When GM’s marketing director Joel Ewanick recently announced that the largest American automaker would not be producing or buying Super Bowl ads next year, it got some attention. The Super Bowl commercials are, well, the Super Bowl of commercials, so that attention is understandable. GM’s pullback from Facebook ads also got considerable publicity in the run up to Facebook’s IPO. Lost in all that advertising news was another announcement by Ewanick, one that may be the most important marketing news out of the RenCen lately because it demonstrates GM’s move to make Chevrolet its global brand. Last week in Shanghai, GM and the UK’s Premier League Manchester United soccer team announced a five year sponsorship deal making Chevy the team’s official automotive partner.
Though dollar figures were not announced, it’s undoubtedly worth over $100 million for the life of the contract. By comparison, sporting goods maker Warrior Sports, coincidentally also based in the Detroit area, just announced a $200 million dollar six-year sponsorship of Manchester United’s rival, the Liverpool Football Club.
As big as American football is, soccer has a truly global reach. Printing the bow-tie on the Red Devils’ jerseys will put Chevy’s logo in front of hundreds of millions of Man Utd fans on television and also expose the car brand through team merchandising. According to Ewanick, Manchester United alone sells more replica team jerseys than the combined merchandising of all 32 National Football League teams. The deal is hoped to expand both parties’ global reach. GM is looking to sell more Chevy branded cars in countries where soccer is popular and Manchester United is looking to add America to that list of countries. Richard Arnold, Manchester United commercial director, said, “This is … the first time we have teamed up with a U.S. automotive partner and with the growing popularity of the Club and English football in America, we are hoping the relationship will allow us to further expand our fan base in the country.”
While GM may be reducing its advertising buys on American football and increasing its sports marketing with international soccer fans, Chevy has not abandoned its roots with American sports fans. The company that made “baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet” popular almost 40 years ago last year renewed a five year contract for Chevy to continue to be the official vehicle of Major League Baseball.
Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS