Best Partnership of the Year by SportBusiness Award – FC Bayern Munich and Audi

For the past 11 years the annual Globe Soccer Awards have recognised exceptional talent in world football with many of the game’s biggest stars travelling to Dubai to receive their honours.

Now SportBusiness has joined forces with Globe Soccer to create a business-focused award for the first time.

The award for Best Partnership of the Year by SportBusiness is designed to reflect the role of both parties in creating successful sponsorships, with the award presented to both the winning clubs and brands.

It recognises deal-making, innovation, creativity and best practice in partnerships against key criteria. These are: Length of partnership and its enduring appeal; examples of creativity in activation to engage with key audiences; results against stated objectives.

Today we focus on FC Bayern Munich’s partnership with car manufacturers Audi.


Audi has been a close partner of FC Bayern since 2002. As well as being one of four lead partners of the club, the brand owns an 8.33-per-cent stake in Bayern Munich AG, the company which runs the membership club’s football operations. The €90m  $99m) investment, agreed in 2009, was described by Audi as a “revolutionary, albeit logical, next step from which both parties will benefit”.

This year, Audi repelled a major effort from Munich-based rivals BMW to take over the car partner role. Having secured the rights, Audi will remain a sponsor through to 2025.


In 2009, the year of Audi’s 100th anniversary, the brand launched the Audi Cup – a biennial four-team tournament played in Bayern’s Allianz Stadium, which attracts Europe’s elite clubs during the pre-season. The event is owned by Audi and mainly refinanced by ticket sales and international media rights.

With cutting-edge technology an integral part of its staging and coverage, the event provides a global opportunity to highlight Audi’s brand positioning of ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’.

In terms of external communications, a strategy is developed for each tournament to define goals and establish positioning and messages. It also establishes how Audi’s technological innovations can be integrated. The 2017 Audi Cup, for example, featured 3D holograms of the team managers in a press conference announcing their clubs’ participation in the tournament that year.

With regard to internal communications, the Audi Cup also provides an opportunity to incentivise and motivate employees as well as markets and retailers. In the run-up to the tournament, for example, a campaign information pack is created for international markets, importers and agencies, providing a comprehensive overview of communication plans and opportunities plus materials such as official logos, graphics and style guides.

Separate from the Audi Cup, Audi uses the Bayern player assets to drive interest in the latest models. Each year, members of the squad pick up an Audi on ‘Car Collection Day’ for their use in the year to come – an activation that has been replicated in other major partnerships with LaLiga clubs Barcelona and Real Madrid. The Bayern cars come with personalised number plates, making then recognisable as official cars of the Bundesliga club.

Specific product launches can also be incorporated into the player-related rights. This year, for example, FC Bayern was one of the first Audi partners to test drive the new Audi e-tron – the brand’s versatile electric SUV.


During the 2017 Audi Cup, – the most recent for which data is available – 123,000 spectators came to the Allianz Arena across both matchdays. The tournament enjoyed a worldwide live television audience of more than 200 million viewers and was covered live in 130 countries worldwide on television and online.

In Germany alone, the 2017 Audi Cup achieved a 25-per-cent share of the television audience with around 13 million people exposed to Audi’s brand messaging. The tournament also hosted 3,000 VIP guests from more than 35 Audi markets.

The full list of nominees is:

Liverpool and Standard Chartered
FC Barcelona and Beko
• Juventus and Jeep
• Manchester City and SAP
• Real Madrid and Emirates
• FC Bayern München and Audi

A panel of specialist SportBusiness writers and analysts as well as independent industry experts drew up the list of nominees using source information, including data drawn from SportBusiness Soccer, the recently-launched sponsorship strategy tool built around the most comprehensive database of soccer-based sponsorship deals, durations and values ever assembled.

The final three contenders to be selected from the shortlist and announced in early December. ahead of the glittering Globe Soccer Awards in Dubai on December 29.

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