A Look at UEFA’s Digital Strategy around the 2012 Champions League Final

The 2012 UEFA Champions League final took place in Munich, Germany, on 19 May and was delivered to fans all over the world through UEFA’s new digital strategy. In addition to the projected audience of over 150 million with a global live reach of over 300 million watching the final on TV, football supporters were able to receive digital content from the world’s most popular annual sporting event and the various events taking place in Munich in the run-up to the final when they wanted, on their chosen platform.

During the free four-day football celebration leading up to the UEFA Champions League final, UEFA used key digital platforms such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Foursquare as well as a free Android smartphone application to share unique content from the UEFA Champions Festival with fans around the world.

Alexandre Fourtoy, UEFA’s Director of Communications, said: “The success of the various social media platforms covering the UEFA Champions League final and related activities shows that fans are at the core of UEFA’s approach. UEFA is proud to develop this direct bond with the fans through its digital communications strategy, as fans make European football what it is. The importance of fans is further highlighted through social and digital media”

UEFA has created an infographic detailing traffic and engagement across all media channels used in the build-up to the UEFA Champions League final.  Key figures found in the infographic include:

  • 12% increase on UEFA.com compared to the same period last year
  • More than 300,000 viewers of the Ultimate Champions match, streamed live for the first time on UEFA.com, YouTube and Google+, raising the UEFA.com newly launched channel views to 400,000
  • 4.8 million tweets with reference to the final, the teams and the players
  • 52,000 new Facebook likes, bringing the total of fans on the dedicated UEFA Champions League Facebook page to 2.5 million
  • Over 103,000 new Google+ circles were created on the new UEFA.com Google+ channel, which played host to six hangouts during the UEFA Champions Festival
  • Over 20,000 UEFA Champions League Foursquare badges featuring the UCL trophy were unlocked on the day of the final

Guy-Laurent Epstein, UEFA’s Marketing Director, said:  “We are delighted with the incredible global viewing figures. The successful digital strategy helped us increase global interest in a brilliant week of football culminating in a thrilling final. Our objective was to reach out to and engage fans across a variety of digital platforms in Munich and to bring the experience of the UEFA Champions League final and the festivities around it to those unable to get there. The additional promotion on these platforms also helped to achieve the record attendance for the 2012 UEFA Women’s Champions League Final that took place at Munich’s Olympiastadion on the Thursday night.”

In a world-first for UEFA, the Ultimate Champions match played at Munich’s Olympiastadion on Saturday ahead of the UEFA Champions League final was streamed live across UEFA.com, Google+ and YouTube. The live match, which featured European footballing legends such as Frank de Boer, Cafu, Fabio Cannavaro, Patrick Vieira, Samuel Eto’o, Gianfranco Zola and Roy Makaay, attracted 15,000 spectators at the stadium. Over 300,000 live viewers followed the match around the world and nearly 30,000 fans posted messages on it, alongside the feed pulling in content from Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

Olympic gold medalist sprinter Usain Bolt made a special guest appearance at the Ultimate Champions match to kick off the proceedings. He subsequently attended a UEFA.com-Google+ hangout to answer questions from fans all over the world. Other sports stars to take part included former Chelsea players Ruud Gullit, Graeme Le Saux and Celestine Babayaro, as well as Steffi Jones, the official ambassador for the 2012 UEFA Women’s Champions League Final. This activity resulted in 103,898 new circles on Google+.

UEFA’s official Facebook page received 52,000 additional likes during the week of the final with impressive engagement levels and 125,000 people talking about UEFA.

In addition, UEFA launched a global Foursquare campaign. This global activation aimed to engage fans at the festival and around the world. Fans were able to “check-in” anywhere they were watching the 2012 UEFA Champions League final by using the phrase ‘UEFA Champions League’ as a shout and could unlock the official Foursquare UEFA Champions League final badge. More than 20,000 badges were unlocked with over 10,000 new followers and 3,240 festival check-ins. But geo-location is still something of a debatable issue.

There were 4.8million related tweets during the week and 215,000 fans using #ChampionsLeague. The Twitter data was gathered using TweetReach, the Twitter analytics tool, which tracked all references to the UEFA Champions League throughout the final week. This included tweets containing mentions of the final, FC Bayern München and Chelsea FC, the players involved, and activity around the Champions Festival in Munich. The real-time monitoring reflected the exciting climax of the game, with more than 100,000 tweets sent in the minute after Didier Drogba’s equalising goal.

A new Android app dedicated to the festival and the 2012 UEFA Women’s Champions League final allowed fans to interact with the events on the ground. The app featured interactive maps and schedules and also included an option for users to queue-jump to have their photo taken with the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Women’s Champions League trophies. Fans not attending the festival were able to follow the live social stream with daily updates and pictures from Twitter, Facebook and Google+, as well as create a souvenir photo to share with friends with framed in a Munich look and feel.


Despite the pretty impressive numbers, how well do you think UEFA did with the UCL activations?

About author

Daniel McLaren
Daniel McLaren 820 posts

Dan is the Founder & CEO of Digital Sport. Can be found at sports industry events and heard every week on the Digital Sport Insider podcast. @DanielMcLaren

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