Donata Hopfen is not lacking in ambition. Since the beginning of the year, she has been the head of the German Football League (DFL), the association of the 36 professional clubs, and the superlative is just right for her: “We want to become the most digital league in the world.“
With a number of projects, for example on “stadium innovation”, the organization is driving forward modernization. But massive initiatives by the clubs are ultimately decisive for real success – as is the case now with FC Bayern Munich, the German record champion who has won the last ten championships in a row.
Thanks to a far-reaching new partnership with the US software company Adobe, the successful kickers will soon also be pushing into new digital dimensions internationally. With this, the Bayern CEO, ex-national goalkeeper Oliver Kahn, is to deliver his masterpiece.
Two years ago, the Bavarians were not even the German top in terms of data and network. At that time, they had to let RB Leipzig, Eintracht Frankfurt, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke 04 take the lead in an evaluation of the digital agency Nexum for the “kicker”.
Almost all Bundesliga clubs are active in e-sports or use data to record the performance of players or to find suitable talents, for which Sven Mislintat, Sports Director of VfB Stuttgart, as co-founder of Motionmetrics GmbH, has even developed his own software.
Things were very different this spring, when the Nexum jurors tested the digital clout of European clubs: FC Bayern was in the lead, ahead of FC Barcelona and RB Leipzig. The Munich-based company “consistently pursued a holistic digital strategy”. Online shop, social media, e-sports, professional networks and marketing effects were evaluated.
FC Bayern may feel sorry for themselves about being eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. Economically, the previous financial year 2020/21 was extremely successful with sales of 644 million euros, the operating profit was more than 98 million euros. And: In e–commerce, a revenue of 100 million euros was generated – no other German club manages that much.
Digitalization should help to strengthen one’s own brand power. Almost 300,000 club members and 125 million followers in more than 30 global social networks have the marketing experts in their sights. In summer, top clubs often play abroad to mobilize fans, but the Internet offers completely different opportunities to bring stars and moves closer, around the clock and in real time.
FC Bayern is attracted by a large market
Real Madrid may only be middle class overall in terms of digitization, but no one has more followers in Europe’s football: 272.5 million. By contrast, even FC Bayern still looks small with almost 125 million. The Spaniards have consolidated their top position through the alliance announced last November with the tech company Adobe, which also acts as a sponsor.
Thanks to this customer data platform, Real can create fan profiles in real time, knows exactly how the clientele “ticks” and how to delight them with personalized content. Adobe users FC Bayern are now also relying on this “experience Cloud”. “It makes little sense to offer a fan of Manuel Neuer the latest jersey from another player,” says CEO Kahn.
It attracts a large market, which FCB Digital & Media Lab GmbH, founded in 2018, wants to exploit with its 75 employees. The club already generates around 30 percent of the sponsorship revenue of 207 million on digital platforms. According to Media Director Stefan Mennerich, “looking beyond sports to the best digital companies in the fields of content, entertainment or e-commerce is also particularly helpful”. Maybe you should invite Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to the Allianz Arena.