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» The partnerships must and will in fact be successful «

The Volkswagen brand will enter into major partnerships with the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) from January 2018, and the German Football Association (DFB) from January 2019. Jürgen Stackmann, board member for Sales, explains the benefits and the source of funding.

Jürgen Stackmann at the Volkswagen Arena in Wolfsburg. The board member for Sales is a huge soccer fan.

Mr. Stackmann, how do I as an employee benefit from our brand’s soccer sponsorship? 
Many of us here at the brand are of course big − or at least moderate − soccer fans, but that played only a minor role in the ­decision about our sponsorships. The ­essential thing is that the partnerships must and will be successful for our brand − in terms of improving of our image, the launch of the I.D. family, and additional sales.

But we realize that many employees are very attached to their ­national teams and clubs, and so we have planned ­activities for them from the start. Our employees should become a vibrant part of our new soccer ­partnerships and be able to actively participate in them. The same goes for our approximately three thousand dealers in Europe.

» We want to get the I.D. product family off to a fantastic start. «

Does that mean that soccer is primarily a measure aimed at improving our image and boosting sales?
Soccer is not just any old thing to sponsor, but something highly emotional. Soccer connects people. We do indeed want to use the partnerships with the DFB and UEFA as an advertising and ­communication platform to boost our image, to get the new electric I.D. product family off to a fantastic start and, of course, to sell our cars − cars that ­employees in plants all over the world have produced.

Exactly which models does the brand want to promote with the help of soccer?
We plan to use soccer to support our efforts in achieving a breakthrough with electric mobility. It’s convenient that the Euro 2020 soccer championship, to be held in 13 cities in 13 coiuntries, coincides with the sales launch of the I.D. In that way we can inspire enthusiasm in at least one ­entire continent for the first model of our innovative I.D. family. However, that is only one aspect. We will be using soccer to advertise all our models, including ones with gasoline and diesel engines, as well as upcoming special models and our mobility services.

Jürgen Stackmann

The 56-year-old has been the board member for Marketing and Sales at the Volkswagen brand for two years now. Prior to that he was in the same position at Škoda, and CEO at Seat.

Why do soccer and Volkswagen go together in the first place?
“Volkssport” (literally the “people’s sport” in German) and Volkswagen – the ­connection is quite clear. Not only because soccer is the number one sport in most of our markets, but also because soccer is as classless as our cars. Everyone can find an appropriate model among our cars. That perception is also behind our motto ­“Volkswagen. Partner for soccer.” We didn’t simply win over the DFB with anattractive offer − there were a lot of strong competitors. However, we were able to convince them that we don’t just want to be a partner with the national team, but rather with every soccer player and every soccer club in Germany. That’s a very big promise and requires a massive effort. But that is also our firm commitment. And let me clarify something in this context: a major portion of the funds that we will be spending on the two soccer partnerships comes from existing sources of money. We have simply distributed the expenditures for communications and advertising in a different way.

How have previous soccer partnerships, with the DFB Cup or the associations in France and Switzerland, benefited our brand?
I need to broaden the scope a bit to answer that. The world has become more digital, and how media is used has undergone dramatic changes in recent years. We can no longer reach all of our current and new customers with traditional advertising. But communicating via soccer sponsorships, has always been a successful route for Volkswagen. Wherever we were a credible partner for soccer, we gained in reputation and sold more cars. Those results were quantifiable. And with our sponsorships of the national team and the DFB Cup, we were able to show how creative we are.

What is so special about being the mobility partner for the Euro 2020 championship?
In 2016, we delivered around 1.7 million cars in Europe, that is just under one-third of our sales. The 2020 UEFA European Championship comes at a perfect time for us, because they coincide with the 60th anniversary of the competition and will take place for the first time in 13 countries. Matches will be played in Russia and Spain, in Denmark and Italy – these are all Volkswagen markets. Not to forget ­Germany, our home market. We want to help people connect using our mobility. The task of bringing our fleet of vehicles to 13 countries alone is a huge logistical undertaking. We have also never been involved in a transnational soccer sponsorship program before and were therefore able to pool our marketing energy. This is a huge project which − like the entire tournament − will attract attention worldwide. I’m already looking forward to it.

What is your relationship to soccer?
I come from the Hamburg area and grew up with HSV legends like Kaltz, Keegan, Magath, and Hrubesch. On Saturdays, my best friends and I always got together in our neighbor’s backyard to reenact scenes from the live radio broadcasts on NDR 2. At that time, games between HSV and Bayern München were a real sensation. I’m still a little attached to HSV for that reason, but in the meantime a lot of stadium visits have also made me a fan of the football clubs FC Cologne and VfL Wolfsburg.

» A major portion comes from existing sources of money. «