Real Madrid have secured a key commercial partnership as the Spanish club continues to grow its presence in the Middle East. Marca reports that Los Blancos have landed a three-year sponsorship with the National Bank of Abu Dhabi which will allow the bank to issue a branded credit card.
Real undoubtedly benefits from the partnership in several ways including licensing fees, increased brand presence in the region and potential new supporters (the credit card doubles as a club membership). It wasn’t all free though, the club made a concession of removing the cross from the “Real Corona”, the iconic crown atop the badge that symbolizes the Spanish monarchy.
The alteration is likely to cause a mini-uproar from political and religious circles but it is important to remember that the change is only within the United Arab Emirates. ‘Customization’ is more apt than ‘crusade’ here and it highlights the desire of clubs to seek out growth on a global scale more than anything else. This raises more pedestrian questions for clubs about brand management and whether there should be a limit to any customization and extension of the brand. Does it matter if a club is marketed differently to different sets of supporters? Should a club strive for branding consistency or is it fine (perhaps even advantageous) to be a commercial chameleon?