It’s a new era for generations of soccer and gaming fans. Last year, publisher EA Sports split with FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, ending a three-decade licensing deal. The breakup means that one of the most popular and enduring gaming franchises can no longer call itself FIFA and has been renamed to EA Sports FC as of this year.
For EA, this presents a significant marketing challenge—for while the title FIFA is ubiquitous, players may be less familiar with the publisher’s name. Now, EA has unveiled its new identity to fans and is attempting to cement its place in the fabric of soccer as it enters a crucial period for the brand.
“We felt an immense responsibility to effectively rebrand one of the biggest properties in sports entertainment—no mean feat,” David Jackson, vice-president of brand at EA Sports FC, told Adweek.
EA Sports sums up its transition like this: it is evolving from “a video game product powered by global [soccer] to a global [soccer] platform powered by multiple video games,” according to Jackson. “This is one of the reasons we made the seismic decision to carve our own path and our own brand.”
EA still has more than 300 licensed partners, with access to over 19,000 athletes across 700 teams and 30 leagues. But with the name change, “consumer confusion is understandable–FIFA has been synonymous with the game for decades,” Jackson said.
‘Hidden in plain sight’
The rebranding process began about 18 months ago when EA consulted sports media business Copa90. One of the truths they uncovered was that the game “is one of those generational properties, like the Marvels or Star Wars of the world. It sits in that rarefied space, where parents may play with their kids or siblings play with each other,” he said.
EA then hired London-based agency Uncommon Creative Studio to develop its new brand identity and logo. Within the brief that EA issued to Uncommon, this line jumped out at the creative team: “[Soccer] comes in many colors but very few shapes.”