Freestyle World Tour – Etihad Airways & Manchester City

Manchester City shirt and stadium sponsor Etihad worked with the club, the manager, players and agencies RD Content and Unruly to create a global skills challenge – running from November 2018 and finishing in June 2019 – based around a seven-stop football freestyler tour of key airline destinations to drive consideration and purchase.


The campaign was RD Content and Unruly’s response to a brief to develop an engaging travel-inspired content series that showcases some of Etihad’s most attractive destinations using the lens of football to appeal to Manchester City fans and beyond.

The aim was to increase the audience’s consideration and intent to purchase travel with Etihad Airways.


The campaign was built around a series of seven branded content episodes in which some of the world’s top football freestylers travel to various Etihad destinations in order to take on a set of extreme challenges set by Manchester City first team players.

Each stop was in a different city and each episode featured a single challenge between two competing freestylers. The winner of the challenge remained in the evolving competition and chose which Etihad destination the tour travelled to next.

Starting in November 2018 and finishing in June 2019, the tour visited Jakarta, New York, Bangkok, Paris, Melbourne, Abu Dhabi and Manchester and each episode was also complemented with a paired destination guide from the same location.

The overall winner of the challenge, the victor in the tour’s last destination, won the right to perform in front of 55,000 fans at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester before taking on the ultimate runner-up in front of Pep Guardiola in June 2019.


In total, according to the club, the series amassed more than 35 million views and £2.2m (€2.4m/$2.6m) of media value.

Across Etihad’s own channels the series generated over seven million engagements.

The average watch rate on YouTube was 62 per cent – a figure well above the club’s average benchmark of 38 per cent.

On Instagram the content had an engagement rate of 11 per cent – also higher than the eight per cent benchmark

Influencer channels accounted for 1.1 million views.

Campaign success measurement data also showed that 67 per cent of ‘exposed viewers’ (who had seen the creative) agree with the statement that ‘Etihad fly to a range of interesting places’ (which is +76 per cent from the control group), while 44 per cent said they were ‘likely to take an action to fly with Etihad Airways in the future’ (which is +52 per cent from the control group).