FC Barcelona One of those responsible for sponsorship of the Laporta candidacy analyzes the situation that
Ajram Belt, one of the people in charge of the sponsorship project for Joan Laporta’s candidacy for the presidency of Barcelona, believes that the Barça club should be more humble with its sponsors than it has shown in recent years and work hand in hand with them.
Ajram, who was already in the Barcelona during the first part of the mandate of Josep Maria Bartomeu as responsible for activating sponsorships and was part of the negotiation with Rakuten to become the club’s main sponsor, he also believes that the title rights of the different facilities of Espai Bara it is better to sell them separately.
Question: Rakuten ends contract with Barcelona in 2022 after renewing downwards for 30 million euros plus variable for another year. If Laporta wins the elections, will they look for another main sponsor?
Answer: The first thing to do is talk to Rakuten, as it is always more difficult to find a new one. You have to talk to them and ask them if they are upset with the past years, the reasons and what the action plan is from now on. When a brand sponsors it does not give away the money, but rather wants something in return.
We must ask them what caused this downward renewal. If they want to continue they will be the best partner because we have been together for a long time. We must make sponsors our partners and help each other. We must help them become known in our market and sell more.
Q: So the pandemic is not the only explanation for this reduction of 25 million euros?
A: The pandemic has affected us all, but it is not the only problem in this case. The conversation with Rakuten should be held on day 1 of entering to rule. The Bara shirt right now is not even in the Top 10 in Europe in terms of sponsorships. We must give the appropriate counterparts to the sponsors so that our shirt is valued at 40 or 50 million euros.
Over the last few years there has been an excess of arrogance in some things and we must be more humble with the sponsors and work hand in hand. What cannot be, and I know it has been done, is not going to see sponsors for one, two or three years. Every start of the season we will have to meet with them and ask them what their objectives are.
Q: Laporta said that it was necessary to go out with the suitcase to find sponsors.
A: The saddest thing is that it is necessary that we have to explain again what Bara is, because it means that up to now either it has been explained badly or things have been done that went against what Bara is. We must go to the home of each of our sponsors and understand their reality.
Sponsorship packages should include what the specific sponsor may be interested in, not put things to wear. But what happens is that you offer 100 things to the sponsor, you end up making 40 and at the end of the sponsorship the brand asks why it should pay again for 100.
Q: In all this is the involvement of the players important?
A: Sure, and they already understand that sponsorships account for a third of the club’s income. The great asset that sponsors are interested in is doing actions with the players. We must learn the best practices of Formula 1, the NFL or the NBA. Perhaps trading actions should be better explained to players and an environment created to make them feel more comfortable. That’s why we want to become the club’s sponsoring agency.
Q: Laporta also explained that when the pandemic passes, the goal will be to have 250 million annual income from sponsorship (currently there are about 190). How will it be achieved?
A: It involves increasing the sponsorship categories, recovering the prepandemic amounts and even exceeding them, and selling assets such as title rights of the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper. We must be more resourceful. In many categories, sponsors have been betting on our competitors lately, and we need to know why.
In addition, all these new sectors, especially the technological ones, go hand in hand to generate a relationship with which to help each other. As Bara, we are interested in having sponsors that help us grow as a brand and we can even get them to carry out joint campaigns and create synergies. For example, that Estrella Damm put their beers in a Beko fridge.
There are territories in which we have not been able to woo local people and sponsors. There is a very large region that we have not paid enough attention to, which is Latin America, where for many people Bara is their second team.
Q: One option would be to open a club office there?
A: The focus of the offices should be rethought. I don’t know if 300 square meters is necessary in downtown New York or in a Hong Kong skyscraper, and I also don’t know if New York is the best location. If you want to attack North America and Latin America, maybe Miami is a better location. What is clear is that we must have commercial agents, such as the Bara Experience Centers, in different regions of the world.
Q: Regardless of whether Leo Messi leaves this summer or four years from now, how much damage will his departure in the club’s sponsorship area do?
A: It is honestly difficult to quantify exactly. But it is clear that he will do a lot of damage because he is the best player in the world, he moves many feelings and many brands are interested in Bara precisely because there is Leo Messi.
Q: And what should the club do to reverse this situation?
A: Reinvent yourself and try to offer assets and experiences so that sponsors see this march compensated. And we must be able to win in sport and find more assets that complement this visibility. It must be associated with growing the Bara brand.
Manchester United has an income level similar to that of Bara and Real Madrid without having won big titles lately or having the best players of the moment. What it has done is enter more territories, such as Asia and the United States, and have an exquisite deal with the sponsors. And it is important not to do this from Arstides Maillol, but traveling with the suitcase around the world to meet people.
Q: A possible solution from a sponsorship point of view would be to sign a big world star?
A: The impact will never be the same as that of Leo Messi. It could be a patch at the level of sponsorships so that the impact was a little less, but with Messi we not only sell him as a player, but the entire history of a player raised in La Masia who has given Bara the best time in football.
Q: Can Ansu Fati be the most similar replacement in the long term at the brand level?
A: The brand image is always closely linked to sports performance. So any player who comes out of La Masia, who has a similar speech for many years and who shows great sports performance can be a potential ambassador for Bara.
Q: Since Laporta’s candidacy, it was explained that it is better to sell title rights of the Espai Bara separately. Why?
A: It should be analyzed, but we consider that there is potential to find different packages. Perhaps the Palau Blaugrana is of interest to an entertainment company and the Petit Palau to a more regional company. We must not forget that we are not like the rest of the clubs in the world. Not a stadium is sold here, but many sports and many spaces that have their own personality. We must adjust as much as possible to the client.
Q: How much do title rights of the Camp Nou?
A: The first thing we must do is not sell according to what we need, but according to what they are worth. The title rights They began to be sold asking the brands for 20 million for 20 years because they needed 400 million and then the club needed 600 and the same brands were told that where they had been asked for 20, they were now asked for more.
The approach is what is the return that brands will have. And, if we can give it to you in 10 years instead of 20, we will find brands that will be willing to pay more money in a shorter period of time. Probably the reason why until now no agreement has been reached for the ‘title rights’ is because the club has gone with some claims that were out of the market.
Q: The UNICEF logo has grown smaller and less relevant on the Bara shirt. If Laporta wins the elections, will they give him more importance?
A: It is one of the things that Joan Laporta has in mind. We must find an empowerment for UNICEF in order to have a greater presence in the club.