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EURO 2024: A Winning Combination

EURO 2024: A Winning Combination

In exactly one month time, the first match of EURO 2024 will kick-off with the hosts Germany playing Scotland in Munich. Has it ever been so quiet in the build-up to a major sporting event? Considering there are 24 countries participating, 13 official global sponsors and 10 host cities making significant investments, I would have expected a ripple of marketing activities by now. But no, nothing has remotely triggered my interest. As for the 2024 Paris Olympics, not a peep either. With an increasingly crowded sporting calendar competing for the attention of millions of sport fans, perhaps this is no surprise. Are we ‘event hopping’ without engaging so deeply with each event and their partners? 

In a recent study by Epsilon, only 37% of consumers indicated their engagement with brands was driven by need. How consumers feel about a brand, more than need, drives stronger engagement with marketing, according to new research. And 60% of respondents in the study said they engage with a marketing message because they are “familiar with and like the brand”. Unlike success on the pitch which will be dictated by the team that wins the match, brands who simply turn up on match day may be less successful if they are not already familiar to the fans or viewers. But does this apply in sports marketing as well where demand for the product and engagement are naturally high?

Chief Marketing Office of Epsilon, Jeff Smith explained why this matters. Smith said, “these findings remind marketers of the importance of creating relationships with consumers that are not just transactional, given ‘brand’ is the context in which all purchase decisions are made”.

No doubt there will be some official sponsors of EURO 2024 whose objectives will be raising brand awareness to engage more deeply with fans or viewers after the tournament. Others will be aiming to drive transactions via websites or outlets where their products or services can be purchased. Of the 13 official global sponsors there are only four who I am really familiar with: Adidas,, Coca Cola and Lidl. And to be honest, I had to check the official website to find out who the other nine sponsors were (which includes AliExpress, AliPay, Atos, Betano, BYD, Hisense, Strauss, Visit Qatar and Vivo). But, as the saying goes, Rome was not built in one day.

Luckily for those brands participating for the first time, this is the 17th edition of the UEFA European Championship as it is officially known. The tournament will span 31 days starting on 14th June, finishing with the final in Berlin on 14th July with a total of 55 games played across 22 separate match days. And, if you believe in omens, Germany, who have won three times before, will be appearing in their 14th EURO final tournament…… Match tickets were massively oversubscribed with more than 30 million fans registering for 2.7 million tickets available to the public and competing teams, which is 80% of the total available. The prize fund of €331 million remains the same as EURO 2020 and there is an ESG strategy supported by a €32 million investment to ensure this edition will be the most sustainable European Championship of all time. And just in case you were wondering, there is an official mascot called Albärt whose name was decided in a vote by users and school children across Europe.

It has been a few years since I experienced a major football tournament in Germany, which was the FIFA World Cup 2006. It was a quarter-final match between England and Portugal. Enough said. But the overriding memories associated with that tournament were positive. Post-event research revealed visitors had most positive feelings for ‘brand Germany’ and the organisation of a great sports event with friendly hosts, good accommodation, and innovative fan park experiences. 88% of visitors would recommend Germany as a tourist destination, exports went up 14% year-on-year and foreign tourism increased 31%. And this was all wrapped in a brand promise known as ‘a time to make friends’.

Despite the tranquility today, the scene is set for another enjoyable EURO tournament. After 31 days competition, on and off the pitch, we will see who the winners are: the brands, the sport, or the fans?


Author: Richard Denton has worked in the sport and marketing business for 30 years with brands, agencies and rights holders such as The FA, Vitesse Arnhem and various other Football organisations. He is currently the Academic Director for the Master in Sport Management at the Johan Cruyff Institute