Branding expert a football sponsorship sceptic
Edward Freedman, the football branding guru who headed up merchandising at Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur FC in the late 1980s and 1990s, has questioned the effectiveness of sponsorship from companies such as tyre manufacturers.
The Telegraph’s sport pages note on 19 September that Manchester United has announced 12 sponsorship and partnership agreements since the end of the last football season, including deals with Apollo Tyres and Federal Corporation. Speaking to The Telegraph’s Mark Odgen, Freedman warned that Manchester United – and indeed any club pursuing a ‘badge for hire’ approach – risks diluting its brand.
“There is only short-term gain from generating as much money as possible by putting a club’s name on whichever product is willing to pay for the privilege,” Freedman told The Telegraph. “Eventually, that approach will dilute and hurt the brand. People get fed up of seeing a club’s name or badge on anything that moves because it has very little credibility.”
Regarding Manchester United’s recent deals with Apollo and Federal, Freedman commented that “if clubs believe that having their names on batteries or tyres will win them supporters in various countries, they will believe anything. Fans in Asia only want to watch games on television.” While opining there is little benefit for the club from affiliations with tyre makers and other such companies, Freedman didn’t address whether the connection to Man U would, or wouldn’t, translate into increased brand recognition and higher tyre sales.
In addition to agreements with Apollo and Federal, Manchester United signed up Indonesian tyre maker Multistrada as an official tyre partner at the start of the year. Kumho Tire also entered into a partnership deal with the club in 2007; this agreement expired in June 2012.