Football is the most popular sport. Yet, when we think of football we mostly still think of male players, male fans and an overall male culture. Women’s football has finally grown in relevance over the last few years, as can be seen in the popularity of major events like the World Cup or European Championships. But fan culture is still at a very early stage. It is missing symbols, rituals and creative ways of expression compared to the long tradition of a male-dominated football culture. As partner of FC Bayern’s women’s football team, Audi set out to support the female game on and off the pitch. Our aim is to facilitate a movement to help the culture as a whole. Because our ultimate goal is to make the distinction between men’s and women’s football obsolete. So that people, no matter their personal background, gender or sexual orientation, can be part of and create football culture.
The first part of the solution was to decode fan culture in men’s football, see what could be adapted but also what possibly could be a negative factor towards a more inclusive future. In European, especially German football fan culture, there is a traditional symbol, a piece of clothing called “Kutte” – a vest or jacket decorated with numerous patches that display your affection for a team but also the dislike of opponents. These latter ones often show sexist, racist, homophobic or misogynist messages.
As a starting point for a more positive and inclusive future of football fandom, we reinvented this traditional but problematic way of expression. Audi joined forces with seven local, female designers to create the Audi x FC Bayern Fan Jacket, a unique design piece, inspired by tradition but sporting a progressive design. Six artists created a total of twelve patches featuring positive and inclusive messaging, inspiring anyone to join in and become part of a new era of fandom. In addition, the seventh artist designed a progressive interpretation of the fan jacket, a stylish satin vest with a detachable scarf, on which the patches were placed. But it’s not just about this product. It’s about creating a platform for creativity and co-creation. The patches were sold to old and new fans to enable them to customize their own fan gear. All proceeds went into supporting grassroots girl’s football.
All the campaign content was aimed at inspiring participation and creativity, giving fans the chance to show support and interact with their team. In a manifesto film male and female FC Bayern players, officials and fans as well as Audi employees proclaimed a new era of fandom. Players and other multipliers joined an interactive workshop, in which multiple fan jackets were customized based around the patches.
With 4 million impressions and an Engagement Rate of 12.9 % the Audi x FC Bayern Fan Jacket campaign was the most successful partnership activation with FC Bayern Women so far. The initial edition of 6,000 patches sold out quickly, compelling Audi and FC Bayern to produce more patches to meet the high demand. But the campaign content did not only rack up record numbers. More importantly, it evoked very positive responses by fans as seen in numerous comments and other reactions (95 % positive sentiment), despite the bold and at times provocative approach of reinventing a piece of tradition. The patches have become a regular sight at FC Bayern Women’s matches, creating a more vibrant atmosphere and inspiring fans to develop more creative ways of expressing their fandom.