Top and well-known brands like Heineken and PSG have understood that becoming the best goes far beyond sports results. While fans become more and more demanding in the experience and emotions they feel with brands’ content, they find meaningfulness engaging with clubs or companies that do not believe what they believe.
Particularly, during the pandemic, caring about what people care about has led top brands like Nike position themselves in a relevant place in fans’ hearts and minds. From selling products to being part of conversations. Brands that become “potential friends” with fans by being cool, sharing an entertaining lifestyle and inspiring with authenticity. For example, Nike donated 32,500 pairs of Air Zoom Pulse to frontline healthcare workers to tackle COVID-19, in cities like London, Los Angeles, Barcelona, Milan or New York City.
Source: Forbes, Nike (Air Zoom Pulse designed for healthcare workers)
On a recent interview for SportsPro, Hans Erik Tuijt, Heineken’s director of global sponsorship, explained the main priorities of the Dutch beer manufacturer’s brand strategy. Being Formula One and UEFA Champions League two flagship territories, Heineken ran digital activations like the Heineken Legends Challenges virtual races with ambassadors such as Nico Rosberg and Roberto Carlos, or content campaigns with Thierry Henry and epic moments of UEFA Champions League’s history.
According to Hans, “the brand strategy focuses on socializing, playing a supporting role that generates fan engagement”. Keeping conversations going around the enjoy of sport, especially in digital, allow Heineken to leverage the interaction with fans, considering 72% of them watch Champions League home alone. In his opinion, beyond inviting fans to enjoy sports responsibility, helping them to socialize and connect during and after the pandemic are fundamental to play a significant role in their lives.
Following 2018 Sportcal Sponsorship Sector Report, the top 30 alcoholic beverage brands investing on the sports industry aggregated more than $760m of yearly sponsorship in the biggest competitions, clubs and athletes. Among them, Heineken was the alcoholic beverage industry’s most invested brand, accounting for 11% of all active deals, including a deal with Formula One worth $21.4m annually and a $10m deal with Major League Soccer and followed by Budweiser (7.1%), Bud Light (6.4%), Carlsberg (6%) and Amstel (4.6%).
Source: Heineken (eSports Challenge Heineken Legends)
On the other hand, the health crisis has seriously threatened football clubs’ financials. During World Football Summit Live, LaLiga president Javier Tebas shared his concern about how “there will be some transfers, but those which each club can manage economically. Transfers of 100 million euros are impossible, and we’ll be able to count on the fingers of our hands those above 50 million euros”.
Therefore, despite the decisions of competitions being resumed or cancelled, clubs have searched for creative ways to keep generating income and building fan engagement. One of them, Paris Saint-Germain, continues to seek their vision of becoming the world’s coolest sports brand. An ambition built on the goal of crafting and ultra-fashionable lifestyle even beyond sport. PSG ranked 8th with a brand value of $914M on 2019 Brand Finance’s Football 50, an annual report on the most valuable football brands. The club ranked 9th in 2018 with a brand value of $753M.
Source: 2018 Brand Finance Football 50 report
Celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Beyoncé, Will Smith or Stephen Curry have been seen in the club’s gear. Being the United States a key market in their internationalization strategy, PSG launched a full range of Jordan-branded PSG wear in 2018, rocketing shirt sales. According to Jérôme de Chaunac, managing director of the Americas at the Parisian club, “the global objective is to become one of the top sports brands in the world. We're not talking about football, we're talking sports”.
A global brand strategy designed from the pillars of sports excellence, entertainment and inspiration. Leveraging the valuable asset of the city of Paris, values like culture, modernity and fashion are essential territories for the club’s brand. Actually, PSG has worked with several fashion designers and companies like Levi’s to develop new fashion collections. Last June, merchandise and retail specialist Fanatics announced its biggest ever soccer partnership in late June, a ten-year deal with PSG worth tens of millions of euros between now and 2030, according to SportsPro. The ambition, tripling their income from digital product sales by 2023, “from doing €12 million to over €30 million”, as PSG’s marketing director Fabien Allegre said.
Heineken and PSG, two different businesses with shared visions for their brand strategies, becoming top entertainment and inspiring brands across society. Global icons in sport which aim to be part of the conversations that matter to fans, while allowing them to enjoy with their peers through experiences and digital engagement.
Source: PSG (Jordan Brand x PSG players and artists)
This article was written by Xavi Bové, sports marketing consultant and member of the SBI marketing team. For more information you can contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
https://www.verdict.co.uk/alcohol-brands-sports-sponsorship/#:~:text=Sportcal data shows that Heineken,make up the top five.