Tag Archives: Football

Can one sponsorship deal destroy over 100 years of brand building?

21 Dec

Arguably the most famous and most successful football brand has recently gave up what made them so special. ‘More than a club’ is what set FC Barcelona apart: it is what they stood for, how their club was ran, how fans connected with the club and each other, and it is how the brand was recognised the world over. It is a powerful idea, and at its most believable, has propelled FC Barca into the upper echelons of sporting power. It has enabled them to stand out, not just in Spain but also on the world stage.

Their recent decision to take a world record sponsorship fee in exchange for shirt exposure has seen them pass over the rights to the sacred jersey. This has meant one of the last remaining traditional assets of the modern game has finally passed over to the money men. Football is not quite the game it once was, and it has not been for some time; commercialization has long been hammering at its purity and former innocent core. What magnifies the importance of this announcement is that Barca were always perceived as, ‘more than a club’, they did things differently, with a purpose and for the purity of the shirt. They are seen as a symbol of Cataluna, with their army of fans entitled to part ownership in the club – as a result the shirt belonged to them . The recent decision to sign over the shirt to the not for profit Qatari Foundation is a final stake in the ever increasing chasm between football supporter and club.

Not much is left that is untouchable anymore in the game of football. The traditions built up over years are almost completely gone. Nothing is untouched by the commercial juggernaut. It seems all we have left are the cathedrals that the clubs call home, but as fans of new builds such as Arsenal will testify, it is not far from becoming an all-out sell off.

Shirts are an obvious source of revenue. For big clubs they are attractive properties, providing vehicles for sponsor partners to gain awareness on big European stages, as well as in domestic competition to create accelerated awareness and activation through the vast media and digital coverage it brings. Barcelona have long been lusted after by the corporate world for their reach and ability to cross national boundaries and transcend beyond their sport into pop culture.

For decades they had managed to maintain what the shirt stood for and kept it special for their fans. Their gesture a few years back to pay UNICEF for the right to wear their logo on the Barca shirts was genius. It proved the point that they where ‘more than a club’, seeing their role far beyond the action on the field, they understood the impact they could play in the world. Their decision to take £25m per season off the Qataris proves that they are just like any another club; the money is useful and it will enable them to continue to compete against their commercially driven rivals. The bigger issue is whether it was worth dismissing the Barca brand for all it’s worth, by striking this deal, ‘more than a club’ is no longer believable. The rich history that took over 100 years to build into this defining thought and propelled Barca above its peers has been seemingly broken down overnight. Unfortunately, that seems to be the shortsighted nature of football management these days.


The 50 highest paid footballers in the world

18 Feb

Study done by Futebol Finance out of Portugal.

Doesn’t reveal too much, except that top players enjoy the tax benefits of the Spanish system. Also some very average players earn some very good money out of the game.

Happy reading.


Is ‘Uncertainty’ holding back African football?

2 Feb

One thing that can’t be disputed is that African football is visually a very exciting footballing feast, both on the terraces and on the field of play. Unfortunately, what seems to follow African football at every turn stops it becoming the force that it could well become. An unnerving element of ‘uncertainty’ flows through African football and this level of uncertainty is not just limited to the performance of its players on the field but also the events off it. We don’t need a more compelling example than the unfortunate events involving the Toga team bus in Angola at the start of the ACN (African Cup of Nations) or the erratic quality of the goalkeeping on the field!

But what will it do to damage the perceptions of African football and its hosting of this summers World Cup? Well you could say that African football was in the midst of an upwards turn. Pele famously predicted by the turn of the millennium that an African nation would be champions of the world – that hasn’t happened yet but every major league is now littered with top African talent and now the biggest sporting event in the world is coming to town.

Also Puma have recognised the power of Africa, the energy, colour and passion that goes with the football and aligned its football brand against the whole continent. Many positives exist in the region and associations are extremely powerful, yet people still ask questions and there are some underlying uncertainties which so far have held back SA2010 from having the buzz and excitement at this stage which previous tournaments enjoyed.

The events that occurred in Angola; the incident with the team bus and the subsequent banning of Togo from the next 2 tournaments has increased this feeling. Lingering questions remain and feel unanswered; the safety and security, the logistics and organisation of the tournament, the reaction of the communities to incoming spectators are all elements that add to the list of unknowns. Hopefully the World Cup will be the start of a prosperous and exciting period that firmly puts these questions to bed. The pressure is most certainly on for SA2010, I hope they can handle it, and finally show to the world that there is nothing to be uncertain about anymore.

Are you a customer of Chelsea FC?

24 Jul

News announced on euFootball.Biz reports that Chelsea are conducting a major piece of market research on their fan base. The main aim of this inititatve is to improve advertising campaigns and help with new product launches.

That last sentence probably sums up the shift the world of football has made over the last 10 years. Its vast army of fans are now customers, just like in any other business and they increaingly want a world full of Chelsea. No longer are they seen as just a football club who interact with fans every Saturday afternoon – but instead they are a lifestyle brand that want there fans to interact with the brand everyday.

If this means using research to create products which extend the Chelsea brand and fit in with their fans desire for the club and what it stands for, then so be it. The emotional connection that football makes with its fans can make this proposition very compelling when done in the right manner.

The demand for proper marketing techniques within football is set to come to a club near you very soon.



Nomis – the new kid on the block

14 Apr

A fairly new brand out of Australia started by Simon Skirrow, an ex adidas guy who helped launch the predator boot. They are positioning themselves in the market as the brand that cares about comfort for the wearer and minimising injuries while not compromising performance. A very interesting and distinct proposition given that the likes of adidas and Nike position themselves around the usual characteristics of power, speed and precision. It is also an interesting angle to take given the current debate surrounding injuries and the role modern football boots play in this. I’m sure this stance would be welcomed by managers from Old Trafford to Hackney Marshes.

Their recent marketing efforts are also well worth a mention. Check out the smart viral video entitled ‘Damn Boots’’, which pokes fun at the money obsessed world of sponsorship deals in football. I’m sure you will agree it is a very different approach to the superstar appearing campaigns that we see from the supposed big boys.

Another initiative, started in Germany, is quite literally offering customers the ‘right boot’. A pop up store offers customers a boot for the right foot, they are then allowed to try that boot for 2 weeks alongside there current boots and if they prefer the Nomis offer they are sent the left boot at regular retail cost. A very bold and confident move from Nomis, which aims to dispel the market trends and focus on the needs of the actual athlete.(http://assets.m80im.com/resources/Nomis/nomis-jl/TEMP-Image_1_1.jp)

I think this is one to monitor over the next season or so. My feeling is that as long as Ronaldo can outpace the best defenders in his lightweight Nikes and Beckham can continue to whip deadballs with pinpoint accuracy in his adidas predators, it is going to be very difficult to change the buying habits of youngsters and boot buyers around the world. I do think there is a role in the market for someone like Nomis – the whole market is not as innovative as it should be and they are certainly pushing that boundary. One thing I will say is that football players whether professional or park are incredibly aspirational and this shows in the purchase or choice of the boots that they wear.

In a few weeks I will have an article on the site asking professional players in the UK how they choose the boots they wear, what questions they consider and what it might take to get them wearing a certain brand – some interesting feedback, so watch out.

Check out Footy Boots.com, who have more Nomis information

Engineered in Germany – does it matter?

27 Mar

The new adidas predators very proudly say ‘engineered’ in Germany, but does this matter to the millions wrldwide who will probably buy them? Sure they arn’t made in Germany, instead designed, conceived and visualised in their labs in Germany.

Germany is a country renowned for its engineering, in fact it is one of the strongest traits of their brands, Audi, Mercedes, BMW, Siemens are all synonymous with this. I’m sure customers buying industrial building solutions or the worlds ultimate driving machine put engineering excellence at the top of their buying criteria. Football boots on the other hand?predator2007_white.gif

Yes the Predator is an impress boot which has been through many incarnations, but why pronounce it so valiantly on the boot. Well the boot is all about precision, accuracy and improving performance – engineering plays a big part in making this happen.

Still i’m not sure the sentiments on the side of the boot make much difference, certainly it’s part of the overall package of the predator brand – but as long as Stevie Gerrard keeps picking out the top corner from 30 yards they shouldn’t have a problem.

Beckham bigger than soccer itself?

26 Mar

With the MLS season about to embark on its 13th season, never before has it been more crucial for the league to make leaps rather than gentle strides.

Purpose built stadiums, bigger name players and coaches (well Gullit was European player of the year), everything is in place for the MLS to overtake Ice Hockey as the US 4th biggest sport. Big brands like Beckham are needed to take the league to a new demographic and audience – that was evident last year when he made fleeting appearancez around a troublesome ankle injury. The stadiums where packed, women who wanted to see him, men who wanted to live a life like his and kids who wondered how he actually played all packed stadiums.

But – is Beckham bigger than the league itself? The LA Galaxy went on a mini world tour and sold out stadiums in places like New Zealand, something which successful teams in Europe havent been able to do. Did they come to see the Galaxy? Absolutly not, who? Because it is all about Beckham and thats all it potentially ever will be, just like in the 70s when it was all about the Cosmos and the glamor that followed them. This time it has be concentrated in one mega brand machine called Davd Beckham.

Sure the league is financially well off, the teams dont pay stupid money and have steady crowds, even being subsidised with shirt sponsorship money. Only time will tell how successful the league can be; Beckham was certainly needed, but the MLS need longevity. Only time will tell.