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SBD Global/February 26, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

ManU Left With Quandary Over How To Market 'Bad Guy' Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney recently signed a $144M, five-and-a-half year deal with ManU.
Mario Balotelli is "the template from which Manchester United can set about making some serious money out of Wayne Rooney, to offset the many millions more they are paying out on his new salary," according to Ian Herbert of the London INDEPENDENT. One specialist in the field describes Balotelli as "The best example of bad guy perception.” One only has "to look at some of his promotional videos with Puma, for whom he is now a leading symbol, to see how controversy pays." This example "suddenly matters a great deal" to ManU, because "sweating their prime asset commercially is their way of getting some payback for accepting the Rooney pay demands put before them" by the player’s agent, Paul Stretford. In return for making Rooney Britain’s best-paid footballer by a distance, ManU "will have ensured that a more significant proportion of his image rights revenue now comes directly to them, rather than him." It means that "self-interest, not affection, is driving the new search for Rooney endorsements which the United sales staff in London and New York will be embarking upon." Securing image rights deals for an individual, rather than a team, "is always trickier, because of the unpredictability attached, but it is doubly so with Rooney." Experts experienced in selling Premier League player image rights "will tell you that when there is a controversy or marital indiscretion in a star’s past there can be problems in this country." It is in Asia, "where stars with rough spots are an easier sell, that United will be looking to push the Rooney image most profitably." Building on Rooney’s current Samsung deal "means a sales pitch which draws on his fundamental appeal: raw, rough-edged unpredictability, even if that does entail promoting traits in their star player that the manager would like to see in the background" (INDEPENDENT, 2/25).
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