For the past 11 years the annual Globe Soccer Awards have recognised exceptional talent in world football, but this is the first time that the programme has included a business-focused category.
The award for Best Partnership of the Year Award 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 enduring appeal; examples of creativity in activation to engage with key audiences; results against stated objectives.
A panel of 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.
Liverpool and Standard Chartered
Standard Chartered has been the main partner of Liverpool FC since 2010, making it the second-longest sponsorship deal in the club’s history.
The relationship is used to target key markets for the bank in Asia, Africa and the Middle East with multiple activations. Liverpool was integrated in the bank’s corporate social responsibility programme ‘Seeing Is Believing’, a global charitable initiative aimed at tackling avoidable blindness in developing countries, from the outset.
While Standard Chartered activations initially focused on marketing personal banking services to first-time account holders in Asia, since signing a new deal in May 2018, the bank has further activated the sponsorship across its corporate, private and investment banking divisions.
FC Barcelona and Beko
Global home appliance brand Beko has been a sponsor of FC Barcelona since 2014, first as a Global Premium Partner and, since 2018, as a Main Global Partner and Exclusive Training Partner.
The primary objective of the sponsorship is raising worldwide awareness of Beko and to differentiate it from traditionally uninspiring white goods sports marketing activations.
The heart of the Beko campaigns involved the participation of FC Barcelona stars.
In 2018, together with Barcelona, the FCB Foundation and Unicef, Beko committed to helping tackle childhood obesity by inspiring kids to eat just like their heroes, the FC Barcelona players, in a campaign called ‘Eat Like A Pro’. An additional goal was to work with consumers to generate €1m for Unicef’s child food programmes.
By October 2018, the Beko initiative had helped improve the lives of more than 600,000 children through Unicef donations.
FC Bayern Munich and Audi
Audi has had a close partnership with Bayern since 2002 and will remain a sponsor through to 2025.
Key to its sponsorship is the Audi Cup, a biennial four-team pre-season tournament played in Bayern’s Allianz Stadium, which attracts Europe’s elite clubs.
Using cutting-edge technologies as an integral part of its staging and coverage, the event provides a global opportunity to highlight Audi’s ‘Vorsprung durch Technik’ brand positioning and provides an opportunity to incentivise and motivate employees as well as markets and retailers.
Juventus and Jeep
Juventus initially linked up with Jeep in April 2012 with an agreement that ran from 2012-13 to 2014-15. Jeep’s current deal with Juventus expires in 2021.
The sponsorship is key to efforts to increase global sales from 1.9 million to 3.3 million per year and the brand is especially active in leveraging its players assets in player-led campaigns. After the club signed Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018, the brand reached a new level of awareness for its campaigns.
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.
Real Madrid and Emirates
The Dubai-based airline started a five-year contract with Real in the 2013-14 season and has extended this through to the end of 2021-22 campaign.
The sponsorship is all about branding. Emirates get branding on Real Madrid’s shirt, as well as on its training kit, and dominant branding on LED advertising boards and interview backdrops.
In 2019, Emirates incorporated the ‘Fly Better’ strapline beneath the word “Emirates” for the El Clásico match against Barcelona. Emirates also wants to be closely associated with players. The squad, for example, flew to Abu Dhabi for the 2018 Club World Cup on a team branded A380 from Emirates. The video of the flight registered more than two million views.
Manchester City and SAP
In 2015, SAP became the official ‘Cloud Software Provider’ and technology advisor of City Football Group and four of its clubs around the world, including Premier League club Manchester City (men and women), Major League Soccer club New York City, A-League club Melbourne City and J-league club Yokohama F. Marinos.
At the core of SAP’s global sponsorships is the desire to innovate and humanise the capabilities of its marketing enterprise software to ensure emotional brand recall through experience.
In 2018, SAP’s ‘Who’s the Blue?’ campaign tested the knowledge of Manchester City fans through a global social media campaign with a surprising twist, taking four superstars from Manchester City’s squad – Bernardo Silva, Fernandinho, John Stones and Raheem Sterling – and dressing them in a ‘morphsuit’ that hid their entire body and face.
The only clue to their identities were their playing stats, shown as on-screen graphics. Fans on social media were challenged each day to guess ‘Who’s the Blue?’ for the chance to win prizes.
The Who’s the Blue?’ campaign drove brand awareness globally, reaching 45.3 million fans and gaining 91 per cent positive sentiment, above the 85-per-cent goal. It resonated particularly well in China, where views were double the target of half a million.