Recently, we invited Christoph Wortmann, Director Marketing and Sales of VfL Bochum 1848, and David Görges, Managing Director of the agency Beyer Görges GmbH, to record the podcast episode “How to create a record-breaking jersey campaign”. Christoph and David will explain how they successfully launched jersey campaigns at VfL Bochum in the previous seasons, generating around 2.4 million euros in merchandise sales revenue till December 2021. This article will summarize the episode’s key highlights.
Could you give us a brief summary of the recent campaigns? How did it all begin?
Christoph Wortmann: All of this began in 2018 when we started investing in the club’s brand development, digital media growth, and content marketing. The jersey campaign is a part of this brand development mission. Our key three values were authenticity, being down-to-earth, and approachability
Then in 2019, we defined our jersey color which included: floodlight dark blue, floodlight light blue, and floodlight white. In 2020, we wanted to leverage the jersey campaign by offering an agency pitch. The objective was to build the jersey campaign not only for a few weeks but over the next several years, in order to express our brand values to our followers more clearly and effectively. Out of the five pitching agencies, I knew David’s team was the right one after only one hour as they genuinely understood our long-term goals – not just simply unveiling a new campaign for the jersey, but bringing our values and stories into it. Since then we have witnessed a huge success in our merchandising sales of roughly €2.4 million and around 15,000 jerseys sold until December 2021.
Director Marketing and Sales, VfL Bochum 1848
Managing Director, Beyer Görges
How long does it usually take? Who usually has the biggest influence among all involved stakeholders?
Christoph: To be honest, it’s a long process. You’ll need at least a year to 15 months to complete the design process, quantity planning, and marketing campaign which also involves a significant amount of efforts such as video production or content generation, and so on. In the end, the club will make the final decision. In our case, we don’t have a dedicated designer for the kit design, so our kit provider – Nike – assisted us and presented us with a variety of possibilities. We then got together with our agency to decide which jersey best embodied our brand’s values and stories.
What did the creative process look like? – How did you come up with the campaign stories?
David Görges: I can give some insights into the creative process. We gained many inputs from Bochum on what they wanted to be and how they desired to express their values to their fans. More importantly, if you work in an emotional business like football, you’ll inherit a huge box of history associated with the teams. Fortunately, Bochum is a historical club, so we’ve found a lot of inspirational materials to develop our idea for a good creative story. When we arrived at the stadium, it’s right in the heart of the city and you see these floodlight poles from afar, which also dates back to a simpler, more approachable era of football. Thus, we thought that this may be an iconic symbol for authentic football since, in the future, these lighting poles would almost certainly be replaced by LED technology installed directly under the roof of modern stadiums. We tried to transfer that creative angle to the jersey and when we looked closely, it was like those floodlight trails were shining on the jersey. And that is how our visual key concept, “floodlight”, was born. We then combined the “floodlight” visual element with Bochum’s branding colors including floodlight dark blue, light blue, and white.
For the first campaign, we came up with a key message – “Kein Brimborium” which means “no unnecessary fuss”, just football as it means to be. We want to emphasize more on the simplicity of football and build that into the campaign.
On the second campaign – “Castroper Straßenfußball”, we drew inspiration from Bochum’s stadium, which is characterized by a unique architectural style called “Brutalismus”. It is known for straight architectural lines which you can find throughout the whole stadium. We always trace back to the club’s values and use them to develop our campaign story further, whether it is an iconic floodlight pole or the stadium’s architecture.
How did you leverage your campaigns through key social channels and platforms?
Christoph: In order to have a successful campaign, you have to do your homework beforehand and develop your digital channels. For example, since 2018, our Instagram fan base has grown from 30,000 to 90,000 followers. We also invested in the CRM system and newsletter/email marketing. Once we’ve done our homework, then a good story-telling campaign is able to result in sales growth.
David: We started by screening all of Bochum’s digital channels and asking ourselves “How can our storytelling increase the reach on these channels?”. Then we gathered media assets from VfL Bochum and created first drafts at the same time. Everything was done in close collaboration with the club, from video shooting to post-production. The final campaign’s assets involved not only the current players but also the club’s legends and fans. As a result, it was highly appreciated by the fans. Besides social media, the club’s website was also to drive more reach for the jersey campaign. When a fan visits Bochum’s website, they were routed to the campaign’s landing page, which included a whole story rather than a simple sales ad. That was something we haven’t seen before in the football landscape.
Did this record-breaking number surprise you at all? What would be the main success factors for your jersey campaigns?
Christoph: Yes. When we launched the campaign, we had certain expectations, but the outcome exceeded them all. I believed the two driving factors were the success on the sports side and our authentic storytelling. Regarding the sports side, being promoted to the Bundesliga was definitely be a big push for the jersey’s sales. However, the bigger reason was that we have prepared our digital growth and brand-building campaign even before being promoted and playing in the middle of the 2nd Bundesliga. Even if you ask some neutral fans about Bochum, maybe he/she would say they like Bochum because we are simple, down-to-earth, and just authentic football.
David: From an overall view, I believe to make a campaign successful, you have to find the heart of the matter. In this case, Bochum’s approach was not only to launch another jersey campaign to trigger sales for a few weeks or a month. In fact, we did that throughout the whole season with a great storytelling concept behind it. Perhaps it’s not just about focussing on selling new jerseys on a short-term basis, but rather on what is your story and how you convey it, and how to transport your values reproducible to fans and the general public. And this, I believe, might be the Bochum’s campaign’s little success secret.