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.
Crossover and SUV brand Jeep began its main shirt sponsorship with Italian Serie A football club Juventus under a three-year agreement from 2012-13 to 2014-15. The current deal runs for six years, from 2015-16 to 2020-21. This year the club revealed that negotiations for the sponsorship’s renewal had begun in advance of the term set out in the contract.
Jeep and Juventus share interests beyond the sponsor relationship. The brand’s parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is 29.19-per-cent-owned by the Agnelli family, via its Exor holding company, which also holds a 64-per-cent stake in Juventus.
Jeep is a fast-growing brand. It sold 1.6 million light vehicles in 2018, more than double the 730,000 sold five years ago. The US is the brand’s dominant market, but in Europe, Italy is its main market. With sales of 166,500 vehicles, half of all European Jeeps were sold in Italy last year.
As the dominant SUV brand in the Italian market, it was logical for Jeep to positions itself with Italy’s leading club. Juventus has won eight consecutive Italian championships since 2011-12, and gained further international profile through the acquisition of global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018.
Jeep is especially active in leveraging its players assets in advertising campaigns.
Starting in February 2013, eight Juventus players, including Gianluigi Buffon, Giorgio Chiellini, Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba, starred in the club’s first ad campaign called ‘Nothing Can Stop Them’ for the iconic Jeep Wrangler. To further consolidate the partnership with Juventus in its first season, Jeep signed Pirlo as a Worldwide Ambassador.
The latest advertisement called ‘Legends Aren’t Born. They’re Made’ was launched this year for Jeep’s multiple terrain vehicles. The TVC starred Cristiano Ronaldo as the main protagonist, along with four other Juventus players.
Jeep also runs in-stadium activations to promote new models. In 2016, Jeep celebrated its 75th anniversary at the Juventus Stadium, now the Allianz Stadium, with a presentation of three limited edition Jeep Renegade models for the top-of-the-table clash against Napoli.
According to research by Italian consultancy StageUp and research company IPSOS, Jeep has the highest level of recognition among football fans in Italy – recognised by 23 per cent of respondents as a Serie A sponsor. Separately, the proportion of Italian football fans who said they follow Juventus has risen from 32 cent in 2002 to 38 per cent in 2019.
The growing value of the Juventus relationship to Jeep was recognised in October 2019, when the club announced that FCA Italy had agreed to increase the yearly fixed consideration by €25m for 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.
The decision was based on the excellent results achieved by the club, an improved Uefa ranking, and increased Juventus brand awareness at a worldwide level.
Awareness of the Jeep brand via the Juventus relationship can also be measured in social media metrics. In December 2016, Jeep had almost 4.7 million people like the Jeep brand on Facebook, of which 94 per cent were male. Today, it has more than six million likes. On Twitter, Jeep’s 100,000-plus followers in 2013, has grown to more than one million followers in 2019.
The full list of nominees is:
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.