Spanish soccer giants Barcelona have today announced the appointment of IMG, the international sports marketing agency, to develop a licensing programme in Southeast Asia.
As the LaLiga club’s master licensee, IMG will develop a consumer products programme for fans in the region.
Under a multi-year deal, agreed with the team’s Barca Licensing and Merchandising arm, the renowned agency will focus on lifestyle and fashion apparel, accessories, luggage and bags, gift and novelty, homeware and textiles, and digital and tech product categories.
The move is part of the club's “broader merchandising strategy and evolution into a global lifestyle brand.”
Miki Yamamoto, IMG senior vice-president of licensing, said: “FC Barcelona is one of the most recognised football clubs in the world and there’s huge untapped potential for brand extension in Southeast Asia, particularly in countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia, where football has always been extremely popular.
“This, combined with Barça fans’ passion for the club and desire to show support for their team, presents extensive licensing opportunities in the region.”
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Barcelona have recently appointed Bryan Bachner to head up their operations in Asia, with the American to serve as director of the club’s office in Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, Socios.com, the blockchain-based fan engagement platform, is reportedly interested in becoming the Catalan club’s new sleeve sponsor.
The platform has already tabled an offer to Barcelona to occupy the vacant spot on the team’s left sleeve for the remainder of the season, according to local newspaper Mundo Deportivo.
Barca have been without a sleeve sponsor for the early months of the campaign after restructuring their deal with Beko, the Turkish domestic appliances manufacturer which held rights previously.
Earlier this year, the LaLiga giants entered into a new commercial partnership with Beko, until the end of the 2021-22 season, at a discounted rate of 50 per cent with the brand’s logo disappearing from the sleeves of the first team’s shirts.
Beko agreed to pay €10 million ($11.5 million) this season for its logo to appear on the team’s training kit sleeves only, around half what it was paying last year.
Under the terms of the previous deal, struck in early 2018 for three years, Beko’s brand logo appeared on not only the left sleeves of the training kit but also the sleeves of the matchday playing shirts and around the club’s La Masia academy.
For that privilege, Beko paid €57 million over the three years.
It is now being reported that Socios, which has made a heavy entrance into the soccer market in the past 12 months, is keen to secure a deal until the end of the year.
An agreement would expand an existing partnership between Barca and Socios as the club has launched fan tokens on the blockchain platform.
Socios has a shirt sponsorship deal with Valencia in LaLiga and a tie-up with Atletico Madrid.
The company is also the primary shirt sponsor of Italian Serie A champions Inter Milan as it broadened its presence in soccer this year.
Mundo Deportivo claims that a deal between Barca and Socios could be concluded soon.