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SBD Global/November 22, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

SPORTFIVE Deutschland CEO Philipp Hasenbein Talks German Marketing, Football

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SPORTFIVE Deutschland CEO Philipp Hasenbein
German and int'l companies spend billions annually on sports sponsorship deals. One of the leading sports marketing companies in Germany, SPORTFIVE Deutschland, helps companies and clubs find the best sponsorship opportunities. SPORTFIVE Deutschland CEO Philipp Hasenbein took time to talk with SBD Global Staff Writer HJ Mai about the German sports sponsorship market, the mass appeal of football and the challenges of digital content.

Q: SPORTFIVE Deutschland is one of the leading sports marketing companies. What aspect of sports-rights marketing makes up SPORTFIVE's core business?
Philipp Hasenbein:
SPORTFIVE Deutschland covers the whole spectrum of sports marketing -- from stadium advertising and shirt sponsorship deals to hospitality packages and media rights. Our core business in Germany is without a doubt football. SPORTFIVE has 14 professional football clubs in its marketing portfolio including defending Bundesliga champion Borussia Dortmund.

Q:
What’s the current state of the German sports sponsorship market?
Hasenbein:
I think that we have a very stable foundation in the area of sports sponsorships in Germany. The German sports sponsoring index revealed that annually about €2.8B ($3.6B) is spent on sports sponsorships. This is first and foremost a huge sum, which has been stable over the past several years and remained stable in this overall economic downturn and, in my personal view, will stay stable.

Q:
Have you experienced any market changes since the start of the economic crisis? Have companies spent less on sports sponsoring?
Hasenbein:
No, I think that especially during the economic crisis sports sponsorships are very attractive as companies try to conduct their communication more efficiently, and sports sponsorships are a great way to do so. The stability of the sports sponsorship market is a clear indication that companies view it as an efficient communication tool. In comparison to, for example, print advertising, which has seen a decline, sports sponsorships are seen as a long-term investment and their impact will be monitored over a long period.

Q:
How big is the gap between football and other sports in regards to the amount of sponsorship deals?
Hasenbein: It is certain to say that in such difficult times the gap between football and other sports increases a little. Football is simply, due to its mass appeal and its attractiveness, as well as its status in society, the most sought-after sponsorship stage in sports.

Q:
What are SPORTFIVE’s short and long-term goals?
Hasenbein:
It obviously helped that we have been able to establish a very sound market leadership in the area of brand rights in Germany, and in the German sports world, that we try to extend even further. In addition, we want to operate as a very knowledgeable partner for clubs and sponsors through service and expertise advantage in comparison to our competitors. This has been our ambition for the past 25 years, and we want to continue down this road.

Q:
What economic developments do you follow with big interest?
Hasenbein: Overall, we are a problem solver. If a problem exists, we would like to take on this problem and try to find a solution for a club or a sponsor. In addition, we closely follow the developments surrounding football, not necessarily in Germany, but in Europe, and there we see that sometimes decisions are made regardless if they are rational or economically useful. Clubs take out loans and increase their debt capital, which leads to problems in other leagues. We believe that the Bundesliga has a good structure in this regard, and therefore it will have a competitive advantage over the next several years. In this context, it will be exciting to see how UEFA implements Financial Fair Play and the consequent regulations. In Germany, we are in a lucky position, despite a tense overall situation, that allows us to build on a positive economic development of the whole league. At least we are hoping that there is room for income growth.

Q:
What’s the biggest challenge for your company?
Hasenbein:
The biggest challenge is certainly the incorporation of digital possibilities in our marketing concepts. I think this area provides us with the biggest opportunities but also with the biggest challenges as an offline and online marketing provider in sports. How will ad space on boards look like in five years? It is without a doubt an interesting area in which we, as a market leader and partner of the clubs, try to provide solutions. We will also focus on technical and content-related solutions. This could include loyalty programs, World Cup programs and certainly digital media solutions for clubs. All those things are issues that we deal with and that are very interesting.

Q: In what areas do you see the biggest potential for growth for SPORTFIVE?
Hasenbein:
We are currently working on developing digital solutions for clubs. It also is very interesting to take a look at fan behavior and try to come up with technical solutions for clubs that help implement those findings. An already existing technical solution to showcase digital content, and one which I personally find very appealing, is Sky Go. The online TV service [of German pay-TV provider Sky Deutschland] does a good job and offers new possibilities to present digital content on electronic devices to a mass audience.
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