The second week of the Euroleague Basketball Institute Annual Workshops lifted off on Tuesday with marketing staff from all 16 Turkish Airlines Euroleague clubs focused on bringing new fans and sponsors to the competition and serving both with the best experience possible.
The backdrop for the day-long meeting at Euroleague Basketball headquarters in Barcelona was the ground-breaking changes taking effect as the Euroleague next season becomes the first team competition in European sports history to feature all the best teams and players facing all others in at least two games every year.
"We are at a very special moment, about to start a new era for European basketball," Jordi Bertomeu, President and CEO of Euroleague Basketball, said. "More than ever, it's important to have your close cooperation. We have a great opportunity before us, but as always, we have the responsibility that goes hand-in-hand with this opportunity."
The club marketing directors spent the day discussing with Euroleague Basketball executives how to harness such a singular opportunity to promote basketball across a multiplying variety of platforms to fans, customers and stakeholders.
"We have our platforms, you have yours." Alex Ferrer Kristjansson, Euroleague Basketball's Director of Brand & Communication, said. "But what's important is, in a truly collective effort, to push our content to where the people are, not to make them come to us."
One chief theme that concerned all participants was how to take the steady growth of the Euroleague's fan base even higher by taking advantage of new communication platforms and technology, creating icons and legacy projects and improving the presentation of the game, among other avenues.
"The new era of sports and of everything is the digital community," Maria Gkouma, Marketing and PR Manager of Panathinaikos Athens, said. "We have to take advantage of that community and the game to produce new stories for our fans and Euroleague fans in general. We all have to invest in that new era."
An example of thinking outside of the box to engage non-traditional, new markets was provided by Mikel Barcena, Marketing Director of Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz, who explained the club's investment in e-sports through the founding of its own division under the club's Baskonia brand.
"Twelve months ago, I had no idea about e-games and e-sports," Barcena said. "But as a small club, we thought that e-sports would be a good way to expand our brand awareness and to develop new business. Now, 12 months later, we know that we have much more exposure on an international level and it is a sustainable project already from a commercial standpoint. To give you an idea of the impact of e-sports in the industry, last year in the United States, the number one sports event shown on TV was, of course, the Super Bowl. But after that it wasn't tennis, golf, basketball or any other traditional sport. The number two event was the e-sport final."
Among the other main subjects of discussion was the importance of maximizing digital platforms in the future by putting all the best content from Euroleague Basketball and the clubs in a singular fan hub. On the way to completing that goal, the marketers heard about plans to integrate digital advertising across the competition, to introduce a common video player on all club websites and to coordinate content creation through the use of a real-time correspondents from Euroleague Basketball and digital managers from all 16 teams.
"This whole new format creates a family of teams, the top teams in Europe, and I think it says a lot," Yaron Talpaz, Chief Marketing Officer of Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv, said. "All of us together are much stronger than each one by themselves. That is the most important message, you should see that in the upcoming season, and you can see that in all digital aspects."
Bo Steinberg a guest presenter from TGI Europe, which specializes in the design, production, installation and management of signage solutions for the sports industry, addressed the meeting about the various ways in which digital assets around the court can be turned into revenue streams. Such options range from traditional LED courtside panels to 3D carpets on the playing floor to advertising overlays for both TV or social media and mobile voting systems to engage fans. Additionally, all Euroleague teams next season will feature a state-of-the-art advertising screens that attach to the basket stanchions behind the 24-second clocks.
"This is one of the ways you can improve your commercial value tremendously," Steinberg said. "One of biggest problem is lack of coordination between digital assets. Everything is being sold bit by bit. That is something we can definitely help with."
Another presentation unveiled a dynamic on-court look and feel for all Euroleague games next season, with the playing area featuring the home team's logo filling the half-court circle and its colors outlining the court from the baseline and the sidelines. The clubs also heard about licensing and merchandising strategies that are being prepared with an eye toward helping all clubs to monetize their products at the same time as the global brand of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague is enhanced across the continent.
Finally, the marketing directors had a chance to talk about the collective success and to plan for future improvements to One Team, the corporate social responsibility programme in which 34 collaborated with Euroleague Basketball last season, bringing the positive values of basketball to the important work of integrating at-risk groups into communities across Europe and beyond. Among the innovations planned for the future are support for global causes, additional training for participating clubs through workshops and the introduction of One Team Awards to recognize the most effective efforts on behalf of local communities.
The EBI Annual Workshops, which gathers professionals from all aspects of the competition to brainstorm for the future, will conclude on Wednesday when media directors from the Euroleague clubs meet at Euroleague Basketball headquarters in Barcelona.