Qatar hosted the best male handball teams in the World between January 15th and February 1st. Apart from some good on-court action, the 24th World Championship was surrounded by prestige and high quality sports infrastructure, while it also raised quite a few questions regarding the regulations and rules of the International handball federation (IHF) when it comes to national team selection. But how was the competition from the sponsorship and communications perspective?
Slovenians in Qatar
Apart from the Slovenian national team, some Slovenian companies also visited Qatar, as the Slovenian Handball Federation (RZS) set up a special Slovenian hub for partner companies with a desire to expand into new markets. Among them, Elan Inventa deserves a special mention, as they have, based on their words, done their »biggest and most challenging project so far«. In a deal worth 4,8 million Euro they have shipped more than 70 big cargo containers from Slovenia to Qatar. Inside them were stands, seats, wardrobe and court elements … etc. for all three newly built arenas (with the biggest part of the elements used in the Duhail arena). Elan Inventa also took care of the on-site equipment. After success in handball, the company is already looking forward to new Qatari challenges – with talks about providing seats for two stadiums of the football FIFA World Cup 2022 already under way.
Duvnjak and Vori in a TV advert, Jana HRS's new general sponsor
If Slovenian handball sponsors didn't really activate their rights before and during the event, it was a bit different in Croatia, where Tele2 used famous players Domagoj Duvnjak and Igor Vori in a video that portraited them as Arabs who have Croatian look-a-likes.
Some new sponsorship deals were also signed: Agrokor (in one way or another involved with Croatian handball since 2002) – with its company and brand Jamnica – became HRS's general sponsor, while Ina and Porsche Croatia (four year contract was signed during Qatar 2015) also joined the sponsorship pool.
Bosnians also with a new sponsor
The Handball federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (RSBiH) also gained a new sponsor. The Sarajevo based bakery company Klas has signed a deal until the 2016 European championship in Poland.
The Qatari dreams come true to the French
Although the Qatari national team, reinforced with other nationals, had a strong (also financial) desire to win the World Championship, the French became the only team to win this competition for the 5th time. Their sponsors also had some shining moments during the competition. Fruit drink brand Oasis, for instance, presented all their national team players with their »fruity« names on social media and, with that, also involved the fans via those platforms. Their official supplier Adidas also joined in on the celebrations. The post by their French profile after their win in the final had received a huge reaction: over 7500 retweets and more than 3200 favourites.
Croatian RTL invests in social media
Qatar 2015 games were broadcasted by rights-holders TV Slovenija 2 (Slovenia) and RTL televizija (Croatia). Both channels also made special micro landing sites with more detailed content about the competition (MMC RTV Slovenija, RTL). The Croatians also decided to make an extra step further in terms of social media – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. From scratch, they have created a respectful community that engaged with the handball content also via the second screen. Bruno Blumenschein from Overtime Sport Marketing, which oversaw RTL's Qatar 2015 social media campaign, said: »RTL did a huge step forward in terms of social media and fan engagement. The national team also did a good job in engaging the fans, which resulted in the fact that more than three million Croatians were in one way or another engaged with the handball World Championship.«
What about the handball federations?
Handball federations also tried to do their best to be active on social media. Even though the number of fans or followers is not the only and key element of success, let's take a look at what the numbers say. Croatians were more successful than Slovenians on Facebook, as their posts could earn more than two thousand likes. HRS's profile is liked by 10-times more than RZS's (57.000 compared to 5700). RSBiH was also a bit active, but couldn't do much with a fan base of only around 550 people on Facebook. We have to also note that both Slovenian and Bosnian national team also have unofficial pages for their senior national teams which have a far better reach than those of the federations.
While only Croatians used Instagram, they were also joined by Slovenians on Twitter. RZS had more posts – they also did live tweeting of the result during the games – but their posts were less diversified and didn't contain any graphic elements.
Handball players themselves were responsible for a bulk of the conversations. Among them was the best scorer and the best right wing of the championship Dragan Gajić who, among other things, also posted this:
2nd BIG thing for me today!! BEST RIGHT WING IN THE WOOOOORLD!!!! 'My dreams came through'???? pic.twitter.com/LmjZSpWep7— Dragan Gajic - Gajo (@dGajicGajo) February 1, 2015