Spanish LaLiga club Barcelona has struck a three-year regional partnership with Sebang Global Battery, a Korean manufacturer of car batteries.
The deal makes Sebang the club’s Official Car Battery in Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam. Sebang will activate the sponsorship using the Sebang brand in Vietnam and the Rocket brand in Korea and Malaysia.
The partnership inventory includes rights to use player images and club marks in advertising and promotional activities, and rights to virtual LED board advertising in the three country markets.
It is understood that the deal was made from FC Barcelona’s APAC headquarters in Hong Kong, where the club has a business development team dedicated to the Asia market.
Toni Claveria, head of APAC, told SportBusiness that there are strong links between the clubs in Korea.
“According to third-party data, we already have around two million fans in Korea and we believe that we have an estimated five million Barça fans combined in Vietnam and Malaysia. So the potential is huge and this partnership enables us to get closer to those fans and more potentially.
“Secondly, we already have an existing partner in Korea – SK ZIC – so we are developing our footprint in the market. We’ve actually had a presence in Korea as far back as 2010, when we played a friendly with the first team and in 2012 we held Barça Academy football camps in the market.
“In general, the sporting environment in Korea is very healthy, with football the second-most popular sport and the national team one of the most successful in the region. TV audiences have been steadily growing and our social channels in Korea too.”
Claveria said the club’s long-term strategy has been, and continues to be, developing the brand globally and that the club itself has invested heavily in Asia in recent years.
“We have the office in Hong Kong, the joint venture with Mission Hills Group in Haikou, and a team of club and agency employees working specifically on the Asia region. For good reason. We think that 31 per cent of our global fanbase is in Asia.
“The number of followers we have on social media from Asian countries is huge, on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, but also from our bespoke China channels like Weibo and Douyin. Of course, partnerships with the likes of [main shirt sponsor] Rakuten help us grow in the region.
“Importantly, it’s the way we activate with Rakuten that has been most impressive. We recently took the team on tour to Japan, we create bespoke digital content and they sponsor the Barça Academy in Japan too. I think that’s what appeals to other prospects and partners – seeing how we activate the partnership based on shared values, engagement with customers and fans and, perhaps most importantly, return on investment.“
The Hong Kong office, Claveria added, manages an increasing number of regional deals: “We already have one main partner headquartered in Hong Kong, three global partners and nine regional partners. Plus a lot of our global partners activate in Asia too.
“The reality is, a huge percentage of our fans are in Asia and we need regional partners to help us get closer to existing fans and grow our fanbase. When we sign a deal with a regional partner, they unlock the power of the FC Barcelona brand and that’s hugely beneficial to the partner – they are able to use Barça as a platform to drive awareness and familiarity of their brand, products and services. It’s a broader approach than just commercial – we want to deliver the best experience for our fans and partners. “