Man Utd – Signs New Sponsor Despite Tough Economic Environment

When Manchestor United’s troubled sponsor, AIG indicated in January this year that they were not going to renew their sponsorship in May 2010 there were quite a few comments in the broader media that sponsorship was in for a major decline. Very often, the loss of AIG by Man Utd was mentioned in conversation as ‘proof’ that sponsorship was losing favour in terms of marketing in the current economic environment. _45022704_44731294

Whilst Man Utd is not necessarily representative of the whole global sponsorship industry, it has been used as a ‘lamp-post’ or ‘barometer’ by many for the general health of sponsorship overall. Questions on the health of sponsorship itself have been raised by much of the media including sports, business and advertising/marketing media based on Man Utd’s ability to forge new marketing partnerships or retain them over time. 

Today it was announced that Man Utd has settled on a new sponsor to replace AIG, called AON (Chicago-based AON specialises in the reinsurance market). The value of the sponsorship deal is not disclosed but is estimated to be worth more than US$130 million over four years.

The comments from AON are quite interesting as they highlight the key reasons for such a significant investment from the company. Greg Case, president and chief executive officer of AON commented:

“It is a unique opportunity when two leaders in their respective fields can come together in a partnership such as the one we are announcing today,” added G. “Manchester United has one of the most recognized sports brands in the world. David and his team are all about winning and about excellence; the same holds true for the Aon team. We play to win in our business, and that is why we believe this partnership will create tremendous benefits for both organizations worldwide.

“While we are delighted that our brand will be showcased to the over 330 million fans of Manchester United as well as the countless followers of football worldwide, we also are extremely excited about the opportunity to maximize the value of this partnership globally.”

The message here is that AON is looking at there partnership with Man Utd to strengthen their brand globally. Based on the AIG experience it is something that can be well anticipated, after its first year sponsoring the team, AIG became the 47th most recognised global brand and jumped from number 84 to number 30 on Barron’s list of most respected companies.

Sponsorship remains a key platform for building global brands even in today’s tough economic environment, as evident from today’s announcement from the world of football.

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