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Case study: How could a second division Spanish football club boost its merchandising revenue despite the pandemic?

The cooperation of Seyu and CD Leganés shows that generating extra revenue does not necessarily depend on the stadium experience, but rather on a good idea

The merchandising “machine” can continue to roll even without onsite presence

As 2020 fundamentally challenged the sports business ecosystem, the Spanish market was affected the most significantly due to the loss of season tickets and experience-based match day sales. During the lockdown in early spring, we have seen that clubs desperately tried to maintain the attention of fans, but when the new season started, revenue generation has clearly taken over the priorities. The honorable inquiry from CD Leganés has arrived to us in this very competitive and crucial period. The club heavily relied on its merchandising and matchday revenues in the previous years, but the crisis had a serious impact on the sales of jerseys and other items, as they had troubles to trigger the market and address the target audience with the right messages that could have reversed this trend.

Thanks to Seyu’s service, CD Leganés were able to offer a new value proposition that gave the fans a true social matchday EXPERIENCE, even if it was created in a digital environment.

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C.D. Leganés fans are happily purchasing the special items and cheering on their team from the digital boards 

If the value proposition ‘sticks’ with the fans, it is time to monetize

The essence of the concept is that fans could send their own photos and selfies for the Pepineros’ home matches via the service of Seyu even minutes before the kick-off or during matches, and appear on the LED and giants screens with tailor made motivating messages throughout the 90 minutes. However, this opportunity is allowed only for those who purchased a merchandise,  selected for the campaign from the team’s fan shop. The product itself was not tailormade for the activation, it is an ordinary mask in another design  but with the attached VIP matchday photo experience we repositioned it and increased the sales of the item, also on a higher price.

The results exceeded the expectations of club officials in Leganés. The new marketing campaign resulted in a 47% increase of sales and in a 40% increase of revenue for CD Leganés so far when it comes to this merchandise.. Needless to say that the activation set up has created a real WIN-WIN situation where the fans and the club are extremely happy – so are we.

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Creating a legal „loophole” for fans: show your club devotion in the stadium

In addition to the engaging marketing communication, some fundamental psychological reasons also helped us to achieve this success. Feelings of belongingness and exhibitionism since March2020 could be satisfied almost only via social media. The collaboration between CD Leganés and Seyu began just as the new governmental restrictions were introduced in Madrid, at the team’s home city. Undoubtedly, without Seyu the fans of Pepineros would not have had a chance since to show the players that they are with them week in week out even if they can not prove that to them in the stadium physically now.  The belongingness that fans love and desire is recreated in the digital environment thanks to that the fans can see each other and sympathise with each other under the many fan photos on social media, creating common ground for individuals to connect on the basis of their love for CD Leganes. 

Leganés defender Javi Hernández, also highlighted that this activity emotionally touched the players: “Yes, we did see the photos during the game. It was good to see the support of our fans”, he said in a post-match statement.

Let the numbers and CD Leganés’ marketing director do the talk instead of us!

Mercedes-Benz Citycar sur – the sponsor who participates in the activation – is also a beneficiary of Seyu’s service beside the club and the fans. The developers at Seyu made sure that the brands who ready to jazz up their ordinary, already purchased pitch side LED advertising accompany the happy fans throughout the VIP matchday photo experience. Thanks to this effort the service creates an additional eight new, commercial platforms directly reaching fans for the Mercedes-Benz.  As for the numbers, the first 100 fan photos delivered a staggering 6,650+ organic engagement, 86,930+ organic reach and 157,570+ organic sponsorship impression on social media, that was just only the tip of the iceberg.

Victor Marín, the club’s marketing director, said “The most important thing was that we were able to adapt Seyu’s service very quickly, and they were able to provide immediate help through a new way of communicating with the fans and serving sponsors. Instead of the usual 3-month learning process for new technologies, the whole system was implemented in a matter of days, allowing us to launch the joint campaign with lightning speed and open up eight more digital commercial platforms for the sponsor.” Read more here.

The time when sponsor – club relations matter the most

Covid took its toll on the clubs and their relationships with their existing sponsors as all deals made pre-covid contained the in stadia exposure too towards fans, consumers. Thanks to Seyu’s service CD Leganés were able to show, already in three matches, Mercedes-Benz’s visual brand elements to the number of fans on social media equivalent to seven full-house stadium matches in Butarque.

The innovative initiative also received a lot of attention in the international sports media, thanks to the fact that CD Leganes was the first club to implement Seyu’s service in Spain and ‘sneaking’ fans back into the stadium. Local newspapers and one of the most prestigious Spanish sports media AS.com wrote numerous times about the new project of the club , and British, French, Italian and Serbian portals also reported about the activation, generating more industry focused media attention for the second division club than usual. In addition to direct sales, data calculated on the basis of media monitoring software showed a cumulative media value of thousands of Euros, which is also not negligible for a club that would hardly be a topic of international sport business sites. Thanks to the joint marketing campaign, CD Leganés has reached another level in the eyes of the existing stakeholders and potential sponsors.

The project confirmed that if a club is willing to think out-of-the-box and implement innovative solutions,, they can achieve the support of fans, serve their business partners and open up new revenue channels at the same time. 

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