Fan engagement in LaLiga, the Premier League and the Bundesliga

Fan engagement in LaLiga, the Premier League and the Bundesliga

FC Barcelona, Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund, LaLiga, Premier League and Bundesliga clubs, respectively, participate in a workshop on fan engagement organized by Johan Cruyff Institute for its master’s and postgraduate students

Developing an attractive and personal experience for the fans of a team is probably the best brand activation a football club can do today and an obsession for any marketing department. From its desire to transfer real cases from the sports industry to the classroom, Johan Cruyff Institute organized a workshop on fan engagement in football for students of its on-campus and online master’s and postgraduate programs in sport management. The event took place at Mediapro‘s offices in Barcelona and was attended by 97 students from Barcelona, Amsterdam and online, and had the participation of experts from three of the most prestigious European leagues: LaLiga, represented by FC Barcelona; the Premier League, represented by Liverpool FC; and the Bundesliga, with the participation of Borussia Dortmund.

The workshop consisted of a theoretical and a practical part. The theory was provided by Markus Breglec, former director of marketing and media at Liverpool FC, José Luis Beltrán and Octavi Tarrés, digital project manager and business development & partnership manager at FC Barcelona, respectively, and Björn Hegemann, head of fan relations at Borussia Dortmund. “Fan engagement has been a hot topic in recent years because clubs are trying to find a way to connect with their fans around the world, not only nationally or locally. From the presentations of our speakers, students can better understand the benefits of fan engagement, how the loyalty and identity of fans and their identification with the team are developed, as well as the techniques used on match days and in parallel activities,” explains Lukas Dorda, online learning manager at Johan Cruyff Institute.

“We come from several clubs with real experiences to explain clearly to the students what is happening in the sports industry in digital terms with respect to fans, stadiums, players, with which they get real-time experience of what is happening and, once they have finished their studies, they will be able to put it directly into practice at the club where they go. Learning is not only theoretical, but experiential,” says José Luis Beltrán, digital project manager at FC Barcelona. “We are preparing future professionals in the sports industry, with a totally digital mindset that will help us all grow.”

Fan engagement in LaLiga, the Premier League and the Bundesliga

The students had to present on the stage a fan engagement project applying what they learned from the guest speakers’ presentations.

The workshop had a second part in which the students were the ones who had the floor, once they had digested all the information from the morning presentations. Divided randomly into groups, they had to present on the stage a fan engagement project in just few minutes. The objective, according to Lukas Dorda, was that “in a very demanding topic like this, they learn to interact with each other, as part of a group of people who have never met before, they practice networking, they learn how to work with people of other nationalities, with cultural diversity, and they learn how to defend their proposal in a very short space of time.”

Richard Denton, academic director of the Master in Sport Management in Amsterdam and an expert in sport marketing and sponsorship, believes that “it is very important to give students the opportunity to apply what they learn in these types of presentations and to find, through putting it into practice, creative and strategic solutions from the marketing point of view. This will help them when they look for work, when they have to explain in interviews what their abilities and their skills are, and they can even say that they have done a workshop on the subject.”

Having information on how clubs from the best leagues in Europe work daily on fan engagement helps to lay a good foundation for fostering creativity. “It is very important to understand that the day to day in the marketing department of a football club is very different from that of other marketing activity. Simply because the madness and emotion at a football club give it another dimension,” says Markus Breglec. The former director of marketing and media at Liverpool FC believes that “marketing specialists who want to advance in this direction have to understand that they must always combine the role of marketing with the emotion of a football club and that has an impact on their daily work.”

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