Cutting Room: EE scores with a Wembley experience


You can’t miss the operator’s branding in and around the national stadium. Paul Withers argues that with hundreds of thousands visiting the venue this year, EE has pulled off a masterstroke 

At less than three years old, EE is only a baby compared with its operator rivals, but it may already have signed one of the most significant brand partnership deals yet.

In February, EE signed a six-year contract to become the inaugural lead partner for Wembley Stadium. It was the first time Wembley had signed a lead brand partner in its 91-year history, with the ambition to make the venue the most connected in the world and ensure it sits alongside the most technologically advanced stadiums around the world.

Nobody could have predicted exactly how this partnership would pan out in the short term but judging from our invite from EE to the stadium for the FA Cup semi-final between Arsenal and Wigan Athletic on April 12, the operator has masterminded something special.

As soon as you exit Wembley Park Tube station, you immediately see the front of the stadium digitally covered in EE branding. The walk up Wembley Way to the stadium has the same impact, with branding both left and right. Once inside the stadium, both scoreboards are EE-branded, with advertising surrounding the ground. In fact, you’d be hard pressed to take a picture and not somehow catch EE branding.

We even managed to get a full 4G signal inside the ground and could upload videos of the action to social networks within seconds.

Anyone visiting arenas and sports grounds will realise just how difficult this can be. It will get better for all parties involved here, too, over the six-year contract, with technological advancements from EE including mobile ticketing solutions, enhanced mobile network access and the promise of “super-fast Wi-Fi” .

Branding the O2 Arena and the Academies around the UK has done wonders for its operator rivals, with global music, entertainment and sports events held weekly, attracting star names that pack out the venues.

Others have also got in on the act. We now have the LG Arena (formerly The NEC Arena) in Birmingham and the Phones 4u Arena (Manchester Arena).

The 4G race is hotting up, with O2, Vodafone and Three accelerating their rollout plans over the next 18 months. However, with Wembley playing host to the FA Cup Final, divisional play-off finals, the last England friendly before the World Cup, the Froch v Groves bout, three One Direction concerts and three NFL matches in the next six months combined will attract close to a million people, this is the perfect opportunity for EE to extend its 4G head start over its rivals.