Category Archives: Football

Fifty Shades of Spray: Three Licensing Lessons from the Perfume Range of Zlatan Ibrahimović

With the anterior cruciate ligament injury that he sustained during Manchester United’s ultimately victorious UEFA Europa League quarter-final second leg against Belgian heavyweights Anderlecht possessing possibly career-ending properties, now is as good a time as any to consider what post-playing life might begin to look like for Zlatan Ibrahimović (‘Zlatan’, ‘Ibra’). The Swedish icon of Yugoslav descent will indubitably find himself in heavy demand within the world of football; however, whether he takes the familiar paths of management and/or punditry, or forges a yet more interesting second act – perhaps as a Trump-style, Corbyn-substance populist in politics – one thing will remain a constant in Zlatan’s life: licensing.

Ibrahimović has had an interesting collection of commercial partners from relatively early on in his career, but his status is such that in recent years he has transcended the usual celebrity endorsements of shampoos and chocolate bars, instead becoming the focus of a series of Zlatan-flavoured brands, perhaps most notably the Vitamin Well series of sports drinks – a product that he has not shied away from promoting relentlessly.

However, it is Ibrahimović’s latest venture – a line of fragrances concocted in collaboration with Montblanc perfumer Olivier Pescheux – that may turn out to be his most significant foray yet into the broader world of retail, not least because it highlights (and skilfully profits from) a number of societal transformations:

  1. The Reclassification of Football. For the overwhelming majority of its history (one or two key exceptional markets notwithstanding), soccer has been perceived as a largely working-class enterprise. The pitching of Ibrahimović’s perfumes at somewhere north of €50/50ml bottle confirms that the sport has definitively escaped these shackles.
  2. Football’s Feminisation. Ibra’s range of scents is divided neatly into two: the ‘Zlatan’ fragrance for men, and the ‘Supreme’ equivalent for women. The existence of the latter is no accident: football’s transmogrification into a markedly less violent sport from the early 1990s onwards has helped endear it to a new generation of women who are proud to wear a fashion brand co-created by a soccer player.
  3. Global Acceptance. The perfumes’ publicity material directly and prominently refers to Ibrahimović as a ‘world-renowned Swedish football player of Bosnian origin’; in a world where nationalism is gaining in political currency, realities such as this show up the limits of reactionary ideologies. Deepening globalisation is enabled by powerful borderless technologies which cannot be stopped by a wave of the legislative wand; it is essential for both individuals and organisations to contemplate the implications of this fact.

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The More, the Merrier: FIFA World Cup Transformed Beyond Recognition!

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Džeko and Hide: Bosnia Captain Unveils Shocking New Innovation!

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World Cup in Motion: European Qualifying Section Kicks Off With New Team!

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Winners Love Winning, A Lot: Zlatan Ibrahimović World Tour Now Rocks London!

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Euro 2016: Four Reasons Why It Underwhelmed

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This summer, international football took one giant leap towards becoming that much more inclusive with the staging of the first 24-team UEFA European Championship (‘Euro 2016‘). The new format – essentially identical to that which produced four of the best-ever FIFA World Cups (1982-1994) – saw previously anonymous teams like Iceland and Wales create a profound impression on what is probably still solidly the number two international tournament in global soccer’s pantheon.

But fairytales aside, the general expert consensus is that Euro 2016 was a competition that failed to inspire. Most of the blame has been laid squarely at UEFA’s door, with critics citing the expansion of the finals to include nearly half the confederation’s total membership as chiefly responsible for engendering a mediocre standard of play. However, after some reflection, we at Mediolana think that there are in fact four other reasons which explain why this tournament will not live too long in the memory:

  1. A lopsided draw. The processes that UEFA chose to determine the Euro 2016 finals draw ended up producing too many four-team groups that were either ludicrously weak (England, Wales, Slovakia, Russia) or improbably strong (Croatia, Turkey, Spain, Czech Republic); moreover, this pattern was replicated in the knock-out stages. This resulted in too many average teams gaining easy passage to the competition’s latter stages, while an awful lot of talented sides fell at the first or second hurdle.
  2. Creative destruction. Following on from the first point, many of the most creative teams and players were prematurely banished from Euro 2016. Zlatan Ibrahimović’s Sweden could not get out of a Group E featuring Italy and Belgium; Turkey (Emre Mor, Hakan Calhanoğlu) faced a similarly difficult predicament in Group D; and Croatia (Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić) faced Portugal in a match-up befitting the final, rather than a round-of-sixteen tie. Stifling tactics also proved all too efficacious in eliminating stylish exponents of football, the standout case being the conquering of Xherdan Shaqiri’s Switzerland by a penalty shoot-out-happy Poland.
  3. Absent friends. Notwithstanding the tournament’s expansion, several of the better and/or more exciting teams still somehow managed to miss out on qualifying altogether. In particular, Holland, Bosnia and Herzegovina (who headed to Japan and won the Kirin Soccer Cup without many of their stars), Serbia and Denmark were all sorely missed. Additionally, the mystifying omission of FC Barcelona’s Alen Halilović from the Croatia squad robbed the watching public of the pleasure of witnessing one of football’s great emerging talents on a prominent international stage.
  4. Cancel the festival. With France still in lockdown following a succession of surreal and tragic terrorist events last year, Euro 2016 was in spirit a world away from the previous tournament held in the country, the 1998 FIFA World Cup: the panic-stricken restrictions on public screenings; the alarmingly regular clashes between regular fans (not just hooligans) and the police; and the general security-state atmosphere not only detracted from the overall value of the competition as a cultural phenomenon, but also set a horrible contemporary precedent for future sporting contests.

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