It was inevitable but RB Leipzig is no longer looking at just Germany, or even Europe for that matter, as their primary market. Like many super clubs, the East German team is interested in expansion into India, China and the mother load of all markets the United States. CEO of RB Leipzig Oliver Mintzlaff broke down these plans with the German publication BILD with certain key points standing out.
Oliver Mintzlaff Unveils Leipzig Expansion Beyond Germany
EXPANSION OF SOCIAL MEDIA AND DIGITAL PRESENCE
Red Bull has reinvented the way many companies see marketing, spending heavily on sports and culture as a way of carrying their brand around the world. This has led to significant investments in soccer, hockey, extreme sports, video games and even break dancing. While it is unknown how successful it has been to overall sales, since Red Bull remains a private company, the level of diversification has not trickled down to the soccer side of management where the marketing for Red Bull teams has been fairly standard. Mintzlaff wants to change that.
The executive is interested in “linking the fans with the stadium and the club.” They intend to create a “greater exchange and more interaction.” This includes a releasing a club app for the New York Red Bulls to little fanfare. However, the move for more active and engaging ways to interact with fans leads to the next big move in the team’s ever-changing game plan.
EXPANSION INTO INDIA, CHINA AND UNITED STATES
European football has become a hot export for many countries and since the Bundesliga is considered one of the top leagues in the world, it only make sense that Red Bull would want to move their brand to a more global audience. The style of play and diverse lineup lends itself to that strategy and isn’t out of the norm. City Football Group in particular has had success marketing Manchester City in towns where they already have teams, sometimes at the expense of those clubs.
India and China in particular are very passionate about the game and have shown up in large numbers for off-season friendlies between the likes of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Leipzig intend to insert themselves into the conversation, potentially expanding their sphere of influence in those markets.
In the United States, the process may be a bit easier. Unlike La Liga, the Bundesliga has a greater reach through their deal with Fox Sports. Much like the English Premier League, Fox gives the top German division a tremendous outlet to push top teams and the most entertaining product. The high-scoring Leipzig team have certainly provided entertainment and been in contention for European spots ever since being promoted three seasons ago.
SUCCESS REQUIRES MORE MONEY
Leipzig is aware that the more they succeed in Europe the more they will need to spend. Selling players can only go so far before hurting the team’s form and that is why Mintzlaff is interested in expanding how the team generates revenue. More sponsors, more TV revenue and potentially loans may even come into play in order to keep Leipzig competitive against the powerhouses of the continent. While they won’t be Real Madrid overnight, their success can come close to the likes of Sevilla and Atletico Madrid in the near future given their young players and aggressive transfer tactics.
One area that is lacking at the moment is something familiar to New York Red Bulls fans. Attendance is stagnant. The team hasn’t sold out since last season and has a hard time equating fan interest to euros with regards to merchandise. There is a stigma about Red Bull in German football and fan violence has occurred which may be a deterrent that the team needs to overcome in the coming years. Their on-field success may quell the flames and a rivalry with Dortmund may prove to be the catalyst that keeps fan interest.
LEIPZIG ISN’T A FARM TEAM
We’ve heard the jokes in the past of Red Bull pretty much becoming a series of puppy mills around the world. However, Leipzig staff have battled against this, despite the transfer of Naby Keita last season. The intention is to keep star players like Timo Werner for as long as possible and even bolster their ranks with young, hungry, players through high-paid transfers. Ademola Lookman’s saga was a great example which eventually didn’t happen due to FIFA Fair Play laws and Everton’s constantly rising price tag.
Leipzig have also begun pulling from their own network to keep top players coming into the team. RBL expect Amadou Haidara to join the team from Red Bull Salzburg and Tyler Adams from New York. In many ways the network is starting to pay for itself by producing talents in smaller leagues to feed the beast that is RB Leipzig.
Whether success on the field and in the bank comes soon is the question. However, Red Bull are learning how to run a popular sports brand and using the same strategies that the top teams have employed for years to insert themselves into the equation.