By Jeff Gilbert

DETROIT — (WWJ) Chevrolet has 660,000,000 reasons to sponsor the Manchester United futbol (we call it soccer) team.

“Six hundred sixty million people say they follow them,” says GM Global Marketing Vice President Joel Ewanick. “There’s only, what, three hundred thirty million Americans.”

The Chevy sponsorship is a five year deal, and will include Chevrolet logos on the bench and sideline chairs, in-stadium advertising, and player endorsements. The logo won’t go on the player’s jerseys.

The announcement comes shortly after GM revealed that it was not advertising in the Super Bowl this year, and was dropping its paid Facebook ads. But, Ewanick said they are not cutting their advertising budget in the U.S.

They will spend more wisely in the U.S., says Ewanick, so that GM can use more resources to expand the global reach of the Chevrolet brand.

“The world automotive industry is growing,” he said. “As a company, we can’t be so focused on Jefferson Avenue. We have to be focused on what’s happening in downtown Shanghai and Sao Paulo and Frankfurt.”

General Motors is working to promote Chevrolet as a global brand. Manchester United has a global following, particularly in emerging markets like China, where GM is a big player.

“The commitment that Chevrolet is making to football and its plans to bring these fans closer to our club is very exciting for us,” said Richard Arnold, Manchester United commercial director. “This is also the first time we have teamed up with a U.S. automotive partner and with the growing popularity of the Club and English football in America, we are hoping the relationship will allow us to further expand our fan base in the country.”

As part of the deal, GM is donating 1.5 million “virtually indestructible” soccer balls to be used by young people in impoverished countries around the world. It’s part of the One World Futbol project.

“In Chevrolet we have a partner that has shown a passion and true appreciation of football’s power to effect positive change,” said Manchester United’s Chief Executive and Chairman of the Manchester United Foundation, David Gill. “Inspiring young people through education and activity stands at the heart of our Manchester United Foundation and we wholeheartedly endorse Chevrolet’s initiative with the One World Futbol Project.”

Manchester United was recently named by Forbes magazine as the most valuable sports club in the world.

“Their jersey sales just for Manchester United outsell every single jersey sold by the NFL in a given year,” said GM’s Joel Ewanick.

Manchester United has won 19 English league championships to add to its record 11 English FA Cups, 3 European Cups, 1 European Cup Winners’ Cup, 1 FIFA Club World Cup, 1 Intercontinental Cup and 4 English League Cups.

“I would say they are the combination of the Dallas Cowboys, the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Lakers, all rolled into one,” said Ewanick. “There really is no comparison.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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