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Volume 24 No. 154

Marketing and Sponsorship

Acer’s option to renew its worldwide Olympic sponsorship has expired, and the IOC “does not plan to renew the computer company’s agreement beyond 2012,” according to Tripp Mickle of SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Sources said that the IOC “plans to leave the official computing category vacant and look for new partners to join The Olympic Partner program.” The decision “reflects the IOC’s efforts to deal with a rapidly changing technology category where conflicts have sprung up among existing sponsors that are competitors in new product areas.” Taiwan-based Acer paid approximately $100M to become the exclusive computer partner of the Olympics for the '10 and '12 Games. Marketing agency Encompass Int'l President Davis Butler, who managed the TOP program for six years, said, “The technology is changing so quickly that it’s almost impossible for the IOC to have a hardware category.” Butler, who “had no knowledge of the IOC’s plans, said the IOC was right to re-evaluate the computer category and reconsider how it sells technology sponsorships.” Butler indicated that the IOC “has two options after 2020.” It either can “sell a single sponsorship in the technology area or sell multiple sponsorships and define areas where sponsors have exclusivity and areas where they can compete” (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 6/4 issue).

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" (, 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).

In London, Nathalie Thomas reports EPL club Newcastle Owner Mike Ashley, who also owns U.K.-based sporting goods retailer Sports Direct, is “lining up to take a shot at Umbro, the maker of the England football kit." Nike has “put the iconic British brand up for sale less than five years after buying it.” A Sports Direct spokesperson declined to comment but a source said that "there was 'logic' in adding Umbro to the retailer's kit bag." Ashley is “likely to face an on-pitch battle for the brand with several private equity players” (London TELEGRAPH, 6/4).

NEW THREADS: The Bills announced a practice jersey sponsorship with JW Danforth Co., which will also become the team's official HVAC and plumbing provider for the upcoming season. Bills players will wear the JW Danforth practice jerseys for OTAs, training camp and practice throughout the season (Bills). The Bills practice jerseys had previously been sponsored by Sanyo (THE DAILY).

BURNING RUBBER: Sonoma raceway inked a five-year extension with Yokohama Tire Corp., with the company continuing to serve as the official tire manufacturer of the racetrack through ’16. The agreement includes hospitality, signage and other assets during major event weekends at the facility (Sonoma).