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Allianz steals the show in Munich

A CAMPAIGN to raise the profile of the Allianz Arena name ahead of the UEFA Champions League final in May could point the way for other venues stripped of their sponsor deals when hosting major international sports events.

The Allianz Arena in Munich was re-named Fußball Arena München in UEFA Champions League mode and was barred from displaying the logo of its naming rights partner in and outside the stadium for the match.

But Allianz’ strong association with the venue – cemented since purchasing the naming rights from 2005 – was maximized by a global awareness campaign intended to remind fans and the media of the venue’s name.

The campaign “Destination Allianz Arena” was run in April and May by the Allianz Group Market Management, Team Allianz at WPP (specifically Grey, Hill & Knowlton, Mediacom, The Social Partners) and Cemano (Allianz ,sponsoring agency).

Positioned as a celebration of its naming-rights partnership of the Allianz Arena, the Destination Allianz Arena campaign focused particularly on Europe and Asia and featured a range of activities, from print and digital advertising, to live events, PR and social media activation.

The resulting international awareness represented a stunning return for Allianz worth many millions of euros in media value.

In the digital space alone, the Allianz brand retained an overwhelmingly stronger association with the stadium than its official match name – 96.6 percent of all mentions with “Champions League final” according to a comparative study of total online share of mentions conducted by the digital tracker tool Flightdeck.

“Allianz is a proud partner of the Arena and FC Bayern Munich and is very pleased to have been recognized as a successful brand around the final,”says Christian Deuringer, head of Global Brand Management of Allianz SE.

“As a global brand, it is very important for its name to be well known outside Germany. Sponsoring plays a key role in the way Allianz communicates with audiences worldwide.

“The Allianz Arena is well known globally, and it helps to make the Allianz brand tangible to clients, staff, partners and all other stakeholders.”

The Allianz Arena is the first stadium with naming rights attached to be chosen for a UEFA Champions League final – and UEFA Marketing believes that official partners PlayStation, Heineken, UniCredit, Ford and MasterCard were not compromised by the marketing push from Allianz.

UEFA Marketing director Guy-Laurent Epstein told Sports Sponsorship Insider: “There’s no way we’ll change our view of a stadium because of naming rights. For the UEFA Champions League we will go to the best stadiums in Europe… and make sure that all our sponsors are protected.”

Sports Sponsorship Insider further understands that UEFA was made aware of the campaign by the Allianz Central Marketing team and did not raise any objections.

“As a long-standing and active brand in sport, Allianz maintains good relationships with governing bodies and rights-holders, and works hard to act respectfully and appropriately in all communications,” says Deuringer.

For Allianz, which also operates grassroots programmes under the “Football for life” umbrella, buy-in from European football’s governing body was key.

Whether Olympic authorities would approve similar campaigns for venue such as The O2 around London 2012 is less clear.

As for the UEFA Champions League, the upcoming finals in 2013 and 2014 are scheduled for “clean” venues – Wembley Stadium and Benfica’s Estádio  do Sport Lisboa.

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