The automotive industry had its eye on a new big-money signing in the Champions League this season, and it wasn't Luis Suarez.
Ford, sponsor of Europe's premier club competition since its creation 21 years ago, left its partnership with UEFA at the end of last season, which paved the way for a new name to be emblazoned on the advertising boards.
Nissan took over on a four-year deal from the start of the 2014/15 season and Guillaume Cartier, senior vice-president of sales and marketing for Nissan Europe, believes the deal shows how far the manufacturer has come in recent years.
“Less than five years ago Nissan had a 2.5% share of the market in Europe, now we have 4.2%,” Cartier explained.
“We were in division two, now we want to play in division one. By 2017, we are aiming for a 5% share.”
The Champions League final drew a reported 200 million viewers globally, but Nissan has calculated that, over the course of the tournament from September to May, it draws a cumulative TV audience of 4 billion viewers globally.
Despite this huge audience, a steep sales increase isn't the primary target for the sponsorship deal. Rather, the Japanese manufacturer is looking to increase the global standing of the brand.
“Champions League is not the direct link to the 5% share; it’s a tool that will increase overall opinion,” Cartier said.
“Some people believe the Champions League is purely European, but 60% of the coverage is European, and 40% is global. Our only task is to increase the overall opinion of Nissan.”
Nissan has not revealed how much it paid in order to scoop the sponsorship deal, but Cartier believes it has helped Nissan reach the next level.
“Champions League is really the top. We have taken this partnership to showcase our brand to the rest of the world," he said.
"We are using it to demonstrate our main pillars in terms of brand, which are crossover, EV and technology.”
Advertising exploits this season have included TV adverts featuring players Yaya Toure, Andreas Iniesta, Thiago Silva and a Nissan Juke, while for the Champions League final in Berlin on 6 June Nissan flooded the city with Nissan Leafs, Nissan Qashqais and 129 charging points dotted around the city to help stamp its branding on the tournament.