Fan Intelligence Index 21/22

The global industry standard for ranking culturally relevant brands across sport, esports and gaming is back for a second year.

The annual global industry standard for cultural relevance in sport, esports and gaming is back for another year. The 21/22 Fan Intelligence® Index understands the characteristics of cultural relevance, ranks the top 40 culturally relevant brands and explains the trends that help those brands win big. 

This year’s Fan Intelligence® Index gives an understanding of the new breed of fan, explaining who they are, how they impact the whole industry and what they want from brands in the next 12 months. The new breed of fan closely followed the endless drama of 2021. The outcome severely impacted the top 40, with some clear winners and losers. It will be no different in 2022. The 21/22 Fan Intelligence® Index helps guide brands through the aspects of cultural relevance in 2021, so they can better predict them in 2022. 


The Battle For First Place

2021 was the year of Nike. The brand did everything right to swoop the top spot off rivals adidas. Success in driving positive change and forming authentic partnerships played a big part in their takeover. adidas partnered with Paul Pogba, Mo Salah, and Beyonce for the Impossible Is Nothing campaign. It scored well, but Nike stole the show. They didn’t just use talent for the sake of advertising; they supported them year-round to win big with fans. Nike’s partnerships meant more to the New Breed of Fan; Marcus Rashford, Naiomi Osaka and Giannis Antetokounmpo were all big names in the news this year. Nike championed them, and the new breed of fan scored them high for it.   


The Big Changes

Eleven new additions meant the same amount had to drop out of the ranking entirely. The European Super League played its part in the decline of most traditional rights holders. Liverpool was in last year’s top 10; they’re not even in the top 40 this year. In contrast, Burger King has flown from nowhere to 14th place year following a very successful sponsorship with Stevenage FC. Cultural relevance is not about having the most money. It’s about listening to the new breed of fan.


Driving Positive Change

To update cultural relevance into 2021, we re-weighted the characteristics in line with what the new breed of fan feels flippant. Driving positive change was the resounding characteristic that led brands to successfully gaining Cultural Relevance. 

Patagonia rocketed into the top 40, placing 17th after driving positive change in the environment for the last 12 months. EA Sports, too, had an excellent year for driving positive change by raising awareness of different social issues alongside taking that extra step and tackling them. They scored well; as a result, they jumped straight into the top four. 


Who Is The New Breed Of Fan? 

Following the fresh ranking of the six characteristics of cultural relevance this year, we’ve developed an in-depth understanding of the new breed of fan. This new audience inadvertently shapes where cultural relevance is going and directs how trends are shaping.

The new breed of fan is not defined by age but by attitude. It’s an attitude many would associate with the young, but it’s not unique to them. The new breed of fan can be of any age, but they believe in using their platform to make themselves heard and make the world listen. 

Cultural relevance in sport, esports and gaming today is driven by the new breed of fan.

The new breed of fan is who brands should be connecting with to gain cultural relevance. 

The new breed of fan is doing the hard work for brands. They inadvertently shape where cultural relevance is going and direct how trends are shaping.  They’re knowledgeable, opinionated and vocal about making a better future. Brands that tune in and listen scored the best in terms of cultural relevance.

How can you get a copy?  

To learn more about Cultural Relevance in 2021 and who else made it into this year’s Fan Intelligence® Index, email to receive your free copy.

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