How Barcelona Has Been Cashing in On Front-of-Shirt Sponsors

Desperately in need of new sources of income, FC Barcelona has turned to its lucrative sponsorship deal with Spotify to help not only sell more kits, but to increase its already gargantuan brand recognition.

It’s no secret that FC Barcelona is in a bad way financially. The last three years have been a fiscal disaster for the club, as reckless spending and poor financial decisions, paired with the COVID-19 pandemic, have left the club in disarray.

Club president Joan Laporta returned to Barça in 2021, and was immediately tasked with steering things back to normalcy, something that he did in his first tenure with the team in the 2000s.

Bringing the club out of the red would have to come with increased commercialization, something that Barcelona has traditionally frowned upon in its past. The team famously didn’t have a front-of-kit sponsor until 2006, but even then, the UNICEF logo that was plastered on Barça kits brought no profit to the club. It wasn’t until 2011 that Barcleona would sign its first paid shirt sponsor deal.

Things have obviously changed in the decade-plus since, and now desperate times call for desperate measures.

Last year, the club agreed to an estimated €70-million-per-year kit sponsorship deal with Spotify, which would be one of the richest across the sport. In addition to rocking the Spotify logo on its kits, Barcelona’s iconic Camp Nou stadium would be renamed as Spotify Camp Nou.

With over €1 billion in debts, it’s no surprise that Barcelona has deployed various other means to draw in more cash in addition to lucrative sponsorship deals. The club has been able to leverage one-off kits for special matches such as El Clasico derbies against Real Madrid.

barcelona anniversary kit

fc barcelona clasico kit

Barcelona started the one-game kit releases in 2019 with the remake of its 1998-99 anniversary home kit, which retailed at a higher price point of €140. Knowing the nostalgia associated with retro shirts among kit aficionados and club fans, the shirt went on to become a success by way of sales.

Realizing the new revenue opportunity created, the club again dropped a new shirt for the 2020-21 El Clasico, heavily influenced by the Catalan colors. To no surprise, it also saw considerable sales upon its release. Now with a Spotify kit deal, the club became even more creative with its one-off designs.

Drake: Tapping Into the Rap-Football Crossover

drake barcelona kit

In the run-up to the 2022 El Clasico, Barcelona utilized its Spotify partnership to promote some of the world’s biggest artists. The first one was a bit of a no-brainer — Drake. The Canadian rapper was the first musician to reach 50 billion streams on the Spotify platform, and Barcelona was able to leverage the milestone and promote it on its kits via Drake’s OVO owl logo.

In another coincidence, the Clasico match was played on October 16, just eight days before Drake’s birthday. Everything around the artist and the game matched perfectly for whatever activation purposes it was intended for. Officially, the kits weren’t released for purchase, but bootleg ones found their way onto the market. However, the major takeaway in the aftermath of this was that it further took the Barça brand into markets which many sporting institutions are trying so hard to break in to.

Rosalia: Reinforcing Spanish and Catalan Ties

rosalia barcelona kit

By 2023, the success of this unconventional one-off game kit branding by the club was hitting all the right notes, and as such, it returned with a new logo. In the lead up to the club’s second Clasico match of the La Liga season, Barcelona announced that it would be collaborating with Spanish megastar and Barcelona native Rosalia to celebrate the one-year anniversary of her MOTOMAMI album.

Perhaps learning from the bootleg OVO kits that popped up across the world, Barcelona made a limited run of 1,899 kits (a nod to the club’s founding in 1899) available for sale at €400, a severe markup from the regular kit replicas which typically retail for €110. The release was a hit, both from a sales and marketing perspective, and opened the door for future similar campaigns.

The Rolling Stones: Galivanting With Legends of Rock

rolling stones barcelona kit

The next special edition Barcelona kit came at the beginning of the 2023-24 season, this time with undeniable music icons, The Rolling Stones. We’ve seen the Stones dip their toes into the world of football in the past, collaborating with PSG for a capsule collection in 2017, and this would continue the band’s involvement in the beautiful game.

The Rolling Stones x Barça kit once again saw a limited release at €400, but alongside the jersey, the club released a set of more affordable fan items like t-shirts in various designs. This allowed Barcelona to bring in even more profits while expanding on what a special one-off kit collection could include.

Karol G: Cashing Out In Bichota Season

karol g barcelona kit

Barcelona’s most recent El Clasico kit features Colombian reggaeton artist Karol G, whose massive influence makes her the perfect artist to collaborate with. Her heart with thorns logo is front and center on the kit, which has recently gone up for sale again at €400 and in a limited run of 1,899.

If Barcelona can continue to collaborate with exciting artists for these special kits, then it can keep the momentum growing. However, the concept is a bit repetitive and it won’t take long before each new release becomes stale. The club still needs to link up with acts from Asia and Africa to complete its global coverage, and we’ll be waiting to see who Barça chooses from each continent.

Barcelona still has a long ways to go to make up its debts, and this is just one way the club has creatively commercialized itself. The only question is — how long before the team goes overboard with its collaborations and needs to come up with something new?

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