The new season of European football is starting in a couple of days, yet a lot of teams are already preparing to fight again for glorious titles, the fame of their fans and the best goals of the months. This year, it will not only be a battle among the teams and their players, it will also be a battle of the brands.
In the recent years European teams have adapted far more marketing experience from the US sports: the leagues are promoted all over the globe, the sponsors even identified the last spot in the stadiums or on the shirts so that the marketers think further what to promote. Finally they have also reached social media. All major European soccer teams do have a respective (mere) presence, but only some use the channel as intensive instrument for brand management. Why? An answer might be found when looking to the UEFA Champions League Final (#UCL Final) this year:
The official twitter account of the UEFA Champions League illustrates the main numbers of their twitter account (@champions league) and its hashtag #UCLFinal. The teams that profitted the most from this initative are the two teams fighting each other in the finals: Borussia Dortmund (BVB) and FC Bayern Munich (FCB).
This battle started way before the final actually began with the battle of the brands. Both brands tried to push their teams and its fans using social media presence. On twitter for instance, the fans were involved, to support their teams by mentioning the hastag #BVBWin or #FCBWin. It was a neat race. But lets have a look on the different sites of the two brands in detail. Here are some facts about the two teams concerning their facebook and twitter accounts: FC Bayern currently counts 7,494 mio. likes, BVB instead only 2,89 million. Also on twitter, FCBayern is leading the race by 439K follower before BVB with 388 follower.
When comparing the metrics from the week of the final (using wildfire, by google), we do see a very interesting developement. Compared with the amount of likes on May 20th, 2013 (7,089 mio.) the number rose by 177K likes until May 28th, 2013. BVB instead just increased their likes from 2,58 mio. to 2,708 mio., which is an increased value of 128K. Nevertheless the total percentage of the of likes in the final week, to the amount of likes before that week shows a different view: The table suddenly turns and BVB seems to take over the lead (BVB 5%, FCB 2%). A similar scenario appears when comparing the two official twitter accounts: both increase the amount of their followers by 14 %, with FCB taking the lead, because of a majority of followers at the begin of the week (35K).
But! There is still room for improvement. Let’s have a closer look on the different ways the two teams attacked each other using communciation and social media marketing.
FCB has definitely developed a slogan for their social media campaign that is strongly building a relation with the core values of the brand (#Miasanmia, #packmas). A strong identification of all supporters was increased and the feedback mostly overwhelming. This was also achieved by integrating former top stars and VIPs strongly related to the brand: Hassan Salihamidzic and the local stadium speaker (FCB social Media team) and the FCB legend Franz Beckenbauer were integrated to contribute their content to the campaign. Apparently the missing point is that the campaign launched for the UCL final is definitively followed by user around Europe and some less around the globe. Do they understand “#miasanmia” (and later “#miasanchampions”) or “#packmas”? Both terms are influenced by the Bavarian language and some might assume that not even the people of the north of Germany might understand the meaning if not interested in football. Nevertheless one needs to agree that the social media team of FCB stayed true to their core values of the brand.
BVB instead used a more international form for their social media campaign: #fairytail. This formulation was a smarter choice, for two reasons: first, it underlined the psychological position of the “underdog”, which was strengthened by the coach, and secondly it increased the Even people who might not have been real fans, but rather noticed from the edge of the football festival, were probalby laughing about the seat reservation using a BVB towel or showing a modified album cover of the beatles. This campaign enriched the core values of BVB’s brand identity “true love”. Nevertheless, the slogan “true love” was perceived to be less integrated in social media channels than in the official merchandise or classic advertisement channels, which have been set up with creative effort. Further, the gap between print/outside advertisement (truelove/from dortmund with love) felt often far away from the social media channels: pictures have been communciated quite often, but a direct link form outside ads was solely missing on the motives.
Future Outlook and hypothesis:
Both strategies had brilliant elements, we loved to explore in our tweetlists or facebook sites. Both teams made a huge step in the direction of socialmedia marketing. But at the end of the day, one needs to confess that both have not reached the end of the road for social media and cross channel marketing yet.
It seems that the Football Clubs’ brand manager have just jumped on the train for social media marketing and might need to improve their concept of integrated marketing during the next season. Nevertheless, as fans we do not criticize you too much Mr. & Mrs brand managers! Please overwhelm us again with the thousands of emotions and impressions from the teams we passionate so much!
What do you think? Which brand has stronger influence on you as a brand in social media?
Follow this blog to remain up to date in the battle of the football brands in the upcoming season!
- Follow the UEFA Champions League Final on Instagram See more… (instagram.com)
- Media: UCL final ‘a great advert for German football’ (espnfc.com)
- Super Bayern, Super Bayern, HEY HEY (gwblogabroad.wordpress.com)
- Borussia Dortmund: A Champions League Winner Either Way (blogs.wsj.com)
- Bayern vs BVB Live WEFA CHaMpIoNs LeAgUe FiNaL 2013 SoCcEr LiVE (shoronkhan002.wordpress.com)