By on June 8, 2012

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

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14 Comments on “Are You Ready for Some Futbol? Chevy Sponsors Manchester United...”

  • avatar

    Pulling out of advertising on Facebook and sticking your logo on Man Utd shirts? I thing GM might be on to something here. Really – no sarcasm. Go anywhere around the world (which isn’t North America) and you’ll see someone wearing a Man Utd shirt, from Asia to Africa. Now you’ll go anywhere in the world and see a Chevy logo as well.

    • 0 avatar

      Me agree.

      Not advertise on Facebook? Smart move. Gloat-In-Your-Facebook has peaked in usefulness, and I’m sure the My-Every-Waking-Thought-book bubble is over (although I’m sure the herd will keep subscribing).

      Not advertise on the Superbowl? Smart move. There’s always an point where the price of anything is too high, it’s not worth it. Simple. (Too bad GM doesn’t realize this for the “unobtainable” upper level execs it want to hire.) I like to watch the Superbowl ads as much as the game, but it does not influence me to buy cat chow.

      Do advertise in soccer? What’s soccer?

  • avatar

    A high GM official speculated back in the 80s, I believe, that GM might totally abandon manufacturing in North America if things didn’t go their way. I think that the threat was and still is real. GM wants to become a Chinese company and sell cars from there. No more EPA or NHTSA, no more UAW, no more dis-satisfied customers defecting to Japanese or Korean cars. Utopia !

    Until they are nationalized, that is…

    • 0 avatar
      Robert Schwartz

      Didn’t that happen already?

    • 0 avatar

      Even if they did pull all manufacturing out of America and shift it to China, they’d still have to comply with EPA and NHTSA rules to sell cars here…

    • 0 avatar

      I could see their angle and it may offer alot of interesting options, but if I were them I would never get in bed with the Red Chinese to the level you are suggesting. If i were RenCen, I would find a weaker Asian country which would offer similar benefits but be much easier to buy off and control, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, etc. China’s destiny may conflict too much with the other global powers, could be complicated decades down the line.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Here are two Chevy commercials with real players singing:

    Justin Verlander

    Prince Fielder:

  • avatar

    some factual inaccuracies that would like to point out.

    1. The bowtie will NOT be on the United shirt. This GM deal is a marketing/partnership deal that replaces the Audi deal United had. Audi was represented on the billboards around the pitch at OT and on the back of the bench/seat headrests in the dugout. AON is the current kit sponsor and that deal was from 2010-2014 at 80 million pounds. If GM wants the Bowtie/GM on the United shirt, then they will have to pony up a hell of a lot more cash in 2014.

    2. Comparing this deal to the Warrior/Vermin deal is not the same as these are different levels of sponsorship. The Warrior deal is kit manufacturing deal, which the equivalent would be Nike for United. The Nike deal runs for 13 years (02-15) and the next nike deal with utd will be atleast double what the Wall Pushers get from Warrior (a New Balance subsidiary).

    3. I wonder if GM/Chevy have negotiated any clauses whereby the players have to drive/show up in GM/Chevy cars. Back during the Audi deal (many of the united players received Q7, R8, A8’s) some united players didn’t drive/show up in their audi’s and audi execs were not happy with players driving other marques to the club/training/matchdays all the time.

    • 0 avatar

      You’re correct. Thanks for the clarification. While the Chevy bowtie won’t be on the Man Utd jerseys for now (Warrior’s will be) it might happen in the future. Part of the appeal of soccer sponsorship is a more free market attitude towards logo placement than with professional sports leagues in North America. From the Detroit News article about the Chevy and Warrior deals:

      “Soccer is more favorable because there are no apparent limits on prominent ad placements, McDaniel said.

      “European soccer has no problem with jersey logos,” McDaniel said. “In the United States, that’s about the only place with the exception of NASCAR that has remained sacred.”

      I think that outside of motorsports, the only North American sport that has sponsor logos on game apparel is professional rodeo, like PBR, and Ford is the title sponsor of that championship.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not sure what those footballers have been driving, but if I was British and drove a free A8 I would be pretty pissed if this was replaced by an Equinox, Cruze, or Chevy-du-jour GM is looking to promote (maybe a Corvette, but I doubt GM is going to distribute those). Maybe they will give them Opels?

      At least Audi has the image where young successful athletes would maybe want to drive them.

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