‘12th Man & Madness/Priceless’: Mastercard and the Uefa Champions League

May 2017 saw Uefa Champions League sponsor Mastercard launch an expansive pan-European activation based on ‘passionate fan support’ to leverage spiking soccer supporter interest around club football’s biggest annual showpiece – the Champions League Final. 


Linked by the #MadnessOrPriceless hashtag, this multi-phase campaign included a supporter-statistics report, a video-led partnership with Copa90 exploring the Tifo phenomenon, plus TV spots, media alliances and digital and social assets.

Mastercard’s 2017 Champions League Final activation began in late May when the payments brand published its ‘12th Man Report’, a European survey of 10,500 football fans that explores just how far fans will go to support their team. 

The report researches everything from how much money supporters spend and the distances they travel to social factors, such as sacrificing relationships and the first time they saw a live game.

The supporter survey found European soccer supporters believe British football fans are the most passionate of all. 

The first question on the report asked which fans are perceived to be the most passionate: based on positive definitions like as atmosphere created, commitment made and dedication to away support. 

The result was a comprehensive victory for British fans: almost one-third (32%) of all respondents said it was British fans who are the most passionate. 

The UK supporters came out ahead of Spanish fans (16%) and Italian fans (12%). 

Other UK football fan findings include 11% of Brits admitting that that they could not date a supporter of their team’s rivals, while 10% said they’d cancel their honeymoon to watch their team play in the Champions League final, with 25% admitting to taking ‘unsolicited’ leave from work and 20% saying they’d miss a close friend’s birthday to attend an important game. 

British fans are also amongst the youngest starters, with 36% saying they had already become fans of their team by the age of 10. 

While the overall average age across Europe for first becoming a fan was 13 years old, it is the Portuguese who are the youngest starters of all as on average they have chosen a club allegiance at seven years old. 

But British football lovers are a bit cheap when it comes to coughing up cash to support their club. 

Despite the Premier League’s ever-inflating ticket prices, the most money British football fans have spent on attending a single game averages out at £343: well below the Turks (£608), Russians (£553), French (£475), and Spanish (£465). 

British fans also lag behind same-tier European supporters when it comes to distances travelled to watch a game. UK fans average travel time is just 4hrs 13mins, around half the period spent travelling by Polish fans (8hrs 24 mins). 

Only 31% of Brits have supported their team abroad, compared with Spanish fans (61%) and Italian fans (56%). 

Other stand-out findings include: 

  • Dutch fans (41%) are the only European fans who prefer to watch their team on TV rather than in stadia. 
  • Italian fans have the best ‘home town’ support, with 46% stating they support their local club.
  • Romanians are considered the biggest glory hunters – with over a quarter (26%) confessing that they support their team due to their success. 
  • 66% of Ukrainian fans would rather see their team in the Champions League final than win the lottery. 
  • Some Turkish fans put football before romance, with 20% confessing that they would cancel their honeymoon for a Champions League ticket

The survey’s results were promoted via a branded infographic amplified across the Uefa payments partner’s digital and social channels across the continent. 

Ryan Giggs, Mastercard’s ambassador for the Champions League, commented: “I have been very fortunate to play all over the world during my career, but it comes as no surprise to me that British fans are considered the most passionate. Those European nights were among the best of my life, and the travelling support always played a huge part.” 

Ann Cairns, Mastercard’s President of International Markets added: “The Champions League has created so many memorable moments in football, but it’s also the supporters who help create that magic. Our sponsorship of the tournament encapsulates this priceless sporting spirit.”

The survey, carried out for Mastercard by Mortar, spanned 10,500 respondents across 16 European countries (UK, Germany, Spain, France, Netherlands, Italy, Turkey, Russia, Sweden, Portugal, Greece, Ukraine, Romania, Israel, Czech Republic and Poland). 

Other campaigns

This research report strand was followed by a video-focused strand in partnership with Copa90, which set out to offer fans and consumers everything they need to know about Tifos. 

Tifo is the Italian term for supporting a sport team but is also an umbrella word for choreography and displays of support by fans in the stands. This phase was spearheaded by a central film, launched on 30 May, exploring the global story of one of football’s greatest expressions. 

Mastercard also ran a series of Champions League Final 2017 media alliances, including one with The Telegraph in the UK, based on fan stories and asking the question ‘what kind of a fan are you?

It also ran a series of big match offer-led service partnerships with brands like Deliveroo, Hotels.com and Priceless.Cities. 

Throughout the tournament, Mastercard explored the theme of fan passion through a range of activations including: ‘#MadnessorPriceless – How Far Would You Go For Your Team?’ (launched in February 2017), ‘Two Rivals In One T-Shirt For A Uefa Champions League Game’ (from March 2017), as well as player-led ‘Priceless Surprise’ initiatives such as ‘Gianluigi Buffon Gives These Young Fans A Priceless Surprise’. 

As well as these activations, Mastercard’s other showpiece Champions League leverage programme includes a classic match ticket competitions and its long-running ‘Priceless Mascot Experience’.

Mastercard, one of seven top-tier Uefa Champions League sponsors, alongside Gazprom, Heineken, Nissan, Pepsi, Sony and Unicredit, is a long-time sponsor of the world’s top club competition. Mastercard also sponsors the 2017 Uefa Women’s Champions League final.

As part of its umbrella objective of getting cardholders closer to the things they love, Mastercard has an extensive partnership portfolio across the sport, entertainment and arts landscape. Its major partnerships are with The PGA Tour and The Open Championship in golf: Major League Baseball; the French and Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournaments; North American sports teams such as the Dallas Cowboys, the Green Bay Packers, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens; the UK motor sport Goodwood Festival Of Speed; food festivals, music and theatre events like The GRAMMYs, the BRIT Awards and the Olivier Awards; venues like Carnegie Hall, Sydney Opera House and the Dubai Opera House; arts companies such as the New York City Ballet and the Singapore Repertory Theatre, musicians such as Lang Lang and location-specific Priceless Cities partners.

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