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Iceland flag

How Iceland played the game of social media

Iceland flag

How Iceland played the game of social media

It’s not every day that the small island of Iceland qualifies for a major footballing tournament, with Euro 2016 being the nation’s debut.

The majority of people like to support the underdog and hold out for the fairytale story. At least that’s what UK supermarket chain and namesake Iceland has done via the medium of Twitter.

The supermarket’s social media bosses thought it would be a great idea to celebrate this momentous occasion by supporting the Scandinavian country and dedicating a series of tweets to the footballing competition.

From the start of the tournament, it seems that the supermarket’s plans for social media domination would be successful as people got behind both the country and the shop in Iceland’s first game against Portugal:


Needless to say, the company managed to track down the guys wearing the Iceland carrier bags and sent out some Iceland replica shirts, with an Iceland supermarket twist:

The nation of just 330,000 people managed to secure two draws in their opening two fixtures against Portugal and Hungary, meaning that a win in the final group game against Austria would secure an unlikely passage into the second round. A 2-1 win in that fixture saw Iceland through, much to the delight of the supermarket:

As Iceland’s triumph was enjoyed by the vast majority of the continent, the supermarket could look forward to another game and another few days of dedicating themselves to being the nation’s number one supporters, right?

Well, things went a bit sour when the small nation was drawn to play England, the home of the supermarket. Those in charge of this brilliant social media strategy would have had to think long and hard about their next move, as Iceland is a UK company and probably wanted one of the home nations to triumph. The next move was to update its Twitter header image to the below:

Iceland Header Image

After this, the supermarket decided to remain as impartial as possible and make the best out of the situation.

Iceland’s social media campaign drew the attention of other companies too, with the supermarket even having a wager with Carlsberg UK. Iceland accepted this wager, and took it even further, getting in a mention of the football team’s co-manager, Lars Lagerback, as they were dealing with a company that manufacturer lager.

BBC 5 Live Sport pointed out prior to kick off that Icelandic males aged between 18 and 40 had a 1 in 2,000 chance of being in the Icelandic squad, highlighting that the Scandinavian nation was the underdog of the clash.

When the two nations met on the pitch, it wasn’t long before the goals started flying in. Wayne Rooney put England ahead with a penalty in the fourth minute, but Iceland equalised just 34 seconds later. It was around then that the supermarket tweeted the following:

It was not long before Iceland took the lead and managed to hold on to a 2-1 win to qualify for the quarter finals of the nation’s debut tournament at the expense of one of the pre-tournament favourites. It was a result that shocked the world of football and led the England manager to resign. Many who follow football will know that this was a result that few saw coming, leading the supermarket to tweet the following:

A brilliant tweet on all levels showing the jovial nature of the social media campaign. The supermarket then went on to remind its followers that it was a supermarket and not the actual football team – I was wondering why Peter Andre wasn’t in the starting line-up!

This social media campaign even caught the attention of the national team’s Twitter account, who replied to that last tweet, thanking the supermarket chain.

Iceland now move on to the quarter finals, where they will be taking on another tournament favourite in the shape of France, the hosts. As the world will turn to see if the underdog story can continue, some will now be keeping an eye out for the tweets of a UK supermarket chain whose social media strategy in the last few weeks has been one of the best and most successful of the year so far.

Alan Littler

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