When Lionel Messi or his FC Barcelona teammates lift their shirts after scoring a goal, soccer fans will see Intel Corp. (INTC)’s logo under a sponsorship that puts its logo on the inside of the team’s jerseys.
Intel, the world’s largest maker of semiconductors, agreed to become the official technology partner of the 2011 Champions League winners and current leader of La Liga, Intel vice president of sponsorships David Haroldsen said. The company’s current advertising slogan is “Look inside.”
“This is a first-time placement of a logo inside of their jersey and a first for a technology company,” Haroldsen said in an e-mail.
Haroldsen declined to provide terms of what he called a “multiyear” agreement. Forbes magazine reported that Intel will pay the club $25 million over five years.
Intel’s technology will help Barcelona players and coaches improve research, training and performance, Haroldsen said. The company’s only current sports sponsorship also will provide devices to students at Barcelona’s La Masia training academy, which developed current players such as Messi, Xavi Hernandez and Andres Iniesta.
“In the future, we will also be working to improve the fan experience through new technology at Camp Nou,” Haroldsen said of the club’s 99,354-seat stadium, which it says is the largest in Europe.
The logo placement fits well with the company’s previous “Intel Inside” ad campaigns, according to Rick Burton, professor of sports management at Syracuse University. Burton warned that players must show the logo after scoring in order for Intel to see benefits from what he called a “really novel idea.”
“Otherwise Intel may have paid for something that isn’t often seen,” Burton said in an e-mail. “Still, it’s a bold move by Intel and links them with one of the world’s most recognized sports brands.”
Haroldsen said the contract does not require players to display the logo, and players have not been asked to do so. The sponsorship will not interfere with the team’s other jersey sponsors, Qatar Sports Investments on the front and Unicef, the United Nations Children’s Fund, on the back.
Barcelona is the second-richest soccer team in the world with $627 million in annual revenue, according to accountant Deloitte LLP, trailing only La Liga’s Real Madrid at $665 million. The team scored a record 115 goals last season en route to a La Liga championship and in June signed 21-year-old Brazilian forward Neymar, who scored three times yesterday as the team advanced through the Champions League group stage with a 6-1 win against Scotland’s Celtic FC.
Winners of the top European club championship in 1992, 2006, 2009 and 2011, Barcelona is valued at $2.6 billion, according to Forbes’s annual rankings. That’s third among soccer clubs behind Real Madrid ($3.3 billion) and England’s Manchester United ($3.2 billion), the magazine said.
La Liga’s top scorer in each of the past two seasons, the 26-year-old Messi scored 46 goals for Barcelona last year in league competition. He’s won the FIFA Ballon d’Or in each of the past three seasons as world soccer’s top player.
Messi, like many soccer players, has lifted his jersey during past goal celebrations to reveal a message written on his undershirt. Such personal statements aren’t allowed by the Spanish Football Federation, and Messi was fined about $3,400 in 2011 after he wrote “Happy Birthday Mom” in Spanish on his undershirt, according to ESPN.