In 2020 FC Barcelona and Rakuten introduced an initiative to dedicate the external façade at the Nou Camp to celebrating their fans worldwide.
The innovative idea was to use fans photos to form a giant mosaic with the aim of keeping them virtually connected during the COVID-19 led restrictions to accessing the Nou Camp.
And in 2021, following last year’s success, Rakuten and FC Barcelona decided to bring back “The Big Picture” keeping fans connected in the spirit of optimism.
Rahul Kadavakolu, Director, Global Marketing & Sports Partnership Supervisory Department & Vice President, Global Sports Business, Rakuten Group, Inc explained:
“I believe that the most appealing aspect of The Big Picture is its ability to leverage Rakuten’s technology to bring fans together — cutting across borders to give them a sense of community and connectedness. If fans can’t get to the stadium, then we take the stadium to the fans. It delivers an experience to fans where they are. “
Fans were able to submit their image to form part of the giant mosaic and Rakuten, who are FC Barcelona’s Main Global Partner and first-ever Official Innovation and Entertainment Partner of the legendary club, used their integrated Augmented Reality technology to help the fans find the section of the mosaic they are featured in.
The finished mosaic, revealed in November 2021, can be viewed here , and when you scroll in, you can see, the players images merge into the individual fans photos. The mosaic is a giant 47.7m x 9.6m – which is longer than five double decker buses.
As Rakuten explain:
The true global appeal of this initiative is in its ability to bring together Barça’s international fans by leveraging Rakuten’s technology and highlighting the passion and loyalty that binds together supporters of the five-time European Champions.
One such fan, highlighted during this project, was Sylvanus Afful Assan-Annobil, a Ghanaian FC Barcelona fan who believes supporters of the club have a special quality that resonates with the club’s motto of being ‘More than a Club.’
“We’re more than just fans. We are one big family of fans who are so fervently loyal to the club. We all have Blaugrana-coloured blood flowing through our veins, and that’s what keeps us together.”
“The mosaic provides an inimitable way to connect fans all around the globe. Camp Nou is the soul of our club. FC Barcelona has a very large fanbase all around the globe, and there are millions of fans out there who have never had the opportunity to be there. Being part of The Big Picture signifies their real bond to the club and makes them feel present at the stadium during every match.”
Another fan, illustrating the global reach of FC Barcelona, is Indian Anushree Chakraborty, who said:
“FC Barcelona has the strongest fan-centric culture. Our fan base aren’t just football supporters. Our emotional connection with the players is different, and initiatives such as The Big Picture bring us closer than ever.”
Rahul Kadavakolu, added
“Rakuten in Japanese means optimism. The Big Picture gives us an opportunity to bring to life our focus on optimism and empowerment by capturing and commemorating the passion and dedication of FC Barcelona fans and using our innovative technology to bring them closer together. This 100% fan-centric initiative provides fans with a timely reminder they are the heart and soul of FC Barcelona.”
What an amazing project, I can’t say I have seen that done anywhere else, but must admit, I would love to. The fans and clubs, to my way of thinking, are one. I have often talked about fans being the heartbeat and it looks like FC Barcelona are more than aware of their importance. Maybe other clubs will come to realise the same one day!
Image from: unsplash.com