Borussia Dortmund goes digital

One of the largest and most successful German football clubs publishes its first digital annual report.

Borussia Dortmund (BVB) is one of the strongest brands in international football. In October 2000, the BVB also became the first publicly traded club on the German stock market. Like any listed company, the club faces the challenge of communicating with its stakeholders based on the latest technology and communication trends.

The objective of BVB’s Investor Relations organisation is to obtain an appropriate valuation of Borussia Dortmund shares on the capital market. To achieve this goal the BVB aims for a transparent communication on financial results, strategy, and business development. The annual report is one of the major communication instruments in this regard. Previously the report was only published in the form of a classic PDF and printed report. “In order to exploit the potential of digital financial communication and to react to the increasing digitalisation of reporting, we now decided to take the next step in reporting”, says Thomas Treß, chief financial officer (CFO) at Borussia Dortmund. For the very first time, the report was published as an interactive online version.

Digital audience

“Today’s audience is digital”, says Eloy Barrantes, CEO at Vienna based reporting agency nexxar. “The financial community is already interacting with report content primarily on screen.” With its 2018-19 digital annual report, Borussia Dortmund reacts to these changes in information use.

Compared to the PDF format, the advantages of online reports can be seen in screen-optimised presentation, connecting content, a high searchability via search engine as well as multimedia and interactive functions. In contrast to PDF, HTML reports can also be designed for the increasingly important use on mobile devices (Responsive Design). Online Annual Reports also provide data about their usage. Statistics show exactly which pages are most interesting to stakeholders, which chapters receive the most clicks and which language versions are being used.

Landing page

For Borussia Dortmund’s first online report, nexxar designed a clearly structured landing page that appeals to the user with a quick overview of all relevant topics. The online report incorporates the familiar BVB corporate design and creates a more dynamic and modern atmosphere. Naturally, the dominant colors are the club colors black and yellow.

As an introduction to the digital report, visitors see a stage animation. The animation is based on sporting scenes that attract the attention of the audience and underlines the corporate identity of the football club. Statistics and key data of the past season support the animation and offer an incentive to discover the report. Teasers function as call-to-actions (CTAs) which link to report content.

“Sporting highlights”

One of the four main categories of the report are the “Sporting highlights”. The section promotes a retrospective view through the past national and international football season. By using a timeline or optionally an overview, any match statistics from the previous year can be rediscovered. Visitors can view the matches chronologically or sort them by competition or match day. Video sequences are also available for specially selected matches.

Focus on hard facts

However, the focus of the report is on hard facts: the complete Management Report as well as the Financial Statements (both based on IFRS) are fully prepared in HTML. Our statistics clearly show that these chapters are the most widely used sections in an online annual report.

The facts section also shows the advantages of an online version: tools such as the interactive key figure comparison help users to understand and compare company developments. For the first time we used our new “Chart Generator” feature: The tool is now fully responsive and can also be used on smartphones.

The digital report also provides additional data and services to the user. For example, all tables can be downloaded as XLS spreadsheets. The search and navigation tools help to reduce the complexity of the annual report.

“Data with soul”

The report uses the emotionality of the football business to attract the interest of the company’s stakeholders. In this way, “dry facts”, financial and detailed information can be communicated in a more engaging way. “With our online report we not only address the typical members of the financial community,” says Thomas Treß, chief financial officer (CFO) at Borussia Dortmund. “Also fans and supporters are a target audience of our digital Investor Relations work and a major shareholder group.” About 60% of all BVB shares are traded in free float.