REPORT: GM Signed $300 Million Manchester United Sponsorship Without Knowing Price

manchester united camaroA Manchester United Camaro

Photo: Joel Ewanick / Twitter

Joel Ewanick was ousted as global marketing chief of General Motors after the company agreed to become the lead sponsor of Manchester United, a deal worth perhaps $300 million, without knowing its full price, according to Bloomberg.If Bloomberg’s report is true, it would be one of the biggest marketing contractual screwups of all time. Reuters reported something similar. Bloomberg added:

GM leaders had to ask for Ewanick’s resignation after they perceived that he failed to make clear some details of the contract to the senior management team, the people said. As a result, the leaders didn’t know the true cost of the United deal, worth about $300 million to be on the jerseys, one of the people said. GM plans to honour the arrangement, which was altered from what Ewanick originally crafted, the people said.

The deal is worth ¬£25 million ($39 million) per year for seven years, or more than $273 million. It’s more than 25% greater than what insurer Aon paid, when it took United’s shirtfront for the previous four years.

Not everyone is buying that theory, however. The Detroit Free Press said the Man U deal was a distraction and that it’s really all about the fact that Ewanick’s marketing didn’t move the sales needle enough:

Issues with soccer deals are just a diversion from the real reason Ewanick was forced to resign, his inability to maintain or increase market share under his leadership, say GM marketing officials and advertising leaders familiar with the company.

Ad Age added:

“I find it hard to believe that that would be the impetus for Joel leaving the organisation, because there are just too many processes and signature authority needed that would eliminate,” one executive close to GM told Ad Age. “It’d be almost impossible, and given Sarbanes Oxley there is so much oversight on all these deals that go on. I couldn’t believe that GM would be so lax with their controls … especially since the whole bankruptcy situation. It could be GM not looking to have egg on their face because they hired the wrong person to start with.”

Having said that, this is the same company whose “many processes and signature authority” led to $600,000 being paid to an ad agency that employed the CFO’s wife as a partner, for a bunch of videos that few people saw.

In other news: GM says it’s sticking with Commonwealth, the joint venture agency between Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and McCann Erickson, that Ewanick formed to handle GM’s global creative business.


  • Was GM Marketing Exec Forced Out Over $32 Million Manchester United Deal?
  • Do McCann And Goodby Have a Future With General Motors?

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