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Soccer’s popularity in the United States and the rest of the world has given rise to an alternative new business that has mushroomed in the last three years: soccer summer camps and soccer academies.

Teams such as FC Barcelona, German club Bayern Munich, and British clubs Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United, are the first seeking to set up US outposts through football academies, which enroll about 300 children each year at an average cost of $2,000 each.

FC Bayern and Global Premier Soccer (GPS) have an extensive youth partnership that brings the knowledge and expertise of FCB’s notable Youth Academy. The partnership, which began in 2014, aims to grow the level of the game in North America, bringing the FC Bayern coaching philosophy and curriculum to now over 85,000 children and 6,000 coaches into 101 soccer clubs in over 22 states.

FC Barcelona, one of Europe’s most popular teams, has 25 academies and dozens of summer camps in more than 60 countries on five continents, which together enroll more than 30,000 boys and girls each year. They represent small regiments of brand loyal consumers who will further expand the team’s fan base among their close circles of friends and family.

Luis Ramón Carazo
Luis Ramón Carazo. (Photo: Twitter)

In the US, Barça got its start with camps run by the ISL Futbol company. Nowadays, the club has a presence in 25 cities, four of them with academies for kids ages 6-14.

Increasing merchandising sales for their clubs is the big draw for teams looking to establish a presence among their younger sports fans, said Luis Ramón Carazo, sports business specialist and columnist for Mexican newspaper Reforma. By increasing brand recognition and engagement, clubs increase their sales of team-related merchandise, such as jerseys.

Increasing merchandising sales for their clubs is the big draw for teams looking to establish a presence among their younger sports fans

In addition, the strategy helps clubs find talent at an early age and develop young soccer talents who have the potential to become future professional soccer players.

Alex Isern
Alex Isern, Director of ISL Futbol. (Photo: LinkedIn)

In addition to enrollment income, the soccer camps and academies welcome sponsors looking to establish a presence on the pitch and make activations. “The sponsors are the same ones who’ve signed on with the club in each region. In the US, we have the support of Gatorade, Gillette, and Black & Decker,” said Alex Isern, Director of ISL Futbol.

The sponsors are the same ones who’ve signed on with the club in each region. In the US, we have the support of Gatorade, Gillette, and Black & Decker.

“FC Barcelona has one of the most important sports brands, with millions of fans around the world. In addition, it has a highly recognized training method, not only for its sporting successes, but also for the values it instills”, said Eduardo Celorio, Director of FCBEscola, Mexico.

A multinational future

In the long run, having foreign soccer stars playing on European teams increases the TV rights paid by international broadcasters, explained Carazo. “In Mexico, for example, we follow Bayern because Javier ‘El Chicharito’ Hernández plays for them.”

European teams are also training their sights on Asia, to countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Japan, and China. Latin America is not far behind, with Brazil and Colombia among the countries where FC Barcelona has already inaugurated its first soccer schools. Mexico will be next, with the arrival of its first soccer academy slated for September 2018, stated Celorio.

The new “Early Morning Classic”

The European influence on American soccer is evident. The International Champions Cup, previously known as the World Futbol Challenge, is the most important international friendly tournament in the world. It has already created a new soccer classic: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, which will be held this year on July 29th in Miami.

Tickets for the “Early Morning Classic,” as it known in Spain because of the early morning match time in that country, went on pre-sale in March at $125-$500 each, and sold out within a few days. Resale prices for the tickets go from $500 to almost $3,000 each.

Text written by Gabriela Gutiérrez M. @gabytronica

Feature image: sxc

What: Portada spoke with Arno Trabesinger, FC Barcelona’s Managing Director Americas, about the Spanish club’s expansion plans for Latin America.
Why it matters: Last September, FC Barcelona opened new offices in New York, in an effort to boost its growth throughout the American continent, with a special focus on Latin America.

Arno Trabesinger

Since FC Barcelona Director Ramón Adell’s arrival two years ago, the team has embarked on the road to globalization. “We want to be the most global team of all sports, and Latin America is the base because soccer here is already [the] number one [sport],” said Arno Trabesinger, FC Barcelona’s Managing Director Americas.

To fulfill this goal, FC Barcelona is looking to solidify its presence in Latin America in 2017 through strategic efforts. “Latin America is very important for us, due to the fact that we have so many fans following the team in the region,” added Trabesinger.

Latin America is very important for us, due to the fact that we have so many fans following the team in the region.

According to the team’s social networks analysis, Mexico is the second largest country with the largest number of followers worldwide on the club’s Facebook page, surpassed only by Indonesia. In Latin America, Mexico is the largest, followed by Brazil and Colombia.

COUNTRYCONTINENTREGIONFACEBOOK FANS (21 mar – 2017)
IndonesiaAsiaAsia Pacific9,611,980
MexicoAmericaLatam6,128,601
BrazilAmericaLatam5,858,192
EgyptAfricaMena / North Africa3,639,034
IndiaAsiaAsia3,553,152
United StatesAmericaNorth America3,478,937
BangladeshAsiaAsia2,620,188
ColombiaAmericaLatam2,464,470
ArgentinaAmericaLatam2,373,952
TurkeyEuropeEurope / (Mena)2,359,360
SpainEuropeEurope2,327,154

In Mexico, football fans follow their favorite local team, but also support and follow one or more European teams, explained Trabesinger. “That’s where we want to be number one. In addition, we have nine Latin American players on our team, so that gets us more fans in the region.”

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The goal now is to take advantage of the attention that the club already has to keep it growing. In addition to its social networks strategies, which are dictated from Barcelona, “a relevant marketing tool for Latin America is the team’s soccer schools for children ages 8-16. We have several already in Peru, Guatemala, Brazil, and Mexico, and we want to open more throughout the year,” he added.

A relevant marketing tool for Latin America is the team’s soccer schools.

These schools represent an opportunity for brand development and brand building among children and young soccer fans.

Looking for more sponsors

Growing its network of followers is undoubtedly one of Barça’s objectives, but “growing our business opportunities” is also a goal, said Trabesinger.

In 2015, the team signed a regional agreement in Latin America with Canada’s Scotiabank, which will run through the 2018-2019 season. It also has local sponsorship deals with foot deodorant brand Baruel Tenysa Pe in Brazil, and with Tecate beer in Mexico, in addition to its global sponsorship agreements with Nike, Gatorade, Gillette, and Stanley Black & Decker.

“We are looking for partnerships in Latin America, especially in Mexico and Brazil. That’s why we came to New York, to strengthen our LatAm efforts from here,” he explained.

The club seeks to add marketers to its New York office who know the Latin American market well, and know how to bring together partners in this region.

When adding brands, the most important thing is that they support the philosophy of the club. “We want sponsors who are proud to be part of the family, and are interested in activating at the local level,” said Trabesinger.

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In addition, the team wants to sign agreements lasting a minimum of three to four years. “We want partners who will stay with the team in the long run,” he said.

We want partners who will stay with the team in the long run.

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