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The three years he spent working as marketing manager for the Basketball Section at Real Madrid, Europe’s most successful football club, had a profound effect on Eduardo Fernández-Cantelli’s thinking as a marketing professor and teacher of the Sports Marketing Elective at Instituto de Empresa. Those were years during which the club was going through a dramatic brand expansion. “Real Madrid is (and expected to be) a pioneer,” he says. “Apart from Manchester United, no team has ever had an understanding of how you can develop the emotional relationships with a football brand.”
What really interests Prof Fernández-Cantelli from a marketing standpoint is the fact that, while in the US sport is conceived as entertainment, emotional attachment is what drives sports consumers in Europe. “That’s interesting in the way you segment the sport market and develop a marketing strategy, because it’s not based on income levels but on the commitment to the team,” he says. “This is an underdeveloped area but it is evolving, and in the next few years marketing efforts are going to be increasingly focused on understanding how consumers relate to sports.”
At the same time, Prof Fernández-Cantelli is examining the way sporting events can help countries, cities or companies to position themselves and create a brand image. He cites the example of the America’s Cup and the opportunity it presents for city officials and local organisations to create a brand for Valencia.
Prof Fernández-Cantelli believes that his work on sports marketing has broader implications for the corporate world. “I bring insights into sports marketing, sponsorships and promotions,” he says. “But these areas are certainly applicable to other areas of business.”