Although Bayern Munich have been criticized for their approach to the business side of football, including a problematic partnership with Qatar Airways, they have taken a unique approach to increasing exposure and engaging new fans. The Bavarian giants are the fourth wealthiest and arguably one of the top-3 football clubs in the world, but competing for global attention with giants from La Liga and the Premier League is difficult to sustain, especially in a league that is viewed as less competitive (even though I would contest that claim).
In a recent article from Forbes, Michael LoRé profiled Bayern Munich’s “fan-first” approach to the global market, providing a refreshing look at Bayern’s approach to the business side of the game. Die Roten’s continued increase in revenue in the 21st Century has come on the backs of a global marketing effort and some shrewd business dealings. LoRé writes that Bayern Munich can attribute this growth to one key factor: Mia San Mia.
This remains at the core of an approach to global marketing that emphasize the fan or member experience and connection with the club. Bayern Munich executive board member Jörg Wacker explains that this is vital to appealing to unique audiences. Their tailored approach to the specific cultures and media platforms of different countries has made them one of the most widely followed clubs in the world.
“If you want to go into a market, you have to be in that market,” Wacker said. “You can’t coordinate this from your headquarters because you have to understand the people, you have to understand the culture. It’s a different language, it’s a different time zone, so you have to go into the market.”
This approach has resulted in the opening of two international offices for FC Bayern, in both the United States and China. This concerted recruitment effort also ensures that Bayern’s ever-growing revenue streams stay competitive with Europe’s elite. In just the last five years since the club opened it’s American office, the club has tripled it’s following stateside.
“I think these are tremendous numbers and they show the growth with our brand over the last five years,” said Bayern Munich executive board member Jörg Wacker. “We are looking forward to the next couple of years to get a better positioning of our brand. The stronger the brand—it’s no secret—the better the revenues and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Globalizing doesn’t only bring in new fans, however. Bayern’s business acumen has helped them to open doors to new partnerships with a University, an MLS team, and other businesses. Alongside Wacker, Bayern Munich president of the Americas Rudolf Vidal head up these profitable outreach efforts.
Vidal and Wacker have been instrumental in Bayern’s internationalization. Vidal was appointed managing director of the Americas when the U.S. office opened in 2014 and became president of the Americas two years later as the German giants expanded their operations into Central and South America. He has spearheaded global partnerships including Beats by Dre, EA Sports and Apple, and youth and coaching development partnerships with FC Dallas(MLS) and the University of Denver. The partnership with FC Dallas is already paying dividends; Bayern Munich signed FC Dallas and USMNT center back prospect Chris Richards through June 2023.
The Bayern board has demonstrated an ability to commercialize the brand, while also maintaining the club’s culture in the international market. As soccer lives up to the “world’s game” moniker, it is vital for Bayern to capitalize on it’s global profile to maintain their status as a European power and continue to build this wonderful international community that BFW is proud to be a part of.
In the spirit of growing the fanbase, how did you become a Bayern fan?