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Marketing in Action Challenge: Atlético de Madrid Academia

The Marketing in Action Challenge provides second-year Bachelor in Business Administration students with an unparalleled opportunity to put their new business skills to the test while working directly for a client. During the consultancy project, students work in teams to analyze a real-world marketing challenge and propose creative solutions to generate a positive impact. What’s more, the Challenge empowers students to boost their employability and gain invaluable experience in the business world.

The Marketing in Action 2020 edition saw students work alongside Atlético de Madrid Academia for two months, with a particular focus on the women’s team. With 350 Bachelor in Business Administration students participating in the Challenge, this was a fantastic opportunity for students to expand their skillset and build on the comprehensive insights they gained during their first two years of studies.

The project structure

The Marketing in Action Challenge enables students to work as real consultants for a prestigious organization. In January 2020, that organization was Atlético de Madrid Academia, with students specifically focusing on boosting the brand awareness and visibility of the women’s team.

As women’s football continues to grow from strength to strength globally, Atlético de Madrid is seeking to expand upon its female team’s success while emerging as a global ambassador for gender equality in sports.

That’s where our Bachelor in Business Administration students came in. Over the course of two months, 350 students worked in teams to develop proposals to enhance the women’s team visibility, global reach, engagement and sales.

The Challenge had four main aims:

  1. Expand global reach and penetration: students were tasked with diving into markets, targeting and positioning to increase the team’s global reach and penetration.
  2. Enhance visibility and awareness: increase the visibility of Atlético de Madrid Women and women’s football in general to reduce the gender gap.
  3. Consumer engagement: boost consumer engagement with Atlético de Madrid Women and women’s football.
  4. B2B and B2C sales: develop a marketing plan to increase business through the Atlético de Madrid women’s team for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer sales.

The growing world of women’s football

Founded in 2001, Atlético de Madrid Women has won four titles and is currently ranked 13th in Europe by UEFA. The club has been in the First Spanish League consistently since March 2007 and reached the quarter-finals of the UEFA Women’s Champions League in the 2019-20 season. In March 2019, the team broke the European record for attendance at a women’s football match for a game against FC Barcelona Femenino, drawing an audience of over 60,000 spectators.

And participation in women’s football is rapidly growing, with an estimated 13.4 million women participating in organized football across the world. In light of this, government and international organizations are striving to boost the sport.

For example, the Spanish Royal Football Federation (RFEF) created the ‘Women’s Football Elite’ initiative to encourage female football, while UEFA introduced its first ‘Women’s Football Strategy’ to provide an ideal platform for women’s football to thrive. What’s more, FIFA President Gianni Infantino intends to double investment in women’s football in the next four years. He has set out a five-point plan to increase the size of the Women’s World Cup to 32 teams and double the prize money to $60 million.

Multinational companies are increasingly eager to sponsor the women’s game, both in Spain and internationally. Atlético de Madrid Women is currently sponsored by Nike, Herbalife, Hyundai, Ria Money Transfer, Caixa Bank, Mahou, Movistar and Sercotel Hotels. Increased visibility is also driving sales of women’s football apparel and related sportswear items. For example, after the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, sales of women’s apparel rose by more than 150% over the previous Women’s World Cup in 2015.

Marketing in Action in the heart of Atlético de Madrid

The Challenge kicked off with a launch event in January 2020 at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, the home of Atlético de Madrid. Hosted by Atlético de Madrid Academia, the event featured speakers such as Lola Romero, the Director of Atlético de Madrid Women, who gave participants an overview of the world of football and the team. Other speakers included a representative of the RFEF ‘Women’s Football Elite’ initiative and representatives of sponsors Herbalife and Iberdrola.

After opening speeches, students met with representatives of Herbalife—the team’s lead sponsor—who showcased their marketing strategy with the Atlético brand and emphasized their ongoing support for women’s professional sports. Students also had the opportunity to attend a masterclass with Eduardo Fernández-Cantelli, Head of the Marketing Department at IE University, who offered insights on marketing in the sports industry from his extensive background in sports management and marketing.

Under the direction of Teresa Serra, students then undertook extensive research and prepared their proposals for innovative marketing and business solutions. During the closing ceremony in March 2020—also at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium—the three finalist teams presented their proposals to the client and other attendants.

This was a fantastic opportunity for Bachelor in Business Administration students to immerse themselves in marketing and devise creative strategies to grow Atlético de Madrid Women. All students were able to apply the knowledge and skills developed on the bachelor’s program while boosting their future employability.

Could you design the next leading marketing strategy to change the face of football? Discover more about the Bachelor in Business Administration here.