Status: 03/24/2023 09:43 a.m
50 years ago, Jägermeister boss Günter Mast revolutionized football with the Hubertus deer on the Eintracht Braunschweig jersey. It was the beginning of today’s billion dollar business of sports sponsorship. But where is the journey going?
Around 51 years ago, Klaus-Dieter Seisselberg received an important assignment. The postman is on his way to Lutterloh in the Südheide. He is supposed to deliver an express letter to Günter Mast. “Seppl” Seisselberg, who is also a specialist at the Post SV Celle roller hockey club, also has an idea in his luggage.
The postman seizes the opportunity and asks the very wealthy liqueur manufacturer whether he “couldn’t equip his roller hockey boys with jersey advertising”. And anyway, Eintracht Braunschweig, the German champions of 1967, is his favorite club. “Would you possibly equip them too?”
Günter Mast, the barbecue party and football
Mast has little to do with sport. He is a businessman through and through. But the idea is good and a barbecue party with business bosses does the rest. The Jägermeister boss notices that all the guests are drawn out of the garden and in front of the television, where an international match of the German national team is being shown. “That’s when Günter Mast saw that all levels of society are interested in football,” says Jägermeister archivist Florian Eisenblätter.
Mast recognizes the marketing potential for his company and joins Eintracht Braunschweig. After a tough struggle with the German Football Association (DFB), the “lions” ran against Schalke 04 on March 24, 1973 as the first Bundesliga team with jersey advertising – instead of the lion, the Hubertus deer from Jägermeister adorns the chest of Eintracht captain Bernd Gersdorff and his teammates.
“Mast was a doer, as we would say today, a visionary. Football ought to be grateful to him to this day.”
The Wolfenbüttel liqueur manufacturer guaranteed the people of Braunschweig 500,000 marks for five years in the first sponsorship contract of this kind. 50 years later FC Bayern Munich alone is to receive 250 million euros for advertising from Telekom for the same period.
Croesus in the Bundesliga is VfL Wolfsburg, which, thanks to the special constellation with its financier VW, allegedly collects 70 million euros for jersey advertising. Depending on the composition of the German Beletage, the 18 clubs together earn around 250 million euros per year in this area.
Sports sponsorship is now a billion dollar business
“He discovered football as an advertising medium,” said former Bayern Munich boss Uli Hoeneß once about Mast. With football as the driving force, sports sponsorship has developed rapidly in general. “We are still in the process of calculating the exact figures for 2022, but we are assuming an estimated 4.5 billion euros for organized sport, commercial events and the like,” says Inka Müller-Schlah, Managing Director of the Association of Sports Sponsoring Providers (VSA). . “This means that sponsoring is the largest source of income for associations, leagues and clubs alongside TV money and ticketing.”
From advertising pillars and training jersey advertising
In football, however, the clubs’ jerseys remain the number one projection surface – especially for the fans. They buy them in droves and carry the sponsors all over the world. It is understandable that the clubs want to get more out of this than the income from breast advertising. While in other leagues the pros are already reminiscent of advertising pillars – with several logos on the jersey and also on the shorts – the German Football League (DFL) still sets very narrow limits for the Bundesliga clubs. Only one additional sleeve sponsor is allowed.
The marketing experts of the clubs, which are now commercial enterprises, never tire of looking for other ways to generate money. Bundesliga clubs like Schalke 04, for example, have taken Chelsea or Manchester United as a model and advertise a different sponsor on their training jerseys than on the match day. Chelsea should pocket around eight million euros a year for this. Thanks to our own media club channels with millions of followers worldwide, training videos also generate an enormous advertising reach.
Virtual reality glasses or holograms coming soon?
A deer’s head opened the door to this development in football. But where is the journey going? “Back then it was about conquering space. Today it’s primarily about filling and using this space with innovations and creativity,” says Müller-Schlah. Sports sponsoring is now taking place on all channels thanks to digitization and is extremely changeable – I’m thinking, for example, of the possibilities that virtual reality glasses or holograms will offer.”
Has “Seppl” Seisselberg already thought about virtual reality glasses or holograms on his journey through the Südheide to Günter Mast? Hardly, but the postman from back then has his share in the history of shirt advertising. “I didn’t give the money, I just had the idea,” he says today.
Whether that applies to Eintracht Braunschweig remains to be seen. But Seisselberg’s “roll hockey boys” actually supported Mast with money for years. In return, of course, they also wore the Hubertus deer from Jägermeister on their chests.