How the Buccaneers plan to conquer the German market ahead of the Munich game
The team announces Thursday morning that it has exploited Legendsthe sports marketing company jointly owned by Dallas Cowboys and the New York Yankees, to sell sponsorships in Germany for the next five years. If foreign companies can be convinced of the benefits of paying handsomely to join a NFL team playing dozens of time zones is still an open question, but the Bucs expect strong demand for this piece of Americana in Germany.
“There have been German fans here at our games (in Tampa) before (Munich) before,” Bucs chief operating officer Brian Ford said. “I can tell you that I have received many emails regarding requests for tickets from Buccaneer fans” for the German game. For the record, he wants everyone to know he doesn’t have one.
Demand for tickets to the Nov. 13 game in Munich, the NFL’s first regular-season contest in the country, is almost mythological. The NFL says 800,000 fans have registered to express their interest in purchasing tickets. As a caveat, ticket brokers could have used bots to sign up for tickets, with resale prices for play through the roof. The cheapest ticket on StubHub is 600 euros, or $586.
The Bucs aren’t the first NFL team to hire an agency in a foreign market, though they’re usually small, local businesses. Legends has an office in Hamburg, Germany, but is best known for selling stadium-related sports marketing services in the United States. He manages suites and sales at some of the nation’s largest venues, including AT&T Stadium, SoFi Stadium, Allegiant Stadium and Yankee Stadium. He also manages the Bucs concessions at Raymond James Stadium.
Legends will focus on finding German companies that would like to align their brands with the orange and white pirate flag. The Bucs already work with a local agency for its social media offerings (Ford declined to name the company).
Asked what Legends could offer potential German companies after the Brady match, agency co-president Mike Tomon didn’t specify a particular platform, but pointed out that sports marketing has gone well beyond that. displaying a sign in a stadium with the company’s name on it. The NFL and Allianz Stadium control the venue’s sponsors; Tomon’s point is that there is still an opportunity for the Bucs to build a fanbase that German companies will want to tap into without games.
“The game is a starting point for partnerships,” he said. “It’s less about durable assets and more about experiences, from digital to physical.”
What exactly that means is a bit unclear. Pressed for examples, he said there would be more than just watch parties, but different ways to engage fans in Germany.
Translating one-time attendance successes from international games into large-scale fandom is a tricky task for the NFL, and the reason the league this year for the first time allowed clubs to market overseas. The Bucs have been given Germany as a market and can therefore sell sponsorships. Their opponent, the sea hawksis not licensed to market in Germany, although they are planning a fan event at a pub in Munich in the days leading up to the contest.
Ford maintains the team has a healthy fan base in Germany, in part pointing to the NFL Europe career of the club’s Super Bowl-winning quarterback Brad Johnson as one of the reasons for Teutonic support. Asked for an estimate of the number of fans, Ford hesitated but insisted it was growing.
The NFL follows fans across countries, and Germany consistently ranks second to Mexico and ahead of the United Kingdom, where the league has played regular season games since 2007. That’s why of the 19 teams marketed in outside the United States, nine are in Mexico and four are in Germany (the patriots, Chiefs and Panthers in addition to the Bucs). There are also six teams in the UK
The Bucs are planning traditional fan events around the Munich game. The team rents Germany’s biggest pub, the Hofbrauhaus, as the home of the fans in Munich. Former players Ronde Barber and Mike Alstott, the team’s reporter and the cheerleaders are expected to make appearances.
Will all of this be enough to create a business and brand 5,000 miles from Tampa? The Jacksonville Jaguars playing one home game a year in London and developing local sponsorships in the UK, some with UK companies that advertised in Jacksonville. Some of those partnerships, like with Lycamobile, didn’t last. The team in May announced an agreement with the insurer Gallagher which covers both the United States and London.
In comments to reporters Wednesday, Peter O’Reilly, the NFL’s international executive vice president, said the league would consider another team regularly playing a game away.
“There is an opportunity, similar (to the) Jaguars, for another club to raise their hand if they want to play internationally and build a model similar to the Jaguars,” O’Reilly said.
Before the team signed Brady in 2020, the Bucs struggled with low attendance in Tampa for many years. If those empty seats come back after Brady, could the team raise their hands for an annual game in Germany? Speculative for sure, but it would surely make it easier for Legends.
(Top photo: Alex Burstow/Getty Images)