The English Premier League (soccer) season took a 100-day break due to the pandemic. Liverpool, who were on track to claim their first title in 30 years, were nervous going into the gap. It wasn’t clear if the league would return, and the talk started to revolve around if this year’s winner would forever have an asterisk after the title. *shortened season. *matches finished behind closed doors. *substitution and bench rules adjusted. After a 30 year drought, any of these would cheapen their almost inevitable win for the players and fans.
In what may be one of the greatest rebranding maneuvers of all time, Jurgen Klopp (their coach) stole the asterisk and completely rebranded it. This is a lesson on how to publicly control a narrative.
Klopp was asked in a press conference before their first game back what he thought of the asterisk. He admitted, as a German, he didn’t even know the word at first – so he Googled it. Upon reflection, he did think the season deserved an asterisk. That got their attention. He told the room,
This is the most difficult year and season to become champions. It is an interrupted season like has never happened before. Whoever will be champions at the end it will be historical because it is a year that we will never forget because hopefully, it is the only year we ever have like this as human beings and a society because I hope we find solutions for this kind of thing in the future. It is historic now more than ever. Give us an asterisk. Yes, do it. Because it is the most difficult season ever and the only difference is there is quite a points gap between us and other teams.
Rebranded. Reframed. Repackaged. Hand-delivered back to the press. His team was winning, breaking records, and ready to claim a title despite a pandemic that no one would soon forget. This was Liverpool’s accomplishment and he wouldn’t let them cheapen it. And so Klopp went on the record with what he would put after the asterisk. As of this week, they’ve clinched the title. As of this week, much of the asterisk talk has died down.