Chevrolet says it does not need to “shout loud” about its reported £357 million Manchester United tie-up and will instead build awareness worldwide through local community projects.
The car marque’s name was seen on the shirts of the Premier League team for the first time in a competitive match on Saturday as it kicked off its £50m a season seven-year shirt sponsorship. It will put cause-related marketing front and center of the effort in order to reach drivers in emerging markets it claims are more willing to pay for brands with a purpose, says Marketing Week.
Chevrolet says it will create football programs that positively impact deprived children in communities in key markets such as India, Indonesia, Thailand and China, believing that consumers are more willing to pay for brands with a purpose.
Grassroots initiatives are being developed in partnership with the One Word Futbol Project children’s charity that has already spawned one million footballs donated to more than 60 countries since the United deal was first agreed in 2012.
Most recently, Chevrolet made its Premier League bow by asking United players to take to the pitch with the names of 11 young mascots from deprived areas in its focus markets on their shirts ahead of their opening match against Swansea on Saturday.
Tim Mahoney, chief marketing officer of Chevrolet, says the “gesture” reflects a conscious decision to refrain from “wasting” budget on “shouting” about its ties to the team and instead foster a more regionally targeted and cost-efficient strategy.
Mahoney told Marketing Week: “Partnering with Manchester United is about driving awareness for us in our key growth markets where the club is one of the most recognised brands around.
"You don’t need to do a lot of extra marketing when you have 40 or 50 million people watching every match. The strategy for us is more about how we create a platform that fosters creativity and ingenuity both externally with consumers but also internally with our staff.
“10 years ago over 60% of our sales were in the US. Now around 65% of our sales are from international markets.
"We know that people are increasingly drawn to brands with a purpose and there’s a cynicism that can greet commercial partnerships, particularly in sport. What we’re doing with CSR is making it more connected to our wider ‘Find New Roads’ strategy in a way that makes us more relevant to sport and ultimately our customers in order to drive trials, purchases, loyalty and brand equity.”
On the impact of the decision to stop brand sales in the UK from next year, Mahoney said: "Chevrolet will continue to be both shirt and automotive partner with United.
"It made sense with Vauxhall being a UK brand to focus our efforts through Liverpool and use United to push Chevrolet’s more globally focused objectives.
"We’re creating alignment so that the Vauxhall and Opel brands can cover Western Europe. Some of the UK-focused Chevrolet marketing team has been absorbed into Chevrolet global division, some have gone to Vauxhall, others to Opel and some have gone. We’ve right-sized the team and its pretty much complete now.