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Atletico Madrid Analysis

In: Business and Management

Submitted By rishishdubey
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Atletico de Madrid Case

On May 2000, Club Atletico de Madrid were relegated to Second Division for the first time in its history. It was a game which reflected the season for ATM. The last minute penalty miss by the player who had not missed one whole season showed what destiny had in store for the club. It was for ATM a totally, new and not so good experience. It triggered the crises that was to follow. In hindsight, this should’ve never happened and before the season began fans expected and hoped that 99-2000 season will rather be one of the best. There was a good 54 million budget. It was a season that was ought to be good but, as the “hard luck club” were facing some serious wrath now. Fans who have never seen the team go down to second division had a low morale. The financial implications of going down to Second Division loomed large on the ATM. The communication and marketing department concerns had deepened. Just as the result were unexpected as compared to the beginning of the season so was ATM marketing department was getting ready for what they had never experienced. In Spanish football, ATM was third largest club in almost all the respect. What differentiated ATM from their biggest local rivals Real Madrid, who were hugely successful was the fan base. Not in terms of numbers but in the way they connected to the club and their spirit. Nobody really knew what relegation will bring to the club.

There were many implications of the relegation of the club to second division. Financial implications were there. The bigger consequence was the sale of many prominent and good players at the knock down prices. The players who have brought so much success at other clubs and were most sought after were sold cheaply. Relegation almost brought ATM to financial collapse, therefore they were unable to afford salaries of such players and have to release them. Emilio Gutierrez, heading PR and Communications department at ATM needed to take some very important and strong decisions. But he being a childhood ATM fan wanted to do whatever they did, had to be in the spirit of the club. Traditional route is generally, signing big named players and coaches to inspire the fans and bring them to the stadium to support their team. The major concern was losing the fan base. Reduction in number of members was expected and emptier stadiums were excepted during the season. The situation was crunch. How to avoid losing the members in huge numbers. It was more of a damage control situation.

Atletico de Madrid Case

But Emilio did well in crises situation by being aggressive and triggering hope and emotions in the fans of the club. Let us see further what actions were proposed and taken.

Proposed Actions
Radical Marketing was the term used by Gutierrez to the different approach he proposed in comparison to the traditional buying new players to inspire the fans. He looked at the fans from the assets perspective and not customers perspective alone. His ideas were based on the Atleti Spirit and not on the team. The approach was risky but it was the need of the situation. The approach was based on the crisis emergency situation, planning based on the deep knowledge of the market and target audience. It was more creative and bold whilst aiming at immediate results. Almost everyone agreed with Emilio’s proposal. Atletico Feeling – some quotes “Being an Atletico Supporter is an act of faith, a dogma, as sure as I’m my father’s son. For some people hearing people talk about Atletico is like having shots of vitamins. ” – Felipe, Senator of the Club Atletico de Madrid “Atleti is more than a club. It is an incredible cross between myth and a dream. Players past and future, the living and the dead. They all have something in common : They are indisputably one of us. ” – Tomas Cuesta, journalist. The remarks above and many such of them clearly reflect the depth of the feeling among Atletico supporters. It is one of the most romantic feeling for them. It reflects the loyalty and love for the club. It was this spirit that the marketing campaign was to be based on. A Year in Hell – Campaign Emilio trapped the creativity of an old ATM fan who had started a new ad agency Rushmore. Before getting to the campaign the pricing policy was changed. The cost was effectively brought down. Why I say this is that ATM put the fans above money in this case. They considered with all due respect the quality which was being offered in second division not of the quality whilst playing against Real Madrid, Barcelona and other first division teams. So they decided to cut out the price by 50% of their previous season tickets price. They also decided to show their fans that they respect their support and decided to reward the fans by keeping the same pricing next season even if ATM promoted to First Division. Gesture based advertising and use of sports press was implemented. The campaign titled “Un añito en el Infierno (A Year in Hell)” played in the emotional factor for the fans. A year signified that is only a year and they will be back. It signified hope. Fire in the advert signified purification. Gesturing that ManU and Milan have been here too brought a sense of calmness. And the campaign was a huge success winning numerous awards.

Atletico de Madrid Case

Unexpected Results The campaign was so much a success that season tickets sale upped by 69 percent which was not expected at all. The phrase “A year in Hell” became the catch phrase and reflected the Atleti spirit. Only down of the season was that once again on the last ditch, ATM were left hard felt. They won their last game but could not get the desired promotion.

Atletico did well to get out of the crisis. Their campaign was a huge success. To understand the factors that contributed to their success, we can say it was great understanding of the target audience. The placement of the ads and their timing was great. They had a good sense to wait until fans had been given time to put out their frustration. They showed the fans that they were disappointed as the fans were. The campaign though hugely successful depended on the target audience and pre-existing spirit. Therefore, it is not a formula to be hit all the time. There are clubs like Real Madrid where I think this would definitely fail. But some other clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool with tweaks according to the audience and fans spirit can use this to their advantage.

As the study shows that Sports Marketing is not as straight forward a campaign as in regular companies. It is based on the results which are dynamic and vary. The marketing depends on the target audience, the situation. It is important to have correct 4Ps which are now 4Cs. Correct communication and Cost make a huge contribution in a successful campaign.…...

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