How Arsenal F.C. Used GDPR to Improve Customer Relationships

When GDPR took effect last year, Arsenal F.C. was ready. The company had already aligned itself to the DMA’s best practices in preparation for the earlier legislation, the Data Protection Act. They were already not ticking boxes and doing double opt-in. So when they spent 18 months doing a complete audit, the company was already on the right track. 

During the GDPR audit, the firm found it was involved in more than 800 types of data collecting in different locations, in different formats from pieces of paper to structured data sets. The teams completed a data protection impact assessment and then created an action plan around how they would deal with it. The process didn’t hurt the club, in fact, it actually helped it.

“GDPR has had quite a bit of bad press about the fines, but really when you strip it back it is really about empowering the consumer,” said Mic Conetta, Head of CRM at Arsenal, at a recent Email Insider Summit Europe.

“If you have got a relationship built on trust, you are collecting data in the right way, and you are engaging with your audience in the right way, actually it is an opportunity.”

They used former player Jack Wilshere in clips telling consumers about GDPR and why it is important that they tick the box.

Before GDPR, Arsenal used to have three opt-ins for emails. They’d let consumers opt in to the newsletter, the club updates and/or commercial partner emails. “As a business we are challenged to collect emails for our partners,” said Conetta.

After GDPR, they stripped back to one opt-in, which encompassed all three categories including partner data. They saw a marginal decline in first-party opt-in but a massive increase in people that want to hear from commercial partners. 


“We are seeing much stronger engagement and a much more open relationship with the fan base,” said Conetta. “We can be brutally honest with people by talking to fans about how you can use their opt-in to give their information to partners, which helps us increase our revenues, which helps us buy better players, which helps the team perform better. If you have a really honest relationship, people will buy in.”


Hear from other leading brands at our upcoming Brand Insider Summit Europe.


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