The UEFA Champions League is a European football tournament that is held every year across Europe. With over 300 million television viewers, the league’s final is the most watched annual sporting event worldwide. For an event of this magnitude, the stakes for everyone involved are very high (appendix 1). This essay includes a short description of the tournament along with an overview of the stakeholders, followed by an analysis of one of the sponsors, Heineken. Description: UEFA has been organizing the Champions league since 1955, although it changed format in 1992.
Since 1992, the competition is divided into several parts; it begins in mid-July with three knockout-qualifying rounds and a play-off round. The 10 surviving teams join 22 already seeded teams in the group stage, in which there are eight groups with four teams each. The eight group winners and eight runners-up enter the final knockout phase, which ends with the final match in May. There is no particular host country as most of the games held throughout the tournament are played in either one of the contenders’ countries.
However, it is decided beforehand which city is hosting the next Champions League final. In 2012, it took place at the Allianz Arena in Munich. Overview of the stakeholders: The main stakeholders are the different football clubs taking part in this event. The participants may vary from one year to another, but there are very precise criteria to be part of this event; first of all, the teams have to be part of the European continental geographic area (appendix 3). Secondly, to ensure quality football, the contenders have to be at least part of the top four teams of their respective national leagues.
Furthermore, the ratio of teams selected per nation is not solely based on national league success; only the top team of every national league has a guaranteed spot as one of the 22 teams already qualified for the group stage. The football clubs are rewarded according to their performances, starting by 2. 1 million euros for each team in the play off round, up to 9 million euros for winning the final (appendix 1). On an institutional level, the European Club Association (EAC) represents the European clubs’ interests.
The football players also benefit from the UEFA Champions league, they do not get remunerations like their clubs but they get an opportunity to showcase their talent and possibly increase their own worth as football players. It is also a dream for any footballer to win the Champions League’s Trophy. As a counterpart, the talented players bring quality football matches to the tournament, making it the international phenomenon that it is today. Sponsors are always important stakeholders in any sporting event, in this case it is regulated that only eight companies are allowed to sponsor the event.
The main sponsors are Ford, Gazprom, Heineken, Mastercard, Sony Europe, UniCredit along with two secondary sponsors, Adidas and Konami (Pro Evolution Soccer) (appendix 2). Heineken and its relationship with the UEFA Champions League will further be analyzed in this essay. There are also many stakeholders associated with UEFA, the organizers of the tournament. First of all, they maintain steady relations with the European Union, they are members of the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Sport (EPAS) of the council of Europe.
The EPAS is used as a platform for communication and exchange between sport associations and governments as well as a tool for the promotion of good governance in sports. UEFA is also associated with FIFPro Division Europe, which is the European association of national player trade unions. They signed a Memorandum of Understanding in October 2007, granting each other legitimacy over European football; UEFA being the main governing body at all levels for football associations and the FIFPro Division Europe officially becoming the main umbrella organization of trade unions for professional European footballers.
Last but not least, UEFA interacts with the different national leagues in which the contending teams evolve. Those interactions are conducted via the leagues’ representative body, the Association of European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL). This association is based in Switzerland and since the Memorandum of Understanding in March 2009, it is recognized by UEFA as the official representative of the European national football leagues’ interests. [pic] The UEFA Champions Cup is a regular event that attracts huge numbers of audience.
Therefore, the media coverage is naturally worldwide and generates large amounts of wealth. The broadcasting rights, sold by the UEFA Champions League, are a three-season basis with other packages, which may vary. The matches are broadcasted in over 200 countries and are translated in at least 40 languages. The stakeholders, in this case the television broadcasters, can afford those rights and generate wealth with expensive advertising. In the picture above we have an example of one of the broadcasters, Fox Soccer Channel, Fox being the main media covering the Champions League in the United States.
Stakeholder Analysis: Heineken and the UEFA Champions League have been partners since 1994. Amstel, Heineken’s second main international brand, sponsored the event from 1994 to 2005. As the Champions League became increasingly popular outside of Western Europe, the Heineken brand replaced Amstel as the official sponsor. As the contract was renewed in 2005, Jean Francois van Boxmeer, a member of the Executive Board of Heineken N. V. said: “ We are delighted to have extended our sponsorship of the UEFA Champions league.
With over 4 billion viewers per season in 227 nations around the world, this premier sporting event has become truly global and fits perfectly with the Heineken brand, which is the world’s most international premium beer. ” (Francois van Boxmeer, citation: http://www. heinekeninternational. com/uefa. aspx) Both parties did not disclose the figures of the sponsorship. However in 2005, according to the announcement of the Heineken N. V. ’s 2004 full year results presentation, it was funded by “part of the additional €100 million annual marketing investment”. (Heineken 2004 full-year result presentation. Citation: http://www. einekeninternational. com/uefa. aspx) [pic] Like each sponsor of the UEFA Champions League, Heineken Brand has four advertising boards around the pitch, logo placement in interviews before and after the matches, as well as tickets to each match, which they can distribute as part of an advertising campaign The marketing operation’s success has suffered from only one inconvenient; in Spain, Turkey, France, Switzerland and Russia alcohol sponsorship is prohibited. In France, Spain and Switzerland, Heineken’s simple but emblematic slogan, “Open your world” or the famous sentence “Enjoy responsibly” replaces the Heineken logo on their ad boards.
In Russia however, the Heineken advertisement is completely replaced by “No To Racism” boards. Heineken has had no problems with the European governments, with the exception of the alcohol sponsorship prohibition as mentioned above. In France for example, not only the Heineken ad boards have to be replaced but also any club’s jerseys that advertises an alcohol sponsor. The advertising also suffered from an indirect problem, the controversy about the height of the boards. Since they were put up around the pitch, their larger size makes the use of the front row seats in various stadiums impossible.
Therefore season tickets holders are not assigned their regular seats and the flat area next to the pitch, which is commonly used for seating wheelchairs and disabled people, is rendered useless. Even though the advertising boards sparked up some criticisms, they still remain similar, forcing the stadium officials to find other accommodations for disabled people and season tickets holders. [pic] Since the UEFA Champions League sell the broadcasting rights themselves, the sponsors also have deals that allow them to have the priority on television advertisement.
Their relationship with the media is therefore enhanced by their partnership with the UEFA. Heineken have been putting a lot of efforts into producing quality television advertising. For example this year, in anticipation of the next Champions League, they broadcasted a series of commercials in which the Champions League Trophy is placed in various rooms booked by football fans, along with hidden cameras to film their reactions. They are all astonished; they hold the trophy up over their heads, scream and take pictures.
Then suddenly, the men’s joy is interrupted by a knock on the door, when they open it they find two fresh Heineken beers placed on a green countertop with the inscription, cheers. In the past years they have produced many funny commercials for the Champions League, some of them became very popular on the Internet as well. Heineken is a company always looking forward to new ways of reaching their customers through the medias, for example they built a interactive website where customers can collect points from the beer bottles and redeem prices like glasses, hacky sacks or even Champions League match tickets.
Overall, Heineken N. V. is an international company using the UEFA Champions League as a marketing investment by promoting one of their products, the Heineken Larger Beer. The sponsorship allows them to have maximum exposure to the public and potential customers. Their marketing strategy for the Champions League has targeted mostly adult men with advertising targeted towards sports, humor and also towards creating the illusion that men drinking Heineken will become socially skilled and attractive to women, as seen in the 2011 commercial entitled, “The Entrance” (http://www. eineken. com/ch/tv-spots/the-entrance. aspx). The price of the sponsorship between the UEFA Champions League and Heineken was clearly a very substantial sum of money but it remained confidential. Recently the contract was renewed until 2015, meaning Heineken will be sponsoring the UEFA Champions League for the 2012, 2013 and 2014 seasons.
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