Students of the Blended Master in Sport Marketing and Management (Barcelona) analyze the sponsorship strategy of Girona FC and face the challenge of proposing new alliances and activations within the Company Project academic activity
Girona FC has closed a dream season in LaLiga Santander 2022-23. After achieving promotion to the top flight of Spanish football just a year ago, staying in the first division was already an ambitious goal in itself. The ‘albirrojo’ (red-white) team has not only achieved it with flying colors, but has also closed a historic season in tenth place in the table, falling just short of a place in European competition. The team’s extraordinary performance in LaLiga has been felt in the commercial area. Analyzing Girona FC’s sponsorship strategy and proposing possible future agreements has been another of the challenges that Johan Cruyff Institute has set for its students of the Blended Master in Sport Marketing and Management (Barcelona).
This collaboration is part of the ‘Company Project’, an academic activity that forms part of the evaluation system of Johan Cruyff Institute’s sport management programs and which has a triple purpose: to connect the content of the different subjects and respond to a real challenge posed by a company in the sports sector; to promote networking between students and professionals in the industry; and to offer a solution that could be implemented in the future through an internship agreement.
Arán Navarro, commercial and marketing director of Girona FC, and Jonathan Verge, partnerships sales manager, were in charge of explaining the challenge to the students. “We encouraged them to put themselves in our shoes, mine and Jonathan’s, as the people responsible for the sponsorship area of Girona FC, and design the strategic planning for the next season. We gave them all the information about the current state of the sponsorship area and they had to collect it and make a proposal for sponsorship and activations. It’s a 360-degree project that encompasses everything we’ve seen in the sponsorship module and I think they’re going to do a great job, for sure,” says Arán Navarro, who combines his professional activity at the Girona club with that of sponsorship professor on Johan Cruyff Institute’s Blended Master in Sport Marketing and Management (Barcelona).
Jonathan Verge knows very well the benefits for students of being able to work on a real case, being himself a graduate of our Blended Master in Sport Marketing and Management Barcelona. “Beyond acquiring the necessary knowledge to later be able to develop your professional career in the sports world, I think it is very important because when someone learns it is by working on a real case and, in this particular one, it is about understanding what Girona is and how you can get to market a sponsorship structure depending on the needs that the club has,” says Jonathan.
There is no doubt that the team’s good results throughout the season will be rewarded in the coming year. “The team’s good performance clearly has a direct impact on the sponsorship area and on all areas of the club. Specifically in sponsorship, we have detected an increase in interest from both companies and intermediary agencies in sponsorship agreements in recent months after the good performance of the first team,” explains Arán.
“Specifically in sponsorship, we have detected an increase in interest from both companies and intermediary agencies in sponsorship agreements in recent months after the good performance of the first team” – Arán Navarro (commercial and marketing director of Girona FC)
Girona FC’s sponsorship strategy contemplates activation as one of the key values. “It is not enough for us just to put the logo on the shirt and expect a return in terms of brand impact, which both LaLiga and Girona offer in a substantial way, but that this sponsor wants to invest and plan a creative and different strategy so that both the company and the club are positively impacted,” explains Arán Navarro.
“Beyond acquiring the necessary knowledge to later be able to develop your professional career in the sports world, I think it is very important because when someone learns it is by working on a real case” – Jonathan Verge (partnerships sales manager of Girona FC)
And it’s not just a financial matter. The recent collaboration with the NGO Open Arms is a good example of this. “We are very proud to collaborate with such an entity with all the activity they are developing. The ultimate goal is to give this extra visibility that Open Arms has, to publicize the good work they are doing on a daily basis and the fact that it is on the sleeve of the shirt responds to this objective. It is a long-term agreement between the entities to develop different activities, although the presence of the logo on the sleeve of the kit will only be until the end of this season.”
With all the information in hand, the challenge for the students was to propose a new sponsor and design a complete activation plan taking into account the brand positioning of Girona FC and the new sponsor company. “We focused the project on the insurance sector and chose Catalana Occidente because we believe that, being a company based in Catalonia, it can connect very well with Girona fans. We have also kept the Gosbi project because it makes Girona special to be the first ‘pet society’ club,” explains Francesc Fernández.
As for the activations, his fellow master’s student Joel Lliset comments on the proposals they put forward for the automotive brand Nissan and the telephone brand Parlem, two of the team’s current sponsors. “The activation with Nissan consists of raffling a car among the club’s season ticket holders who go to watch home games at Montilivi; the model would change depending on the game. With Parlem, we proposed creating a limited edition of cell phones with the image of Girona FC, some of which would also be raffled, and establishing a special mobile plan for club members through a campaign that we have called ‘Girona navega’ (Girona surfs the Net), with a series of advantages for season ticket holders,” explains Joel.