The UEFA Europa Leage Final

I apologize ahead of time if my sentences are a bit jumbled. My brain feels like jelly and I’m very sleep deprived. . . . but at the same time, I can’t stop smiling! Wednesday was the UEFA Europa League Final, and all of the projects we’ve been working on at 180 went off without a hitch. The 180 team is happy, the Western Union team is happy, and of course, the Chelsea fans are very happy!

I try to avoid talking about work on the blog, as Pressed Words is my happy place. I spend way too much time thinking about work as it is! But I took a few snaps on Wednesday that I would love to share, as a tribute to the team and all of their hard work over the past few months.

IMG_7445I spent the majority of Wednesday at the Heineken Music Hall, a big concert venue across from the Ajax Arena. Western Union had rented out the hall for the day, and invited 700 executives, agents, and customers from around the world to join them in celebrating their partnership with the UEFA Europa League. 180 was responsible for producing the event, which included an awesome experiential show, speeches from key executives, and a live panel discussion with famous football players such as Patrick Vieira and Hope Solo. IMG_7448The experiential show was a huge undertaking. We created a 7 minute film that introduced Western Union, football, and the UEFA Europa League partnership. This alone would have been a time-consuming edit to make. However, to build a true 360 experience, we rigged 7 LED panel screens around the room, surroudning the audience and creating a dramatic, all-encompassing cinematic experience.
IMG_7467We spent the afternoon doing sound checks and dress rehearsals, practicing again and again to be sure the event itself would be a success.IMG_7474In the end, all of our hard work paid off. The show was phenomenal, and all of the guests were thoroughly impressed.IMG_7476The grand finale of the show was a rainfall on confetti, bringing a smile to everyone’s face!IMG_7478Behind the scenes, Hope Solo and Patrick Vieira were waiting, ready to go on stage for their panel discussion.IMG_7482Following a short introduction, Hope and Vieira made their appearance, delighting fans who crowded towards the front of the room to snap a photo.IMG_7483 IMG_7493 IMG_7497While the show at the Heineken Music Hall was a closed event, Western Union also made sure to do something extra special for the fans outside. Another project 180 worked on for the Final was the Fanzone – an awesome entertainment experience for Chelsea and Benfica fans outside the Ajax Arena. Prior to the match, UEFA invited fans to enjoy music, drinks, and dancing in the open air, and as Presenting Partner, Western Union were allocated a plot of land beside the arena to engage with fans. Of course, we had to create a football experience! But it also had to reap Western Union.IMG_7427Our entire campaign for Western Union and the UEFA Europa League is based around PASS. Every time a player in the UEFA Europa League passes the ball, Western Union donates a day of education to underprivileged youth around the world. This season, football players in the UEL passed the ball over 178,000 times, creating 178,000 days of schooling. That’s a whole lot of education!

For the fanzone, we wanted to create a way fans could help contribute to the PASS fund as well. So we built a massive, rotating globe, with several holes cut out. Every time a fan managed to kick the ball into the globe, a day of education was added to the PASS fund. On the day of the final, the fans helped create an additional 1,192 days of education for kids living in poverty. :) Patrick Vieira and Hope Solo even visited the Western Union fanzone, greeting fans and scoring a few goals of their own!

After all of the excitement, it was time for the Final!! We made our way to the Ajax Arena, where Western Union had rented out a fancy-pants hospitality area at the stadium.IMG_7522There was delicious food, unlimited booze, and live entertainment prior to the match. After a day of hard work I was ravenous! But only had a short amount of time to scarf down some food before the game started.

IMG_7507 IMG_7515
IMG_7525We had done all of the branding in the hospitality area – the walls were decorated with Western Union art and the TVs played specially created Western Union films. It was great to see all of our hard work appreciated in real life!
IMG_7526 IMG_7527We also designed the Man of the Match trophy – a beautiful piece of art presented by Western Union to commemorate the best player of the evening.IMG_7534 IMG_7536Finally we took out our tickets and proceeded into the stadium. The fans were going crazy as the match trophy was brought out onto the field. IMG_7540Luckily, we had blue skies in Amsterdam that night – a rate occurrence. The past few weeks have been rain, rain, rain! It was nothing short of a small miracle the sun was out!IMG_7546Before the game begun, a beautiful ceremony took place, honoring the sport and the city of Amsterdam for hosting the Final.IMG_7550Helicopters circled above the stadium. . .  IMG_7557And the press took their place. . .IMG_7558And finally all of the Benfica and Chelsea players took the field!IMG_7570One side of the stadium was completely blue, and the other side was red. 
IMG_7572I have to say, the Benfica fans were a much more supportive crowd, singing, yelling and chanting throughout the match.IMG_7571Finally the game begun! After all of our work leading up to the final, it was awesome to see the players live in action. 180 had created the Western Union LED boards displayed around the pitch – it’s crazy to think that three weeks ago, those were just artwork files sitting on my laptop. And now they have been viewed by over 180 million fans around the world!

IMG_7587At halftime we went back into the hospitality area for more drinks and socializing – but didn’t stay for long. All of the action took place in the second half of the match!IMG_7595Benfica scored one glorious goal, delighting fans. IMG_7610 IMG_7614But in the end, it was Chelsea who won, pulling ahead 2-1. The Benfica players were absolutely gutted, falling down on the pitch, depicted crying on the jumbotron screen.IMG_7628 IMG_7634 IMG_7638Chelsea’s team name was engraved into the UEL trophy, and the Man of the Match was announced. IMG_7645 IMG_7651The press once again took their place, ready for the trophy to be handed over to Chelsea. IMG_7669 IMG_7679As the trophy was claimed, confetti shot off into the crowd, lighting up the stadium in one last ‘hurrah!’IMG_7701 IMG_7711 IMG_7722Buzzed and happy, we all returned to the hospitality area once again, where we hung out with Patrick Vieira and Hope Solo, celebrating late into the night.

IMG_7731 IMG_7734I still can’t believe it’s all over. Until next year! x

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8 thoughts on “The UEFA Europa Leage Final

  1. Oh wow it looks like an amazing experience to be there. I am absolutely jealous that you got to experience a European final, even if it isn’t as highly noticed as the Champions League. Must’ve been incredible throughout the day for you! Glad you enjoyed the day and that everything you put work into was a success :D x

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  2. The pictures are lovely and the arrangements look so neat. Very professional. Here in India, I participated in what we call the Commonwealth Games’10 and there were some major fuckups :(

    A lot of my friends who are into soccer, talk about UEFA all the time. Personally, I have not been much of a sports enthusiast- and am not particularly proud of it. In fact, I have never watched a game myself. But I have seen some in bits and pieces. The singing crowd, the patterns they put up, the cheering, the energy level of players and the colours… it is electrifying. Some day, and may that day come soon, I will watch a game live. Maybe that would give me a better feel for the sport.

    Though it might sounds stupid to ask someone who is majorly into the sport management, which is your favourite team ?

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    • Thank you!!

      I have a theory that it’s impossible to fully love a sport until you see it live. The crowds and the excited fans really make the match, and it’s so much easier to imagine the excitement at home once you’ve seen it live!

      To be honest, I really didn’t learn much about the football world until I started working at 180. I’m more of a baseball / Red Sox fan myself :) From a sponsorship perspective, there are some teams I’m getting more interested in – Benfica just because they lost this season and I would love to see them come back next year. Manchester United because I’ve done some work on them with DHL. And of course Barcelona, who now have a sponsor and will hopefully be hot on the radar next year ;)

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