Rakuten is proud to be the Main Global Partner and first-ever Official Innovation and Entertainment Partner of legendary football team FC Barcelona in a partnership based on shared values of optimism, professionalism and commitment to empowering communities. As a global innovation leader, Rakuten supports the players, organisation and fans of FC Barcelona.
With the COVID-19 pandemic restricting access to Camp Nou, Rakuten and FC Barcelona were determined to help them stay connected virtually. Rakuten’s integrated Augmented Reality technology helped fans find the section of the mosaic they were featured in. The initiative won the hearts of fans who were delighted to have their pictures highlighted at Camp Nou alongside their favourite football heroes.
To re-affirm their commitment to celebrating fans worldwide, Rakuten and FC Barcelona decided to bring back this fan-favourite initiative in 2021 in the form of a larger-than-life photo mosaic that celebrates fan moments from across the globe. Powered by Rakuten’s innovation and technology, the mosaic, which will be revealed in November 2021, will take pride of place on the main façade of Camp Nou.
Similar to last year, the mosaic will measure an epic 47.7m x 9.6m — which is longer than five double-decker buses. Thousands of crowdsourced fan moments from the club’s international fan base will be showcased on the façade of Camp Nou this season.
Through this innovative activation, Rakuten aims to empower the global FC Barcelona community and give them a chance to be featured on the Camp Nou façade, especially at a time when they were unable to visit their favourite stadium.
The Big Picture: Leveraging technology to bring fans together
The true global appeal of this initiative is in its ability to bring together Barça’s international fans by leveraging Rakuten’s technology and highlighting the passion and loyalty that binds together supporters of the five-time European Champions. This passion and loyalty are exemplified by The Big Picture participants like Sylvanus Afful Assan-Annobil, a Ghanaian FC Barcelona fan who believes supporters of the club have a special quality that resonates with the club’s motto of being ‘More than a Club.’
“We’re more than just fans. We are one big family of fans who are so fervently loyal to the club,” Sylvanus said. “We all have Blaugrana-coloured blood flowing through our veins, and that’s what keeps us together.”
Sylvanus appreciates initiatives like The Big Picture, which are completely focused on fans and gives them a sense of belonging — and a concrete opportunity to be a part of something big.
“The mosaic provides an inimitable way to connect fans all around the globe. Camp Nou is the soul of our club. FC Barcelona has a very large fanbase all around the globe, and there are millions of fans out there who have never had the opportunity to be there. Being part of The Big Picture signifies their real bond to the club and makes them feel present at the stadium during every match.”
Anushree Chakraborty, an FC Barcelona fan from India shares the same sentiment, adding: “FC Barcelona has the strongest fan-centric culture. Our fan base aren’t just football supporters. Our emotional connection with the players is different, and initiatives such as The Big Picture bring us closer than ever.”
Rahul Kadavakolu, director of global marketing and branding at Rakuten Group, Inc., said: “Rakuten in Japanese means optimism. The Big Picture gives us an opportunity to bring to life our focus on optimism and empowerment by capturing and commemorating the passion and dedication of FC Barcelona fans and using our innovative technology to bring them closer together. This 100% fan-centric initiative provides fans with a timely reminder they are the heart and soul of FC Barcelona.”
Quick-fire Q&A with Rahul Kadavakolu, Director, Global Marketing & Sports Partnership Supervisory Department & Vice President, Global Sports Business, Rakuten Group, Inc.
What appeals to you most about the concept of The Big Picture?
I believe that the most appealing aspect of The Big Picture is its ability to leverage Rakuten’s technology to bring fans together — cutting across borders to give them a sense of community and connectedness. If fans can’t get to the stadium, then we take the stadium to the fans. It delivers an experience to fans where they are.
The original Big Picture in 2020 was a response to constraints imposed by COVID-19, but the concept has been continued for 2021 — why?
Experience is at the heart of everything we do. Today, brands have the opportunity to move from basic signage to getting those experiences across in a very hyper-personalised way. The Big Picture is a great initiative that piques the interest of casual and die-hard fans because it offers the experience of being a part of something big. Amidst volatility, continuation of The Big Picture represents stability for the fans.
What was the key aim of The Big Picture?
As Rakuten’s sports partnerships focus largely on celebrating fans and propagating optimism while increasing brand awareness, the goals established were to infuse optimism during difficult times and help fans connect with FCB — their favourite football team — at a time when they were missing seeing their favourite team in action.