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05/11/2015
GETTING THE BALL ROLLING!

Sponsorships

 

The greatest show on earth, boasting  the largest number of fans and believed to be the ideal showcase for the global promotion of any brand

Paolo Ferrini

This year’s "derby d’Italia" (Italy’s biggest football derby), will not be played only on the traditional football field as Juventus and Inter face each other, but will also be played by two unusual opponents. If Pirelli has in fact been the Nerazzurri’s main sponsor since 1995 (the longest sponsorship in football history), Goodyear has been sponsoring Juventus since 2011, in the hope of becoming FCA’s main tire supplier. Coincidentally, or maybe not, Jeep happens to be Juventus’ main sponsor. This gives a new definition to the expression “coming full circle” (or should we say full wheel!). And never mind if many still believe that big business cannot really be made through sports.

Especially when the sport concerned has such a huge global following. In fact, Pirelli and Goodyear are not isolated cases. Quite the contrary. The huge number of fans is what prompted many companies to use such a popular sport in spreading their brand and products, especially tires, as they are purchased by virtually everyone.  “Professional football has been extremely helpful in increasing brand awareness and presence in the market, playing a major role in strengthening our market position” says Nikolai Setzer, member of Continental’s executive board. A point of view widely shared by marketing experts who know full well the general public’s difficulties in understanding  the differences between products, such as tires, that appear to be all very similar to the less experienced – and not only. Hence the need to focus (and invest) more on brand and product awareness.

 

 

PIRELLI-INTER:  A 20-YEAR PARTNERSHIP

If things continue as they are - and there is no reason to think otherwise - Pirelli and Inter FC will eventually celebrate, a unique case in the world of football sponsorship, their silver wedding anniversary. A great record, no doubt! But also a tangible sign that the marketing operation is working with the mutual satisfaction of both parties.

Meanwhile, after 20 years of partnership, the news for the 2015-2016 season is the appearance of the brand Driver, Pirelli’s international network of tire specialists, on the team’s second jersey. If, in fact, the brand Pirelli will continue to feature on the team’s traditional black and blue jersey, the brand Driver will feature on the white jersey with a wide chest-high black and blue band, to be used as the team’s second jersey. This initiative is part of a communication strategy to support the expansion of a network that to date can count on almost 400 retail points, capable of supporting the motorist with a range of services going from the choice of the most suitable tire to a variety of maintenance operations.  

 

GOODYEAR-JUVENTUS: GREAT TIMING!

 

Goodyear seized the moment, and in November 2011 signed a sponsorship agreement with Juventus that, from that moment, went on to win four consecutive championships. Great timing indeed! And not only from a football point of view.

Crunching a few numbers:  this agreement allows Goodyear to make contact with over 12 million Juventus fans, almost 14 million fans on Facebook, over 1,3 million followers on Twitter and nearly 300.000 Juventus Channel viewers on YouTube. Add this to football enthusiasts in general and you have a huge audience and a preferential lane with Italy’s largest automobile manufacturer.

Goodyear has recently produced a series of viral videos featuring a number of Juventus players filmed in unusual circumstances, which have been broadcast on both Goodyear’s and Juventus’ digital platforms. Exposure was further guaranteed by more “traditional” initiatives (LED perimeter screens, backdrop logos during interviews and press conferences) and other programs aimed at directly involving the team’s many fans (exclusive tours of the Juventus Stadium, stand samplings etc.).

 

YOKOHAMA-CHELSEA: 55 MILLION PER ANNUM!

 

55 million Euro for five years, in other words, a total of 275 million, the second largest sponsorship in British football’s history: that is precisely how much Yokohama will pour into Josè Mourinho’s Chelsea FC’s coffers, to increase its “brand awareness” on a global level and consequently increase sales volumes. The Japanese tire maker identified in the London club “the same competitive inclination and the same team spirit found in Yokohama’s offices and factories, where all employees cooperate as a team for the same goal: to enrich people’s lives and contribute to their happiness and well-being, making the most of all our efforts and technologies – among the most developed – for the benefit of everyone”.

                                                                                                        

NEXEN-MANCHESTER CITY: STEP BY STEP

The Premier League is attracting a growing interest also from Nexen Tire, one of Manchester City’s new partners. This agreement allows the South Korean company to be a remarkable presence inside the Ethiad Stadium, as well as having the opportunity to use City players in marketing activities. This initiative can rightly be considered the natural development of a marketing program that, over the years, has seen the Korean brand appear on LED perimeter screens in the stadiums of a number of European teams such as Mainz 05 (German Bundesliga), Atletico Madrid and Valencia (Spain’s Primera Liga) not to mention Everton FC, Tottenham Hotspurs, Southhampton and West Ham United (Premier League). Predictably enough, also the Italian Serie A is part of the project, in fact after having featured in Napoli’s San Paolo stadium as well as the Olimpic stadium in Rome, Nexen will soon feature also in Torino FC’s stadium.

 

CHAMPIONSHIPS, NOT JUST TEAMS

 

On the other hand, Continental’s International policy is based on sponsoring large events rather than being linked to single teams, so as to avoid negative implications. “Football is such an incredibly popular sport that can reach virtually everyone and represents an open door to the European market” says Alberto Bergamaschi of Continental. “It all started in 1995 when we decided to sponsor the UEFA Champions League, and reached the crowning moment, at least for us Italians, during the FIFA World Cup in Germany in 2006, which saw the “Azzurri” clinch the title. The next step is the 2016 European Cup in France”. 

Hankook Tire has been following a similar path and has recently extended its partnership with the UEFA European League for a further year until the end of the 2017-18 season, which has greatly contributed to a 13% increase in brand awareness and a further 6% rise in brand preference by European motorists since 2012. Hankook will certainly benefit by the greater visibility (LED perimeter screens, backdrop logos used during players interviews and official UEFA press conferences) and, contrary to what has happened in the past few years, its brand will appear on LED perimeter screens starting from the group stage all the way to the final.

With a weekly average audience of 69 million viewers in 200 countries and territories around the world, Hankook will definitely benefit from worldwide exposure. Football is a huge business and the tire industry is looking at taking full advantage of it.

 

THE FACTS OF LIFE… 

“ Dad was a huge Juventus fan and, when I was a child, he often used to take me from Rome to Turin to see Juventus play” remembers Luca Crepaccioli. “Which other team could I possibly support now that I’m older?” Yet, passions and business do not always follow the same paths, as was the case with the current president and CEO of Goodyear Dunlop Tires Italia. “Our company had no previous experience in football, but back in 2010 we were already looking into possible partnerships within sports in general and, after sponsoring the Giro d’Italia, we met with Juventus’ management – who would have thought – that had just inaugurated its new Stadium and soon found out that we had common objectives”.

Actually, we could say that both Goodyear and Juventus are playing on the same turf. Both were founded at the end of the Eighteenth century (Juventus in 1897, Goodyear in 1898), and deeply cherish their heritage and century-old history, and, at the time, were both engaged in a deep transformation aimed at boosting both their image and prestige. “That is why this partnership represents a great challenge, the greatest to date, and we had to advertise it in the most effective manner, which we did, through many successful initiatives”.

 

TOYO TIRES, AC MILAN AND MORE…

At least until the end of the 2015-16 season Toyo Tires will stand as one of AC Milan’s premium sponsors; it does not appear on the team’s jersey, but it is regularly featured around the stadium and in the team’s numerous initiatives, like a series of promotions for the proud owners of the Milan Rossonero Card.

“This agreement was a consequence of the personal friendship between Toyo’s president Akira Nobuki and Milan’s player Keisuke Honda” says Marco Cecconi, President of Toyo tires Italia. “His arrival at AC Milan in the winter of 2013 coincided with the beginning of our sponsorship agreement giving our company international visibility”.

A partnership that, no doubt, gave excellent results, seeing that the Japanese company went further on to sign an agreement, in the summer of 2015, with a Russian team, FC Zenit Saint Petersburg.  Besides banners and LED screens in the stadium, that agreement will also promote a series of initiatives on social networks like an online game called “Who is in Toyo”, an online football simulation game that will allow anyone to play, albeit virtually, in the Petrovsky stadium.

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