The Shorty Awards honor the best of social media and digital. View this season's finalists!

Manchester City Arrive in Tokyo

Entered in Single Post or Activation


Our objective was to create a viral piece of content to mark Manchester City’s arrival in Japan at the start of the club’s 2023 pre-season tour in Asia.

To kick off our 2022 pre-season tour, we had produced a viral Greeters’ Guild video with comedian Troy Hawke which received 22 million views, and after our treble winning season we wanted to produce a highly shareable post with even more views.

Beyond views, however, a key objective of the activation was to generate conversation around the content amongst a broad audience to raise awareness of the tour. As the first preseason visit to the region since 2019, and with many other football clubs also on tour at the same time, it was important to achieve cut through and maximise visibility in Asia, in the UK and around the globe. In addition to traditional awareness, a key aim of our activity was to appeal to new audiences and generate conversation in non-endemic spaces.

It was important to us that the post reflected our continued commitment to innovation and creativity in our content. We also wanted to ensure that whatever we produced felt in keeping with the aesthetic of the locations we were travelling to, playing on the futuristic look and feel of Tokyo and Seoul and the neon drenched colour palette synonymous with those locations in popular culture.


We had seen success in June 2023 with a CGI video depicting the treble trophies flying over the Etihad Stadium, and recognised we had a good opportunity to push these boundaries even further and create another CGI activation with even greater impact.

To do so, we engaged a specialist agency for their technical expertise, working closely with them to develop and execute our concept.

A key part of our brief was to create a concept which would look incredibly authentic and lifelike, to raise questions and debate over whether the content was “real”.

Rather than focussing on players alone, we decided to dial up the arrival into Tokyo element, and hero the more understated asset of the team bus, reproducing three buses mirroring the design of the real bus the players would be travelling on during the tour.

We picked the iconic location of the Shibuya Crossing to signify the arrival as a setting that would be recognisably Tokyo to a global audience.

Our in-house design team created a distinctive look and feel for all our pre-season tour branding, celebrating the neon lights associated with Tokyo and Seoul, and so it was a natural fit to leverage these assets in the content.

Firstly, it was applied across the iconic billboards, replacing brand advertisements with City players and branding, to give the impression that Manchester City had taken over the famous location.

Secondly, in the more obvious CGI element, the tour graphics featuring players were converted into giant “playing cards” serving as holograms on the top of each travelling bus. The faces of Jack Grealish, Rodri, Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne travelled through Shibuya Crossing.

To help make the content seem as realistic as possible, it was also important to consider the behaviour of “people” in the video observing the scene. Attention was therefore paid to making sure they were seen to be reacting to the buses as if they were really there. An element of sound design was also added to heighten the sense of spectacle and give off the impression that a crowd had formed and were blown away by what they were seeing.

One of the main challenges was finding the sweet spot of the content looking genuinely “real” whilst at the same time leaving the door open for people to question it. By getting this just right, we saw a huge increase in repeat viewing and in turn a huge spike in engagement and shareability.

Another challenge was attempting to appeal to a broader football audience as well as our core fanbase. The setting of the Shibuya crossing coupled with the innovative nature of the visuals allowed us to broaden the appeal of the video and create a moment that fans of other clubs were also talking about.


In terms of views, we achieved our overall goal of bettering the viral post from 2022, with the Tokyo arrival receiving 37.4 million views (+70%) and almost 3 million engagements across social media.

The post was widely shared by both sports publishers including Copa90 and Football Daily, and also moved beyond social media to be shared on Sky Sports News television, with it discussed as if it was real.

In turn, the post was picked up and commented on by industry players in both the sports and non-sports areas, therefore generating the wider awareness and conversation we were striving for:


Video for Manchester City Arrive in Tokyo

Entrant Company / Organization Name

Manchester City Football Club