SBD/January 12, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Fans Show Mixed Support Of Philly Union's Jersey Deal With Bimbo

Bimbo will pay roughly $12M over the next four MLS seasons to sponsor Union's jersey

The MLS Philadelphia Union yesterday announced their "multimillion-dollar deal” with jersey sponsor Bimbo Bakeries, and the “immediate reaction to news of the sponsor ... was mixed,” according to Jeff Gammage of the PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER. The company is pronounced BEEM-bo, and fan group Sons of Ben President Bryan James said that he “could see how the common mispronunciation of Bimbo could cause some initial confusion -- but that it would be overcome by time and marketing.” Gammage reports the mispronunciation of Bimbo is “leading the company to try to convince consumers that its name does not glorify dull-witted, readily bedded, sort-of celebrities.” Bimbo has placed billboards along I-95 in the Philadelphia area that read, "Say 'Beembo!'," and “taken a trademark on that phrase.” Union CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz said that the team “had no concerns that the Bimbo name could hamper jersey sales to women.” Sakiewicz: "In the focus groups and discussions I've had with women, the vast majority of them think it's just the coolest thing. They think it's fun. Our data is telling us they think it's kind of cool. I have zero concerns on that" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 1/12).

ALREADY UNPOPULAR WITH FEMALES: ESPNW’s Amanda Rykoff reported within "hours of the announcement, fans posted angry comments on the Philadelphia Union's Facebook page and photo albums. They do not like the jerseys, they do not like the name ‘BIMBO,’ and, most notably, many of the team's female fans who commented said they feel the team is alienating them with this name choice” (ESPNW.com, 1/11). FanHouse’s Brian Straus wrote on his Twitter account, “Assume when Union calculated the value of the Bimbo sponsorship, they factored in that no woman will buy a jersey for 4 years” (TWITTER.com, 1/11). But Sakiewicz said, “I think the fans that like the idea outweigh the ones that don’t. This partnership does so much in terms of marketing our brand worldwide and will help us attract those big-time players to our organization” (PHILADELPHIA DAILY NEWS, 1/12).

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