How FC Barcelona is Conquering the U.S. Market

The initial priority for FC Barcelona’s office in New York City, which opened in September 2016, was business development. Since then, the club has also utilized its on-the-ground presence to further the FC Barcelona brand through its foundation, academies and camps, commercial partnerships and more.

As the club motto Més que un club translates, FC Barcelona is “more than a club.”

“We act globally but are very rooted in the Catalan community,” said Xavi O’Callaghan, managing director of FC Barcelona’s New York office. “You have to pay attention to the local fanbase, but you also have to think about the rest of the world or else you won’t be able to compete with the other clubs.

“The world has become a singular scenario, and you have to be global if you want to be at the highest level, and we like to compete.”

Not only does FC Barcelona like to compete, but it likes to win, and it has the impressive results and numbers on and off the field to prove its success. On the field, Barça has 25 LaLiga titles, five UEFA Champions League crowns, three FIFA Club World Cup titles and 30 Copa del Rey championships.

The organization is the first sports team ever to surpass $1 billion in revenue—that’s before the Dallas Cowboys, the New York Yankees, Real Madrid FC, Manchester United or any of the other global players. FC Barcelona also had 1.189 billion interactions on social media in 2018.

While the third-most valuable soccer team in the world ($4.064 billion) is a household name from Indonesia to Iowa, that doesn’t mean conquering the United States and North American markets have been a walk in Central Park.

FC Barcelona is jostling for position in a saturated and highly competitive market against the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL—not to mention all of the teams that comprise each professional league. Barça is also at a distinct disadvantage because its main product is more than 3,000 miles away across the world.

“That’s a handicap for us as a company and office in the US, so we’re trying to improve our overall brand awareness,” O’Callaghan said. “We are trying to be imaginative.”

The NYC office solidified the global deal that landed Stanley Black & Decker as the official partner of Barça’s women’s team in March 2018. The club is becoming more engrossed in North American soccer with eight academies throughout the U.S., six in Canada and nine in Latin America. The FC Barcelona Foundation introduced its FutbolNet program, which fights bullying and social exclusion in schools, to New York City in December 2018; the first time it’s been brought to the U.S. The club also organizes viewing parties for important games including El Clásico or the Champions League; recently having an event at Bleacher Report offices for its 5-1 win against Lyon in the tournament’s Round of 16.

Looking to further strengthen its imprint and fanbase in America, the club expressed interest in creating a National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) team based in California. Initially hoping to launch in 2019, Barça has run into roadblocks regarding branding, sponsorship, intellectual property and rights. O’Callaghan said the club is working on addressing potential issues that may arise with the launch of the club, and remains optimistic.

“We can say we are the FC Barcelona Bulls, for example, and use a different crest and have different colors,” he said. “We can do that right now. But we want to take part in the league as FC Barcelona—with our colors, with our crest. That’s why it’s a little bit complicated.

“Bringing the brand here and to be able to be physically in the U.S. can be an amazing step for us.”

NOTE: First appeared on Forbes SportsMoney

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