Hakan Çalhanoglu is a natural footballing talent, famed for his ability to score goals from free kicks and among the best soccer players in the world right now.
But the 21-year-old midfielder also polarizes people – he ditched Bundesliga club Hamburger SV for league rival Bayer Leverkusen only months after extending his contract to 2018. Hamburg fans were incensed.
Born and raised in Germany to a Turkish family, Mr. Çalhanoglu is acutely aware of his public image – and he’s not the only one. This spring, posters of him appeared on advertising stands all over German cities with the slogan: “There will be haters.”
The campaign by sporting goods manufacturer Adidas certainly got people talking. It was handled by the sports division of German advertising agency Jung von Matt. Set up in mid-2013, the unit, managed by Raphael Brinkert alongside former soccer pros Christoph Metzelder and Katja Kraus, now has 40 creative employees.
But the agency is not alone in trying to tap into lucrative sports market: Rival FischerAppelt set up a special sports unit in an attempt to win new customers.
Classic ad agencies are poaching business in what was once the preserve of sporting rights giants Sportfive and Infront.
The market is worth billions of euros. According to Football Money League 2015, a survey by the consultancy Deloitte, the world’s top 20 soccer clubs broke the €6-billion ($6.6-billion) sales level for the first time in the 2013-14 season. That’s an increase of 14 percent from the previous season.
Top German club FC Bayern Munich took third place with a turnover of €487.5 million, behind European rivals Manchester United and Real Madrid. The Bavarian club generated some 60 percent of its sales from advertising. Merchandizing alone accounted for €105 million, increasing by 27 percent compared to a year earlier.