It was only showcased in three countries across the world this year; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Lagos, Nigeria; and Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Lagos, Nigeria’s Centre of Excellence had its own moment in the sun between 13 and 15 March 2014 as football fans across the country shared in the excitement when Heineken made good its promise to bring the UEFA Champions League trophy with its brand ambassador, Ruud Gullit on a tour of Lagos. The UEFA Champions League trophy has been presented to the world by Heineken for eight consecutive years and has offered football enthusiasts the opportunity to relive an experience of a life time. Being the second tour of the trophy in Nigeria, Heineken did well to double the fun by lining up several activities and events to commemorate the tour.
For one, the tour coincided with the critical second round stage of the UEFA Champions league thereby providing additional excitement for football followers across the country. “The Champions league Trophy tour outside of Europe is a unique Heineken experience and just like the Champions league has a long and distinguished heritage. The tour demonstrates a true global outreach. Besides, what better way is there to reward delighted and dedicated fans than bring the trophy to them?” Walter Drenth, Marketing Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc explained.
Activities of the tour included a courtesy visit to the Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Raji Fashola at the Government house Alausa, Ikeja, where the trophy was also presented to the Governor. The governor was pleased by the presentation and lauded Heineken for the opportunity given to Nigerians to feel the trophy. He also used the opportunity to encourage Nigerian youths to embrace sports and meaningfully engage themselves. A trade unveiling was also held where the trophy was presented to the trade partners of Nigerian Breweries.
The tour provided Nigeria the privilege of ‘hosting’ the Heineken digital campaign for the UEFA Champions League-. The digital campaign christened Sharethesofa was held at the Heineken house where over 101 million people were reached globally with 14.4 million from Nigeria alone. The campaign had Ruud Gullit tweeting live from the Heineken house in Lagos during the Manchester City versus Barcelona match and Paris St Germaine (PSG) versus Bayern Leverkusen. During the Matches, Gullit ran an online commentary, gave insights about the matches as well as answered questions on the direction of the matches.
Speaking on the campaign, Senior Brand Manager Heineken, Ngozi Nkwoji said “the #Sharethesofa is a global activation and Heineken’s latest second-screen campaign, which coincides with the European soccer season. The program allows fans to interact with soccer stars via that hashtag. It also involves “random acts of kindness” from Heineken to fans that use the hashtag, including a surprise visit from a soccer star who actually shares a fan’s sofa during a game”. Heineken estimates that 70% of viewers of the UEFA Champions League watch with a device at home alone and 77% of tablet owners have their tablets handy during matches. The UCL is one of the top three most-tweeted events of the year, according to the company.
Football on the bridge
The trophy brought Lagos to a standstill when it was unveiled to the public over the Falomo Bridge in Ikoyi. Passers-by, motorists and admirers all took notice as the ‘Big Ears’ went on parade. It was a spectacular sight to watch as former Nigerian midfield maestro, Austin Jay Jay Okocha, Ruud Gullit and some football jugglers added an additional dose of excitement by thrilling fans with their skills on the ball. Word quickly spread around and fans turned out with their phones to capture the moment. The trophy had earlier made a whistle stop at the prestigious Kings College where staff and students of the school shared the experience of the UEFA Champions League.
But it did not stop there. Gullit touched down at Iganmu House, the head office of Nigerian Breweries, to give employees of the company, a first-hand experience of the excitement that the UEFA Champions League presents to the World. Employees snatched few minutes from the day’s tasks to grab photos with the trophy and five lucky employees who emerged from a quiz competition ahead of the trophy tour had photographs with Ruud Gullit. They also received souvenirs as part of the programme.
The last two days of the tour took the trophy to Eko Hotel and Suites where fans gathered from all over Lagos to take pictures with the trophy and footballers- Sunday Oliseh and Christian Campbell. The in-house tour at Eko Hotel availed fans the opportunity to see the jerseys of their favorite European teams, play fuss ball, win autographed footballs and other Heineken branded items and share the UEFA Champions League experience of a life time.
Ngozi Nkwoji said that each year during the UEFA Champions League season, “Heineken strives to ignite fans conversations. “This year’s UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour brings football fans around the world closer to action in an unexpected and surprising way enabling them to interact with Heineken and the tournament. As we get closer to the final, we will continue to engage with fans by offering legendary brand experiences.”
The UEFA Champions league is the most prestigious club platform for international football stars and their clubs. With over 150 million TV viewers watching live coverage of the UEFA Champions League in 220 countries and territories every match week, this premier-sporting event has become global and fits perfectly with the Heineken brand, which is enjoyed in almost every country in the globe.