In collaboration with Manchester City and TECNO, Goal goes behind the scenes to tell you about the role of the non-playing staff at the club…
As part of an exclusive series, Goal in collaboration with Manchester City and TECNO are going behind the scenes to tell you about the role of the non-playing staff at The Etihad and how each of them plays their part in ensuring the team has the best chance of success.
In our second interview of this exclusive series, we sat down with Nuria Tarre, the Chief Marketing & Fan Experience Officer at City Football Group (CFG).
Nuria Tarre has been with the organisation for five years now. She has seen her role and responsibilities evolve as CFG have added new clubs to their roster.
The primary job for Tarre is to look after and enhance the fan experience across the globe – an extremely important aspect for CFG.
Q: What is your current role at City Football Group and how long have you been in it?
NT: I’m the Chief Marketing Officer for CFG. I joined just shy of 5 years ago and I’d say my role has evolved over that time because we’ve kept acquiring new clubs. When I joined, we had 3 clubs in our portfolio, now we have 10. Now I’m also in charge of fan experience. We want to put more focus on making sure we deliver the best fan experience for all our fans.
Q: What are the methods you use to engage with fans of the 10 different clubs under CFG and what are the challenges you face?
NT: This is the most important part of my day-to-day job, and of the job we do as a team. I’ll sometimes say that of course, we have football clubs, we play football and this is what our fans want but what we really are 365 days a year are content creators. This is the way we engage with our fans every single day so they can follow their passion and the club.
It is obvious that with the pandemic we had to adjust the way we engage with our fans but there are many things that remained the same because it’s only a small percentage of our fans that actually have the opportunity to be in Manchester attending games. It is already quite normal to be following the games on TV or via social media. But what we’ve been doing during the pandemic is enhancing the ways fans can engage with the club digitally.
For example, we launched at the beginning of the pandemic a pre-match show called We’re Not Really Here. There’s of course a bit of irony in the name and it’s based on a famous City song. The objective of the show is to give more opportunities for the fans to engage with the games and the matchday activity.
The audience has been growing incredibly. We’re very proud because putting a show like this of that quality on, while we’re all working remotely, it’s been a real challenge. On top of that, we’ve done localised versions in certain markets that I also think are really interesting because, yes Manchester City is a global brand but it is very important for us to make sure we are relevant to our fans wherever they are. We have a show specifically for China and we also have a monthly show called Man City diaries for India which we release also in collaboration with a broadcaster in India.
We have another more social media focused version for the US market where we also involve fans and influencers and some of our talent to actually talk about Man City, the games, the upcoming opportunities. So, as you can see, there are many new initiatives.
We have also dialled up our activity a lot around e-sports, this is something we’ve been doing for quite some time, we have a roster of e-sports players within the group whether it’s for Man City, New York City or for Melbourne City. We have been dialling up the activities with our fans, our esports players and our real football players too as a way of engaging and entertaining our audience but also as a way to reach new audiences.
Q: Did CFG’s global position make adapting to the pandemic a bit easier?
NT: The fact that we are such a global business gave us a very privileged position of understanding how this unusual situation developed. First and foremost, safety has always been at the top of everything we do and as any business, we’ve looked at the safety of our employees before we think about the implications of the business.
Conversations about how to handle Covid were starting in the UK around February 2020 but we’d been dealing with this in China since December 2019, so it gave us some advantage as probably any business with a strong operation in China. We started very quickly thinking about what digital experiences we had to deliver, more importantly also what could we offer to our fans to help them in their day to day lives. Very quickly we saw that beyond the needs of caring and helping our fans there was going to be a need for entertaining and also supporting homeschooling
even of families and parents at home.
We developed very quickly for our China market some content around football skills, so how to get your children, for instance, practising football skills and we did that with the mindset of keeping people healthy, busy and making sure they could exercise at home. We did that for China and then of course as the situation evolved towards the rest of the world, we took the learnings of what we had done there and grew it on a global basis. We were actually the first to launch something called ‘Cityzens at Home’ which was an initiative of trying to deliver the right level of information, community-driven support but also extra entertainment, fitness, health advice for our fans to remain strong and motivated through these times. Interestingly, I remember at the time it was recorded by coaches in Australia and Abu Dhabi. Depending on where the restrictions were, we were leveraging on talent, coaches and the staff we had around the world.
Q: How are CFG different in terms of looking after and engaging with fans?
NT: What sets us apart definitely is the passion and our level of commitment. Despite the challenging times we truly think that keeping in contact with our fans is important. I’m also particularly impressed by the willingness to share that success and care about our communities. We do spend a lot of time and effort giving back to our communities everywhere we go. We launched ‘Cityzens Giving for Recovery’ – we’ve been raising funds and matching those funds. We had a very challenging target of trying to raise £1 million but I think we will reach that target very soon.
The purpose of these funds is to give back and get our communities back on their feet as soon as possible as we hopefully get back to some normality.
What we do in Manchester is phenomenal, we have coaches that give PE lessons in many schools and have projects around the world also supporting and using football as a vehicle for good. It’s a combination of these things that makes our organisation so unique. We foster initiative and entrepreneurship. I love the ideas we’ve been sharing, they come from a lot of smart people around the business thinking ‘how can we do more, how can we do what is best?’ This says a lot about our passion, drive and willingness to have a positive impact.