LIVE AHEAD™: 5 Questions with Luca Adornato, Head of Marketing at Juventus

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Football is the most popular spectator sport in the world. It’s a global phenomenon in which just a handful of teams excel. Juventus is one of them: with a history stretching back more than a century, and a spirit of confidence, determination, and uncompromising conviction, Juventus has earned the support of around 400 million fans all over the world. That Juventus’ deserves a place in the football history books is inarguable, what’s less well known is that it has earnt a place in management textbooks too. In early 2017, Juventus heralded a “watershed moment” for the entire sports industry when it announced a plan to grow the business by growing the brand. Their strategy was to spark desire in customers outside of the category by bringing creating a set of premium, lifestyle experiences that would capture the imaginations of a new generation of supporters.

The new Juventus identity took the industry by storm by transforming football into an attitude and a platform for innovation and experiences. This appealed to football fans, as well as to entertainment enthusiasts who are further away from football as a sport.

Juventus’ spirit, DNA and values on and off the pitch now extend into an exciting new chapter: LIVE AHEAD™.

It guides the way the brand expresses itself in order to be both engaging and relevant for fans and non-fans. Like a fil rouge it links the brand’s roots – football tradition, excellence, ambition, resilience and great courage – with its future objectives.  This ensures the brand is recognizable and credible when it goes beyond its core business, ultimately maintaining consistency and fostering brand awareness.

Football is becoming more and more of a global business. Do you see loyalty shifting as the wider landscape evolves?

Football is the most popular sport in the world so the competition for fans’ attention is fierce. At the same time, media consumption is shifting towards a very fragmented ecosystem in which content, quality and relevance are crucial.

Football clubs are having to constantly adapt their marketing strategies to make sure they are getting ahead and standing out. Their strategy must find the perfect combination of right time/channel/target content. In the current landscape, engagement is arguably more important than loyalty on the list of “things football” brands should care about most.

Engagement is more than just a digital marketing metric, it’s an opportunity for a club to create a deep emotional bond with its audience at whatever touchpoint.

The sport industry is rapidly changing by taking the best from the entertainment industry. What is driving this shift? What are the most interesting examples of disruptive sport brands, those that are changing the status quo? And what did Juventus learn from the entertainment industry?

Entertainment, sport and football are entertwined, they all exist in the same space.

The lines are blured, making it difficult to see exactly which industry is influencing the other.

The attitude towards the creation of outstanding performance as well as the enhancement of the fan experience have been crucial for the modernization of sport and football events.

Formula 1 is a perfect example. In recent years F1 went through a major revamping. It’s easy to see similarities to Juventus as much like football, motorsport is a very traditional sport with a solid core target and an established global scale. F1 did an astounding job at changing their perspective. They put fans at the centre of their strategy – enhancing the experience both offline and online aiming to create a consistent and seamless ecosystem.

So, meeting customer expectations is no longer enough to drive success: brand experiences must create deep emotional connections. To face this challenge you disrupted and challenged your brand experience in unexpected ways. Can you explain more about this move?

As a football club, it’s important to always try to stick with your own tradition and respect your loyal fans. At the same time, you have to evolve to take the opportunities only a global outlook can give your business. We kept that in our minds when embarking on a mission to change our identity and brand proposition. We knew that in order to sustain and enhance the ability of Juventus to grow in the future, it was crucial to change our perspective. As an organization, we should no longer think of ourselves as “just a football club”, we are a brand with football at our core and we operate within the entertainment industry.

We segment our audience into three different buckets: the avid football fans, the sport fanatics and the entertainment enthusiast. We built distinctive messaging that consistently and coherently spoke to all three targets; changing the identity flowed more naturally after we’d agreed the messaging process. We made a move that celebrated clubs crediblity through all touchpoints. We now go beyond football and reinforce our peculiarity of innovation.

And today, you are launching LIVE AHEAD™, which encapsulates Juventus’s spirit, DNA and values on and off the pitch. What does the concept stand for?

The LIVE AHEAD™ story is a powerful concept that was born from Juventus’ spirit. It encapsulates our DNA and values on and off the pitch and inspires we express ourselves as a brand. It is the guiding thread that links the brand’s heritage, originated in its football tradition, with its farsighted, boundless future opportunities.

LIVE AHEAD™ narrates the story of what it means to own the attitude of a leader: someone who always looks forward. The marketing story is a new expression of the Club’s growth plan, created in collaboration with Interbrand which aims to build a consistent platform that could enhance the new positioning launched in 2017.

How will this translate into the customer experiences for football and non-football fans?

The objective of LIVE AHEAD™ is twofold: on one hand we aim to guide the development of relevant experiences that appeal to the Club’s supporters and truly immerse them in Juventus’ world. Simultaneously, it will grow brand awareness and attract the broader fans of sports and entertainment who’re looking for new experiences.

LIVE AHEAD™ will put Juventus on the map. We’ll build a brand that’s truly credible and recognizable in our industry and beyond and we’ll go beyond our core business by maintaining a strong brand consistency across all touchpoints.

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