Fans. Passions. Brands. Global Study on Football (Soccer)


The goal of this study is to create a common narrative for Havas Sports & Entertainment globally, to guide the development of sports branding case studies, and to inspire further research.

The more specific objectives of this research project are:

  1. To identify and define communities of sports fans based around passion points (ie: Football / Soccer),
  2. To analyze fan interactions with those passions, and
  3. To position Havas Sports & Entertainment to more effectively advise brands on how to meaningfully engage with sports fans by leveraging passion-based communities.

Here at the Annenberg Innovation Lab, we believe that we can offer Havas a unique perspective through our Leveraging Engagement framework.  In 2014, the team is testing this framework by evaluating the self-reported behaviors, attitudes and perceptions of over 14,000 individuals who express interest in international football/soccer in a new study called Fans. Passions. Brands.

This global baseline study uniquely brings engagement and interest together in the following ways:


‘Engagement’ is derived by applying AIL’s Leveraging Engagement Framework, which evaluates a fan according to his behaviors, perceptions, and attitudes toward a certain fanship. The Framework determines the ways in which the fan tends to engage—through Logics such as Mastery, Social Connection, and Advocacy. It also identifies media properties, communication platforms, story themes, and social environments that will likely inspire him to engage further.


‘Interest,’ in this study, is empirically derived exclusively from survey data and is comprised of respondents’ reported importance of fan self-identification, influence, passion for the sport, role of brands and connections they make between brands and the game of football / soccer.

Study Objectives

Fans. Passions. Brands. is focused on helping to design a sports fanship framework that will inform the development of a unique brand positioning for Havas Sports & Entertainment Group. There is a need to establish a framework of understanding the individual behaviors, attitudes and relationships with the sport among those who express interest in and engage with the sport, specifically international football/soccer.   


A multi-mode approach was employed to seamlessly integrate quantitative analysis of the ways fan engage (factor analysis), qualitative assessment of social media insights and detailed findings from ethnographic interviews and observations.  More specifically, the components of this study include the following:

  • Global survey of over 22,000 respondents across 16 countries was conducted in May 2014, from which a non-hierarchical segmentation analysis was completed on the 14,396 respondents who indicated having some interest in international football/soccer.  
  • Close to 9.2 million soccer-related tweets were collected and analyzed
  • More than 50 ethnographic interviews and observations conducted during both the 2014 UEFA Champions League and FIFA 2014 World Cup were transcribed, labeled and coded



Research Participants:

  • AIL: Erin Reilly, Jake deGrazia, Bessie Chu, Rhea Vichot, Justine Yu, Todd Cunningham, Chuck Miller, Tim Herrlich, Aninoy Mahapatra, Nishant Saurav, Avi Sanadhya
  • HS&E: Valentina Candeloro, Fredda Hurwitz, Julia Feldman
  • IBM J-Start:Ed Elze, Sam Thompson




Project Lead