From the Field to the Front Office

Marcos Prieto

As a child Maximilian Haschke learned the importance of teamwork and developed his competitive instinct playing in the youth teams of soccer giant Bayern Munich. His past as a player and his academic training, which includes a Master in Management from IE, have made this young German an international oriented professional, experienced in strategy consulting. As Manager of Sponsorship and International Strategy of Club Atlético de Madrid, Haschke is a key element in the global expansion of the club, and has taken part in negotiations to find a sponsor for its new stadium, called the Wanda Metropolitano.

How useful is your experience as a soccer player in the world of management?

I am very grateful for all the years in the Bayern Munich academy, they are the reason I am the person I am today. It impacted me in such a way that it gave me the team spirit and the ambition that is driving my hunger to win: my dedication to compete and to handle defeat and criticism, and the discipline and persistence to follow my goals. In my day-to-day life, it enables me to bring a balance between the commercial and sporting interests of our stakeholders. I am able to see the soccer player as well as the commercial figure. I know how it feels to travel to the other side of the planet for one game in the middle of the exhausting pre-season, but also what is necessary to commercialize those games in my role now. An essential point in the industry, because these are are mutually dependent for the success of any club management.

How do you remember your time as an IE student?

Life-changing. Literally. I already had signed a contract with a strategy consulting company for the Middle East, but ironically it was a strategy assignment that inspired me to continue writing a thesis with Professor Juan Santaló around exactly this topic: the internationalization of soccer teams. This showed me that I had to return to where I really belong: the soccer industry. But what you really remember the most are the people: the disciplined Austrian on your team, the good vibes of the Latinos, the never-ending party with the Indians, the typical places in the Salamanca neighborhood with the Lebanese and the Egyptians, or the home-made carbonara of the Italians. Everyone has them in their class, everyone knows someone like that, and I’m happy to have met all of them.

Atlético de Madrid is now one of the best clubs in Europe, and in a few months it will have one of the best stadiums. What’s the next step to keep the club growing?

We are definitely at a good place. No other club is growing this fast, but we always have to put this into perspective when compared to our direct competitors, which still generate much more revenue than us. The key to keep growing in this industry is, and will always be, the same: winning. Success on the field brings income from international competitions and higher TV revenues. Meanwhile, we work to monetize this with new global and regional sponsorship agreements, and by expanding our merchandise portfolio, our e-commerce network and our digital presence to try and reach every Atlético fan in the world.  And of course, let’s not forget that the new stadium itself will have a positive impact, as will our academy, which is already following the global expansion plan.

Top European clubs have found important markets in other continents in recent years. What are the key factors in Atlético de Madrid’s internationalization strategy?

Our current momentum, our brand authenticity, and a clear idea of where we want to go. We are just getting started with this strategy, and we know that it will take time –as will the rewards. But a sustainable presence and the authentic Atleti feeling in the world need far more than just the summer tours: they require an all-year presence, on all levels, to increase the reach of our brand.

What will be the main differences between Wanda Metropolitano and the old Vicente Calderón stadium from a branding and advertising point of view?

Above all, it will be the home of Atlético de Madrid, and this is what you will feel. There will be less advertising, but more qualitative branding available for our partners. What will make the real difference is the technology and digitalization: the Wanda Metropolitano will be the first of its kind with WiFi, and it will be fully integrated and equipped with the latest LED lighting technology. Our 30,000-square-meter Fan Plaza surrounding the stadium will create a B2C platform, which we will activate together with our partners, offering a great warm-up environment for all our fans before the match. Last but not least, the corporate hospitality. With 7,000 seats -nearly 40% larger than the VIP areas of Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium-, it consists of lounges, suites and even field-viewing terraces, which our partners will be able to use year-round as a unique meeting space or even showroom.

Naming rights are very common now, but some people still refuse to mention brands when they are referring to clubs or stadiums. The new arena has been named as a tribute to its old stadium Metropolitano and includes the name of Wanda, China’s largest commercial property company and the world’s largest cinema chain operator. Is there any strategy to convince media and fans to use the correct name of the new Wanda Metropolitano?

I myself am a very traditionalist soccer fan, but I believe we can be very proud to have this great corporation as one of the first stadium-naming partners in La Liga. Both stadium and name are making us the front-runner in La Liga, and we know that other teams will follow the trend that we are setting by taking this bold step. We brought together our past and future in a unique linkage. Wanda and the Metropolitano both belong to this club. There is no doubt that Wanda will continue to be on our side and wants the same success for the club as everyone else does. When we all understand the added value of this real partnership, I have no doubt that the correct name will be used.