La Liga take a gamble on football supremacy


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 told Agence France-Presse.

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 told Agence France-Presse 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.

“It evolved from a challenge and became an opportunity — the challenge was that the Spanish market is 30-40 million people, so it is not a huge advertising market.

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

“Mediapro, a partner of DBR, approached the clubs and said listen we are buying from you the minutes on LED.”

Global targeted audiences
Bolle says 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.



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