Are Friendlies the Next Big Revenue Driver for Clubs?
The high-profile friendly tournament is gradually turning into a marketing and revenue machine. So, are friendlies having more economical impact than the odd matchday?
The launch of this year’s International Champions Cup once again brought up the most high-profile clubs in the world: Bayern Munich, Real Madrid, Juventus Turin, Arsenal London, Benfica Lissabon, Manchester United and the list goes on. Orchestrated since 2013, the tournament is played in various locations across the world, from New York to Singapore. Now, the lucrative pre-season schedule will be brought to many more fans as the host organisation Relevent Sports Group have brokered a two-year deal with IMG Media to distribute the games even better. So, apart from selling countless tickets, the media coverage of the top games should be more comprehensive. Are friendlies, of all things, turning into an unmissable event of economic significance?
Pre-Season: From spreading the brand to the battle of giants
A decade or so ago, football clubs had got used to an annual pre-season tour, which offered the chance to find new fans in different countries and cultures and play games against local teams. These tours brought them to Asia, Africa, North and South America, to different corners of Europe and have always helped to grow their brand. Nowadays, though, or since the inauguration of the International Champions Cup, the odd games against fellow European clubs that resided in the same area have become more of an obligation. Last season, the tournament that is hosted by the Relevent Sports Group (RSG) staged 27 games across 22 cities and sold over a million tickets for them – a record, as SportsPro Media report.
The very same outlet now refers to a deal between the RSG and IMG Media, which will see the latter sell the rights to watch the games globally. Although the US, Mexico and Central America are excluded for some reason. The ICC managing director, Matthew Kontos, said:
Our global tournament needs an international partner to help reach our distribution goals and satisfy the viewing needs of soccer fans all over the world. IMG brings a unique expertise that makes them the ideal partner to continue to elevate the ICC.
Meanwhile, Michael Mellor, senior vice president of soccer at IMG Media, explained:
We look forward to working with Relevent Sports Group over the next two years and to increasing awareness of the ICC and ensuring the tournament is viewed as widely as possible across all forms of media platforms.
You can already purchase tickets for some mouthwatering clashes.
How much of a media event the ICC has become was clear to see at the launch of this season’s edition. Reknowned actor Jason Sudeikis was the host for the media-effective event.
The ICC even have their own online shop on their website, selling club merch aplenty. Tickets for the match between Atlético Madrid and Juventus at the Friends Arena in Stockholm, maybe a bit of a low-key stadium compared to the other places, start at 74 Euro. That means fans will have to pay quite a sum to see their favourite stars; unless they turn to streaming opportunities or other media, where IMG Media will possibly have helped distribute the games.
Financial picking season for the clubs
For the 2017 tournament, TotalSportek has published a list of payments for the clubs taking part. Real Madrid, Manchester United and the FC Barcelona were paid 20 million pound each for appearance alone, plus add-ons. Two years on, these payments will only be bigger.
With that much at stake, and a much bigger media audience and attention to follow, can clubs even concentrate on their individual demands to prepare for a new season full of challenges, when maybe there’s a lot of new personnel or even a new manager?
It seems as though, with the International Champions Cup and similar obligations, clubs are turning traditional pre-season patterns into a marketing event ever more.
That isn’t reprehensible, for every club has to do that as a brand. And brands, other than a sports club, simply cannot afford something of an off-season. Therefore, they offer fans exclusive media content, special events and of course an entertaining and packed pre-season programme. In that respect, a well-organised and well-paid for pre-season could turn out to be of more importance than a single matchday. It might not be as significant in terms of where the team ends up in the season – but the presentation of the club’s brand in between such seasons is of bigger significance for the development of the club as a company. Eventually, for a lot of clubs pre-season is the time to reap the rewards for proper branding and it could be called picking season in terms of the heavy financial shuffles in the industry. A club cannot afford to miss that and fans get excited; but will they remain as they are, if all that big club super branding continues to overshadow what football once was all about?
Spurs Revel in Opening of Their Stadium for the Ages
The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium has been officially opened. While Spurs will play their first game there soon, fans are already fascinated by a place to kick off a new era. One of success, they hope.
Here it is. After so long, Tottenham will finally be home again in their very own stadium. Their U18s kicked off the first competitive match in bright sunlight, scored three and the A team will hope to replicate such a performance next Wednesday, when they play their first ever match, a London derby against Crystal Palace, in the scintillating, formidable arena.
To Dare Is To Do,
that’s the motto emblazoned on the walls of the stadium, which is so much more than just a football ground. While the Totteham fans are full of anticipation, they hope that they’re on the cusp of experiencing another step for their beloved club; with trophies following soon. In terms of marketing, revenue potential and sheer appeal, the Spurs have already got the world looking at them. Something they’d surely like to continue.
Wembley wasn’t so bad, but …
It’s fair to say that Tottenham, a team so strongly associated to their old ground White Hart Lane, have been far from underperforming at the temporarily home Wembley. That very venerable stadium, although rebuilt too, is one of the most impressive ones in the world, let alone England. And it sure has seen some world-class performances from Harry Kane, Dele Alli Christian Eriksen and all those players that have blossomed under the guidance of Mauricio Pochettino. For they’ve defeated Chelsea twice there this season and have recently dispatched a promising Borussia Dortmund with three goals to nil in the Champions League proper.
Additionally, Tottenham have established themselves as a Champions League team and are getting closer to the latter stages of cup competitions as well. A trophy has eluded them for too long, though. Therefore, they hope the new stadium will give them the boost they need to thrive even more, with silverware at the end of the road.
Where are Spurs going with their new stadium?
On one hand, silverware is what great teams are measured by. José Mourinho may be past his best, but his assumption that titles make teams and subsequently managers, and players, for eternity is not a long shot. On the other hand, the club and brand Tottenham Hotspur certainly have more existential goals. For they are longing for additional awareness around the globe, new supporters and in a financial way, too. Revenue is as important as fans’ data and digital affection these days.
Those are reasons, why the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which will host NFL games as well, is a modern money-making machine, made for the football experience that merges 21st century entertainment demands and more traditional sports experiences. Yes, you can still have your pint, only it might be served at the longest bar in the UK with 87 metres. Tottenham fan Chris Cowlin had a look. An own brewery exists as well.
And for sure, you’re invited to check out the club store to get dressed or get your hands to the latest Spurs merch. The club’s financial ambitions show, if you consider it is the biggest fanshop of any Premier League club.
Not only Burger King knows that bigger is better sometimes, so Tottenham have also created the biggest single tier stand at the south end of the stadium. It acommodates roughly 17.599 fans who are very close to the pitch. Spurs are hoping to recreate an atmosphere like at Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park, where the famed Yellow Wall can suck the ball in for their team.
The capacity of 61.559 will also make the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium the biggest club arena in London. Two pitches are interchangeable, one of real grass, one artificial – and it only takes 25 minutes. That’s great news if you plan to rent out your football ground for other lucrative events. While the pricing is indeed demanding, starting at about 800 pounds for the cheapest season ticket, visitors will have so many things to discover. As we had reported last year, there’s a Sky Walk to give attendants the opportunity to climb the outer stadium wall. There are cafés, conference and banquet rooms, the whole venue is open for 365 days a year.
We are creating, what we believe, will be the finest stadium anywhere in the world for spectators, visitors and the wider community, delivering a major new landmark for Tottenham and London.
said Tottenhams website at the time. Even for those who are tied to their smart devices or simply love the most modern technology, there are great features. Together with partner Hewlett Packard, Tottenham have created several highlights. Mobile ticketing for easier access, cashless paymens, WiFi everywhere aren’t that special, yet nice to have. Apart from that, beacons mean the way to the next pie, shop or your seat is easy to find within the app, push notifications offer fans personalised interactions as customised communication becomes more relevant for the experience – which will also mean more matchday income, for sure.
The first test has fans fascinated
Some feared that Tottenham could lose a bit of their identity with this new stadium, and that they could be about to alienate their die hard fans for more celebrity audiences. Yet, the first game in the arena, a victorious match for the Tottenham U18s, saw nearly 30.000 fans arrive. To say they were pleased would be an understatement. Right now, with the first real Premier League encounter beckoning, all is well, one can assume.
Especially youngster J’Neil Lloyd Bennett won’t forget the occasion, since he scored the first ever goal at the stadium.
Spurs’ new home will need some time before it can be mentioned in the same breath as Old Trafford, Anfield or even White Hart Lane. For it will need experiences, wins, defeats, great goals, drama, tears, ecstasy and passion. The stage is certainly set.
Tottenham even have integrated a lot of club folklore in the venue, naming a restaurant the White Hart or acknowledging their 200 official supporters clubs on the walls.
We are nearly crying because our dream became true,
said Pochettino at the test opening, a man who epitomises the promising Spurs course right now so significantly.
Not all fans are quite convinced yet. Pochettino and his team have work to do, as have chairman Daniel Levy and the club. But once the grand opening against Crytal Palace on April 3rd gets underway – which will be a very pricey game incidentally –, Tottenham Hotspur’s journey to a new and forward-looking existence as a club of international standing, with a home every club could be proud of, starts for real.
There are no guarantees, but there seldom are in football and business alike. To dare is to do – and Spurs have entered the land of the brave. It could turn out to be a defining moment in the whole sports industry.
The Curious Case of DC Comics v FC Valencia – Who Owns the Bat Logo?
The FC Valencia celebrate 100 years, but the bat in their famed club logo has DC Comics complaining as it arguably resemles their Batman trademark too much.
It must go down as one of the most absurd controviersies in modern brand marketing involving an old and proud football club. Spain’s reknowned FC Valencia will have to brace themselves for a legal battle with American powerhouse DC Comics, since the latter accuse the club of an infringement of their own famed Batman trademark. The dispute resurfaced, when Valencia launched a special bat logo for their anniversary and DC filed an official complaint to the European Union Intellectual Property Office. It’s just that the FC Valencia sported a logo with a bat many years before DC registered a trademark for their superhero. And is there really a problem with more or less similar bats in a football crest and in a comic universe? If so, it seems a lot of clubs would have to think about it.
Controversy about FC Valencia’s logo and DC Comics’ Batman
The case is quite simple. DC Comics think their logo of batman, which made its first appearance in 1939, is used without authorisation by the Spanish top club FC Valencia. That very dispute had been there a few years back and it now comes back to the fore as the club celebrate a hundred years since their founding.
Even a century back, it’s clear to see, the club had a bat integrated in their logo – and they probably weren’t thinking about trademark matters at all. A hundred years forward, Valencia created a new logo which emphasises the bat more and which shall be used to lead the club into a new era as a brand.
The bat has belonged to the city of Valencia’s heraldry since the Medieval Age. Relating to this connection, the club state on their website that the logo is there
to accompany us in this new era that begins, the icing on the most beautiful crest in the world. It represents what we are and where we are going. An eternal sentiment.
Now the American brand DC Comics, would like the club to relinquish their new logo and have taken legal advice as several media, such as El Confidential report. The overseas brand had registered the Batman logo as a trademark decades ago, yet, are that unhappy about Valencia’s new logo they threaten to sue them in the EU.
Their official complaint at the EUIPO, though, has right now led to a so-called cooling off. According to El Confidential, that allows the Spanish club to sport the badge at least until October 2020; and they can find an arrangement, should DC insist on their stance. Sources of the Spanish publisher think otherwise and predict that DC will eventually let go of the case. Especially, because the FC Valencia will play hardball themselves as they don’t believe you can have a monopoly for the use of bats in your logo.
We are not going to stop using the bat because DC Comics says it, there is no commercial brand that has a worldwide exclusive on bats. When this club played with a bat in the chest, in the United States they were chasing bison.
said a spokesperson of the club rather polemically. Not for the first time have DC approached the FC Valencia, in 2013 they also objected a new crest for the club assuming it would infringe their very own trademark. The BBC reported on that and the club later abandoned plans for a newly-created logo. This time around, it doesn’t look like Valencia are giving in as brand awareness, tied to a modern logo, is becoming ever more important for successful football clubs.
Resemblances are always there
As crazy as it seems, defending your own trademark is a very important measure for big brands these days. But, where is the problem with the FC Valencia selling merch and shirts with their unique bat club logo and DC exploiting their comic universe for gaming and cinemas? Yes, that’s a simple thought. And well, both brands do sell merchandising products, but it’s not like they do have the same logo upon it. Still, who would be confused in the different contexts? It looks like DC are flexing their muscles – but they could end up being defeated despite their heroes’ superpowers. For a reasonable eye will see that there are always resemblances of football clubs’ crests and some other brands. A user on Imgur underlines that in a picturesque way.
It might even come to more of such disputes. But the clubs have often been there before the brands who think they can trademark or copyright certain simple visual patterns. Let’s hope the FC Valencia prevail representative for all the proud clubs around the world with their reknowned, famed and wonderful logos. But using those more and more for commercial reasons will have them in need of making sure of their own trademark protections. For a brand – and that goes for football brands these days more than ever – needs a recognisable logo. In Social Media, on their kits and certainly in the eyes of their old and future fans and followers. They shouldn’t forget, though, that some simplistic designs are just not made to be claimed for only one entity.
How Real Betis Aim for World-Class – Quite Literally
Real Betis Sevilla may be a middle-class club in La Liga with the odd appearance in Europe. But their pledge to become climate neutral makes them pioneers for sustainable club development off the pitch.
Honestly, what’s your best memory thinking of Spanish traditional club Real Betis Sevilla? The club is certainly not too well known outside of Spain; the most recent footage you probably have seen was Leo Messi’s wonder goal against them a few days back. Apart from their decent performances in La Liga and at least the Europa League group stage, the club have already proved their innovative approach concerning off-field matters. Now, Real Betis have committed to becoming climate neutral. Which would make them the first club in Spain to be just that and one of the first few clubs to take sustainability to another level.
Emulating the Forest Green Rovers status
When it comes to climate neutrality, sports and football do have a long way to go. Yet, there are clubs that already operate on an officially climate neutral level. And La Liga’s Real Betis Sevilla, also known as Real Betis Balompié, aim to become one of them. So far, the English fourth tier club Forest Green Rovers are a prime example for sustainable operating. They have 100 per cent green energy, are fully vegan, use electro mobility and are the first club to ever become climate neutral according to none less than the UN.
As of the beginning of March, Real Betis have officially joined the
Climate Neutral Now initiative of UN Climate Change. By doing that, they commit themselves to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to compensate the rest. Furthermore, the club will become a platform to raise awareness for the need for a change in climate politics and policies. Real Betis’ millions of fans across the globe should therefore be amongst the first to acknowledge the club’s quest for a better world – and that alone should stand the Béticos in good stead, especially in relation to social attention.
Real Betis will become Spain’s first top tier club to become climate neutral and emulate the achievement of Forest Green Rovers, a team that by coincidence or not, also sport green shirts. On Betis’ home kits we find Green Earth from Avalon Life as the main sponsor as well, a project to commercialise endangered areas in Central America via blockchain, in order to keep them from further burdening the environment.
Ángel Haro, president of the club, said about the coming projects for Real Betis:
Since the beginning, Real Betis Balompié has been about its family, its members and fans. We strive to ensure that they feel Betis represents them and supports them, just as much as they support us. Taking action on climate is also about them, it’s about our family. We understand that climate change is a threat to the livelihoods and the wellbeing of everyone on the planet, and we are doing our part.
And the Global Climate Action at the UN appreciate the committment a lot, as their manager Niclas Svenningsen emphasised:
We are encouraged to see Real Betis align its business with the climate agenda. We are inspired by their focus on serving their community, engaging their fans, and working together with others in a respectful, responsible manner. We are happy to have them as one of the signatories of our Climate Neutral Now initiative
What else are Real Betis doing to become somewhat of a world-class club?
Climate change is an important matter, but how can a football club oblige this aim? First of all, Real Betis will provide renewable energy for its new sports city, plus advanced waste collection and treatment systems. Additionally, a lot of further trees shall breathe more life into the environment. Smart illumination systems will be installed in the stadium
Benito Villamarín and single-use plastic shall be drastically reduced.
These measures to become climate neutral are an important step for Real Betis on the way to becoming a widely acclaimed club. While things might not have gone the way the fans would have wanted in the Europa League, where Stade Rennes was responsible for their downfall, they’re still fighting to get back to European football next season. And to stay present in Europe is important for the club as a brand. As their sustainable approach will see them getting repect, other aspects have to be considered in order to generate financial revenue at the same time. Thankfully, Real Betis are also frontrunners in the realms of e-commerce, since they’re one of several clubs that own a customised club shop on Amazon.
So, after all, the internationalisation strategies of Real Betis put them in a bracket with pioneers in their very aspects of climate neutrality or lucrative e-commerce solutions. Their Social Media accounts could use a push, though, but the attention from their newest and laudable scheme will probably help there, too. Let’s see whether Joaquín, Sergio Canales, Marc Bartra and Co. can achieve big things on the pitch in the near future. Their club has certainly made sure that there will be an awareness for even more urgent matters on this world than football, believe it or not: the future of our planet.
Any club should aim to at least optimise their management of single-plastic use and have the goal to become climate neutral. Real Betis and the Forest Green Rovers are great examples and even the best clubs in the world can learn from them. Whoever is interested, may also have a look at the UN Climate Neutral Now initiative.
How Michael Jordan Became a Top PSG Summer Signing
The Champions League shirts from Nike’s Jordan brand might not have brought PSG luck, but they certainly support their income as they are about to hit one million shirt sales per season.
When Paris Saint-Germain gathered their new assets for the coming seasons last summer, their collaboration with Nike’s Jordan clothing line was already seen as a marketing coup. The creation of their third kit, a black and white classic, was an unprecedented move. For the reknowned Jordan brand logo replaced Nike’s famously-present Swoosh on the clothing. What could have ended up as as a well-intended, yet maybe misguided measure, has indeed helped the club – or rather the brand – PSG flourish. For the first time they’re on course to sell over a million shirts per season as a 470 per cent rise in sales in the US market makes them a fashionable choice over there.
Big personalities make for massive sales
In modern football, kit deals have become an invaluable source for income. First of all, we have the sponsoring, which earns clubs, especially the big ones playing in the Champions League, tens of millions per season. Even more so, since sleeve sponsors started to take over. Furthermore, main sponsors are prepared to pay lager sums with every new sponsorship which opens up opportunities. PSG, in order to comply with UEFA Financial Fairplay, will change the long-lasting Fly Emirates on their chest from next season on. The hotel chain Accor will see its Accor Live Limitless initiative represented in the letters ALL on the french outfit’s chest – and will reportedly pay close to 50 million Euro per season for that.
Apart from sponsorships, selling shirts is, of course, a steady source for revenue. And it takes no wonder that superstars help reach super numbers when it comes to shirt sales. PSG’s policy of buying big in the transfer market pays off in that context, too. The arrivals of Neymar and Mbappé, joining the likes of Cavani, Veratti or Di Maria, have taken those shirt sales to another level. According to Marca, kit sales have increased 80 per cent last season compared to two years back and will grow even more this time. Before the investment from PSG’s current owners, the club sold only about 80.000 kits a season. So the influence of Neymar and Mbappé, who are also two of the most followed people on Instagram, is clear to see. Another confirmation of this effect are numbers related to Juventus Turin’s shirt sales this season, now that they have Cristiano Ronaldo in their ranks. As Sportskeeda report – referring to Tuttorsport –, the Old Lady made 26,51 million Euro in the first half of this season with product sales and licences. At the same time last season, without Ronaldo, the amount was 14,56 million.
PSG X Jordan goes beyond football to strengthen the brand
The motto for the Paris Saint-Germain meets Nike Jordan line is closely related to a celebrity-centred approach. Although a lot of people these days might be more familiar with Nike’s Air Jordan boots than with Michael Jordan himself. Anyway, getting the Nike Jordan brand on board was a shrewd move for PSG. As SportsPro Media report, they will hit one million shirt sales for the first time ever. Merging their yearly expanding football brand, with its superstars on the pitch, Al-Khelaifi’s ongoing investment and their growing number of domestic titles, with something more of a lifestyle and fashion brand has certainly promoted those Champions League shirts to a level where more people will buy and wear it. Even if they’re not that much into football. Because a lot of media icons have already sported the wear, for example NBA star Draymond Green or even Justin Timberlake.
In the US alone, PSG have recorded 470 per cent! more sales of wear of their Nike Jordan line. 40.000 shirts are said to have been sold the weekend after the release.
And PSG are clever enough not to breach a market with unidimensional clothing. Thus, their Champions League shirt is available both in black and white; so hardcore fans can purchase them both. And with prices of 85 and 140 Euro respectively, that will gain them some revenue for sure. The whole clothing range has much more to offer, though. Basketball shirts, which are a proven asset in modern lifestyle, especially for some musicians, jackets, the famous Nike Air shoes, caps and what have you.
According to Die WELT, they offer around 90 products and Nike, Jordan and PSG expect to make at least 200 million Euro per year with that line, which will be split between them.
Native brand collaboration cuts it
What PSG have done really well with their Jordan branding is the native way in which the Nike brand was adopted. For the Michael Jordan reminiscence, which is obviously the brand’s logo, does replace Nike’s Swoosh while it strongly resembles the depiction of the Eiffel Tower in PSG’s logo consequently on the shirt. Some might say it’s a bit of a long shot, but it certainly offers the impression of a more native branding approach – as it perfectly reflects the two brands joining forces on the actual kits and all the other products. While some football fans still see PSG as something of a parvenu – whose economical goals will overshadow the club’s and footballing tradition –, the success of that marketing stroke speaks for itself.
However, their unlucky, unexpected and premature exit from the Champions League this season will have cost them some money. And probably will have dented the growing shirt sales curve a bit. It might take time before any football fan can accept these strategies. We’ve come to the days, though, when Michael Jordan, somehow, has become a great acquisition for the football club Paris Saint-Germain. And it’s not a bad idea for other big clubs to copy such cooperations in order to transfer their brand into modern lifestyle. Not every sports traditionalist will like it, yet, every club sales director will. And it might eventually pay for new players, too – who can bolster shirt sales themselves.
Fans Won’t Say I’m Lovin’ It – O’Higgins McDonald’s Kit is Marketing Gone Wrong
They say there’s no such thing as bad publicity. Yet, the new kits from Chilean Club Deportivo O’Higgins are really something else. Not only do they have different sponsors on the chest, near their neck and even on the thighs, but their back numbers are quite clearly designed like chips from McDonald’s – that have had a dip in the ketchup. If that is not unmistakable for anyone, there’s even a bag of chips with the renowned logo beneath it. Some might say it’s clever marketing. By the look of it, it’s rather not.
Breaking new grounds: But that’s not as easy anywhere
The look of the shirts from O’Higgins, who ply their trade in the Chilean Primera División, is certainly striking.
So every fan will probably think about the world-famous fast food chain and maybe even having a few chips. But even if that was the case, the club cannot be too happy with their outfit as it is touted as one of the ugliest kits around right now. Sports journalist Matias Grez, who spotted it, surely sees it that way.
Being pink is not so much a novelty now, nor is it inappropriate. The combination, though, is quite terrible. And in times, when native advertising is wanted from users, viewers and supporters around, this doesn’t seem like the shrewdest move. At least not for the club itself.
But probably they’ve received some handy extra money from the fast food giants. McDonald’s on the other hand won’t care too much about the look of the kit. They will be visible much more in the Chilean league and now in the media coverage, too. Furthermore, some viewers might feel a sudden hunger for chips appear – and that is always the right effect for a sponsor, as long as a few of those viewers get themselves some.
Whether one likes it or not, the chips numbers are something special that’s going kind of viral. And it might therefore pay off in the end. Yet, experiments like that are not easily doable in every league. In the German Bundesliga, for example, the numbers on the back must consist of one colour, be positioned in narrow measurements and, most of all, may not refer to a sponsor. So, if any brand marketer already thought about implementing a similar stroke, it will not be that easy. There are other ways for innovative marketing, branding has to be coming via audio services like Spotify, via Social Media like Instagram or it has to be in-app. Sometimes, though, a simple scheme offers great attention as well. A pat on the back from McDonald’s might be on the cards for O’Higgins – or a pat on the chips, shall we say? That shirt certainly had us talking; as a brand, you can’t ask for more, really.
Streaming Services Offer Clubs a Route to Fans’ Ears and Hearts
The BVB have teamed up with Deezer and join the likes of ManUtd or Barça, while Boca Juniors and Co. partner with Spotify. Streaming Services grow in importance for any club, especially with podcasts in mind.
Multi media are a modern standard for any user. And so do football fans not only follow their beloved clubs via one channel, but use various opportunities to get ever more content concerning their club. With this in mind, it is no wonder a lot of clubs are teaming up with streaming services like Spotify and Deezer to create club branded channels and playlists in order to lure the supporters to the respective platforms. That very move also makes for a great foundation if clubs consider embracing the growing podcast market in the future.
Deezer deals aplenty for clubs
Borussia Dortmund just launched their very own Deezer account where not only playlists for the matchday will appear, but also curated ones from selected players like Marco Reus or Jacob Bruun Larsen.
Carsten Cramer, BVB director for sales, marketing & digitalisation, explained that the club could get closer to its fans via such a streaming service:
We’re very happy to partner up with Deezer. Music like football has the power to unite people. With Deezer we have the ideal partner to get closer to our fans thanks with music.
Ralph Pighin, VP Central & Eastern Europe at Deezer said that Deezer would accompany happenings at one of Europe’s biggest clubs with relevant audio content.
Referring to the founding year of the BVB, Deezer offers fans its family service for 19,09 euro in the next three months. This special offer, meant to make individualised listening for all family members – up to six profiles – easier, will be available in the BVB app.
The French streaming service Deezer is also the official music partner for media giants Manchester United or the FC Barcelona.
ManUtd put it nicely by claiming the streaming service offers a passage to clubs’ hidden hearts:
Deezer’s partnership with Manchester United is an exclusive backstage pass for fans to the club’s hidden heart. With football and music content you won’t find anywhere else, from player’s playlists to what’s playing in the stadium at Old Trafford before a match, Deezer is the best place to listen to Manchester United’s Flow.
Clubs are banking on different streaming services like Apple Music or Spotify
Not only Deezer is helping teams around the globe reach their diverse fanbases. Argentinian powerhouse Boca Juniors for example have recently partnered with Spotify, as SportsPro Media report. As part of the deal the club will create a playlist with a title like Way to the Bombonera. The Swedish streaming giants had already teamed up with the three famous clubs from São Paulo: Corinthians, Palmeiras and São Paulo FC. On São Paulo FC’s Spotify channel there are playlists with hits from the years 1992, 1993 an 2005 – as in each of those years the club won the famed Copa Libertadores. The partnership even saw Spotify give caricature paintings as well as co-branded headphones to the players.
Now, that’s what you call visible branding.
Various clubs from all over the world have their own channel on Spotify by now. Borussia Mönchengladbach or West Ham United are examples for that.
And Spanish La Liga does have its own channel, too.
Apart from Deezer and Spotify, big clubs like Arsenal London or Bayern Munich have partnerships with different streaming services in place. The German record champions have an exclusive deal with Apple Music and are furthermore equipped with Dr. Dre headphones, a division from Apple. Arsenal London, on the other hand, have a started a partnership with streaming platform TIDAL. This rather unique deal emphasises Arsenal’s conviction of developing young talent. Arsenal chief commercial officer Vinai Venkatesham said:
Football and music are great passions of so many of our global supporters. This partnership combines these two passions in a unique way and will give our members access to some fantastic benefits. It is also a celebration of our shared belief in young talent, and will create opportunities to bring together our players with TIDAL’s rising artists.
Here, some Arsenal stars tell you what they listen to before matches.
The big potential in deals with audio streaming platforms
As of January 2019, Deezer had seven million paying subscribers, according to Statista. Spotify have 87 million paying users and 200 monthly unique visitors, though. And Daniel Ek, Spotify’s CEO and founder, wants to turn the audio market into a success like the video market. For he says that people tend to spend as much time with audio these days as with video content.
With the world focused on trying to reduce screen time, it opens up a massive audio opportunity.
And audio does not just mean music. Podcasts are a content format which has been well adopted in the US. According to the IAB (International Advertising Bureau), ad revenue from podcasts was estimated at 314 million US dollar for 2017. To take it into perspective, that signals an 86 per cent increase year-over-year. And estimations from PwC see it surpass the one billion mark by 2020, growing to 1,6 billion dollar in 2022.
So there’s a whole marketable market there for the taking – and sports clubs should be aware of this potential. Especially, since in Europe the podcast market hasn’t been swamped with too much content, yet. And listeners are even earger to spend a lot of time and are not afraid of native advertising as well.
To partner with streaming services like Spotify, where the users are for a good part anyway, is a shrewd idea. Because Spotify just acquired podcast specialist platforms Anchor and Gimlet Media for nearly 340 million US dollar to strengthen their own podcast department.
St. Pauli, a cult club from Germany with fans everywhere, has already offered its fans the opportunity to listen to podcasts via Deezer. These are only fan podcasts, but clubs could integrate their own content, too. If it is exclusive, it would surely lure even more people. And that would also be great for the streaming service. The FC St. Pauli also promote songs from their remarkable FC St. Pauli Music School by Levi’s® via Deezer, an insitution at the Millerntor stadium for everyone who can’t afford music lessons. Branding and fan generating go hand in hand for them with the help of the streaming service. Those are great marketing prospects for any club in the world, since audio and football have long been closely related – and a revival, albeit way more digital and immersive, seems to be on the cards.
Forest Green Rovers Are the Best Club in the World – Just Not on the Pitch
Forest Green Rovers from the English 4th division have 100% green energy, are completely vegan, have an organic pitch and soon a stadium designed by renowned architect Zaha Hadid.
When it comes to sustainability, few clubs around the globe can compare with little Forest Green Rovers from Nailsworth, England. As the first vegan club worldwide, the only carbon neutral one and – according to the FIFA – the greenest club in the world, they really set the tone in terms of a club structure, which is environmentally sustainable. And surely the whole ecosystem could learn from the old yet so progressive club.
Sustainability concerns everyone
The Forest Green Rovers are certainly not the only football club that is trying to do more for the environment. Leicester City for example have just announced their partnership with Bakers Waste. Together they want to work on the Pass on Plastic campaign to reduce single-use plastic. Leicester City’s Operations Direcor Kevin Barclay commented:
We are thrilled to announce Bakers Waste as our new Official Waste Partner. It’s one of a number of steps the Club is taking to improve its waste processes in order to help protect the environment. Leicester City Football Club is committed to recycling and reducing the amount of plastic it uses – aims which this partnership will only enhance.
German cult club FC St. Pauli on the other side are engaging with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) for their merchandising products. This means they will use biologically made natural fiber for their scarves or shirts in the shop. Over time, every product with the famed skull on it shall live up to those standards.
Speaking of skulls, Forest Green Rovers have their very own on their kits, thanks to a partnership with the international non-profit, marine wildlife conservation organisation Sea Shepherd.
Both parties, FGR and Sea Shepherd, try to make the world a better plae. In fact, there’s no club quite like Forest Green Rovers. They are the greenest football club in the world, as the FIFA have confirmed.
Vegan, true to green energy and in line with nature
The Forest Green Rovers stay true to their name. Founded in 1889, they’ve only recently reached the heights of professional football in Englands League Two, the fourth tier. Yet they’re known to a wider audience for their engagement off the pitch. Winning awards like the Green Heart Hero Sustainability in Sport Award in 2018 and the Green Transport Project of the Year in 2013, for installing electric vehicles at the club, they have become a pioneer in the football ecosystem when it comes to holistic sustainable operations.
FGR chairman Dale Vince said in a UN-produced video:
We’ve become the first club in the world to become climate neutral according to the UN […] Sport looks to be a great vehicle to carry the sustainability message.
Their majority owner and principle partner ist Ecotricity, a company that provides green energy with their modern windmill park (they don’t call them turbines). Another partner is Grundon, a waste company trying to help FGR recycling 100 per cent of their waste. Add Quorn to those partners: they were the architects behind FGR’s rise to become the very first full-vegan club around. Players, staff and even fans can only enjoy vegan food and drinks at the club’s venues. But that makes for a healthier experience, does help the planet in the Long term and can even optimise performances.
In order to keep the environment around the club areas clean, Forest Green Rovers also provide charging points for electric vehicles; as they try to get more visitors travelling in a sustainable way.
Even their own lawn-mower, GPS-directed, is powered by energy harnessed from the sun. And it’s only mowing pitches that are fully organic, free from pesticides and herbicides. Adidionally, rain water is saved beneath the main pitch to re-use it for further irrigation. An example of FGR’s success in strengthening sustainability at the club is the emission value. Total emissions were at about 5 tonnes in 2015/16, but only at 2,49 tonnes in 2017/18.
In their Environmental Policy the club states:
Our aim is to make FGR a place where we can demonstrate eco thinking and technology to a new audience – football fans. Indeed, we believe that we have the opportunity to introduce sustainability to the wider world of sport, not just football. We know that a football club has an impact on the environment, so we’ve implemented an Environmental Management System to measure those impacts and target them for reduction. Within our Environmental Management System, we’ve set ourselves ambitious targets to continually improve performance, significantly reduce pollution made by all areas of the club, and ensure we’re compliant with environmental regulations.
A brand-new stadium by Zaha Hadid shall show the world their aims
In 2016 Forest Green Rovers announced plans for a new stadium with 5.000 seats. Eco Park is planned in a parkland where 500 trees and 1.8 km of new hedgerows would be planted. Even more stunningly, the stadium should largely consist of wood – and was designed by world-famous Zaha Hadid, who is known for the Innovation Tower in Hongkong, the Guangzhou Opera House or the London Aquatics Centre.
The permission for the stadium is yet to follow, though. Should it be built, it could show the whole world of football and everyone else a way to make make sports clubs ambassadors for a greener, better world.
An important outcome of this policy is, we hope, long term behavioural change, not only at our club, but amongst supporters and the rest of the sporting world too,
reads FGR’s policy.
Another way for more awareness: Bringing the intentions to the world and youth
Forest Green Rovers, who currently sit 7th in League Two, are not content just working in a sustainable way. They want to share their ambitions with everyone – and would therefore surely like to climb the leagues. But mainly they strive for being a club, a company, that brings environmental conciousness to people by showing them the way. That’s why they offer the Fit2Last programme for schools, teaching the benefits of sports, recreation, healthy living and sustainability. Furthermore, their Ambassadors Scheme sees young people share their message in schools.
But what it also does is promote the club. FGR give away 400 replica shirts for children in Year 3 each year. Around that age children tend to choose teams they follow. So that might be a clever move in terms of gaining even more awareness amongst the youngest.
A small club in the fourth tier of England without any major trophies or star players they might be, but Forest Green Rovers are really the best club in the world as far as nature is concerned. And they do know how to gain attention for their club and hopefully mindfulness for their message.
In football, fortune favours the bold and who knows, if FGR go up and generate some more fans due to their unique approach, they could become something of a bigger club in the future. For now, they already are great for what they are doing and with such commitment, too. Rumour has it other big clubs have asked for advice now. A spokesperson from Forest Green Rovers has confirmed that they collaborate with the Bundesliga, the FIFA, the UEFA, World Rugby, Roland Garros and various others and that they’ve hosted Wembley Stadium, the EFL, Sky Sports and many more in order to tell those organisations what they do to keep their place as the world’s greenest football club. Now any association or company should take a look to the special club from Nailsworth, England.
Grêmio Test Shirt Selling via Vending Machine at the Airport – Shopping Centres Might Follow
Grêmio Porto Alegre, Copa Libertadores winner in 2017, experiment with a vending machine for their official kits at the local airport. A simple, yet up-to-date measure.
Sometimes quite simple ideas could help clubs to strenghten their merchandise income. While there is so much talk about the exploitation of digital strategies that promise optimised revenue streams or at least a surge of followers, the odd real life solution might just be as valuable eventually. Brazilian top club Grêmio Porto Alegre have come up with such a solution, using automation in a rather simplistic way. A vending machine at the Aeroporto Salgado Filho in Porto Alegre will sell their official kit. If the test is deemed a success, similar machines will be installed in shopping centres or restaurants. That is clever marketing, but there could be a hitch somewhere.
A vending machine to earn additional revenue
Grêmio Porto Alegre are a traditional and popular club in Brazil. They even have a remarkable fanbase outside the coutry as they made headlines by winning the Copa Libertadores in the 80s, the 90s and very recently in 2017. Furthermore, the legend Ronaldinho played for the club in his early years. Players like Emerson, Anderson or Douglas Costa also started their careers there before they played for European top clubs.
Now the club has started a test to further bolster their popularity around the world. At the local airport in Porto Alegre, there will be a vending machine for 90 days, selling the current kit the players wear.
The idea is to give fans or even interested passengers the opportunity to snap up a kit just before entering a plane or coming right from it. The Máquina Tricolor offers the iconic kits if you pay by debit or credit card. The shirts from manufacturer Umbro tend to have a very unique look.
And the marketing team from Brazil will hope that even more people could decide to get themselves one of those special shirts.
The concept of this machine is new in football circles, so we need to enter the market on an experimental basis. But considering the ease of distribution, coupled with the accessibility, practicality, and instantaneousness with which the product reaches the consumer, we are sure that it will be a successful product,
said Beto Carvalho, Grêmio’s marketing executive. The machine, which was constructed in partnership with Wise Tecno, had been tested at a banquet and proved quite successful there. 80 kits were sold within an hour. Now Grêmio want to give more than eight million passengers, who annually come to the Airport in Porto Alegre, the opportunity to easily get hold of the famous kit. If the three-month test period shows positive results, such vending machines shall be installed in bars, restaurants or shopping centres, too.
A good idea, but isn’t there a downside? Digitalisation as an option
The express version for the kit supply is cerntainly a good marketing invention. Especially at an airport, where people often tend to spend some spare money or are just looking for a fitting souvenir. It might turn out to be a noticeable plus for revenue from a simple machine.
But will this really impact the earnings considerably? And how many fans will turn to such machines as they can get discounts and more personalisation online? It seems as though this very innovation is rather a small contributor to the overall economic performance of the club. Yet, they have generated some proper awareness for their kits by only working with that machine and have therefore probably just increased the number of people getting their own kit from the Máquina Tricolor.
Other clubs could follow suit, as tourists often make up an ever growing number of stadium visitors, be it at Old Trafford, Camp Nou or the Allianz Arena in Munich. Clubs could try to catch their attention. Fans will probably rather turn to online offers, since they are simply more beneficial for them, mostly. But those vending machines could be even more of a success for clubs in the future. Just think one would integrate touch panels or voice assistance, which offer information about the club and its history, the chance to book tickets for a match or promote official Apps to give passengers a first taste of what the club is all about. So, a more digital vending machine with access not only to the kits might just be the future of on-the-go marketing for innovative clubs such as Grêmio Porto Alegre or any other one.
A Merry Christmas for Premier League Fans – And Brands
On Boxing Day all football fans’ eyes will be on the Premier League and on the Serie A. But Christmas is a beneficial time for the whole ecosystem football.
Christmas is a time for giving. Fans will be able to enjoy a lot of games over the festive period, especially in England. The watching experience, be it via Sky or DAZN, is even optimised and holds some specials for all the supporters. But as the fans are treated to a nice time of entertainment, clubs, companies and brands look to merge fetive cheer and charity with their own monetarisation strategy.
Boxing Day is a fan’s favorite
On Boxing Day, December 26th, football fans around the globe will probably be watching the Premier League. For about 130 years there have been games at Christmas in Britain and they’re a tradition which pays off for fans and clubs alike. Since 1966 games are played on Boxing Day alone to accommodate the experience to the festive family doings on Christmas Day. Fans of the English first tier can expect a flood of games until the new year. Some moan about the packed fixture list and not having a break at the time. The Premier League will have its first winter break next season, albeit in February; so watching football from Anfield to Old Trafford is not yet in jeopardy for Boxing Day.
And there are even benefits for those sports enthusiasts. DAZN will stream all of the Premier League matches that day live and will do so likewise for the Serie A. There’s even more appeal there now as Cristiano Ronaldo made his way to Turin and the league is having games on Boxing Day for the first time. In Britain people can even watch three Premier League games –
Fulham v Wolves, Brighton v Arsenal and Watford v Chelsea – on Television or via streaming service without a Sky Sports subscription. Anyone who has a basic Sky, VirginMedia or TalkTalk package as well as those who have a NOW TV entertainment pass will be able to see these games. So fans are encouraged not only to watch football during the festive season but to spend their potential earnings or coupons etc. on a subscription, too.
The experience they’re likely to witness will represent a picture as lovely as their Christmas mood should be. Because stadiums are packed on Boxing Day and in the days after Christmas, fans are eager to impress and be impressed. In the light of these annual commitments supporters, streaming services and broadcasters might be just about to receive some more gifts. The clubs though will be expecting additional income, too.
The good cause and the Christmas shopping
Around Christmas some teams, like Werder Bremen, even play their last home game of the year in a special kit. Bremen’s Christmas tree shirt won’t be sold this year, but it still generates some awareness.
In England, teams across the country participated in the initiative Christmas Jumper Day. That day was on December 14th and it suggests you wear a striking Christmas jumper to show your support for charity, while you donate to help save children’s futures worldwide. AFC Bournemouth, Chelsea London, Manchester City, Arsenal London etc. – they all took part as players and managers wore Christmas jumpers.
But of course they were pictured wearing officially branded club jumpers, be it with a big badge on it or just a tiny reminiscence.
So after all the clubs will hope to showcase that wear in some noble context and sell it for Christmas then. At this time of year the club shops do offer quite a lot anyway; reduced due to Christmas, of course. That’s the same stroke the companies like DAZN or SKY or actually any other are using. Giving with a glimpse of a real gift, but for the sake of taking, eventually.
In the end Christmas is a time to revel in all the sports shown and made accessible through various other channels such as Social Media. You can sit back and enjoy. But as there is even more money in the market, that joy might trickle down – financially – to companies and brands, to the clubs and even to those who need it most. Maybe in the future there’ll be a way to make donating an even bigger part of that festive football business, there’s enough money in it to spare the odd Euro or pound. For now, let’s just enjoy the sports and its many-faceted opportunities for all concerned parties. And Merry Christmas to all of them, too.
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