Property website Zoopla is "threatening to axe its multi-million pound shirt deal" with EPL West Brom if striker Nicolas Anelka continues to play for the club "over fears the brand’s Jewish roots are being tarnished by the worsening furore around his controversial ‘quenelle’ goal celebration," according to Sebastian Joseph of MARKETING WEEK. Zoopla warned West Brom it "will axe the tie-up with immediate effect" if Anelka plays against Everton on Monday. Zoopla, which is co-owned by Jewish businessman Alex Chesterman, is thought "to have delivered the ultimatum earlier this week claiming it does not want to be associated with the gesture because it has anti-Semitic connotations." It "is likely" Anelka will play next week. Citing a source close to the matter, the club "is not prepared to let sponsors dictate its team selection." West Brom is "believed to have already made early inquires into securing a temporary sponsor for the remainder of the season" should Zoopla act on its threat. The property firm’s two-year deal with the club ends this season and the club is "confident" of being able to find a new long-term backer given the league's "growing popularity" (MARKETING WEEK, 1/17). The sponsorship deal was valued at $4.3M (N.Y. TIMES, 1/18).
UNDER INVESTIGATION: REUTERS' Mike Collett reported Anelka "is being investigated" by the FA for "making the gesture" after scoring the first of his two goals in a 3-3 draw at West Ham in the league on Dec. 28. The quenelle, invented by French comedian Dieudonne, "has drawn widespread condemnation in Anelka's homeland" and from anti-racist and Jewish groups in England who have "demanded the player be banned." Anelka has played in every league game since making the alleged gesture. He "promised no repeat but did not apologise for his actions." Zoopla "has made no public comment on the issue" (REUTERS, 1/18). The BBC reported the FA is "expected to announce the result of its investigation" early this week. The FA has brought in an ''expert regarding the salient issues related to the gesture." There "is a possibility he could be handed a lengthy ban" should he be found guilty (BBC, 1/19). A West Brom spokesperson said, "West Bromwich Albion will be making no further comment until the Football Association has concluded its investigation, and the club its own internal enquiry, into the matter" (London INDEPENDENT, 1/17).
SETTING PRECEDENT: In London, John Percy noted it is "not the first time a Premier League sponsor has become involved with contentious issues surrounding a club’s players." Two years ago, Standard Chartered "criticised Liverpool forward Luis Suárez for refusing to shake the hand" of ManU defender Patrice Evra. And in '11, Chelsea captain John Terry’s main sponsor Umbro "also distanced itself" by removing all pictures of him from its website after he "was charged for racially abusing Anton Ferdinand" (TELEGRAPH, 1/17).
Chinese smartphone maker Huawei "is stepping up its U.K. and European marketing" with a two-year deal with EPL, according to Sarah Vizard of MARKETING WEEK. Huawei hopes the deal "will boost brand awareness in the region." The deal lasts until the end of the '15-16 football season. It will see Arsenal players such as Mesut Özil and Jack Wilshere "feature in Huawei’s communications and promotional activities both in the U.K. and overseas." For Huawei, the partnership also "includes offers, content and a brand presence during Arsenal matches, as well as via its digital and social media channels." Huawei "will also gain access to Arsenal’s customer database and be able to offer matchday hospitality" at the Emirates Stadium to competition winners. The deal "will also help boost Arsenal" as it looks to Asia for revenue generating opportunities. The club says it has a “very large digital fanbase” in China and has previously toured Asia, playing matches in Malaysia, Hong Kong and China (MARKETING WEEK, 1/17).
Jaguar Energy Drink UK announced a new partnership to become the first official U.K and Ireland energy drink partner of Man City. The deal is the brand's first taste of football sponsorship in the U.K. The sponsorship will kick off at the top-of-the-table clash between Man City and Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium on Feb. 3. Fans attending the fixture will be able to sample the product for the first time, where it will be available throughout the club's food and beverage offering. This includes the Etihad Stadium’s corporate suites, hospitality boxes, stadium concourse kiosks and in BT City Square -- the club's pre-match fan entertainment zone. Following the launch, Jaguar will collaborate on a series of bespoke in-stadium and digital fan activations throughout the remainder of the season (Man City).
Pepsi "has signed a testimonial deal with Serie A Fiorentina striker Mario Gomez to be part of its int'l campaign surrounding this year's World Cup in Brazil," according to W&V. Pepsi "has allocated a total of 19 football players for its campaign." Lionel Messi and Sergio Agüero (both Argentina), Jack Wilshere (England), David Luiz (Brazil), Robin van Persie (Netherlands) and Sergio Ramos (Spain) will be part of Pepsi's global campaign team surrounding this summer's World Cup. A corresponding TV commercial featuring the six "will make its debut in the next several weeks." Pepsi also announced that it "will use the team for music and art activities." In Germany, Gomez "will be featured on Pepsi cans and bottles, on billboards, in a movie-theater commercial and digital promotions" (W&V, 1/16).
The German Tennis Federation (DTB) has agreed to a sponsorship deal with Clinton Group to become the federation's official fashion partner. Clinton Group will outfit Germany's Fed Cup and Davis Cup teams for the next three years, using its women's brand Soccx and men's brand Camp David (DTB). ... Opel Romania and Liga 1 side Petrolul Ploieşti have signed a partnership deal which sees the German carmaker become the main sponsor of the team. The Blitz logo will now be featured on all club kit as part of an agreement involving local marketing and communications programs (Opel). ... Shandong Lingong Construction Machinery Co., Ltd. signed a three-year sponsorship deal to support the Asian Football Confederation on Friday as the Chinese company becomes the latest commercial backer of the continental body’s club program. In addition to supporting the AFC Champions League, SDLG’s association with club football in Asia will also see it backing the AFC Cup, the AFC President’s Cup and the AFC Futsal Club Championship (AFC).