SBD/May 4, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Sponsors View Champions League As Keen Opportunity To Reach Asian Fans

Heineken has owned rights to the Champions Trophy tour since '06
Sponsoring the UEFA Champions League long has proved to be "an effective strategy for marketing to large groups of consumers," but these days, sponsors are "starting to view European football's biggest club tournament as a gateway to another tantalizing area for growth: Asia," according to Richard Gillis of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. The Champions League's global audience has allowed UEFA to "market the tournament as a truly global property -- with a price tag to match." Five companies pay up to US$25M per year "for category-exclusive sponsorship of the Champions League, including beer, payment card, mobile telephone and automobile sponsorships." Heineken has a "standard sponsorship package" for the Champions League, and it also has "held the rights to football's Champions Trophy tour since 2006, in which the sponsor parades the European Cup across Asia." The brewer indicated that 17,500 fans "attended events in Kuala Lumpur and Penang, Malaysia, in February." The focus on Asia "comes as major European football teams are stepping up their efforts to draw Asian fans in the belief that the world's developing football markets offer growth potential both in terms of broadcast and other commercial rights." Standard Chartered Group Head of Corporate Affairs Gavin Laws, whose bank is the jersey sponsor of EPL club Liverpool, said, "The market is saturated in Europe with so many clubs, how many more merchandise sales are they going to create over the next 10 years? If the clubs want to do merchandise sales at an exponential rate you've got to be in China, you've got to be in Korea, getting all the people excited about the game." Gillis notes one "cost-effective way of reaching the Asian market is offered by social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter." Social-media followings are "beginning to play into sponsorship negotiations, helping clubs boost the value of their respective shirts" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 5/4).
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