Heineken highlights sponsors’ transformational role in sports

The Juventus versus Barcelona was one of the star games of the quarterfinals of the 2016/2017 UEFA Champions League. PHOTO: Marco BERTORELLO / AFP

In Nigeria, football is a unifying factor — providing neutral meeting grounds for fans regardless of gender, education, social status, political affiliation or ideology and this the leading beer brand, Heineken understands. Hence provides fans across the globe the opportunity to see the greatest football up close and personal with a unique experience.

In furtherance to its commitment of continued offering to fans across the world delightful football league matches, the Heineken brand in February this year delighted football fans and beer consumers all over the world with a three-year extension to its current agreement with UEFA to sponsor the UEFA Champions League.

By the new agreement, the beer brand continues as a major partner of the world’s most prestigious club football competition until the end of the 2021 — a partnership that also includes the UEFA Super Cup 2018, 2019 and 2020.

For over a decade, it has successfully sponsored the UEFA Champions League, delivering memorable and unique fan experiences to 4.2 billion people in over 220 countries. With the Heineken Champions Planet, Champions League match nights have fostered new relationships, strengthened friendships and created conversations globally.

Since 2007, the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour presented by the beer brand has visited over 35 countries in Africa, Asia, North and South America. These, among many other ways, have contributed to the interest and market value of the Heineken brand and also the top European competition.

With these series of engagements, Heineken has provided amazing opportunities for fans globally to touch the trophy and experience the feelings of champions without being registered as professional football players in Europe.
What lessons are there for Nigerian brands? How can Nigerian sports administrators gain from the UEFA partnership with Heineken?

It need be noted that the beer of champions’ (as the brand is sometimes referred to) successful relationship with UEFA began in 1994, a partnership that has grown the brand’s awareness by 60 per cent among UEFA Champions League fans. In addition, the Champions League trophy tour has been an exciting platform for fans around the world to get up-close and personal with the Champions League Trophy.

At the start of 2016/17 Champions League season, the brand launched was known as ‘Prep Talk’, a campaign that sees Jose Mourinho, two-time UEFA Champions League winning manager, deliver a passionate address to fans across the globe, urging them to be a part of every match night no matter where they are or their times zones.

This phase of the campaign marked the 11th year of the beer brand’s sponsorship of the tournament with global and regional versions of the campaign film shared online and broadcast on television. Currently, the video has received over 50 million YouTube views and beamed across 90 countries globally.

Speaking during the launch of the TVC, Senior Director, Global Heineken brand at HEINEKEN, Gianluca Di Tondo said, “Preparing for UEFA Champions League match night makes the experience even better. With a little bit of thought and effort, fans and their friends will have a greater experience. Sometimes a little inspiration is needed, and who better to motivate them to ‘Champion the Match’ than Jose Mourinho.”

In April, the brand also announced a partnership with Jose Mourinho for ‘No More Excuses’ – a campaign to remind and incentivise fans to be part of the UEFA Champions League match nights.

Fans’ excuses for not connecting during match nights are addressed and selected participants with relatable reasons are rewarded. This way, brand has created a synergy between it, the global football fans and the UEFA Champions League.
Football is rapidly witnessing a transformation all over the world, with a massive global audience on social media and television confirming the UEFA Champions League final’s status as the world’s most watched annual sporting event.

An estimated global TV audience of 180 million in over 200 territories tuned in to see FC Barcelona beat Juventus 3-1 in Berlin, growing by 18 per cent from the 2014 final of Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid.

Successfully engaging football fans all over the world on Twitter and Facebook during match nights, Heineken has also given the Champions League an enticing social media appeal. There were 108 million tweets about the 2016 final during the evening of the game, with 500 million engagements on Facebook during the 2015/2016 season, while it was watched by more than 165 million people across 200 countries.

It is indisputable that since the Heineken-UEFA partnership, the Champions League has grown to become the biggest sporting event in the world — arguably beating the World Cup. It has grown from being just a football competition to an experience that connects football fans every night and across media platforms.

Through this amazing football experience, Heineken has inspired fans to put everything into watching the game with friends, enjoy the Heineken beer continues and experience the greatest football moments up close and personal.

Followers of the UEFA Champions League in Nigeria are in for a good time today as the brand is set to host fans to an exclusive viewing of the final and after-match party to wrap up the season. The premium beer brand will host football fans to a VVIP UCL experience in a world class Heineken atmosphere at Higi Haga Bar at Trans Amadi, Port Harcourt and Bay Lounge, Lagos respectively.

The 2016/2017 UEFA Champions League will remain memorable with football enthusiasts across the world as records were set and broken this league season with Arsenal losing by 10 goals to 2 to Bayern Munich in the round of 16; Monaco triumphed over English Premier League powerhouse, Manchester City, despite a 6 – 6 scoreline due to away goals rule. Barcelona made the best comeback performance in the history of the league by overturning a 4 – 0 loss in the first leg to PSG, defeating the French Champions 6 – 1 in the return leg at Camp Nou.

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