"Future of Stadium Marketing in Poland" - StadiaTech
"Future of Stadium Marketing in Poland" an interview for StadiaTech.com from February 2009
Gareth Plummer: How does stadium marketing in Poland compare to the rest of Europe?
Kamil Kukulka: In fact, stadium marketing is still undeveloped in Poland. Stadiums operators limit themselves to traditional promotion activities like posters, press ads, and city billboards.
The first stadiums PR campaigns and creative initiatives were taken by the Euro 2012 organizing offices in the six cities preparing to host the Championship. But their goal was to raise social awareness and acceptance for the investment, not to promote any events as all of these stadiums are under construction now.
The arenas owners are slowly realizing the need of communicating with its customers and following the trends, yet the operators don’t use any new communication channels like 2.0 websites, social networking activities, mobile and bluetooth marketing. It would take ages until these tools would be used in Poland. But the hope is that new Euro stadiums operators will set the marketing level high and show how to effectively compete with other entertainment venues for the clients to spend their leisure money on stadium events and facilities.
Q. What impact will the Euro 2012 European Games have on the stadium infrastructure in Poland?
Granting the Euro 2012 rights to Poland and Ukraine had already a tremendous impact on Polish sports infrastructure development. Suddenly political decision-makers realized how far behind Europe the country was in this area and how important the infrastructure is for country growth and improving the life quality. It applies not only to the main Euro 2012 football stadiums but also to airport, railway, motorway and hotel infrastructure as well as the development of new sport halls/arenas and numerous football stadiums in minor leagues. It’s enough to say that the Polish Ministry of Sports started and co-funded ‘Orlik’ programme to build 2012 modern football and basketball pitches in most local districts to enable grassroots sports growth. And so far, over 1000 pitches were already built all over Poland!
The Euro 2012 Games set a strong trend and even fashion among local governments as there are many sport halls/arenas projected and built in other main cities like Lodz, Gdansk and Bydgoszcz. Poland also won rights to host Eurobasket 2009, and Women Volleyball Euro Championship 2009 and Men Volleyball World Cup 2014, not to mention minor tournaments like Table Tennis European Championship 2011 and other.
Q. How will stadium advertising develop in Poland over the next 5 years?
When it comes to advertising through naming rights there are already the first deals realized in Poland. The first one was Winiary Arena, where a Nestle brand invested in volleyball team and arena in Kalisz, near Poznan. This year we had BGZ Arena - a bank, member of Dutch Rabobank Group, invested in cycling velodrome in Pruszkow, near Warsaw, and Dialog Arena where a Polish telecom invested in football stadium in Lubin, near to Wroclaw.
I’m sure there will be more sponsorship and advertising deals as some Euro 2012 stadia are open to naming rights partners and two cities are already searching for the sponsors. And currently I’m working on offering a brand new 13,000 seated multifunctional sports hall in Lodz to potential sponsors and there was already a real and high interest in the deal, especially among food & beverages companies.
It’s obvious that arena advertising in the next years will focus around new facilities only. The ones build over 30 and more years ago won’t be able to attract any sponsors. This is the reason why authorities of most big cities are planning to invest in new venues or at least modernize the existing ones.
Q. How can stadiums in Poland utilise the Internet to promote themselves?
Although stadiums operators in Poland don’t utilize the Internet in event promotion now, Polish market has a high e-marketing potential. Poles use the Internet intensively to buy anything at e-auctions, in online bookstores; book the tickets for music concerts, cinemas and large sport events; and for all other e-commerce activities including e-banking. Wikipedia in Polish has one of the top number of entries and visits. All I want to say is that for stadiums operators the Internet is still unfulfilled and deep reserve to arenas and events promotion. As I mentioned above, operators should start utilizing the communication channels that young Polish generations use massively like 2.0 websites with social networking initiatives integrated with mobile and instant messengers. That would make a difference in stadiums promotion and perception.
Q. What are the top 3 opportunities and challenges facing stadiums in Poland?
The main challenge now is new arenas on-time finalization along with surrounding transport infrastructure. Second thing is if these new venues will be used at full capacity and if they attract new and differentiated group of clients or simply stay empty after the championships. The other danger is that old venues will stay not renovated for next 10-20 years and will function in worse and worse technical conditions until total demolition.
On positive side, new sport facilities in Poland have a unique chance to attract a new type of clients with deep pockets who currently visit high class shopping centres and multiplexes on regular basis. The key condition is that there will be comfortable and quality spaces to meet, eat and have fun.
Another opportunity for new stadiums is bringing in the biggest music concerts and entertainment performances for mass audience that now are performed in open air common lands outside the city or at old airports.
Finally, the chances are that thanks to bigger revenues generated through stadium, the operators will be able to invest in latest technology and IT solutions increasing the user experience. This will guarantee more stable incomes for many years to come.