By KWANCHAI RUNGFAPAISARN
“My career is as a design-maker for 360-degree branding. The aim is to create awareness in a more modern and sustainable perspective,” the principal of brand consulting agency Jarken said.
Jarken has been appointed by Chiangrai United as its brand consultant with responsibility for increasing brand value as well as commercial revenue for the club.
The football club claims to have around 5 million fans, especially among those living in Chiang Rai province.
With professional management of its brand, the club’s aim is to increase its fan base, which will further translate into an increase in the number of loyal clients in the future and result in higher revenue for the club, he said.
Chiangrai United has built itself up over the past nine years into a professional football club, during which time its brand value has tripled.
For the 2017 season, which kicks off early next month, if the club achieves its objective of making the top three in the Thai Premier League, its brand value will double from the current level, Kuldej said.
The club finished seventh in the league table in the 2016 season.
Chiangrai United, which posted a loss last year, is confident it can turn a profit this year, Kuldej said.
“In the new football era, competition will not be limited to games and results in the stadium, but will also be about how to win the business competition and gain higher brand and business value,” he explained.
He said that in the past, some football clubs had been used for political support or to sell beers. However, genuinely professional clubs have been in existence in Thailand for about 10 years, and the soccer leagues are managed systematically.
Chiangrai United FC next Saturday will announce its three major sponsors: Singha Park, AIA and Kasemrad Hospital, which has opened a medical centre in Chiang Rai. The club’s United Stadium of Chiangrai will also change its official name to Singha Chiangrai United Stadium.
Moreover, a new soccer jersey will be launched next Saturday, featuring the Singha Park logo as its main sponsor. The sponsorship contract is for one year, with an option to extend for another three years.
“For Chiangrai United FC, the value of the club is not limited to the value of the players, the stadium or other physical assets, but the club’s marketing results and the impact of marketability,” Kuldej said.
“All the players will be the club’s celebrities. We will use their celebrity to generate commercial benefit to the football club. Any personal media owned by individual players, such as social networks, will become the club’s assets and will be managed effectively.
“We will also bank on new media technology and change in consumer behaviour in adopting our product and marketing strategies. This year, we will develop a new application and social-media platform, so that fans are able to buy tickets and merchandise [via mobile devices]. What we plan to do is to eliminate some physical channels that are quite expensive,” Jarken’s principal said.
Kuldej said the club would pay the players as a means of gaining market opportunities and turning them, as celebrities, into product endorsements for its own merchandise, as well as for its sponsors’ products. Even the club’s chairman is a celebrity and has his own uniform, he added.
The brand consultant said Chiangrai United FC would also support tourism in Chiang Rai by adding “sport destination” to the province’s other attractions, such as Wat Rong Khun temple.
He cited the example of Buri Ram, which is positioning itself as a “sport city”, with Buri Ram province having built itself up from zero in this respect.
With a longer history than Chiangrai United – at about 16 years, compared with nine – the Thai Premier League’s Buriram United also has a strong foundation and infrastructure, he said.
“In addition, Chiang Rai province is strategically located with connections to the neighbouring countries of Myanmar and Laos,” said Kuldej, adding that each Chiangrai United home match attracts about 2,000 Myanmar fans on average.
The club also plans to list on the stock exchange within three years, with the money raised funding its stadium complex, which will include a 200-room hotel costing more than Bt1 billion.