Many factors have helped Japan’s leading internet services company grow into a global brand. The services themselves have garnered headlines around the world on their own merit, but few would argue that the biggest boost to Rakuten’s brand awareness in Europe has come from its partnership with FC Barcelona. And a new digital campaign is about to build on that momentum.
A new content series called Most Likely To will see first-team FC Barcelona players quizzed on which of their teammates they feel are most likely to do something. Each of the four episodes of Most Likely To features a pair of first-team players using various Rakuten services, including e-commerce, video-on-demand service Rakuten TV, calling and messaging app Rakuten Viber, and e-reading service Rakuten Kobo.
The results are always entertaining and often hilarious, as we watch players like Frenkie de Jong divulge that the player most enthusiastic about discounts is — wait for it — Frenkie de Jong. Just like on the pitch, de Jong’s self-awareness is impeccable.
Finding new and fun ways to connect with fans
Pandemic-related restrictions since early 2020 have limited FC Barcelona’s in-person interactions with Culers (a term used to denote Barça fans). The Club has had to be even more creative than usual in how they engage with Culers, which has inspired campaigns like The Big Picture — a mosaic composed of fan-generated images featured on the main facade of the team’s Camp Nou stadium.
Like The Big Picture, Most Likely To takes a similar digital-first approach to audience engagement. This is a good fit, considering Rakuten’s aim to introduce more users around the world to its online services.
We are here to entertain — whether that is through football at Camp Nou, reading on a Kobo e-reader, or watching the Matchday documentary on Rakuten TV.Judith Rubinat, Head of Partnership Activation, FC Barcelona
Since Rakuten and FC Barcelona first announced their partnership in 2016, Rakuten has seen its brand grow significantly around the world — and especially so in Europe.
FC Barcelona’s Head of Partnership Activation, Judith Rubinat, shared, “A recent survey has shown that awareness of Rakuten as a brand is now at 84% amongst Barça fans, up from 32% before the partnership. Just as importantly, Culers have a strong positive sentiment of the Rakuten brand and the FC Barcelona partnership — and 31% of our respondents state that they intend to purchase a Rakuten product in the next 12 months.”
Rakuten’s European growth story
Rakuten’s international profile rose significantly following the 2010 acquisition of French e-commerce leader PriceMinister. To better leverage Rakuten’s association with FC Barcelona, PriceMinister rebranded to Rakuten France in 2018 and is now one of Rakuten’s leading marketplaces.
Rakuten’s other services in Europe, which include Rakuten Kobo, Rakuten Viber and Rakuten TV, have also seen a significant boost in awareness, activations and growth, with Barcelona-based Rakuten TV now available in 43 markets across Europe.
“We’ve had some great fun creating content together with Rakuten, and the fundamental reason behind that is a joint understanding of our shared partnership purpose,” says Rubinat. “Quite simply, we are here to entertain — whether that is through football at Camp Nou, reading on a Kobo e-reader, or watching the Matchday documentary on Rakuten TV. Content creation is no different.”
From an entertainment standpoint, Most Likely To doesn’t disappoint. Culers and new fans alike will undoubtedly enjoy watching FC Barcelona’s first-team players quizzed on Rakuten’s top services in Europe.