‘E’ related it’s a good opportunity to hear his voice and see what he has to say. I’m a bit nonplussed about anything E-Sport related. I can see why Corporations want a taste of it, revenue, brands etc but I fail to see how these PornHub dynamics will extrapolate to a Midlands football club.
Getting the Brand Back Together
Wolves’ attempt at brand building has been a conversation piece for a good number of people recently. While it’s mostly confined to social media, the talk is still relevant to what’s taking place. Regardless of how much importance you place on the socials, and believe me when I say the for most people it should be fucking none, in the context of increasing positive brand awareness it’s extremely important. A solid brand is built on positive interactions and lots of them. While there are those out there who build their brands on quantity of interactions, it’s not long before they crash and burn. The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long after all. You only need to look at Trump, Hopkins and that shaved bollock Lee Hurst to see what happens when you build your foundations on negativity.
That’s why the way Wolves are going about things is a little bit risky. Esports is undoubtedly going to be massive going forwards. That’s not an opinion. You might not like it, but that’s the way it is. It might even overtake traditional sports within a few generations, who knows what the future holds? From the initial perspective it’s extremely sensible for us to try and hitch ourselves to that wagon. Get on there first and make all the money before the juggernauts come in and gobble up everything. If we didn’t make ourselves a big player right out of the gate then we would be left fighting it out for the crumbs with Leeds and Leicester and Luton.
Branding to Attention
The problem with our approach is twofold though. Firstly, we’re alienating our social media fanbase with the way we are acting. You can call them virgins if you want. Most of them probably are. Losers? Maybe. In a relationship with their sock drawer? Yeah, that too. It doesn’t matter if any of that is true or not. What matters is that the socials is where the brand growth is going to take place. You bump up those interactions with vociferous vitriol from the virgins and it’s just castles made of sand. They fall in the sea, eventually. The brand isn’t being grown in a sustainable way.
Secondly, I don’t think we’re seeing any growth or revenue from this. I have to preface this next part with the fact that I’m not 100% sure on any of the finer details of these deals. Everything I’m about to say here is what I’ve been able to find from the limited information from press releases and other vague sources. So take it with a pinch of salt.
All of the headlines for news pieces say variations of “Wolves esports enter into Honor of Kings”. Then when you get to the copy it becomes apparent that it’s our parent company, almighty Fosun, that has invested in Chongqing QGhappy.
Take this article from Strafe, an esports site. The headline says “UK football club Wolverhampton Wanderers gets into Honor of Kings”. The copy says “Fosun Sports, the parent company of Wolves Esports has acquired the Chinese Honor of Kings esports team Chongqing QGhappy.”
So instantly, any revenue that is created through the esports team goes to Fosun. I know that’s not necessarily a bad thing, the more money Fosun makes the more they can potentially invest in us, but it means that the money doesn’t go onto our balance sheet. It means that it doesn’t go towards increasing what we can spend in growing our club. The club aren’t lying when they say they want to increase brand awareness, it’s just that they don’t care about the football side of the brand.
That’s also not necessarily a bad thing either. If the Wolves badge becomes synonymous with success in other areas it can potentially increase the exposure of the football side of the operation. The problem is that this isn’t really working at the moment.
Death by a Thousand Numbers
Russell Jones posted a thread on Twitter yesterday with some impressive numbers. 19 million video views, almost 100 million reads, 220,000 comments and 24,000 threads. These are impressive numbers but Mr. Jones didn’t provide any context to them. They’re just numbers. Being the inquisitive soul that I am, I took a deeper look into things. Now again, some things need to be taken with a pinch of salt because Google translate doesn’t do Chinese perfectly so there can definitely be a few things lost in translation.
My first port of call was the QGhappy Weibo page. It has around 2.5 million fans. It grabbed a massive number of interactions for the announcement of its name change. Over 12,000 comments at last count. That’s certainly impressive, but that’s the QGhappy page, not the Wolves page. A quick look at the Wolves Weibo page sees that we have around a fifth of the number of fans. Over 500,000. That doesn’t really tell us much though. Buying fans or being followed by a deluge of bots is commonplace on social media. The number of fans means nothing. Interactions are what tell us things. A repost of the QGhappy announcement got 67 comments. That was 3 days ago. That is one of the highest number of comments on any of the posts too. The engagement isn’t increasing on the football side of things.
What this is doing is turning Wolves into a brand that can be assimilated into a number of other revenue generating machines. Wolves will bring in huge revenues for Fosun going forwards. Very little of it will be from the football side of things. That’s not intrinsically a negative either. Whether it is negative or positive remains to be seen. If QGhappy increases its revenues through the use of Wolves branding then it would only be right that a portion of that revenue is passed onto Wolves and shown on the balance sheet. If that happens then these deals are of a huge positive to the club and we should all be applauding them.
However, if that doesn’t happen and it just goes into the coffers of Fosun, then perhaps we are being lead down a twisted path. What I will say is that it doesn’t appear the club is outright lying to us about this. Like Russell Jones admitted yesterday in his tweet thread “There is no relation to transfer activity”. What I assume he meant is that they are different departments so the lack of transfer activity is nothing to do with these deals. The problem is, if this revenue doesn’t make its way to the club, then it will have a deeper meaning as well.
Anger can quickly shift from inconsequential social media to real life. That’s something that Fosun should be aware of as they tread down this road towards brand awareness.