In 2012, Beşiktaş hit rock bottom. Chairman Yıldırım Demirören stepped down to announce his candidacy for the Turkish FA and club were desperate to find a new chairman due to financial problems. That year, Fikret Orman, a candidate for chairmanship in the early 2000s, announced his new candidacy and heralded a new era for the club.
Due to financial difficulties, Beşiktaş had to release some of their best players including Simão Sabrosa, Fabian Ernst and club icon Ricardo Quaresma. For that season, pundits even claimed that Beşiktaş would be embroiled in a relegation battle. That season, Beşiktaş finished third in the league but the hierarchy was concentrated on the new stadium project. In 2013, Croatian legend Slaven Biliç signed for Beşiktaş. During his time, Beşiktaş was unable to win any trophies, but he helped a host of young players rise to prominence. His time was short-lived, however, as the club and manager agreed on parting ways, and as his replacement, in came Senol Güneş.
Güneş was probably the right choice for Beşiktaş. His record was impressive, and he was even a favourite amongst the Turkish faithful for guiding the Turkish national team to third place in 2002 World Cup. Along with Güneş, Champions League winner Mario Gomez signed for Beşiktaş. This was a statement of intent for the club, and a show of faith for the new manager. The change of guard worked out instantly. Beşiktaş won their first league title in seven years, and after years of struggle, they were finally feared once again. In that year, the new Vodafone Stadium was unveiled and by adding the league title, it was dubbed as the “happiness centre of Turkey”
But the happiness, at least in terms of personnel, didn’t last too long. Due to the rife political situations, star men Mario Gomez and José Sosa left the club, citing the security of their family, and while some other players were brought in including Adriano from Barcelona and Anderson Talisca from Benfica, there was little optimism. However, that pre-season skepticism was proven to be unwarranted. The club would retain their league title and even made the quarter-finals of the Europa League, and just after that, they became an off-pitch phenomenon, not because of their success or history, but because of their madness on the internet.
During Fikret Orman’s era, Beşiktaş always had a motto to stick with. At first, it was “FEDA” which can be translated to the phrase “making a sacrifice” as Beşiktaş had to give up on their best players to become financially stable. After Beşiktaş won their first league title in Orman’s era and signed two of their rival’s best players, the motto was changed to “Efendi Beşiktaş”, which translates to “master Beşiktaş”, in reference their recent winnings.
Pundits, fans, and the board believed that Beşiktaş was unrivaled at that time, so the motto was born. Also, the motto had other meanings as “Efendi” means respectful and fair in Turkish. For supporters and former players, being fair and playing with dignity resembled Beşiktaş’ characteristic. But just as that motto was gathering popularity, their transfer announcements became a thing of beauty and gathered the attention of the world. They announced new signings with a quirky song with the main phrase being “come to Beşiktaş”, told in an enthusiastic, eccentric manner.
In order to fully understand “come to Beşiktaş,” we must recall the situation surround Beşiktaş in the summer of 2017. It was the final year of the Financial Fair Play agreement, which meant they still needed to sell a player to bring in a new one. Due to poor financial performances in the late 2000s and early 2010s, Beşiktaş was forced to make a stern agreement with UEFA. Beşiktaş sinuously found a way to make new signings. The method was signing players on loan and free agents.
While the fans were desperately waiting for the new signings, news from London shocked everyone. It was said that Antonio Conte had problems with Diego Costa and that the Spaniard would have to leave Chelsea. The rumour mill took notice of the issue and took the chance to claim that a move to Beşiktaş was on the cards for Diego Costa. The plan was simple, that summer Atlético Madrid had a transfer ban and it was thought that they would sign him and loan to Beşiktaş.
Beşiktaş fans commented as “come to Beşiktaş!” 3.1 million times under Diego Costa’s Instagram post, where he shared a picture of himself with a friend – thus breaking for the most commented post on the platform, which was previously held by Selena Gomez, which had less than half the number of comments. The madness exceeded the limits of social media and fans even went to London and wrote “come to Beşiktaş” on Costa’s patio. Moreover, fans in Turkey offered to pay money or bail out any vandals who were caught in trouble in England. Unfortunately, Chelsea and Atlético couldn’t come to an agreement and Beşiktaş’ own financial situation meant that Costa would move to Turkey.
The Diego Costa project was unsuccessful but Beşiktaş fans didn’t stop trying – now they would move for Real Madrid’s Pepe. A player sought after by Paris Saint-Germain and the Turkish club, the fans knew they would be embroiled in a transfer battle, and they instantly got down to business. Hundreds of comments serenaded Pepe’s social media feeds, and when a move was eventually commented, the Portuguese international lauded the fans’ efforts to bring him to the club: “The fans stole my heart with ‘come to Beşiktaş’. I was tempted.”
Both the fans and the board didn’t want to stop there. In Orman’s era, Beşiktaş had experienced and efficient strikers like Demba Ba, Mario Gomez and Vincent Aboubakar. Beşiktaş wanted to make Aboubakar’s temporary deal permanent but because of FFP regulations, it was not possible. So they turned their attention to former Valencia and Manchester City forward Álvaro Negredo, then of Middlesbrough in the Premier League, and the fans did the job. When the signing was complete, the catchy phrase was now more than just an Instagram comment.
The announcement of Negredo created a huge hype. The social media team at Beşiktaş created a simple video and added a song which the new striker recommended called Banana Bounce, from famous animated film Despicable Me 2. Briefly, in the video Ricardo Quaresma calls Pepe and invites him to play for Beşiktaş by saying “come to Beşiktaş”, then Pepe calls does the same for Negredo. This style of announcing transfers continued with the future purchases of Jeremain Lens, Gary Medel, Domagoj Vida and Vágner Love and the trend went worldwide. The club even cashed in on their newfound popularity by launching merchandise, making them a favourite amongst neutral fans.
The script was simple and the details were appealing: the music, the dialogues and the players all made the videos extremely enlightening to watch. In an interview, Beşiktaş’ Head of Communications, Candaş Tolga Işık said: “we chose the words wisely. The word ‘come’ is an easy word for everyone in the world. Everyone can understand our motive”. Moreover, Beşiktaş used the videos to highlight their own appreciation towards the club’s community.
An example of this was shown in the announcement video of Gary Medel. First, it was Jeremain Lens who made a call to Noah Hutchinson, the son of Beşiktaş fan-favourite Atiba, then it was the young boy, who himself had a celebrity status amongst the club’s fans, that made the call to Medel. Though these details may not be too appealing to fans outside the Beşiktaş community, it created a sense of belonging for the players and showed how they wanted to be more than just a football team.
At first, there were Instagram comments from fans. Later, it converted to memorable videos. Soon after that, Beşiktaş made a commercial having one of famous Persian poet Mevlana Rumi’s sayings: “Come, come, whoever you are. Wanderer, worshiper, lover of leaving. It doesn’t matter. Ours is not a caravan of despair. Come, even if you have broken your vows a thousand times. Come, yet again, come, come.” The video was used to encourage the inclusion of all cultures, communities, races and ages and was a great message of inclusion. Rumi has had a great role in Turkish civilisation and Beşiktaş made a video to inspire improved fan culture.
In the summer of 2017, Beşiktaş went to China – the first time a Turkish club went to the country. The hype was great and Beşiktaş was expected to play friendly games in China to raise their popularity. Unfortunately, due to weather conditions, Beşiktaş only played one game, but it had a significant impact. According to the chairman, the game against Schalke was watched by 75 to 80 million people, mostly in China – a number equivalent to the population of Turkey. After this move, Beşiktaş and China had a great relationship, celebrating their festivals and embracing their cultures.
The hype of “come to Beşiktaş” influenced Cristiano Ronaldo too. A long-time friend of Ricardo Quaresma and Pepe, he showed his interest in the movement in a live Instagram broadcast, where he talked about the campaign. Of course, in the short term it was not possible but hearing his from one of the world’s best players induced excitement amongst the Beşiktaş faithful.
The video even collaborated with pop culture. In Vagner Love’s announcement video, Beşiktaş made a reference to rom-coms such as Love Actually and P.S I Love You in reference to the forward’s surname. The announcement video started with the phrase “they say love only exits in movies”, before cutting to a sentence saying “we say come to Beşiktaş” and then displaying a clip of the Brazilian’s goals for Monaco.
After Beşiktaş qualified for the second round of the 2017-18 Champions League, they were drawn against Bayern Munich. A huge mountain to climb, there was little hope that they would make it past the German champions, but in terms of marketing the clash, they were the clear winners. Beşiktaş cooperated with their opponents to have Negredo, Pepe and Die Roten’s Polish forward, Robert Lewandowski, take part in a video. In similar fashion to the Turkish champions’ transfer announcements, this ended with Lewandowski telling the two Portuguese players to come to the Allianz Arena. The tie ended 8-1 on aggregate, but the marketing provided some consolation.
The idea and the concept of the famous video were used several times by others. From video games such as NBA 2K18 to the BBC’s World Cup commercial the phrase became a true phenomenon. Different personalities got involved too. Brands such as adidas and Nike used the phrase from time to time, while the Los Angeles Lakers’ LaVar Ball. Elsewhere, professional football clubs also took part in the trend: social media savvy Bayern Munich and AS Roma got in on the act.
The commercial with Rumi’s poetry also had a huge impact. Chairman Fikret Orman claimed that he is allowing this video to be used in other countries across the world and allow all fans to watch football no matter who they are or what their background is. Overall, this has been another success for the club. From the failures of 2012 to league titles, a state-of-the-art stadium and now an idiosyncratic video that has captured the world’s attention. They’ve garnered millions of views on their social media feeds and have influenced many to follow suit. This is the brand Beşiktaş wanted to build – they wanted to go global, and they did that in the most simple, distinguishing manner.