Football Club, Fans-Supporters, and Brand Engagement (part one)

A boy will always be boy..

Let me say that at early of this writings. If a boy loves something, want something, he will try as much as he can, as strong as he can, to make it come true. To have it as his belongings. Why? Because that’s what boys do.

Remember when we’re just an infant, a toddler. When we want something, we’ll just cry. Sometimes we cry loudly. Try to be persistent? Because we want that thing or anything so badly. Or because as a toddler, we don’t know how to say what we want.

When he grew up, especially when he likes a football club, at first we said it’s a ‘like’. Before saying we love them, we adore them, we become a supporter, and the ultimate feeling is when we become a football club fanatics. A loonatics 😉 But mostly boys will like football. Mostly, not all of them. Mostly. Both local league or international league.

Usually, local league football club lovers refer to home town club. But the reasons of loving an international football club can be various. I just don’t know how an Indonesian man or a boy can be so fanatics about AC Milan, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea, Barcelona or Real Madrid. Clubs with hugh fans base. How can they pick one or two of those clubs (or more of big clubs that I haven’t mention)? What’s the reason of a boy picking a club t be loved. To be supported. To be fanatic about. Don’t know. I said, it back to how he feels about the club. You see, feel is beyond thinking.

You just can’t tell why a man could travel miles away  just to watch his club playing, cries when his football club’s anthem sang, loosing grip whenever his team loss the game, spend some or most of his money just to have his club official merchandise, or even caught in a bloody fight just because others mocking his beloved, supported football club ?

So, where does this madness come from ?

What motivates them ? What push them to become a loyal supporters? What make him so irritated when holding other’s football club (especially rival) merchandises, or even further wear it?

Is it man hood? Is it a masculine thing? Is it the urge to be seen as a real man? Maybe yes, maybe no.

Now, what’s the different between fans and supporters?

Ah, that’s really cute :p

Well, fans is the ultimate supporters. Why? Fans come from the word fanatics. Crazy about. Willing to do anything to the club. A crazy feeling of never wanting his club got defeated by the other club. It’s more than being afraid that he will be mocked the whole week since his team got defeated. It’s more to a commitment, I say.

Supporters. They just support the club whenever they play. If the team got lost, they’ll feel alright about it. Perhaps. If they wear other great club’s jersey, they felt nothing.

“It’s just a clothes, what’s the big deal? It’s just the same feeling if I wear Chelsea jersey or Barcelona jersey by the way?”  Maybe, it’s a conversation between a ‘just supporter’ and a fan. The one urge to wear only his beloved football club’s jersey, and the other one will wear any jersey that suit him. Simply because he like the designs, color, etc.

Picking and loving a football club. Because of :

1. It’s history

2. Father and son, or brother to brother bonding

3. Circles of friends, colleagues

4. It’s recent performance, so many people talk about it. Usually, it’s a beginnning or reason a boy picks his club for the first time

5. It’s star. A boy might like Manchester City just because David Silva is there. Before that, he’s a Valencia FC fans 😉

6. You just want to be different from your surroundings… While people talks about Barcelona, a young boy might still pick Sevilla (i.e)

7. Random things, anything that can make a by or a man loves a football club (my reason of being a Red Men is here)

Now, who is the happiest side of having such a fanatics like this? Of course the club itself, and the second one is the sponsors.

The club will raise it’s funds through those whom willing to pay tickets, sponsorship, and other incomes. Including player’s transfer fee, or percentages from it’s  player endorsement. Just how big AON must pay to put their name or brand in every chest of Manchester United players, Standard Chartered on every Liverpool’s, Samsung to every Chelsea’s, or betting company like betwin.com to put it’s brand to each Real Madrid’s players chest? That’s a massive branding activities. Expensive!

Kids sport corner at Metro Dept. Store

Just how many pair of eyes watch or see those brand every week? Both live at the stadium, and bigger attention worldwide through television or internet streamings. Funny is, most of funding or banking company become main club’s sponsors. Just years ago we saw Carlsberg (beer company to Liverpool), SONY (electronic giant to Juventus), and Opel-Astra (giant motor corp to AC Milan), non funding-banking company as club’s sponsor. Some of non banking – funding company which still there to support the club are Italian tire manufacturer like Pirelli to Inter Milan, and some airways. Etihad Airways to Manchester City, Malaysian Airlines-Air Asia to Queens Park Rangers, or Fly Emirates to both Arsenal and AC Milan.

Big money? It is!

Sponsorship. Especially club kits provider that I want to discuss. Well, some of the biggest club kits and merchandise provider is Adidas and Nike. For them, Adidas and Nike, it’s easy to create an engagement or a bonding  to club’s supporters or fans.

Just put new designs of club’s jersey, t-shirt, polo shirt, shawl, cap, jacket, hoodie, shoes, socks, shorts, and the other merchandises in it’s store at premium price and of course clear visibility, soon every linked fans-supporters will look for them. Spend some money to have them. And when you asked the store attendant, “How come a jacket like this worth Rp 899.000,-? (or approximately US$ 97,- to US$99,-) Is there any gold planted in that?” While smiling, the attendant will say, “Well sir, because it’s an official merchandise from the club itself”. Period.

So how football club’s kit providers like Adidas or Nike engage it’s brand to each club supporters? It’s quite easy. Beside merchandising it’s stores with many of sponsored club’s merchandise, they put action pictures of heroes of the club in a massive scale in the front of the stores. As a traffic builder.

Like what Nike did. Nike put a giant scale picture of Wayne Rooney in the front of it’s store. So every Manchester United fans whom acknowledge this picture will walk proudly inside the store to see what actually wore by him so he can perform outstandingly. In cross merchandising, in Nike football shoes (or usually called boots) series there are figures that represents each position :

Nike Store-Grand Indonesia

Nike Mercurial series (colorful, light, specially designed for strikers, wingers, any speedy players) represented by Christiano Ronaldo (most of Madrid’s fans will crazy for this series)

Nike T90 (strongly built for powerful strikers) for Wayne Rooney (now every Manchester United fans will seek for the boots)

Nike CTR 90 (specially built for midfielders) using Andres Iniesta, inspirational Barcelona player as it’s icon

Nike Tiempo (specially built for defenders), using Gerrard Pique, another Barcelona player. Strong defender.

Nike Section, Soccer Station-Gancy

Well, everything has it’s price. Most of the boots series are premium priced. From that series or cross merchandising, Nike grabs easily fans or supporters from Barcelona, Real Madrid (shoes only), and also Manchester United.

For supporters who can afford those shoes and merchandise, wearing them will surely give such a pride. Well, not yet mentioning other merchandise like  jerseys, jackets, etc. It’s a feeling of belonging to one’s club. Involved. Engaged.

And I just remembered when I wear my favorite club’s jersey, bumping with someone whom wearing other club’s jersey (happens to be a rival) see each other and somehow something sparks. A rivalry sparks.

And it’s just the same when I met some fellow supporters whom wearing the same jersey as an identity, see each other and then smile and head-nodding  to each other. A friendly sparks. Funny is, without that identity (jersey, jacket, or cap), maybe there’s no sparks at all 🙂

That’s the offline sparks. What about online sparks? Well, both twitter and facebook are seem to be the witness. Sometimes friend in real social activity can be an on line rival. Whenever their team play. Whether they play against or play with other team. Lost team’s supporters must ready of some incoming humiliation, mocking, and everything follows. Funny. Right, @sydsalesman and @mohatrach?

Clearly, those brands are engaging with supporters. Because all supporters are engaged with it’s community. A brotherhood or sisterhood called fans club. It’s all about feeling. Now, how to accomodate this kind of feeling is the ultimate craft.

Ok, this writings is not quite deep enough. It’s just my point of view in linking football club, fans-supporters, and brand engagement. Hoping incoming comments to make it deeper. In brand engagement, or any brand talks. 

Thank you for reading, folks!

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8 thoughts on “Football Club, Fans-Supporters, and Brand Engagement (part one)

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