SBD/October 21, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Manchester United's Unique Sales Approach Has Brought In More Than 30 Global Sponsors

The value of ManU's corporate partnerships has risen tenfold since '08
EPL club Manchester United officials have "made the club among the most valuable brands in sports," and the club’s visibility has "allowed it to assemble a roster of more than 30 global corporate partners," according to Tariq Panja of BLOOMBERG NEWS. ManU's sponsors range from Aon and Nike to Malaysia-based brand Mister Potato, which last month signed a deal to become the team's official "savory snack partner." Mamee-Double Decker Deputy GM for Sales & Marketing Pierre Pang, whose company owns Mister Potato, said, "What's the pitch? Three hundred and thirty-three million fans globally, with close to two-thirds coming from Asia. That’s basically along the lines of where our strategy is: The vision of being Asian No. 1 for the potato snack segment." Panja reported the people "charged with selling the United brand work out of an office 200 miles south of Manchester in the London district of Mayfair." ManU Commercial Dir Richard Arnold said, "Our approach has evolved beyond a traditional sports club’s, to being far more like that of a conventional blue-chip company. To arrive at this position we have spoken to companies with reputations as the world’s leading marketing organizations to see how they approach promotion and sales." Panja noted the result is a strategy that "sells access to its stadium infrastructure to major sponsors, while offering limited territorial association rights to telecom and credit card companies." In the past year, commercial sales have "increased 27 percent, to more than 100 million pounds, while the value of the team’s corporate partnerships has risen tenfold" since '08. ManU has done it by "creating new forms of advertising inventory." Meanwhile, ManU's sales operation "dwarfs that of any of its rivals." EPL club Arsenal CEO Ivan Gazidis said, "Any team should look at them and learn" (BLOOMBERG NEWS, 10/20).
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