This is the first blog post I’ve ever written and yes, while I know I should have started doing this a long time ago, I would have procrastinated even further if it weren’t for an article on The Independent’s website last week that has, to be frank, caused me to see red (no pun intended!) “Manchester United Defend Sponsorship Strategy” is just over 500 words during which the Club that has come 3rd in Deloitte’s Football Money League 2013 has had to justify why they’ve agreed partnerships with the many companies around the world that want to be associated with them.
The question being asked is “are Manchester United in danger of diluting their brand?” No of course they’re not – particularly if they continue with the current strategy: carefully selecting partners in specific geographic regions that operate in business sectors that do not compete with their core global partners. Why would a paint manufacturer in Japan or a water company in China have any impact on the Club’s global image, the unwavering support of their fans, Chevrolet’s shirt sponsorship, or the value of a hospitality package at their next home match? The answer is they won’t. But they will have an impact on the Club’s performance because through this aggressive and ambitious programme of business development, United’s commercial team are adding to Ferguson’s coffers, allowing him to pay the wages professional footballers now command, ensuring they have the greatest chance of winning points, advancing in Cups, and giving the fans exactly what they want – success on the field.
There’s a lot wrong with professional football these days – but United’s approach to commercialising their assets with corporations that have marketing budgets they want to spend, is not one of them.
And let’s face it, if United’s fans do ever hear the names Kansai and Wahaha in association with their beloved team, they’re more likely to think they’re Ferguson’s latest signings than the commercial team’s (but don’t get me started on the subject of overseas players……I’ll save that rant for another day!)
What do you think – have the Red Devils gone too far?