Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Global Success in Sport: The Effective Marketing and Branding of the UEFA Champions League

Academic journal article International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship

Global Success in Sport: The Effective Marketing and Branding of the UEFA Champions League

Article excerpt

Abstract

The history and heritage of some brands is such that an accumulation of brand equity occurs whereby stocks of images, symbols, logos and icons are built up. The role of brand managers in these cases is to release this equity in an attempt to both realise the value of brand equity and provide a foundation for future development of brand equity. Using a case from global sport, this study analyses the branding of a property and how this drew from a number of equity enhancing features, as well as capitalising upon changes in marketing and the marketplace.

Keywords

Brand equity

UEFA Champions League

global sport

Executive summary

Competition between the elite clubs of Europe can be tracked back to the 1950s. Following a series of friendly matches between Wolverhampton Wanderers of England and Honved of Hungary to decide Europe's premier club, the French newspaper L'Equipe proposed the formation of a competition consisting of the league champions of each European nation, then constituted under UEFA. Thus the European Champion Clubs' Cup, more commonly known at the European Cup, was born and administered under UEFA's auspices. The competition remained unchanged for almost 40 years, but the growth of television as a key medium of soccer consumption, and the development of satellite and pay television digital technologies, led to exponential growth in the revenues available to clubs. UEFA took action to reconsider both the commercial and the sporting aspects of its main club competition. In 1992 the European Cup was transformed into the UEFA Champions League (UCL), a hybrid competition comprising league and knock-out, around which a new brand identity was developed and implemented by UEFA in partnership with TEAM. This case study examines how this process was undertaken by identifying how each component of the brand was developed, and by addressing the role that the relationship with commercial partners also played in the process.

The emergence of the UEFA Champions League

Competition between the elite clubs of Europe can be tracked back to the 1950s. Following a series of friendly matches between Wolverhampton Wanderers of England and Honved of Hungary to decide Europe's premier club, the French newspaper L'Equipe proposed the formation of a competition consisting of the league champions of each European nation, which was then constituted under UEFA's auspices. Thus the European Champion Clubs' Cup, more commonly known at the European Cup, was born. The competition remained unchanged for almost 40 years, but the growth of television as a key medium of soccer consumption and the development of satellite and pay television digital technologies led to an exponential growth in the revenues available to clubs. UEFA took action to re-consider both the commercial and the sporting aspects of its main club competition. In 1992 the European Cup was transformed into the UEFA Champions League (UCL), a hybrid competition comprising league and knock-out, around which a new brand identity was developed and implemented by UEFA in partnership with TEAM.

UEFA and TEAM

The commercial growth of soccer has been facilitated by a small number of event and media management companies, most notably ISL, long-term partners of both the world governing body FIFA, and UEFA.

UEFA formed what has turned out to be a hugely successful alliance with two former executives of ISL. Recognising the opportunities for growth, Klaus Hempel and Jurgen Lenz had formed Television Event and Media Marketing (TEAM), based in Lucerne, Switzerland, as the vehicle through which the UEFA Champions League would be transformed. On instruction from UEFA, TEAM sought to apply a blueprint for sports marketing success by marrying the synergetic qualities of soccer, sponsorship and television. Through its marketing of the UEFA Champions League (UCL), TEAM has exploited the commercial opportunities in a global marketplace and with UEFA created a integrated sporting and commercial platform for Europe's elite clubs. …

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