La Liga takes a gam­ble on world dom­i­na­tion

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LON­DON: Tar­geted global mar­ket­ing and closer re­la­tions with the bet­ting in­dus­try are two weapons La Liga are de­ploy­ing in their bat­tle for foot­ball supremacy with the Premier League, the Span­ish league’s mar­ket­ing guru has said.

Gre­gory Bolle, who took up his post as global part­ner­ship sales chief last Oc­to­ber af­ter three years with Premier League giants Manch­ester City, ad­mits it is a chal­lenge to sup­plant the Premier League as the world num­ber one foot­ball league but adds that since Javier Te­bas be­came pres­i­dent of La Liga huge progress had been made.

“We are in a bat­tle with the EPL be­cause we con­sider we have the best foot­ball but the EPL have done a great job fi­nan­cially and not just with TV rights,” Bolle said af­ter ap­pear­ing on a panel at the In­ter­na­tional Sports & Foot­ball Bet­ting Trade Con­fer­ence at Chelsea’s foot­ball ground, Stam­ford Bridge.

“In the past La Liga was re­ly­ing on the qual­ity of the foot­ball but since Javier Te­bas came in (2013) it has be­come a clear bat­tle where we have seen the need to get more sus­tain­abil­ity in our foot­ball, more money for TV rights and in­ter­na­tion­alise it more.

“For the lat­ter it is a case of we can’t think any more of just La Liga and Latin Amer­ica.

“There are many other re­gions, in­deed MENA (the Mid­dle East and North Africa) is at pre­sent our big­gest mar­ket although we are grow­ing in Asia.

“It is a very tough chal­lenge and ab­so­lutely they (EPL) are ahead of us yes but they be­gan this process 12 years ago.”

Bolle, who prior to join­ing Manch­ester City worked for ad­ver­tis­ing gi­ant WPP for 10 years, said tar­geted re­gional in­ter­na­tional mar­ket­ing for a 20-30 minute pe­riod dur­ing Barcelona and Real Madrid’s away matches could help to­wards clos­ing the gap.

“Dig­i­tal Board Re­place­ment (DBR) is ac­tu­ally a very in­ter­est­ing case,” said Bolle.

“Most La Liga clubs have 20-30 min­utes of what we call lo­cal ad­ver­tis­ers ad­ver­tis­ing dur­ing the match through Light Emit­ting Diode (LED).

Bolle said while those in­side the ground and watch­ing on TV in Spain will still see the lo­cal Span­ish ad­ver­tis­ing those watch­ing abroad — six re­gions at pre­sent — will see dif­fer­ent ad­ver­tis­ing thanks to satel­lites beam­ing images to their re­gions.

“We are re­plac­ing lo­cal brands for the purely Span­ish mar­ket with say a Turk­ish brand for MENA and a Chi­nese brand for China or if there is an in­ter­na­tional com­pany look­ing to tar­get the United States then they can do so,” the French­man said.

“Those view­ers in that par­tic­u­lar re­gion will just see those re­gional ad­ver­tise­ments.

“It is some­thing unique.”

Bolle said it works per­fectly for those com­pa­nies who can’t fi­nance a global cam­paign but see DBR as an ideal con­duit for their bid to break into a par­tic­u­lar re­gion.

“It’s been around for a few years but I don’t think a lot of peo­ple know about it,” said Bolle.

“We are try­ing to ed­u­cate peo­ple on this as they have largely been deal­ing di­rectly with Barcelona, Real Madrid, the EPL or the Euro­pean Cham­pi­ons League.”

With re­gard to the bet­ting in­dus­try, Bolle says it is a crit­i­cal fac­tor in terms of recog­ni­tion and ed­u­cat­ing the many foot­ball fans who are also gam­blers.

“If they are bet­ting against Real Madrid or Barcelona then they will need to know more about their op­po­nents like Vil­lar­real or Sevilla which means watch­ing other matches and more ex­po­sure to La Liga,” he said.

“Bet­ting is also a very, very im­por­tant in­dus­try for foot­ball.

“We see half of the EPL clubs have bet­ting firms on their shirts, most of them try­ing to cap­i­talise on this in Asia, and we have just one, Malaga.

“I was here to­day to open con­ver­sa­tion with bet­ting com­pa­nies and say we are open and happy to work to­gether.” AFP

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