Ulsan defeated Daegu FC 2-0 in the 35th round of the Hana One Q K League 2023 on April 29, thanks to back-to-back goals from Kim Min-hyuk and Jang Si-young in the second half. With 21 wins, seven draws, and 70 points, Ulsan has retained its crown regardless of the outcome of the remaining matches.
Ulsan ended its 17-year wait for a league title with one game left last season. This season, they have a fourth star on their chest with three games left. The combination of shining veterans and growing rookies, as well as the strong charisma and one-team spirit of head coach Hong Myung-bo, helped the team win its first two consecutive titles and fourth overall.레모나토토 도메인
One of the driving forces behind the team’s reputation as the strongest team in the K League is its ‘luxury promotion and marketing strategy’. By fulfilling the needs of its fans in a variety of ways, the team has earned the title of No. 1 in soccer and No. 1 in PR and marketing. Ulsan’s achievements are reflected in its awards. Since the first game of the 2021 season, the team has been recognized as the Fan Friendly Club (including the Grand Prize) nine times in a row. This is the most consecutive awards among K League teams and has yet to be broken.
The documentary “Blue Wave 2023,” which coined the phrase “This is the team!” by director Hong Myung-bo, has been a hit every season. Ulsan’s own documentary “Blue Waves,” produced since 2021, has been recognized for its competitiveness as a content by being the first professional sports series to be broadcast on OTT since its first season. Now in its third year, the series has evolved into a content that serves as a bridge between clubs, players, and fans, and provides a blueprint for the production, promotion, and distribution of video content by K League clubs. Through the blue waves, players review the team situation and themselves, which has the effect of increasing their professionalism.
Through various other contents, athletes are becoming more familiar to fans. A total of 515 related contents were uploaded in three years, and the number of YouTube subscribers increased by 15,134 in 2023, and the total number of subscribers is approaching 50,000.
One of the reasons for the existence of professional teams is to create social and economic value. To actively communicate with fans, the team opened a fan cafe, Cafe Blue Wave. Players transformed into daily baristas and served coffee and drinks directly to fans, allowing them to interact with them through conversation. With the active cooperation and support of Ulsan Metropolitan City and Ulsan Facilities Management Corporation, Ulsan opened a media exhibition center on the second floor of the W section of its home stadium, Munsoo Football Stadium. The pavilion showcases the history and stories of Ulsan, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this year. It is operated as one of the courses of the stadium tour.
A famous song was also born. At the initiative of the club, local musician Gil Gi-pan and Ulsan supporters Chae Yong Warriors created a new Ulsan-specific cheer with the meaning “Let’s all shout together as one so that our dreams can come true”. The songs, “Run to the end” and “Over the star,” are slowly gaining ground among fans as they express the desire to win, which is everyone’s desire, and the determination of players and fans to do their best in matches and cheering.
The interest of the fans and the intensified soccer fever in Ulsan have led to monumental achievements for the club. Of Ulsan’s $16 billion in revenue (excluding parent company support), marketing activities alone have generated $10.2 billion so far this season. This includes $4 billion in tickets, $3.2 billion in sponsorships (excluding group companies), $1.4 billion in food and beverage (F&B), and $1.6 billion in merchandise, all achieved purely through the club’s own efforts. These marketing numbers are more than just a popularity metric, they are a valuable indicator of the club’s self-sustainability.
Ulsan’s PR and marketing growth can be most easily seen through its home attendance numbers in the K League this season. Ulsan drew 18,933 fans against Daegu. In total, Ulsan drew 300,406 fans in 17 home games this season. This is the first single-season attendance of 300,000 since the club’s inception, and the second home attendance of 300,000 in the K League since the implementation of the paid attendance policy.
The average home attendance this season is currently 10,670, which ranks second all-time after the 1998 season’s 19,926 (11 games). The club is overcoming the limitations of being a non-metropolitan club, with gate receipts of 400 million won in 2014 growing to 4 billion won by 2023. Attendance is the club’s most obvious measure of success.
Ulsan’s uniforms have become a rare commodity. Eight different jerseys were sold online and offline this season, including the blue + yellow home jersey and the white + sky away jersey. Online sales sold out quickly, and a total of 15,000 jerseys were sold, with tents appearing at the stadium ahead of the offline sales. To prevent a uniform shortage ahead of the 2024 season, Ulsan held a pre-order from September 8-13, six months earlier than usual, and sold 3,000 jerseys. The team aims to keep enough inventory on hand for fans to buy as many as they want, whenever they want, throughout next season.
For the 2023 season, Ulsan has an ambitious trump card. It’s its own F&B business. While performance is the best marketing, external factors are also essential. Fans’ expectations are high. If it’s pleasing to the eyes, ears, and mouth, it’s even better. Therefore, Ulsan introduced the ‘F&B business’ with the idea that ‘there is no finish line to capturing fans’ desires and it is always ongoing’.
The K League has about 20 home games a year. The Asian Champions League (ACL) and FA Cup are played during the week, making it difficult to gather fans. Including all competitions, the league can play up to 30 games. This is why most businesses are reluctant to enter soccer stadiums. To solve this problem, members of the Ulsan marketing team traveled across the country to attract businesses. The result is a local favorite, Whale Tteokbang, a famous franchise chicken, bunsik, cafes, and convenience stores. They surpassed their initial goal of 1 billion in sales.
Ulsan is also working to create a supportive environment. The S-seat standing area has been expanded by 760 seats, bringing the total to 1,220, allowing fans to cheer louder for the entire 90 minutes.
Efforts are also being made to establish Munsoo Soccer Stadium as a soccer cultural space. A total of six Saturday stadium tours were held on non-game days, with 358 people participating. The program is designed to give fans from the Seoul metropolitan area and other regions more fun and memories when they visit Ulsan. Fans have responded to the club’s efforts. Tickets for each event are sold out as soon as they go on sale. Thanks to this response, Ulsan aims to expand the stadium tour to a full-time program.
But Ulsan has even bigger ambitions. It aims to grow its children’s soccer class, Little Friends, from 400 members per month to 1,400 members per month. To provide better facilities and programs for its members, it has joined forces with local universities, Ulsan National University and Ulsan University of Science and Technology. Ultimately, the program aims to provide 10,000 children of the same age in Ulsan with the opportunity to wear Ulsan Hyundai uniforms until they graduate from elementary school.
In addition, Ulsan will host the Ulsan City Superintendent of Education Art Competition at every home game and invite the Ulsan MBC Choir and Dream Assist to participate in the program.
Ulsan’s season isn’t over yet. Even if the soccer season comes to an end with the group stage of the ACL as well as the K League, Ulsan Hyundai aims to continue the fever of soccer in Ulsan next year and beyond by constantly interacting with fans.