Throughout the world, brands have often found their spaces within sporting spheres. Sometimes as sponsors, with their logos hoisted on jerseys, or sometimes as broadcast associates, with their advertisements invading the intervals within games – brands have flexed their muscles everywhere.
You can always find brands associating themselves with sports across the country, be it cricket, volleyball, badminton, kabaddi or football. Brands have entered all possible avenues. But, besides the domestic sporting scene, many brands have joined hands with foreign entities in a bid to propel brand awareness.
Hinduja-owned Gulf Oil India joined hands with Manchester United back in 2016, inking its largest-ever single long-term partnership deal with the football club. Since then, the company's signature orange disc has been visible across the club's digital perimeter boards during Premier League, FA Cup or League Cup matches at Old Trafford.
However, the brand has now come out with a marketing strategy built around the popularity of the English club. In a new video ad, the lubricant manufacturing brand has banked on the popularity of three Manchester United academy players who made their way from being mere rookies in the club, to now being part of the official A team.
Depicting what appears to be the childhood background story of three players – Paul Pogba, Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingaard, the ad film showcases the journey of these players from playing on the streets to sporting the United emblem on their chests in the 'Theatre of Dreams' – day in and day out.
After narrating the story of the three players, the ad film ends with the brand connection 'You Get Out What You Put In'. What is interesting to note here, however, is that the club is under global criticism as we speak. With the United fan base calling for the club owners, Glazers, to leave the club, two of the players mentioned in the video are also at the receiving end of global backlash. Lingaard and Pogba have been relentlessly disparaged for their lack of consistency and form. Add to that the club's inability to compete for titles and lack of wins this season. All this begs the question - is it really a good idea to base your campaign upon a hot topic like this?
We reached out to an industry expert for his opinion on this.
Jigar Fernandes, founder, Tiqui-Taka
Commenting on the brand connection in the ad film, Jigar Fernandes, founder, Tiqui-Taka says, "I feel it's a decent connect given the final line that says you get out what you put in."
Given the stuttering form of Manchester United and the resentment from the global fan base, we asked Fernandes if he thought this could affect brand appeal. He says, "I'm not really worried about where Manchester United is on the table or whether these players will be around for long. It's just an ad stating a brand's values. Next year, there will be another campaign."