Making Football Fashionable with Aston Villa



The Challenge

How to launch Aston Villa’s most fashionable kit ever?

Aston Villa Football Club is one of the UK’s oldest and most venerable sporting institutions, with the reputation to match. In the 2018/19 football season, it became the first English club to make its technical kit a fashion item, by partnering with a leading UK fashion brand and a manufacturer of sporting apparel. The club asked Grayling to help launch the kit to the UK market, tasking us with making it a hit with football fans and fashionistas alike. How could we make sure that we brought traditional fans on the club’s fashion journey, whilst appealing to a more sartorially-savvy crowd?

The Solution

Putting fans at the heart of our communications.


Charged with handling the communications surrounding the launch of the tripartite kit sponsorship between Aston Villa Football Club, Fanatics and Luke 1977, Grayling set out three clear objectives; to deliver clear communication of the unique partnership to fans, raise the profile of the Luke 1977 brand with Aston Villa supporters and manage fan sentiment.

Given it was the first time in English Football League history for a team to adopt a three-party agreement, the success of the kit launch relied heavily on meticulous messaging and delivery of all external communications to fans and stakeholders alike. Understanding the role of each kit partner was therefore critical.

Grayling initiated a plan that involved collaborating with Luke 1977 and Fanatics pre-launch to get under the skin of each brand. By bringing the club’s new partners to the forefront of our communications, we were able to clearly demonstrate to fans how the new partnership would allow Aston Villa to take back control of the look and feel of the strip and enable greater engagement between the club and its supporters than ever before.

The Results

In footballing terms, we scored a hat-trick...

positive fan sentiment achieved

revenue increase from kit sales year-on-year

traffic increase to the kit sales section of the Aston Villa website