Photo: nasmac / Flickr, CC.
General Motors can’t stop making news as it attempts to shave $2 billion from its $4.5 billion ad budget over five years. It pulled its ads from Facebook and the Super Bowl. Now it’s buying a sponsorship to make Chevrolet the official car of Manchester United.The price of the deal is undisclosed, a GM spokesperson tell us. Translation: It’s either way too much or an embarrassingly small sum.
Sponsoring Man U can be effective: Everyone knows the name of Aon, which adorns the team’s shirts–Aon pays £20 million per year for the honour–and many are aware that Nike makes its shirts.
But Man U also has a string of minor sponsorship deals which most soccer fans are completely unaware of: Do you know what role Turkish Airlines plays at the club? Or Casillera del Diablo? Or Hublot? Or any of these guys: Smirnoff, Mr. Potato, DHL, BetFair, Singha, Epson, or Thomas Cook?
DHL paid £40 million for its deal. Was it worth it? I didn’t know the deal even existed until now, and I watch football both live and on TV every week.
Now look at the market opportunity GM is hoping to build. Ad Age notes that Chevy accounted for 0.9% of new-vehicle registrations in the U.K., where Man U’s core fans are. GM’s thinking seems to be, it literally can’t get any worse.
It’s also hoping that a set of friendly matches in China will boost the brand’s image among Man U’s 659 million fans, half of whom are in Asia. GM sells more cars in China than any other country.
Man U is certainly popular, but it doesn’t have 659 million fans: That’s nearly one tenth of the world’s entire population. Does 10 per cent of everyone you know support United enough to buy a car associated with the club? Of course not.
Man U has perfected the art of taking money from advertisers. It’s a truism of sports business: If your name isn’t on the shirt or the stadium, then you’re probably wasting it.
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