"Reality show characters"; PR exec details how Celtic players are marketed in Japan

By Euan Davidson

January 7, 2022

Earlier this week, we told you how Celtic have made significant gains on social media and marketing in Japan.

Now, in an interview with The Athletic, digital marketing executive Cesare Polenghi has detailed how Ganassa has made Celtic a major player in Japanese football. And much of it is down to how exactly players are marketed, for their personality as much as their style of play.

Ganassa have worked with Celtic since the signings of Ange Postecoglou and Kyogo Furuhashi. With Celtic making major strides in Japan, the signings of three J League stars has increased the attention.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Celtic have grown, or even re-grown, a significant fanbase in the Far East. While Kyogo has been a star, the signings of Hatate, Ideguchi and Maeda have upped the ante. But as much as it’s about the Japanese guys at Celtic, marketing the club’s other big names has been imperative.

And the approach is remarkably interesting.

Polenghi told the Athletic: “The idea is to have in a club ‘the funny guy’, or ‘the brave captain’, or ‘the hard-working player’.

“Basically, you build on these characters around the Japanese main character [Kyogo].

“For example, at Celtic, Joe Hart is very popular. He was an England international, won trophies with Manchester City, and fans know him from before. He looks like the cool, stoic player from the UK.

“(Filipe) Jota is very funny, and his style of football is similar to the Brazilian style of football which is very popular in Japan, so he is the flair player as well. On top of their feats on the field, we can almost use them as reality show characters.”

Martin Boyle linked as Ange’s focus switches to outgoings | Scott McDonald on 67 Hail Hail

Martin Boyle linked as Ange’s focus switches to outgoings | Scott McDonald on 67 Hail Hail
67 Hail Hail (Youtube)

The background of how Celtic are being marketed in Japan is fascinating

Reality show characters, eh?

We can see it. There’s plenty of behind-the-scenes footage at Celtic already, with the club operating Celtic TV, the Celtic View and a strong social media presence. But a fly-on-the-wall reality show would be quite something.

It’s also worth mentioning that Hart and Jota have been portrayed in similar ways for the club’s worldwide audiences. Jota, for example, played George Michael in the Christmas Advert. Hart, stoically and cooly, made reference to his hairline. It was good stuff.

Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

It seems as if one approach has informed the other. But there are idiosyncrasies to how Celtic portray themselves in Japan. Knowledge of the market is imperative. You can’t just say “Look, Celtic signings, here you are”. It’s more complicated than that, with Celtic hoping to grow their rising support in Japan.

This nuts and bolts stuff, and the clarity of vision, is really interesting insight. It plays largely off humour, just as Celtic have done when detailing a new contract for Anthony Ralston, for example. There’s a shared demand for patter.

At the very least, it’s good fun, and it’s a great insight into how to market a club for particular audiences.

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