SBD/June 4, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

"Chevrolet China Cup" Exhibition Games Highlight GM's Deal With Manchester United

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ManU already has a game set for July 25 with Shanghai Shenhua
A “huge aspect” of General Motors' sponsorship deal with EPL club Manchester United “includes the creation of the 'Chevrolet China Cup' that will feature Manchester United exhibition games in many Chinese cities,” according to Joshua Martinson of the London EXAMINER. Chevy is also joining One World Futbol, a nonprofit providing soccer balls to underprivileged youth, for the "birth of the 'One World Futbol Project.'" Martinson noted that ManU "sells more jerseys in a year than every NFL team combined does" (London EXAMINER, 6/3). In Detroit, Brent Snavely reported the Chevrolet China Cup will be “part of the Manchester United 2012 Tour” scheduled for July. The event "will feature matches in Shanghai and another Chinese city.” GM Global CMO Joel Ewanick said that the ManU partnership “is one piece of a broader Chevrolet marketing strategy aimed at building its presence in emerging markets of eastern Europe, Asia and South America.” Snavely noted Chevrolet sold 4.77 million vehicles worldwide in '11 (DETROIT FREE PRESS, 6/1). The London DAILY MIRROR noted that ManU confirmed one of the matches will be against "Chinese Super League outfit Shanghai Shenhua on July 25." The Chinese club already has former EPL club Chelsea F Nicolas Anelka on its squad and is "trying to sign" former Chelsea F Didier Drogba (London DAILY MIRROR, 5/31).

THE WORLD IS FLAT: FORBES’ Hannah Elliott wrote there has been talk about GM "forgetting its roots" after the company announced its deal with ManU and "dared thumb its nose at the high holy place of American car commercials, the Super Bowl." ManU is "about as far away from Detroit as Hollywood is from Cheboygan." The deal will involve “branding seats in the dugout at Old Trafford, player appearances at Chevy events, and the use of Chevrolet vehicles for official team duties.” Elliott wrote it is "a risky move" as Europe is "teetering on the edge of a serious financial meltdown," and soccer is nonexistent in the U.S. compared to the fanaticism it inspires in England. Elliott: “This deal isn’t about Europe. It’s about the world." GM Manager for Cross Brand Communications & Media Relations Tom Henderson said, “It is the right time to establish its presence in global football, a sport that is followed passionately by about 3.5 billion fans around the world. Like Chevrolet, which is sold in 140 countries, Manchester United have a global presence that is hard to match.” Elliott wrote credit for the deal should go to Ewanick, as he is "focused on making Chevrolet a global brand -- something that must be done if GM’s long-term strategy of developing cars on one platform that can be sold worldwide" (FORBES.com, 6/2). The FISCAL TIMES' Josh Herr wrote that "the affiliation with ManU brings plenty of prestige." While GM accounts for only 0.9% of new vehicle registrations in the U.K., it is “already the top-selling foreign automaker in China” (FISCAL TIMES, 6/1).

SHOCK AND AWE: Bloomberg TV’s Gigi Stone said GM CEO Dan Akerson “really wants to make Chevy and Cadillac into global brands, less dependent on the U.S. market." Stone: "But this is also part of GM’s new strategy to buy media more efficiently, with the goal of saving about $2 billion over five years.” Stone said GM’s announcement "really sent shivers up the spines of everyone on Madison Avenue and executives at TV networks." Stone: "They’re really worried its rivals will follow its lead and shift away its dollars from U.S. programming and automotive, of course, is the biggest category for ad spending in the U.S. so that would be a really big deal” (“Bloomberg Bottom Line,” Bloomberg TV, 6/1).
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