Borussia Dortmund, a missed a German marketing opportunity. There was a two week buildup to the biggest football (soccer) match of the year on the European football calendar. It took place at London’s Wembley Stadium. Two German clubs, Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich were competing in the finals of the European Cup Championship.
This was the first time two German clubs had ever faced each other in the European Championship match. The match was played in London between the two German clubs in front of 86, 298 spectators. The match was sadly was won by Bayern Munich 2-1 over Borussia Dortmund. It was the last match for Bayern’s 68-year-old manager, Jupp Heynckes, who is retiring and will be replaced by Pep Guardiola for 2013-14. It had a worldwide television audience, was well-played, fast paced and dramatic event of David vs Goliath proportions. Bayern Munich has a global following, has won five European Cups and is loaded with money. Borussia Dortmund on the other hand had won the title once (1997), plays in the largest football stadium in Germany, is on the rise, and is the eighth largest city in Germany five steps below Munich at number three. Borussia Dortmund is also the only publicly traded club on the German stock market. It is a people’s club.
So how did Buffalo miss a marketing opportunity? Buffalo and Dortmund are Sister-Cities. They have been Sister-Cities since 1972, that is 41 years. The Buffalo Mayor’s office did not send at comment of support to the mayor of Dortmund. The local media did not contact the Dortmund media about the match. The local business community offered no congratulations, support or encouragement. Even after the match, the Buffalo News and local television stations gave the score but never made mention that there was a Buffalo connection to the event. The sports “reporter” on WGRZ read the results and made no effort to find a way to pronounce the name of Dortmund’s goalscorer, İlkay Gündoğan (Il-kay Gun-do-gan). We are a multi-ethnic community, what does he do? He made a joke about it, how professional. Ilkay is German born of Turkish heritage and Buffalo has a Turkish Sister-City – Yildirim-Bursa.
I believe the problem is that the Sister-City program is off little interest to Buffalo’s public and business communities. No one knew Dortmund was a partner. Some may find this accusation absurd. For me knowledge and using that knowledge, including sporting events, to get our community in front of people in a positive light is invaluable. The USA and European Union are negotiating a Free Trade Agreement. We should be preparing for it by developing increased contacts with our long time sister, or twin as many call the arrangement, Dortmund.
Buffalo has ten Sister-Cities, three in Europe – Dortmund, Germany – Lille, France and Rzeszow, Poland. I have a feeling we have do a poor job promoting and discussing these relationships in the interest of public, cultural, business, trade and travel opportunities.