An amazing news came up last night. Mancherster
United, finalist of the last Champion's League (lost against Barcelona), signed a important and innovative partnership confirming its commercial superpower in the football (soccer)
DHL, the global logistics company, has upgraded its current deal with Manchester United, becoming their first official training kit sponsor. Training kit sponsor ? Yes, DHL will have its logo on the shirt of the Reds during their training sessions. It might sound weird but actually, it already exists with the football national teams. As their partners are not allowed to have their logos on national teams match kits (FIFA rule), they are on the one of the trainings in order to show their partnership to the fans through the media.
Thanks to the development of the technologies, there are more and more media : more social networks sharing more pictures and articles, more tv channels via the DTT, more press (physical - boom of free titles 5 years ago - or virtual through tablets), more websites, more and more sources of information, more and more consumption of sports either it is via tv or smartphones or computers or tablets. But I'm sure you noticed that. So these sources need more material, more content. Live events are not enough : Fans want info that go beyond the match report. And in any case, all these market players cannot all buy the rights. Therefore, to satisfy their customers, they extend their coverage to the training, friendly matches, press conferences and any possible content around official competitions.
This part of the media coverage becoming bigger, Mancherster United understood the commercial potential the club can benefit from that. Being one of the most popular clubs on earth, the current champion of England offers a wide global exposure to DHL. In addition, training kits are also available in stores. But this partnership is not only a matter of money and exposure. The interesting (and smart) part of this deal is that it offers a behind the scene contents. Behind the scene ? Well, that's exactly DHL business, a leading logistics company. So this agreement also reinforces the awareness of the company activity and not only of the brand image.
Unfortunately, the agreement seems to be only for domestic competitions. Well, it would have been much more interesting to extend it to international competitions or, if it was contractually not possible probably because of AON, at least to friendlies international tournaments (Man Utd always does a pre-season tour, either in Asia or in the USA) : when the team needs a professional 'help' to handle its massive volume of material to bring with him for its long travels...
Anyway, this amazing partnership opens the doors to a brand new product in the football clubs sponsorship business. Of course, it is not possible for everyone : it worth it if the chosen club has a strong media coverage, besides the competitions. But be sure that it will give some inspiration to a lot of clubs from every sports.
On the other side, this might be also seen as a threat by the top main sponsor, the one on the match kit : its share of voice decreases a lot. The first market studies will be interesting to follow : which brand will be seen as main sponsor of the club ? which one will be the first of the list, on top of the fans' mind ? Of course the results also depend on the activation : how each brand communicates around its own partnership, onsite and in the media through advertising campaigns which generates more visibility to it.
DHL will pay £40million during the next four seasons (11.5M€ per season). To give you an interesting comparison, only 4 English clubs receive more than £10M per season from their main sponsor (Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester City) ! The DHL agreement is worth around half of the estimated £80M (91.5M€) paid by ManU main sponsor AON.