Sports merchandising is a huge source of revenue for football clubs, from kits to homeware to toys. But Belgium football club Club Bruges have launched a unique new kind of merch – locally grown vegetable boxes – which helps to support their large fan base of struggling local farmers beset by tough operational conditions.
Club Bruges fans are playfully teased by rival club fans by being called ‘farmers’ or ‘peasants’, due to its location in the midst of agricultural land. So the club resolved to embrace the scorn and support the troubled local farming community by launching ‘Farmers for Farmers’.
The initiative, which was created by independent creative agency Mutant, launches this Saturday 8th October at the home game with Westerlo supported with social media activations, wild postering in and around Bruges, and in stadium led boarding in the stadium during matches.
At every home game, Fans can order their box of locally produced vegetables online boerenvoorboeren.be or purchase in the Club Bruges fanstore at the stadium, next to the jerseys, scarves and other fan merch.
The number of farmers in Belgium applying for government financial assistance has increased by 44% in two years as more and more local producers are facing bankruptcy. Droughts, higher living costs and regulations from the Belgian government mean some farmers are forced to sow 20% less vegetables in an attempt to survive. The impact is not only financial but socially as generations of farming lignage is now under threat.
CBO Bob Madou: “‘The Farmer’ has been present in our campaigns for two seasons as the personification of our Club DNA. He motivated us to be proud of who we are and helped us to ‘just focus on ourselves’ and stay calm during the playoffs last season. But Club has long been more than just a soccer club. As a community, we also feel responsible for the environment we live in. That’s why this time we’re going further and are using The Farmer to support farming itself. We promote local farming in a sustainable economy with great pride and pleasure. After all, the healthy and sustainable vegetable boxes are just a first step in the building of programs related to education for our Club Kids that we want to focus on this year.”
Odin Saillé, Founder and ECD of Mutant added: “The world of sports merchandising revolves mainly around generating revenue instead of value. But as football clubs evolve into big business, it’s more important than ever to sometimes place your connection to the fan faithful, your roots, above commercial objectives. This specific form of sports merch is not something you can wear or pour coffee in. It’s a product that tells a much bigger story of the social and economic impact a sports club can, and should have, on its community. The money generated is not to make the team richer, but to make the area of Bruges – where all fans live – better off.”