Real Madrid has one of the largest and most passionate sporting fanbases on the planet. That’s hardly surprising when you consider Real Madrid’s track record, which includes a record 26 European and worldwide football trophies, 13 UEFA Champions League titles, and the honour of being named FIFA’s Club of the 20th Century.
Today, Real Madrid is igniting the passion of its fans across a range of new channels, and Adobe is proud to be its transformation partner as it sets a new standard for digital fan experiences. Led by Chief Transformation Officer Michael Sutherland, Real Madrid is drawing on customer data to roll out hyper-personalised experiences, NFTs, metahumans and synthetic media to bring virtual fans closer than ever to their heroes.
I recently caught up with Michael and Real Madrid CEO José Ángel Sánchez at the Santiago Bernabéu, the club’s home stadium, to see first-hand how one of the largest and most loved sports teams in the world is evolving into a world-class digital entertainment brand.
A Strategic Partnership Built on Shared Passions
What stands out immediately about Real Madrid’s culture is the passion of the people behind the brand. It’s one of the few sports entities that is entirely owned by its members, all of who live and breathe the game of football along with Real Madrid’s loyal following of fans.
That passion extends to Real Madrid’s digital transformation. This is not a simple case of moving the conversation with fans online. Real Madrid has built a strategic partnership with Adobe with the aim of becoming a global entertainment brand that transcends the world of sport and connects with fans on the channels that matter to them most.
For instance, the rise of second screening has opened up new opportunities for Real Madrid to enhance the fan experience by thinking multi-device and multi-channel. To paraphrase Michael, Adobe is helping Real Madrid move away from a traditional broadcast mentality and towards real-time interactive experiences that help it build a thriving digital fan community.
Adobe Experience Cloud is helping Real Madrid gain deeper insight into fan behaviour and combine data from multiple channels to create 360-degree segment profiles, which will sit on Adobe Experience Platform. Drawing on these profiles, Real Madrid can deliver more emotive experiences and experiment with new forms of content delivery, from live-streaming videos on Twitch to personalised NFT smart tickets, a first in the footballing world.
Fans Show their Appreciation
The crowning achievement of Real Madrid’s digital transformation so far has been the explosive growth of its social following. In 2021, it became the first sports franchise in history to reach 100 million followers on Instagram, joining an elite group of brands who have broken into the 100 million+ club.
Community-building lies at the heart of Real Madrid’s social strategy, and we are working with Michael’s team to connect the various pieces of its digital ecosystem. Cross-pollination between data streams and touchpoints is an ongoing process, but Real Madrid has already received positive feedback from its fans on social channels, which is the ultimate indicator of a job well done.
A Future Built on Personalisation and Trust
Real Madrid is obsessed with delivering the best possible experiences to its fans, and building a brand that revolves around fans today means building personalised experiences around their data. For Michael, that’s the difference between simply having hundreds of million fans or building genuine relationships with each individual who loves the team and its story.
Through its partnership with Adobe, Real Madrid continues to get closer to fans and, crucially, earn their trust. The Real Madrid faithful willingly share their data with the organisation today, knowing it will be used to make their experiences with the team more personalised and meaningful.
It’s only fitting that a sports brand of Real Madrid’s stature has gone big on its digital transformation, and its efforts have paid dividends almost instantly. I look forward to continuing on this journey together, and to helping the team win over a new generation of fans.