#TrueChampions by Rakuten and FC Barcelona

RAKUTEN, INC., Tokyo / RAKUTEN, INC. / 2018

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Rakuten is a global leader in internet services that empowers individuals, communities, businesses and society, but is less-known in Europe. By partnering with FC Barcelona, we aim to raise brand awareness.

To assert Rakuten as an empowering and relatable brand in a buzzworthy way, we looked to connect with fans on an emotional level. Tying in the campaign to Mother’s Day increased the relevance for fans to easily get involved by simply showing gratitude to their own mothers.

#TrueChampions campaign celebrated mothers everywhere by explicitly putting names of players’ mothers on the jerseys and sharing it online as a viral content. The objective was to bring our corporate slogan, “Believe in the future” to life by empowering mothers, the True Champions who are raising the next generation.


We aimed to introduce Rakuten to fans and the wider public as a company that empowers communities not just through our services, but also through our partnerships. Together with FC Barcelona, we wanted to give fans a chance to reflect on their relationship with their families by strengthening the emotional connection between fans, FC Barcelona and Rakuten.

At the game closest to Mother’s Day, the Barça players wore the special jerseys with their mothers’ name on the back, and the True Champions slogan on the front to pay tribute to all mothers worldwide.

The activation rolled out as a pre-marketing campaign on Rakuten and FC Barcelona’s social media channels. Teasers revealed a mysterious roster for the next game, only with the hint “paying tribute to mothers”, leaving fans to guess the meaning. After the game, Rakuten circulated a recap video on social media, calling out gratitude to all #TrueChampions everywhere.


To strengthen the emotional connection with the fans and building Rakuten’s image as an empowering brand, we leveraged Mother’s Day to portray our community-driven philosophy and values. We opted for a day between the Spanish and the global Mother’s Days to address a larger fan base. The timing also masked Barça claiming a double victory in La Liga and Copa del Rey, hence the campaign name #TrueChampions.

We implemented a surprise factor, starting with the mysterious roster for the next game on social media. We then posted a video showing the real jerseys with the mystery names to create some more buzz.

All was revealed on game day when the players marched onto the pitch wearing the mystery jerseys. At the Rakuten Innovation Booth, we encouraged fans to write messages to their mothers and take photos of the moment, providing them with a physical platform to connect with their families.


Online: The pre-marketing social media posts and recap video generated more than 1.5 million views on both Rakuten and FC Barcelona’s channels. This helped to increase Rakuten’s brand awareness and values among fans, as well as portraying Rakuten as a caring and relatable brand.

On-site: Hundreds of fans who stopped by the Rakuten Booth and wrote messages to their mothers were presented with a complimentary Rakuten branded printed selfie that fans could give to their mothers. This campaign expanded from an online to an interactive offline activation, sparking connection among fans and their families worldwide.

Rakuten and FC Barcelona’s innovative joint campaign played cleverly on the fans’ expectations, ultimately revealing a good cause that truly reflected Rakuten’s corporate slogan, going beyond our business interests. The campaign helped us position Rakuten as a passionate organization who empowers communities across the world.

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