GM partners with Manchester United for Chevrolet – official image

We announced yesterday that U.S. based automaker General Motors plans to make a major announcement today.

Indeed, General Motors Co. (GM) is entering into a five-year partnership agreement with Manchester United, the most popular club with 659 million global followers.

“Manchester United has some of the most passionate supporters of any sporting club in the world,” GM’s global marketing chief Joel Ewanick said at an announcement in Shanghai, China, earlier today.

“The Chevrolet family is proud to partner with Manchester United and is fully committed to putting these fans at the center of everything we do.”

Terms of the five-year deal, announced in Shanghai on Thursday, were not disclosed.
GM’s decision to pivot from the Super Bowl, primarily an American event, to the more global appeal of Manchester United, offers insight into its marketing priorities.

Manchester United
Manchester United, the record 19-time English soccer champion, said it now has 659 million followers, making it the world’s “most popular club.” – almost 10% of the world’s population – and since 2007, the club’s following has doubled.

The survey was carried out by leading market research agency, Kantar, and gathered 54,000 respondents from 39 countries.

“What this shows is our followers have doubled in five years,” United’s commercial director Richard Arnold told reporters in London today. “It’s important to the club, not only for commercial partnerships. It gives us a road map to understand exactly what’s going on.”

According to Forbes magazine, Manchester United are the world’s richest club, and have been for the past eight seasons. Valued at £1.396 billion, United sit £250 million clear of second-placed Real Madrid and more than £1 billion above Barcelona.

Kantar found that football remains the world’s most popular sport, with 1.6 billion followers globally, reinforcing the results of a recent FIFA survey which produced a similar figure.

GM and its new strategy

The agreement follows GM’s decision this month to halt paid advertising on Facebook (FB) and forgo next year’s Super Bowl championship game of the National Football League in the U.S.
Chevy sold 4.76 million vehicles worldwide last year. And Manchester United, despite being a British team, has followings in Chevy’s most important markets going forward: the U.S. and China, in addition to Europe and South and Latin America.

Therefore – the move is to get more international “fans” directly.

While the deal should help Chevy globally, GM will keep strong ad campaigns and sponsorships in each of its regions, including sporting events and concerts in the U.S., Paul Edwards, its executive director for global marketing strategy said.

GM spent $1.1 billion on U.S. ads last year, ranking it behind only Procter & Gamble Co and AT&T Inc, according to ad-tracking firm Kantar Media, also owned by WPP.
Overall, GM’s spending on advertising rose 5.2 percent last year to $4.48 billion according to the automaker’s annual report.