With a number of clubs confirming their upcoming sponsorship deals for the new seasons, LeTou CEO Paul Fox discusses the thinking behind operator’s sponsorship deals with Inter Milan and Swansea City.
Despite the major European football leagues finishing just over a month ago, attention has already turned to the upcoming season with fixture lists released and fans plotting their diaries for the next 12 months.
For football clubs, the summer is often a time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t in the previous season and what they can do differently in the future.
On the commercial side, new sponsors are regularly being announced as clubs in the elite European leagues ensure they take advantage of their time at the top. At LeTou, we are delighted to remain as the Official Asian Gaming Partner of Italian giants Internazionale Milano having signed a multi-year deal at the start of last season.
Our first foray into the European sponsorship market came in 2017 when we became the shirt sponsor of then-Premier League club Swansea City. Being based in Asia, we had a very strong presence in our core market, but European expansion was the next step for the business and football sponsorship made a lot of sense.
The last decade has seen numerous gaming brands invest in sponsorship jerseys across Europe because of the unrivalled exposure that leagues such as the English Premier League, Serie A and La Liga receive in Asia. It’s estimated that almost five billion people watch the English Premier League, more than 70% of all football fans who watch the game on TV including 300 million in China alone.
We spoke to a few Premier League clubs to see the options that were out there and immediately we could tell that Swansea City were a great fit for our brand.
Outside of the top six Premier League sides, there tend to be quite a few changes in main sponsors, and there are very few teams in that bracket that are assured of safety at the start of the season. Our sponsorship deal with Swansea was very rewarding and with every match televised in Asia, it cemented LeTou’s status and helped us to become a recognised and well-respected brand across the world.
To keep our momentum going, we knew the importance of taking our sponsorship to the next level, and the opportunity with Inter Milan was impossible to turn down. Having been acquired by Chinese retail giant Suning Commerce Group Ltd in 2016, the club has pushed to grow its profile in Asia and the introduction of an Official Asian Gaming Partner made a lot of sense.
As a regular participant in the UEFA Champions League, which attracts more than 200m viewers for each round of games, Inter benefits from exposure which has further boosts our brand exposure.
Next month, Inter will play their part in the International Champions Cup, with friendlies against some of the best clubs in the world taking place in Singapore, China and Macau.
It is no secret that all of the top European clubs are focusing on becoming a household name in Asia but being aligned with a club that is owned by an Asian-facing company takes us to the next level.
Inter Milan have over 170 million fans across Asia and the club has a goal to connect to millions of their fans in the region via localised content, social media, access to merchandise, and live matches.
Inter even have an office in Shanghai and has opened football academies across China.
Working with regional partners provides the opportunity for us to benefit from Inter’s existing audience and also offers the club a chance to tap into our vast customer base.
Earlier this year, we worked with the club to produce Chinese New Year videos with Inter players Radja Nainggolan, Milan Škriniar, Matteo Politano and Keita Baldé. The players really got on board with the videos that we were creating and showed a personal side of them that fans do not always get to see.
All of this helps to build the brand exposure of LeTou and the multi-year deal that was signed provides us with an opportunity to become synonymous with Inter.
We will continue to see several new commercial deals announced in the coming weeks and months ahead of the new season, but we are happy in the knowledge that the existing sponsorship deal that we have is the perfect fit for our brand.