Jurgen Klopp's Impact on Liverpool and Beyond

Jurgen Klopp is leaving Liverpool, marking the end of an era.

by Faruk Imamovic
SHARE
Jurgen Klopp's Impact on Liverpool and Beyond
© Getty Images/Alex Pantling

Jurgen Klopp is leaving Liverpool, marking the end of an era. Klopp's influence on the club and modern English football has been transformative. This article explores the evolution of Klopp’s brand – from his changing physical appearance and iconography to his rise as a commercial powerhouse.

Sue Whittingham’s house on the corner of Randolph Street, a five-minute walk from Anfield, epitomizes Klopp's impact. At first glance, it looks like any other end-of-terrace house: smartly painted with a plain black door. However, turning the corner reveals a giant mural of Klopp, flashing his toothy smile and raising a fist in triumph, accompanied by the words “Boss, y’know he said so.”

Whittingham, a lifelong Liverpool fan, initially wanted a mural of Kevin Keegan, a legendary goalscorer of the 1970s. However, Marc Silver, founder of MurWalls, and Boss Night, a Liverpool fans group, persuaded her to choose Klopp instead. “It was about getting an image that would resonate with the fans and trying to get his passion and love for the club across,” Silver explains. “We wanted fans to appreciate and celebrate an iconic figure at the club.”

Klopp is not only one of the most successful managers in the Premier League era but also one of the most distinctive. While other elite coaches have unique trademarks, such as Carlo Ancelotti’s raised eyebrow or Pep Guardiola’s fashion choices, none are as distinctive or successfully monetized as Klopp’s.

This unique brand explains why his face is ubiquitous in Liverpool and on memorabilia, including mugs, scarves, and T-shirts. Visiting a Klopp mural has become a rite of passage for Liverpool fans, and companies have quickly recognized their commercial potential. The German beer company Erdinger, which partnered with Klopp in 2020, funded a new mural in the city center earlier this year.

Liverpool has had charismatic managers before, like Bill Shankly, but Klopp has taken personal iconography to new heights. His image has evolved; initially, his trademark look included fashionable glasses, which were replaced by a baseball cap after he underwent restorative eyesight surgery in 2021.

Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp© Getty Images/Michael Regan
 

Building the Brand

Klopp’s bold energy has been crucial to his image. In 2006, after achieving modest success with Bundesliga club Mainz, he was hired by German TV channel ZDF to contribute to their coverage of the World Cup in Germany. “This is where it all started, where he became famous,” says Lukas Dombrowski, a reporter for Bild, Germany’s biggest-selling newspaper. Klopp’s tactical insights, humor, and relatability endeared him to the German public, sparking a new era in football punditry.

Klopp, by his admission, went from being relatively unknown to a household name overnight. “Buses would drive past his house, and people would wave at him as he watered his plants,” recalls Dombrowski.

Klopp’s brand is multifaceted and meticulously crafted. His distinctive features – his eyes, baseball cap, whitened teeth, trademark fist-pumps, and heart gesture – contribute to a compelling persona. Klopp’s choice of attire, usually a club tracksuit instead of a suit, and his preference for trainers, including designing his own pair for New Balance in 2019, further solidify his down-to-earth image.

“If I was putting it in Netflix terms, with three little words as a summary, you would have authentic, humorous, and likeable,” says Ged Colleypriest, founder of sports marketing firm Underdog. “That’s what’s generally held him in really good stead, whether it’s relationships with the media, fans, or brands.”

In Germany, Klopp's face is a familiar sight in Bundesliga game coverage and advertisements. Recently, he played a taxi driver, dentist, and rock star in a single ad campaign for Deutsche Vermogensberatung. Choosing which brands to partner with can be delicate. Some, like Fischer, have personal significance – Klopp’s father worked there for almost 35 years. Others, such as beer brands, align with Klopp’s image as a man of the people.

Klopp takes his endorsements seriously. “Jurgen could be an actor because he knows one day of filming a commercial is enough,” says Wolfgang Kuffner, head of marketing at Erdinger. “Sometimes for a commercial, you need two or three days but with Jurgen, you only need four or five hours. The producers are always surprised because they don’t need a timetable. With Jurgen, in 10 minutes, it is done.”

New Mural Of Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp
New Mural Of Liverpool Manager Jurgen Klopp© Getty Images/Christopher Furlong
 

However, Klopp is selective about his endorsements. He avoids brands that conflict with his beliefs – he is a devout Christian with left-leaning political views. This selectivity extends to avoiding too many deals at once, ensuring he maintains an authentic and manageable public persona. Despite his careful curation, there have been occasional controversies. For example, Klopp faced criticism for appearing in a 2016 advert for BetVictor, Liverpool’s then-principal betting partner. His endorsements of car and alcohol brands also draw scrutiny. Nevertheless, his appeal remains strong.

Even Klopp’s darker side has a peculiar appeal. The Snickers advert, for instance, played on his tendency for touchline tirades, highlighting the multifaceted nature of his personality.

“The positive sides of him are just so huge from the German point of view, but of course, everybody knows that he’s often angry and maybe too angry at referees and at decisions, sometimes maybe complaining a little too much,” Dombrowski says. “But what comes across from England to Germany is mainly the positive things. His authenticity is something very few people can replicate.”

Ultimately, Klopp's on-field success is the foundation of his commercial appeal. “He’s been successful over a period of more than 15 years across two different countries,” says Craig Hannan, head of brand and marketing for The Anfield Wrap website. “There’s obviously massive brand value in that. He’s a brilliant leader of people and receives incredible buy-in from those around him. He speaks incredibly well, especially about topics outside of football. You can see he really cares for people first and foremost.”

The combination of Klopp's leadership, authenticity, and on-field success makes him highly attractive to brands. “That’s the real value to brands, if you can find someone that isn’t just elite in their field but also has human values,” Hannan explains. “A lot of brands will talk about being purpose-driven and that’s the idea of the work they do and the stories they tell can have a positive social impact. It helps them build a deeper connection with the consumer. When you look at Jurgen, his view of the world, his values as a person, and his personality, he is exactly what brands are looking for.”

Jurgen Klopp Liverpool
SHARE