Board member Jörg Wacker on Audi Summer Tour: 'FC Bayern pioneered a new form of marketing '

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The Bayern world has not stood still during coronavirus: club and fans remain close. In '51', board member for internationalisation and strategy Jörg Wacker reviews the digital Audi Summer Tour.

Mr Wacker, last summer you said FC Bayern just didn't accept that it couldn't carry out its annual Audi Summer Tour because of coronavirus -- and therefore developed a digital alternative.
(smiles) "Yes, that was almost like an act of defiance, which definitely paid off. FC Bayern developed and pioneered a completely new form of marketing here, whereby we said to ourselves: coronavirus has crippled pretty much everything, so now's the time! A lot of it was new territory, we tried out a few things and made the best out of it. The digital reach was phenomenal, there was enormous popularity around the world, and we can be proud of what has been achieved out of our spirit of optimism. I think that's what distinguishes FC Bayern, that we're always looking for new ways to come up with creative solutions together when things get problematic."

What are FC Bayern the pioneers aiming to do next?
"We're constantly working on new projects and ideas. A good example of our staff's spirit of innovation is the 'FC Bayern World Squad' which was developed in the last months. This project, which searches for football talents, goes down brilliantly all around the world -- with the fans, the partners, the media -- and it helps us massively to spread our brand. The talents who we've selected from the different countries through this project are closely watched in their home country. Everyone's wondering whether it can really be one of them who becomes an FC Bayern player. We ourselves are very curious."

Here you'll find everything about the Audi Summer Tour 2021:

You always like to talk of a background noise that should dominate for 365 days a year -- did that go silent during coronavirus?
"Definitely not at FC Bayern. And it's been invaluable during this crisis that we already had the offices in New York and Shanghai. The background noise is only possible if you're there. China recovered from the pandemic relatively quickly -- if we didn't have an office there, we wouldn't have been able to do anything since the start of the pandemic without incurring long quarantine measures for our staff on every journey. In the USA they had problems with coronavirus for longer, but here too it was and is important to be on the ground. We've always said: if you want to go about internationalisation in a lasting way, you can't set up offices which serve the sole purpose of the marketing and sale of merchandise. It's about establishing the brand in the minds of the people in the area. Only in the second or third step do we come to monetisation, and as the icing on the cake, perhaps we can discover a talent here or there."

Did the six titles take FC Bayern's global image to another level?
"You notice in every conversation that our reputation has increased even more. And if you look at merchandise sales, for example, we had our best annual ecommerce sales for five years thanks to that massive success -- despite our shops being closed for a long time due to coronavirus. That proves that there are always opportunities, and sporting success always has a direct influence of monetisation. Our sales figures would certainly have gone through the roof if it weren't for coronavirus and if the stadium and shops had stayed open. At the same time, we're not easing off now, not one inch. The new away shirt with the Munich coat of arms is the most popular away shirt we've ever had, and the new home kit with the five stars will also become a bestseller, I'm sure of that."

The Munich coat of arms shirt encapsulates how FC Bayern wants to be seen: rooted in Bavaria, a hit worldwide.
"Yes, it's the ideal shirt to demonstrate our roots and our connection to our home, while at the same time conveying that to the wide world. The big success of this kit is very pleasing for us. We also see it as a special thank you to the fans here at home, because even during this pandemic, they've always given us the feeling that they were close even though the stadium gates have remained shut for a long time. The motif of the Munich coat of arms should stay with us beyond this season, too."

New CEO Oliver Kahn also spoke to '51' recently: