I’ve been attending several BSC Young Boys matches at Stade de Suisse in Bern, Switzerland, the past couple of seasons and observed the cult of the YB sausage first hand. Yes, you read right: The YB sausage. And it’s slogan «Greasy like a pig» is arguably a masterpiece of marketing communication.
In an article on this blog called “The tangible influence of a football brand: The Juventus FC example”, I explored the sensorial, semantic, and somatic dimension of tangible influence of a football brand. The YB sausage has been part of the Young Boys brand for many years and literally assisted hungry stadium visitors and fans during glorious moments of the club. In that instance, the YB sausage can be treated as an integral part of the BSC Young Boys stadium experience, and therefore, a part of the semantic dimension of the brand. Bouchet et al. (2013: 40) write, “The semantic dimension refers to the symbolic function of services, products and brands and their ability to carry meaning and values. This dimension relies on the semiotic paradigm which considers that each object has an explicit dimension (the object itself) and an implicit dimension which relates to the mental associations and signs related to it.” The case of the «YB Wurst», as lovingly called by the Swiss, shows how a football brand can induce something I like to call ‘brand spirit’ to a product sold at stadiums.
David A. Aaker (1996:298) claims, “A brand can also be leveraged entering another product class, not by a brand extension, but by co-branding. One form of co-branding is to become a branded ingredient in another brand,” – just like the sausage earned itself a «YB» branding. The YB sausage has been produced by Bell, the largest meat processor in Switzerland, since the company took over the catering for the Stade de Suisse in 2005. A special benefit for Bell is that the YB sausage can be sold outside the stadium in grocery stores and other shops also on non-matchdays. In the Canton of Bern or the greater Bern area, home of the BSC Young Boys, the branded sausage is especially popular and also people not visiting BSC YB’s home games can (and do) enjoy the YB sausage. In January 2014, the Stade de Suisse management decided not to renew the contract with Bell and take the catering of the stadium into their own hands (Tagesanzeiger Blog). This means that Bell will only produce the YB sausage until summer 2015. After that, the lucrative business with the cult sausage will go to someone else.
Creating an ingredient brand can bring additional value to the football brand. Obviously, the YB sausage will not make or brake the visit of a family to a home game of YB, but it will provide a more memorable and cozy experience when they visit Stade de Suisse – just like when you go with your kids to your regular diner, where your get their regular meal and you get your beloved regular burger and your regular beer.