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Matchday App – Paypal & the FA

In 2019, the Football Association’s official payments partner pushed its mission – to ‘facilitate people’s passions with quick and easy payments’ – by allowing grassroots teams to easily pay their fees via the FA Matchday App.

Territory: UK

Agency: Cake


With 40 per cent of matchday fees to the FA going unpaid, grassroots football in England was missing out on potentially millions of pounds.

Addressing this problem was part of the reasoning behind the FA’s four-year deal to make PayPal its official payments partner.

The overall objective of the partnership for The FA was to provide a service to boost revenue and reduce administration time to increase investment in the grassroots game, while the overall objectives for PayPal were to:

  • Drive trial and engagement with PayPal among audiences who love football
  • Drive regular relevance for customers in a passion point context
  • Shift PayPal consumer perception from ‘functional’ to ‘a brand they love’.

To achieve these objectives, agency Cake was briefed to develop a campaign to drive awareness, consideration, adoption and payments usage of the FA Matchday app amongst FA affiliated clubs.

The campaign needed to reach groups of distinct audiences including digital natives, young players’ parents, existing and new PayPal users interested in football and FA-affiliated team officials and staff.


The phased campaign leveraged ‘football moments’ to show PayPal products in relatable, football scenarios and thus drive a greater understanding of the app and its everyday usage.

Cake took a multi-channel approach to speak to different affiliated club personnel through different platforms: one strand targeted club secretaries and treasurers, while another aimed to engage managers and players.

Ahead of the start of the 2019-20 season, an initial campaign phase set out to make noise about the partnership and play to PayPal’s strength as a digitally innovative brand by referencing the ‘analogue’ problems faced by the grassroots community. It included ambassador-attended events and a hero video starring former England international Lee Dixon and Rachel Yankey.

PR and media in this phase was based around a news story highlighting the financial issues faced by grassroots teams across the country, which could be solved if only the millions of pounds in match fees which go unpaid each season were actually paid. The story was seeded beyond the sports pages of national newspapers through partnerships with several consumer titles.

This launch phase alone drove more than 3,500 app downloads during the week of the initial press announcement.

The next phase, rolled out just before the start of the new season (which was identified as a crucial window to drive app downloads as teams go through the registration process), was based on the idea that the entire target audience was linked by their love of the game and sense of community.

Cake built a creative platform – #PoweringPossible – that aimed to position PayPal as a facilitator of great football experiences, community initiatives and new adventures.

Online, the primary audience was managers and players and content ran across social channels and celebrated people and personalities at all levels of the game. This sought to demonstrate the possibilities available to them when empowered with the right PayPal product and was spearheaded by a social spot with Dixon and Yankey.

Offline, this second phase targeted the key-decision makers at grassroots clubs via an incentive-scheme and a nationwide roadshow events at county FAs. App downloads were incentivised with a prize draw to win a ‘money-can’t-buy Matchday Masterclass’ for those who downloaded and registered before the new season.

To further build the brand’s football credibility, Cake worked with established football voices – including England Manager Gareth Southgate, players Jesse Lingard, Fabian Delph and Jordan Pickford, football platform COPA90 and influencers Cheeky Sport – during key football moments through the season.


Campaign success was measured by media results across paid and owned channels (impressions, clicks, engagements, views) and through Nielsen brand tracking reporting, as well as via app downloads, daily app data reports, income generated and through a bespoke survey of app users.

During the first year of the partnership targets were met across all objectives.

App results:

  • 166,580 total app downloads recorded
  • 1,721 FA affiliated clubs created a PayPal account
  • Seventy-five per cent of target audience was aware of the app (up from 43 per cent before the campaign).

PayPal results:

  • Recognition of PayPal as a sponsor of the national game increased from five per cent to 12 per cent
  • Thirty-seven per cent of brand tracking respondents showed a more positive opinion of PayPal since finding out about the partnership.

Campaign-specific results:

  • Forty-six pieces of media coverage of launch phase (including BBC Sport, The Daily Telegraph, The Sun, Evening Standard, Daily Express and Sky Sports News) with 100 per cent ‘positive’ or ‘neutral’ brand sentiment and a total OTS (Opportunity To See) of 38,791,435
  • 31 million social impressions of campaign content
  • 1.6 million Facebook views of content featuring Gareth Southgate.

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