It all started back in May, when General Motors and Manchester United first discussed forging an advertising partnership. Then GM ousted its Global Marketing head Joel Ewanick, a mere 48 hours before the record sponsorship deal was done.
Now we’ll probably never know the true story as to why Ewanick was forced to depart from General Motors, but it wouldn’t be a far stretch to say it might have had to do with the Manchester United deal. And since the deal is done and official, that should be the last we hear of it, right? Of course not.
Manchester United supporters are calling for a boycott of the sponsor’s products – which includes GM – to put pressure on the Glazer family to ditch the entire plan. The Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST) is heading up the boycott, stating that the Glazer family is hurting the team’s performance by plunging it into debt since its $1.23 billion takeover back in 2005.
“The boycott strategy is intended to send a loud and clear message to the Glazer family and club sponsors that without the support and purchasing power of the fans – the global strength of the Manchester United brand doesn’t actually exist,” MUST said in a statement.
Realistically, a boycott by supporters won’t have a huge impact on the sponsorship deal. General Motors’ logo will still be seen on the jerseys, and it’s highly unlikely that Manchester United will renege on the deal. The record-breaking sponsorship is reportedly valued at $60- to $70-million a year.
And considering that Manchester United has around 659 million global followers while MUST has 180,000 members – this boycott is unlikely to have any real impact.