Monday, November 28, 2005

'Early marketing choice' delivers world to Juventus

Only 9,623 spectators (of which only 4,161 bought tickets; the rest were season ticket-holders) watched Juventus defeat FC Bruges at home in the Stadio Delle Alpi, a win that secured the Bianconeri’s place in the knockout stages of the Champions League. But sponsors and television companies continue to pour money into Juventus.

"They attract more sponsorship than any other club in the world and also boast one of the most lucrative television deals, earning a guaranteed £48.5 million for their domestic digital terrestrial and digital satellite rights alone," Gabriele Marcotti described in The Times.

“In 1897, when a group of university students from Turin founded the club, they could have called it Torino, but they chose a totally nongeographic word, Juventus,” Romy Gai, the club’s commercial director, told Marcotti. “I suppose it was an early marketing choice. It disengaged the club from territorial issues. In a world where many are proud of their roots, you could freely support Juventus without supporting Turin, which might be a rival to your own city. It invited people everywhere to come on board.

“There are people — in Asia, South America, other far-away places — who consider themselves Juventus fans but don’t know where we are from. They know we’re from Italy of course, but they might not know we’re from Turin.”

To Juventus fans, Marcotti observed, "Turin is little more than an address, unlike their cross-town rivals Torino, who wrap themselves in the city’s colours and culture at every occasion. And this is why Juventus, the most successful club in the history of Italian football, have an average home attendance (29,122) only marginally higher than Torino (24,188), who are in Serie B and have won one league title in the past 55 years."

The origins of their popularity, in addition to the club’s name, are not hard to fathom. “The big one is that we’re historically one of the most successful teams in the world,” Gai said. “We have won 28 league titles. Among the major European leagues, only Real Madrid have won more and they have just one more than we do. Winning generates more fans, it’s a basic fact.

“As important, I think, is that we have had the same owners, the Agnelli family, since 1923. That has given us both tradition and identity, affording us the opportunity to make long-term plans.” The result is a club which is truly unique: more popular away than at home.

One of the maxims of selling is 'know your customer' and Marcotti concluded that Juventus do this better than most: "Their customer, ultimately, isn’t the Turinese shivering at the Stadio Delle Alpi. Chasing his euro is not as important as satisfying the tens of millions elsewhere around the globe."

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