Emarati Entrepreneur Budreya Faisal, Founded The Region's First Athlete Brand Development Agency.
Updated: Feb 2
Budreya Faisal is the CEO and Founder of Ghost Concept, the 1st and only athlete brand development agency on the GCC. The Emirati entrepreneur's journey led to her being the only athlete brand expert in the MENA region, it started with her love for “the beautiful game.” “This all started with me falling in love with football, while I was doing postgraduate studies in car design with Lamborghini in Italy in 2004,” Faisal recalls. “I went on a San Siro Stadium tour with some friends, having no interest in football or the actual game when we got there, but by the time I walked out of that stadium, I was hooked. Shevchenko changed my life. A. C. Milan became my team. Football became my passion, and eventually my life’s work, calling, and purpose.”
After Faisal’s interest in the sports business was ignited, she chose to get involved in it from the marketing side, with her career's trajectory beginning by her taking on the role of a Creative Projects Advisor in the CEO’s office, for the inaugural Formula One Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in 2009. She then moved on to work at the Dubai Sports Council, where she ended up becoming the first person to become its Head of Sports Tourism. That was followed by a stint at the UAE Pro League as its Marketing Director for three years, and Faisal then moved to work at the Al Ahli Football Club as its Commercial Director for 10 months. Looking back at this career trajectory, Faisal says, “This background and experience gave me the chance to look at football from every angle, council, league, and club. I worked with some great people; I made a difference. But it wasn’t enough. There were always political roadblocks, as there are in every organization. When I felt like I wasn’t able to make the real change I had hoped to make, I temporarily got out of football.”
But Faisal’s exit from the world of sport didn’t last for long. She had heard about a great player who got embroiled in what she calls “an insignificant, so-called scandal” that made it to the news, and that essentially forced him to sign a club contract at a lower value than what Faisal thought he’s actually worth on the pitch. “This made my blood boil,” she said. “Our players, while very talented, lacked the understanding of their actual value in the sport and country, and let it be whatever these contracts told them they were worth. They weren’t surrounded by empowerment and advisors. I decided to change that, protect them, educate them on their value, while also building it up, helping them, their clubs, and the countries they play for. A month later, I had the keys to my first Ghost Concept office.”
Faisal launched Ghost Concept with the aim to help athletes enhance their personal and digital brand development, with a focus on being professional players in the Arab league, especially Arab players, so as to give them the benefits we've only seen players abroad enjoy. “We initially started with working with the bigger names, the National Teams’ above-29 players, thinking they would need our services the most to help them build value and a legacy, before their sporting careers come to an end,” Faisal says. “But 18 months into our start, we changed courses.” This shift in strategy was precipitated by something Faisal didn’t really expect- as it so happens, the people she was targeting were simply not keen on accepting what she had to offer. “It was all too new, untried, or untested,” she says. “People had never heard of these offerings that I’d put together based on the needs of this region, and of course, a lot of research.”
But Faisal was also not ready to accept the status quo. “Having only a handful of companies globally specialize in the areas of athlete brand development and management made it even more important for me to trust in the fact that nobody knows our football and our football culture like we do, and we’ve come too far in this country to think we need to simply copy what’s been done abroad,” Faisal declares. “We’re industry leaders and game changers here, and this challenge and business was going to be no exception. Once we realized it was too difficult for the older, nationally celebrated players who were more set in their ways to see why they needed us, we changed our strategy. Now, our most important criteria is that a player is hungry for growth and willing to put in the work.”
Ghost Concept;s esteemed client list includes: the Saudi League’s top scorer and Captain of the Syrian National Team, Omar Al Somah, as well as the UAE National Team player Ali Saleh, the left-winger of Al Wasl Club who was awarded the title of the Arabian Gulf League’s Golden Boy for 2018/19. Ghost concept rebranded Al Somah's nickname from "OS9" to ‘SOMAH,’ with the release of a very special logo and a photoshoot they designed and directed for him that almost instantly elevated his image. Now, SOMAH advertises with Call of Duty, Pepsi, Paco Rabanne, PlayStation, and FIFA 21. The agency also managed his move back to Adidas, and ensured they got maximum exposure from the brand.
Check out Ghost Concept's website at: https://www.ghostconcept.com/
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