Expedia teams up with Octagon as Champions League sponsorship line-up finalised
By Simon Ward
Expedia Group, the online travel platform, has today been presented as the eighth and final sponsor of the Uefa Champions League in the three-year cycle that begins with the 2018-19 competition.
The company will use Europe’s top soccer clubs tournament to promote its Brand Expedia and Hotels.com brands in a deal that also takes in the Uefa Super Cup, contested by the winners of the Champions League and second-tier Europa League, Uefa Youth League finals and Uefa Futsal Champions League finals.
The sponsorship comes into effect for this evening’s Super Cup between Spanish rivals Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid in Tallinn, Estonia, and includes the Champions League play-off round taking place over the next two weeks.
The Expedia deal was concluded with the co-operation of Octagon, the international sports and entertainment marketing agency, which will market and activate the partnership.
Octagon already works with existing Champions League sponsor Mastercard, and previously activated Sony Xperia's partnership with the competition.
Uefa and Team Marketing, the governing body's agency partner, tweaked the Champions League commercial model for the next three years, with eight official partner vacancies, one more than in the last cycle.
Expedia is one of only two new Champions League sponsors, the other being Banco Santander, the Spanish bank, which was announced, as a replacement for Italy’s UniCredit, last November.
Heineken, Nissan, PepsiCo, Mastercard, Gazprom and Sony (via the PlayStation brand) have all renewed, as has Adidas, as the supplier of the match ball (unveiled today), although the supplier package has shifted to an official licensee starting in 2018-19.
Expedia does not have extensive experience in sport, but was a sponsor of England’s professional soccer referees in the 2012-13 season, while Hotels.com has been advertised at matches in countries including Germany and Switzerland.
The company also has a wide international footprint, with Brand Expedia offering flight, accommodation, car rental and other services in more than 30 countries, while Hotels.com provides accommodation online through 90 local websites in 41 different languages.
Mark Okerstrom, chief executive of Expedia Group, said today: “As the world’s travel platform, Expedia Group is excited to be reaching an agreement with the Uefa Champions League, promoting Brand Expedia and Hotels.com. There is no better sport than football to bring fans together around the world to follow their dreams of Uefa Champions League glory, and no better way to make that happen than through the power of travel.”
Guy-Laurent Epstein, marketing director of the Uefa Events arm, commented: “Working with a data driven partner like Expedia Group offers exciting opportunities for us to explore as we look to expand our digital offering. As one of the world’s leading travel experts, Expedia Group’s experience in this field will be of huge benefit to Uefa and its partners, as we seek to grow the Uefa Champions League around the world.”
Under the revised format for the Champions League, the winners of the six play-off ties will join the 26 automatic entrants in the group stage of the 2018-19 competition starting on 18 and 19 September.
Uefa and Team still have one more spot to fill in the Europa League sponsorship inventory, following a rejig of the commercial model for that competition in the next cycle.
They have done away with a main partner, a role previously held by FedEx, the international logistics company, with the result that there will be five official partners and one supplier from 2018-19 onwards.
Hankook, Heineken (through its Amstel brand), Enterprise Rent-A-Car and newcomer Kia Motors are all on board as official partners, with FedEx understood to be among the candidates for the other space.
Molten, the Japanese ball manufacturer, will be the official Europa League match ball supplier from 2018-19, having replaced Adidas.