Connecting Brands and Clubs

Last week Karl Lusbec wrote about the 20 Best Known European Football Brands. The article referenced a Sport+Markt 2009-2010 study of brand recognition among football fans in the top five markets (UK, Germany, Spain, France & Italy).  You can read the report yourself here.

I thought it might be interesting to look at this data and try to extrapolate from it which club brands were the most powerful.  Unscientific of course, but I wanted to see to what degree being aligned with a specific club (or clubs) is a factor, in addition to sponsoring tournaments like the FIFA World Cup, UEFA Champions League or UEFA European Championships.  So, let’s take a look.  Here’s the 2009 Delloitte & Touche Money League of clubs* along with the brands listed in the Sport+Markt survey (and the brands ranking in that survey) associated with them:

1. Real Madrid – adidas (1), Coca-Cola (5), Audi (8), bwin (9)

2. Manchester United – Nike (2), AIG (6), Audi (8),

3. FC Barcelona – Nike (2), Audi (8), Unicef (15)

4. Bayern Munich – adidas (1), Coca-Cola (5), Audi (8)

5. Chelsea – adidas (1), Samsung (10), Heineken (20)

6. Arsenal – Nike (2), Emirates (5)

7. Liverpool – adidas (1), Carlsberg (7)

8. AC Milan – adidas (1), bwin (9)

9. AS Roma –

10. Inter Milan – Nike (2)

11. Juventus – Nike (2)

12. Olympique Lyonnais – Umbro (16), Orange (18)

13. Schalke 04 – adidas (1)

14. Tottenham Hotspur – Puma (3), Carlsberg (7)

15. Hamburger SV – adidas (1), Emirates (5)

16. Olympique Marseille – adidas (1), Orange (18)

17. Newcastle United – adidas (1)

18. VfB Stuttgart – Puma (3), Coca-Cola (4)

19. Fenerbahce – adidas (1), Audi (8)

20. Manchester City – Umbro (16)

*I looked for the list of official club sponsors on official team websites as of February 2010.

Who from the Sport+Markt list weren’t represented by a club from the Delloitte & Touche Money League clubs?

11. Reebok

12. Opel (Read this Sport Business story from 2001 calling them the ‘most successful shirt sponsor’)

13. Vodafone

14. Ford – Champions League

17. MasterCard – Champions League

19. Sony – Champions League

So, the two odd men out appear to be Reebok and Vodafone.  Now, Vodafone is a massive sponsor of sport and had a run with Man Utd a while back from which they may still be seeing a halo effect.  Reebok sponsors Ryan Giggs (Man Utd), Thierry Henry (Barca) and formally kitted out Liverpool and Man City.  AS Roma are the only club in the top 20 not aligned with a big sponsor.

I think a big winner here may be Audi.  Not a name I immediately associated with big time European football, I was surprised to see them so high.  But they have a variety of partnerships with leading clubs, allowing them to also create the Audi Cup in July 2009, which featured ManU, Bayern Munich and AC Milan along with Boca Juniors of Argentina.  I don’t think they’ve spent the same type of money as some of the other top 10 brands, bet I suspect they are reaping rewards from their associations.  Look too for Umbro to move up the charts if the English National Team can make a run in the 2010 FIFA World Cup this summer.

About author

Rick Liebling
Rick Liebling 8 posts

Rick Liebling is a veteran sports marketing professional based in the United States. Over his career he has worked with brands to help leverage sponsorships of FIFA and UEFA events, F1, cricket and just about every American-based sports league. You can follow him on Twitter (@RickLiebling) or connect via Linkedin.

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