Champions League brands bid to break with tradition

The UEFA Champions League has long proved to be an effective platform for marketing to the masses through TV. For this year’s final between German rivals Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, the likes of Adidas, Heineken and Jaguar are looking beyond traditional media to real-time marketing and co-creation to maximise the competition’s growing global reach.

Champions League brands are looking to co-create experiences with fans around the all-German final.

The global audience for Saturday’s final (25 May) is expected to top 220 million, outstripping the Super Bowl, making it a huge draw for brands. Governing body UEFA expects to generate €1.3bn (£1.1bn) in commercial revenues from this season’s tournament and the Super Cup, a 42 per cent increase on last year’s €754.1m (£638m).

It is understood several brands will pay ITV up to £250,000 for a Champions League final ad slot, a 65 per cent increase on the average price, with the broadcaster expecting to gain around £8m in revenues from its coverage.

Away from TV, media and sponsorship experts predict social media will play a major component in non-sponsors marketing activity around the match as they look to replicate the impact of Oreo’s reaction to the Super Bowl blackout.

Adidas will assemble a team of marketers, artists and agency members to create campaigns in response to events during Saturday’s match at Wembley. The sportswear maker is hoping the move will elevate its promotions above those non-sponsors looking to hijack the event.

Long-time sponsor Heineken has changed activation activity to reflect an age where sharing has become a core part of the event experience. This season, the beer brand is taking the Champions League Trophy on a global tour with fans able to share picture and videos of themselves around each location. The brewer is using the content in its ‘Road to the Final’ online campaign.

It also used Dutch legend Clarence Seedorf to tweet from its account during last month’s semi-final matches.

Jaguar is attempting to increase its chances of success by also tapping dual-screening technology activity to build buzz around its TV spots during the game. The car marque is partnering with mobile app Shazam to allow customers to explore its latest F-Type sports car and win the chance to test drive it.

Gordon Lott, former London 2012 Olympic marketer and managing director of Havas Sport & Entertainment, says: “With the media space becoming more fragmented and fans sharing branded content far more readily, Champions League sponsors are learning to be less restrictive on how its used. It’s not a question of ad spend increasing to drive reach but how innovative you can be with technology to drive social activity around the game.”


  • 14.3 million. The UK audience for the 2012 final between Chelsea and Bayern Munich. Source BARB.
  • £250,000. The amount brands are thought to have paid for a slot during this year’s final. Various media sources.

Viewpoint – Seb Joseph

Advertising around the Champions League final has always been strong, but by no means as highly anticipated – and therefore not as valuable – as the TV adverts on Super Bowl Sunday. Sponsors have opted for smaller and more targeted activities to reach football fans as a result.

The rise of second-screen viewing alongside UEFA’s decision to move the final to a Saturday three years ago is changing this picture, however, as the likes of Adidas and Heineken invest in technology to create added experiences around the event’s broader reach.

In the post-Olympic sponsorship arena Champions League brands are looking to give consumers a real sense of ownership around their content. Heineken is using its Champions League Trophy Tour to allow fans around the world to upload content of themselves with the trophy, while Adidas is focusing much of its activity for the final on its Facebook and Twitter profiles.

Any sponsorship if not activated beyond what is seen on the screen is a wasted and costly exercise, but sadly too many brands still do just that. However with more non-sponsors finding ways to hijack big events as Oreo did through the likes of Twitter, Champions League brands will no doubt start having to do the same.



Sainsbury’s named Brand of the Year

Seb Joseph

Sainsbury’s beat competition from rivals including British Airways and Cadbury to be crowned the Marketing Week 2013 Engage Awards Brand of the Year in association with YouGov.