$600 Million Manchester United, Chevrolet Deal Going From Bad To Worse
Chevrolet’s $600 million sponsorship deal with major football club Manchester United may have been a match made in heaven, but with Man U’s performance on the pitch as of late, the deal is now on the highway to hel l according to Automotive News.
The deal, written up by then-head of General Motors marketing Joel Ewanick to connect the two brands at the end of the 2012 season, was done due to Man U’s cachet with not only the English Premier League’s viewership — 643 million households in 212 countries — but also with the European Champions League tournament’s 360 million households. Though the Bow Tie has little presence in Europe beyond the Corvette — and would have trampled upon Opel/Vauxhall’s turf — the club’s fans in the Asia-Pacific market was prime for the taking in Ewanick’s mind.
Reality for the deal, however, hasn’t panned out as well as first hoped. The sin of omission committed by Ewanick regarding the sponsorship led to his sacking just as Man U’s long-serving coach Sir Alex Ferguson passed the torch to former Everton FC leader/miracle worker David Moyes. As AN’s Mark Rechtin notes, things have not been the same since Fergusons departure. The club suffered from internal conflict in the locker room, second-guessing from the English sporting media, indecision on starting lineups, and losses to other clubs they would normally dominate if not outright destroy.
Furthermore, the club is currently seventh place in the overall EPL standings with no signs of improving to pass Everton, Tottenham and Liverpool to reach fourth and gain a qualifying position in the Champions League. Without that golden ticket, Man U will land in the oft-ignored Europa League, a marketing dead zone for any brand, let alone Chevrolet.
Finally, Man U may need to sell their star-studded lineup to make payroll, stripping away the cachet that had attracted Ewanick to pen the sponsorship deal in the first place. Not that it matters much if fans weren’t buying what Chevrolet was selling in the first place.
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For everyone saying that it is a problem b/c Chevy isn't local, I don't think it does matter. When Yu Darvish pitches for the Rangers, you see advertisements in the back stop for Japan. Why? Because when Yu Darvish pitches, you can watch the game in Japan. Not any of the other Rangers games, but that one, yes. It would mean more if the local brand was the same, but unlike Texas Rangers/Yu Darvish situation, the bulk of Man U viewers aren't in Europe.
I think the magnitude of Man U's situation is a touch overblown - their revenues are up so an fire-sale of players to make payroll is unlikely. They also just broke their transfer record on Juan Mata, a clearly world-class player, who signed despite the lack of Champions League games on the horizon. Those facts don't stop this being a terrible deal for Chevrolet though - $600 million didn't even get their logo on the jersey.