Transforming Nigerian Football into Money Making Industry

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International Football Legend, John Terry, Marketing Director, International Breweries Plc (IBPLC), Tolulope Adedeji and International Football Legend, Roberto Carlos, at the Budweiser Game of Kings Legends and Managers unveiling Press Conference in Lagos

A PWC report estimated that in 2015, global sports sponsorship reached $45billion while Africa contributed less than $2billion, with South African companies dominating. Ugo Aliogo writes on how a brand, Budweiser is changing the narrative by turning Nigerian Football into a money making industry

Sport is a universally loved sector that is lucrative and a source of employment to thousands, recreational, and huge support base for millions of fans world wide.
Neither the government nor the sports agencies working under it can resolve the issues militating against the sports sector alone. The sector’s major problem has to do largely with funding.

In Europe and other western parts of the world, sport is a multi-billion dollar business. These climes have been able to incentivise the sector to attract the corporate world to invest and even play major roles that have created jobs for citizens and foreigners alike.

Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare has on several occasions acknowledged that funding is the major problem of sports development.

According to the minister, “Funding is a major hindrance to sports growth. We look forward to corporate bodies lending support and developing the sports. We want to see corporate organisations come to build stadia and invest in sports. We intend to harness the talents and build technical capacity. We want to build a business model around sports because sports is a big business in the western world and we intend to make it a big business in Nigeria.”

However, brands like Budweiser, through its just concluded and massively successful Game of Kings Campaign that had international football superstars, John Terry and Roberto Carlos play alongside select Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) players on Nigerian soil, are changing the narrative.

Marketing Director, International Breweries Plc, Tolulope Adedeji agrees that sports promotion is a capital intensive venture even for corporate organisations and conglomerates that are perceived to have huge marketing budgets.

She however noted that the Budweiser Game of Kings Campaign was worth it because it achieved the twin purpose of beaming the spotlight on Nigerian football and the talents that abound in our local league to the international community.

The campaign, she stated, leveraged the undeniable star power of Terry and Carlos while also affirming Budweiser as a premium brand that employs unique ways to delight its teeming consumers.

According to the Minister of Sports, Nigeria will require no less than $500 million annual investment in sports to deliver sector dividends. Leveraging brand engagement and sponsorship to surpass investment targets in sports is the way to go.

Countries across the globe are thriving on brand sponsorships, sweepstakes and international support, amongst others which have also helped increase their performance rating among contemporaries, in addition to spurring economic growth.

In Europe for instance, sports alone accounted for an overall Gross Value-Added figure of 294.36 billion Euros (2.98%) in the economy for 2012. Lately, global investment in sports has recorded huge growth with Africa still at the bottom of the ladder.

Many indigenous brands are taking the lead in improving Nigeria’s sports story, they are relentless in making the industry be at par with counterparts across the globe. Regarded by many as the king of sports, football has been the greatest beneficiary of corporate support.

Brands like MTN, Coca-Cola, Globacom, Hero, Stanbic IBTC, and Budweiser are popular in this regard because of their consistency in promoting sports activities, especially with football being the mainstream game.
A PWC report estimated that in 2015, global sports sponsorship reached $45billion while Africa contributed less than $2billion, with South African companies dominating.

Notwithstanding, Budweiser, a product of International Breweries Plc, a proud part of the world’s largest brewer, AB InBev, is moving the needle on transformative opportunities in sports, especially football.
This model, proven highly beneficial to both the company and the country at large, is worth emulating, particularly for brands willing to tap into the sports goldmine.

Since it entered the Nigerian market in 2018, Budweiser has been able to carve a niche for itself in the football space. Already, the brand is the key sponsor of the English EPL and the Spanish La Liga, and from current indications, the brand has now turned its focus on strengthening local football.

As a norm, Budweiser has consistently supported initiatives and innovations to stimulate interest in football, in the drive to promote the game loved universally.
One of such initiatives is the Budweiser Game of Kings. The ‘Budweiser Game of Kings’ campaign engaged football fans and put their knowledge of the game to test.

The campaign encouraged football fans to take up the role of a Team Manager for selected stars from the Nigerian Premier Football League, among which featured international football legends, former England and Chelsea centre-back, John Terry, and ex-Brazil and Real Madrid left-back, Roberto Carlos.

On how consumers participated in the campaign, Marketing Manager, Budweiser, Olajumoke Okikiolu said, “Our football-loving consumers bought a bottle of Budweiser and entered the unique code under the crown cork on the website to the USSD Code: 7827. This automatically qualified them to be selected either as team managers or to get VIP invites to watch the match live in Lagos, Nigeria.”

Okikiolu stated that the campaign was structured to enable Nigeria’s teeming football fans who are usually critical of football managers to feel the heat the latter always have to contend with and demonstrate that they can do better if given the opportunity.
“They got to appreciate the amount of pressure team managers face,” she said.

But beyond the fun of the game, which is a major element of football, Okikiolu submitted that the campaign would drive the economy to buoyancy.

“The value chain of the game is huge as the activities during the period affects different sectors of the economy. One is football tourism, as we flew in two football legends and their management into the country. People were eager to get a chance to see these great football icons on Nigeria’s turf, “Okikiolu added.

The consumers demand increase in product purchase shored up profit, and inevitably, increase in taxable income. The benefits trickled down to the wholesalers and retailers who realised more turnover from the increased demand influenced by the promotion.”

John Terry and Roberto Carlos captained Kings FC and Smooth FC respectively and led the NPFL stars to play against each other in an exciting game that has been described as “an unprecedented epoch for Nigerian football”.

Football, and indeed sports needs more brands to tow the path of Budweiser and heed the clarion call from the sports minister and the sports sector considering the unifying role football continues to play in the world.