CAIRO – 18 August 2017: A number of major European football teams wanted to reach the Middle East and Arabic-speaking fans, and there is no better avenue than social media, as Mohamed Rasmy, the business development manager at Kijamii for digital marketing, told us.
Kijamii is a digital marketing agency started by Basem El Hady, Bahy Abo El Ezz and Ahmad Coucha in May 2011. Currently it has expanded to include 130 employees, and it works with clients such as Netflix, Juhayna, Huawei, and Goal.com. The company is also responsible for the Arabic content of four of the biggest clubs in Europe: Chelsea FC, FC Bayern Munich, AS Roma and Arsenal.
Rasmy is the business development manager for the sports and international accounts. He told Egypt Today how it all began and how his team managed to attract European clubs to the Middle East through social media. After Mohamed Salah joined Chelsea, Kijamii contacted the club with a proposal. “I can’t say it was my idea,” Rasmy said. “The idea was born in conversation between us and we agreed to do it together. Then I took the matter seriously and started taking steps to realize our goals, and thank God for what we made.”
With their connection, Kijamii reached the digital marketing officials at Chelsea. The club welcomed the idea, because at the time, Egyptians were filling Chelsea’s social media platforms with Arabic comments, which the club didn’t understand. “That’s what made the deal go through, as the club wanted to know more about and understand the Egyptian comments on Salah’s move to Chelsea, rather than speak to the Arab world through an agency that represents the club,” Rasmy told Egypt Today. The Arabic and Egyptian comments were full of humor, which the team had been unaware of.
Chelsea was just the spark that ignited the company in 2014. In 2015, Kijamii started working with Bayern Munich and AS Roma. “Bayern Munich is one of the very first clubs to adopt this idea of internationalization, and so they were very receptive to having us represent their Arabic digital content,” Rasmy said.
After national team midfielder Mohamed El Nenny joined the Arsenal Gunners during the winter transfer window in the 2015/2016 season, Kijamii approached the club. “Of course, Egyptian players helped us a lot in making contact with big clubs,” Rasmy said. “It let us believe it was possible and that they need someone like us, so I expanded my search and spoke to other teams, such as Bayern Munich, without going through Egyptian layers.”
Recently, Kijamii entered a larger project with the British football website Goal.com, as they are creating an editorial team to support the website in the Middle East. “We also had working experience with Real Madrid in some pieces of Arabic content, which they posted recently in the building up for the Champions League final,” Rasmy added.
They worked also with ON Sports TV channel, as they supported their digital media during a number of occasions, like the Egyptian Super Cup game and the Egypt vs. Ghana game. “Thanks to God, the work is getting bigger and bigger,” Rasmy said.
The internationalization of many European clubs has been ongoing for some time. Some clubs began reaching out to China and the U.S. by setting up camps and playing in pre-season tournaments. According to Rasmy however, these teams were late in approaching the Middle East because “the idea of the Arab world is that it is not easy to enter because of culture differences, so they needed a partner that understands the area.” China and the U.S. were also considered primary expansion targets at the time, but now that they have established camps, the teams are ready to look to the Middle East.
Mohamed Rasmy (Bussiness Manager) - Ahmed Moghazy (Sports Community Manager) after signing with Bayern Munich
Despite the company’s success in the past few years, Rasmy believes this is only the start, as clubs have not begun to test the waters yet. He thinks that what made the big difference is the large number of viewers for the Premier League and the Spanish League in the Middle East, which the people out there started to note. “In the Champions League’s final between Real Madrid and Juventus, the coffee shops were crowded as if the national team was playing,” he added. “They saw that and said ‘why don’t we interact with that large audience’; then came the Egyptian players; then the social media arose and it gained traction, and all these factors showed these teams that they need to learn to understand Arabs.”
Rasmy said that Kijamii didn’t only target Egyptian players, but they also targeted other Arab players. The difficulty, Rasmy explained, is that many of these players were North Africans who already have an established French-speaking presence online. “They like to talk in Arabic and we see them on our social pages, but it’s hard to convince their clubs to be represented in Arabic while they have French pages,” Rasmy said.
Clubs have two forms of content produced for their online platforms: local and global. Global content is posted by the club in all its outlets in all available languages, whereas local content is produced for a more localized community. Kijamii produces local content, as they have an understanding of what fans want to see and hear from the club. “One of the most important things that Kijamii does for their clients is community management or the moderation of the Arabic pages of the clubs,” Rasmy said. “Kijamii replies to tweets and fan comments in a manner that is engaging and fun.”
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