FC Barcelona fans can now experience what players go through as they walk through the Nou Camp’s tunnel to the field, or what being grilled by the assembled members of the media during a press conference feel like. Through the Spanish soccer club’s latest digital partnership with the Viber messaging app, fans can now create videos of themselves as if they were the latest signing for the storied team.
Rakuten-owned Viber will integrate AR filters built by Vivoom into the mobile app’s FC Barcelona chatbot with help from soccer media provider Dugout. As part of the deal, Dugout will also use its platform to offer fans behind the scenes content at Camp Nou.
“Brands today are constantly seeking new ways of strengthening the relationship and engagement among their fans,” said Djamel Agaoua, CEO of Viber, in a press release. “This partnership is a perfect example of how brands can leverage technology to deepen their interactions with their audiences. With this powerful combination, we can deliver inspiring user experiences for businesses around the globe.”
Additional features in the Viber app will include allowing fans to sign a mock contract, receiving a welcome from Barcelona’s manager and players, and participating in a skills challenge. Viber has been Barcelona’s official communication channel since 2017, while Vivoom has previously worked with the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Clippers to create similar fan-video experiences. The Dugout digital platform is part-owned by FC Barcelona.
“This ground-breaking partnership will allow FC Barcelona’s fans across the world unprecedented access to the club,” said Dugout president Matthew Baxter in the press release. “It will allow them to experience what it feels like to be the club’s next big signing and we are delighted to have devised the strategy behind this partnership and to have created some exclusive and unique content.”
FC Barcelona is continuing to innovate ways to boost fan engagement. Considering the club broke the world-record for the most social media engagement by a sports team during January 2018, according to a Blinkfire Analytics study, that effort seems to be working. MLS club Los Angeles FC also recently added augmented-reality features to its mobile app, giving fans previously unseen vantages of its home stadium. However, the LAFC app focuses more on showing off the venue than fan engagement, whereas Barça instead is giving supporters a unique experience that only a small number of players ever get to experience in real life.