What’s in a (nick)name?
The (fairly) recent deal that saw electronics manufacturer Sharp take co-title sponsorship rights to the Slipstream top-tier cycling team brought with it a whiff of 90s nostalgia.
The last time that logo had appeared so prominently on the shirt front of a top professional sports team, Manchester United were the undisputed kings of English soccer.
The Sharp logo is front and centre in all the clips of United captains hoisting trophy after trophy during the club's most glorious decade.
When Vodafone replaced Sharp in 2000 it felt like the end of an era, the electronics giant no longer able to keep up with the spiralling costs of soccer sponsorship.
Its new deal with Slipstream - or Garmin-Sharp - gives it title rights at a fraction of the cost.
It is a quirk of cycling's commercial setup that the main sponsors effectively own the team. A team's identity is almost entirely subsumed by its sponsor.
In a sport like cycling, that, of course, is a double-edged sword, but the value of 'naming' rights is clear.
"The golden light that bathes 'the Sharp years' in the minds of supporters presents a sponsorship opportunity not yet explored by United, or any of their Premier League peers."
For the likes of Manchester United, its name is its brand and so naming rights - Aon United for example - wouldn't make sense. Moreover, if the concept of stadium naming rights is anathema to the average soccer fan, imagine the uproar that a team name change would precipitate.
Even if the sponsorship proposition was available, and Sharp fancied it, the price tag would be too dear by half.
But the golden light that bathes 'the Sharp years' in the minds of supporters presents, I think, a sponsorship opportunity not yet explored by United, or any of their Premier League peers.
Wandering around the Arsenal Superstore - the Armoury - at the Emirates Stadium recently I was struck by how popular the 'retro shirts' section was. Arsenal hipsters flocked to the shelf of 1989-era, title-winning, Michael Thomas-scoring yellow shirts.
I don't know how many Arsenal fans had their 'purchasing decisions' influenced by JVC's sponsorship of their team in the 90s, but I know now the peculiar affection they hold for the brand.
Conversely, I don't know too many soccer fans who refer to their teams by their official nicknames. The 'sanctity', I would suggest, of the 'Gunners' moniker has its price.
Indeed, for a modest annual sum, JVC could tap into the nostalgic esteem of Arsenal fans by becoming the 'official nickname title partner' of the team. The JVC Gunners has a certain ring to it.
As, of course, does the Sharp Red Devils; the Sanderson Saints, the Muller Villans, the Crown Paints Reds or the McEwans Magpies. Danka Toffees anyone?blog comments powered by Disqus
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