|BARRY WEBBER - Commercial Director, West Ham United|
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 14:32
By Tristan Mann, News Editor
Barry Webber is Commercial Director at West Ham United. Previously he held the same position at Newcastle United and before that was Head of Sport for AEG Sponsorship.
Barry has also held the position of Commercial Manager for the International Tennis Federation. Before he moved in to sport, he was Director of Sales at IT provider Compusys.Barry Webber's
What is the latest on the club’s proposed move to the Olympic Stadium after the London 2012 Games?
We plan to bring "soul into London sports" by combining football, athletics, cricket and entertainment in one place, creating a lasting legacy for the UK from the 2012 Olympics. It would be two big regenerations schemes in one – our Upton Park site could be developed, helping the district, and then the area around the Olympic stadium. We can’t see a better use for the stadium than what we are proposing and we are working extremely well and extremely closely with Newham council with a dedicated team to try and make this happen. We are confident that our journey to the stadium will happen.
There will be various proposals during the course of this year, but the club is planning on having a say and having a place at the stadium in the next four to six years.
Selling commercial sponsorship in sport can be a very long-term thing. How do you reconcile this with short-term targets?
If we’re talking about sponsorship, there generally aren’t targets that are short-term, like month to month, unless you do it match to match. So whether it’s man of the match sponsorship, or whether it’s match sponsor, or kit sponsor, or dressing room sponsor, that can be match by match and is obviously targeted within the corporate sales team and that is sold on an individual basis rather than a seasonal basis.
If you’re talking official partner level, where the investment is six figures of course, there aren’t any monthly targets, and everything I do is about long-term commitment.
With the news that Tottenham Hotspur and Middlesbrough struggling to find suitable shirt sponsors for the new season, how important is it for West Ham that the club has a deal with SBOBET until 2013?
Obviously we are very proud to have SBOBET as a main sponsor and again it comes back to the last question about long-term commitment, where most brands now talk about ROI, you can’t get that unless you invest long-term into a partnership with drive and activate a partnership. Your fans know what that means; the only way to get your message across is by investing a continued message into the same fan base.
So for us it’s great, obviously we’ve got a commitment from SBOBET, who play a huge role in the gaming industry. I can’t speak on behalf of Spurs or Middlesbrough. It comes down to location, it comes down to the league they play in, it comes down also to the club strategy and vision, and you have to align that with various brands and which brands might buy into that.
Spurs are now in the Champions League, and are a big London club with a big, loyal fan base, and they’ve just done a deal with Autonomy. I mean the market is tough, let’s not kid ourselves, there is a lot of choice out there for brand directors, and clubs have to be more astute about how they approach them and how they tell their story.
You only moved to West Ham a couple of months ago. Do you have a formal marketing strategy written down, or is that still a work in progress?
We are defining a global marketing strategy for West Ham, unlike with Newcastle. I mean Newcastle is a very big club and has a very big and loyal following, but it’s a one city one club situation. There was a question of do they need to grow their brand? I would say yes, I think they do, but would they see that themselves, I question that! The black and white of Newcastle is world famous, yet like other clubs, how much money that generates for the NUFC is minimal. West Ham is a global brand. I hate to use that term but we have fans forums and fanbases all across the world. The fact we are London-based, we are the closest Premier League club to mainland Europe. Especially considering we are so close to Stratford, it’s only a two hour commute into Paris.
So we are defining a global strategy and it’s all about content. Also we have SBOBET as our main sponsor, and there’s a lot we can do with them in Asia to immerse the public in the partnership and who West Ham are.
And just how far ahead have set you set any formal targets?
It’s a work in progress, I mean there’s no point saying “We want to have X amount of fans by this point”, but what we can do is be quite creative about how we engage with our foreign fanbase. We use the academy, which is world famous. We have already set that up with soccer leagues in the United States; we are immersing our academy skills set into American soccer, so the legacy is already there.
With regards to Asia, like I said, we have SBOBET, and we know our fans, we know where they are, and so it’s just a work in progress. We’ve just launched a Facebook page which in the first seven days of launching it has got 56,000 members, which is huge.