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James Rodriguez is the key to Bayern Munich’s plan to conquer the LATAM market

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The Colombian may actually be more valuable off the pitch than on it for Bayern Munich.

Real Madrid v Bayern Muenchen - UEFA Champions League Semi Final Second Leg

It is no secret that Bayern Munich has achieved a significant amount of success in implementing a global marketing strategy and has become one of the model clubs worldwide for establishing a true, global brand.

With a strong foothold in Europe, the United States, and China, Bayern will now focus on building a foundation for growth in the Latin American market. One of the key pieces of that plan includes Colombia’s James Rodriguez, who is among the most popular players in the world.

As detailed by Front Office Sports, Bayern is ready to push its product in a hungry marketplace.

Years ago, when powerhouse German club FC Bayern Munich mapped out its plans for expansion outside of Europe, it targeted two regions of interest: the West and China. Western expansion was launched out of the club’s New York office, which opened in 2014. In the years since, Bayern has built relationships across the American sports media market, launched a U.S.-specific Twitter handle, and traveled across the country to host a series of watch parties with fans as a part of a Fan Club Roadshow.

As the club set its sights on the U.S., a long-term goal of expansion into Latin America was “always the plan,” according to Jörg Wacker, Bayern’s executive board member for internationalization and merchandising.

Just over a year ago, Bayern signed Colombian international James Rodriguez on a two-year loan from Real Madrid. This move broke records across Bayern’s global digital platforms and led to a six-figure increase in followers in the first day alone; it also accelerated Bayern’s plans to grow its brand in Latin America.

One move to take on a player who was mired on Real Madrid’s bench has helped Bayern fast-track its long-term plan to establish itself in Latin America. As Wacker states, the Colombian’s immense popularity gave Bayern a likable figure to spearhead its strategy:

On one side, he’s an amazing player and on the other side, he’s a superstar. He’s one of the top-five followed players in the world behind Ronaldo, Messi, and Neymar, I think he has more than 80 million followers, and for us, that is also an opportunity. It makes it much easier for us having him as a superstar because he’s an ambassador of our brand and everything that he’s doing, now it’s Bayern Munich. I think the whole world, and especially the people in Latin America, follow him and want to see what he’s doing and this helps us as well.

With James in tow and the plan ready for action, Bayern hit the ground running.

With James on the roster, Bayern hired its first New York-based Spanish language content producer to connect with the Spanish speaking community both in the U.S. and in Latin America. The club also leveraged the relationships it had built with media companies and brands over the past four years. Rudolf Vidal, Bayern’s president of the Americas, stressed the importance of these relationships in supporting the club’s growth in Latin America.

Vidal is the primary driver behind the implementation of the market penetration and thinks that Bayern’s ability to succeed in the United States can be replicated in Latin America:

After working in the U.S., you build so many relationships, which help you in the market because obviously in the U.S., you have a lot of people who also work in the Central and South American markets,. Look at the media companies. Univision is owned by Televisa; ESPN, ESPN Deportes, Fox, Fox Deportes — so they help you build a relationship even faster. Whatever we do in Latin America is based on what we do in the U.S. One of those reasons why we played Miami is because, obviously, Miami is the gateway to Central and South America. From a business perspective, we would love to have a Colombian player, a Chilean player, a Mexican player, and I can tell you that if this would happen, it would make it [internationalization] so much easier.

Bayern is already rumored to be considering LATAM sites for its tour next summer, which would only further bolster its chances for a true breakthrough in the market.