Have you ever wondered what’s it like to develop the marketing & commercial strategy for superstars like Neymar, Marcelo, or Lucas Moura?
Dayyán Morandi is a sports business expert who can attest to that and prides himself in creating ground-breaking strategies for these athletes. In this exclusive interview with WFS Digest, he explains his frameworks, methodologies, and stories from working with the best athletes in Brazil. After all, a content marketing strategy based on “authenticity” is key to connecting football players with fans worldwide, and this creates meaningful opportunities for brands.
World Football Summit: Can you introduce yourself to the audience?
Dayyán Morandi: Sure! My name is Dayyán Morandi, and I have 18 years of experience in the sports industry, as an entrepreneur helping athletes with their social media, partnerships, and, overall, monetize their personal brand.
WFS: And for those that don’t know, you have had the opportunity of working for players like Neymar, Marcelo Lucas Moura…In fact, I believe it was 2010 when you started to work with Neymar, and at that same time, social media started to emerge. What was riding those two waves like? On one hand the meteoric rise of Neymar and on the other, the possibilities that social media gave athletes…
Dayyán: Actually, Neymar is football and talent, you know, and his behaviour is the real secret of his success. I just used the knowledge I had in technology to identify the trend and, you know, improve his overall marketing strategy. In 2009, the NBA was using Twitter (Now X) to promote their playoffs, sell tickets, etc. This was very interesting, the NBA had the audience, the visibility…they had everything! So basically, they did not need the press anymore.
That is when I saw a huge opportunity for athletes to start communicating for themselves, tackle fake news, and so on. And one day, Neymar’s staff reached out to me to see if I could help them develop his website. And at that point, I started to work with Neymar but not only on his site, but on developing his brand and create his online presence.
Within that website, I added the Twitter API, the Facebook API, YouTube API, a blog platform, in essence, and an all-one solution to develop his communication strategy, and I believe I was one of the first to do so. This put the athlete at the same level as any other media channel but with the benefit of communicating directly with fans.
We then took the risk of announcing this through a press conference, and it was a huge success. We went live on five different channels and in a few hours, more than a million people were visiting his website, and more than 10,000 people started following him.
WFS: And with that, came the partnership deals…
Dayyán: Exactly. After that success, I started to negotiate sponsorship deals with brands like Nike, Red Bull… And that was unbelievable.
WFS: What do brands like those big multinationals look for in a player? How do they measure the success of a partnership with them?
Dayyán: I believe brands look for the emotion and the ability to “connect” with fans that athletes can achieve.
Not only that, the behind-the-scenes stories show their authenticity. They can just turn on their camera, record a video, ask a friend to record and that’s it, you have true advertising!
This is how we developed Marcelo’s exclusive show which relies on his natural environment, you know, using his sandals, in his home playing with his kids, going to the gym, or the pool…The truth is we shattered the commercial objectives as we reached our target in two months!
WFS: If we flip the coin, how do you choose the brands to work with?
Dayyán: I always try to understand their audience and their behaviour on social media and digital platforms. These need to align with the objectives and platforms where athletes are present.
WFS: What do people get wrong when they consider working with these athletes?
Dayyán: Yeah, some people may believe that because they make so much money, they are not committed. And the reality is they also have “normal” stuff to do…take care of the family, take kids to school, appointments, commercial obligations, be ready to work out several times a day, recover from games in record time…
I remember I had one campaign we had to do with Neymar while he was playing for FC Barcelona and the day before he had a fantastic game, but they hit him hard and often. He was destroyed but when the shooting started, he was there with a smile on his face, doing everything that they asked of him, and taking pictures with everyone.
WFS: Let’s shift gears a little bit. If the success of these players has been connecting directly with the fan, will we see “athlete OTTs” in the future?
Dayyán: I don’t see it as the future and there are several reasons:
- You need huge financial resources to put that in place (invest in technology, a team, etc.)
- Going back to the audience piece we were mentioning, these fans are on social media now. They are not paying that much attention to OTTs.
- Monetizing fan support through subscriptions could be a huge challenge and the reality is that the partnership model with brands currently works well, given the audience, the connection and engagement they have with fans…
WFS: One final question…
If you could have worked with any athlete in history (and it doesn’t have to be a footballer), who would that have been?
Dayyán : This is a tough one because there are so many but if I had to choose, I would go with Ayrton Senna. That would have been so much fun!
This interview features in the latest edition of WFS Digest, our insider’s guide to the latest and most relevant thoughts and practices from within the football industry. You can subscribe to WFS Digest HERE.