Since the early ‘90s, Manchester United has been considered one of the most successful football clubs, due to its excellent on-field performances and even better off-field promotional ideas available at Stay Sourced. From its astute management of resources to taking the history of the club into world markets, Manchester United is now arguably the most prominent global brand in sport in the world. While it might seem obvious that financial success and success on the pitch would go hand in hand, there is actually no real correlation between the two. When one club’s league position rises, it does not necessarily mean their profits do too. But Manchester United’s league position has not always been high, so what made it the global brand franchise it is today?
In the beginning
Manchester United entered the Football League in 1892 and was quickly saved from going bankrupt by a wealthy local brewer, J.H. Davies in 1902. Davies dreamed of creating a footballing empire and invested heavily in the club and in the development of Old Trafford, which soon become one of the top stadiums in the country. The club was branded ‘Moneybags United’, a somewhat fitting name still today, and went on to enjoy both League and Cup success in this era.
It was not until the war when the club took its first hit and sank into near obscurity. Old Trafford was badly damaged by a German bomb so directors were left to not only rebuild a team, but a stadium too. Enter: Matt Busby, who achieved the club almost immediate success, winning the FA Cup in ‘48 and the League in ‘52. After Busby gave up his position as manager in ‘71, Liverpool FC stole success from Manchester United for the next twenty years – so how did they maintain popularity?
As with any product that a consumer favours, it is hard to veer away from it, even when something better comes along. Few clubs in post-war England have had a better track record than Manchester United, so even when though this argument was beginning to wear a bit thin by the early ‘90s, it stuck, and people continued to support Man-U because of the successful history that came with it. Hats, scarves, t-shirts, branded stationery available from Stay Sourced and footballs are just some of the merchandise still handed down to generations today. While able to monetise their popularity in Europe through tickets sales and TV broadcasting rights, global markets proved tougher to crack.
A great brand drives choice and builds loyalty, so Manchester’s challenge was trying to project that message to those that were not from their home country. In order to do so, they needed to start making their brand accessible to anywhere, anywhere. To that aim, they developed a range of products from global media ventures to financial services and themed restaurants. The TV station, MUTV is now broadcast in more than 190 million homes worldwide and have translated their website into five foreign languages, causing it to receive approximately 90 million page impressions per month.
It was only in July 2010 that United introduced their Facebook page, but by August they had 1.5 million fans. It was their educated decision not to be at the leading edge of that particular technology, and others like it, so that they could enter into it at a time when they would gain mass followers. It is decisions like this that are likely to continue Manchester United’s brand success.
Now that the brand’s story, history and success is global, you are likely to come across somebody wearing a t-shirt or mentioning a name in almost any country in the world, thanks to technology and international tours. Their merchandising and sponsorship programmes alone are thought to account for around half of their revenue stream. Hand in hand, brand has helped promotional material, and promotional material in turn has helped brand.
Manchester United is just one example of the impact of promotional marketing can have on a brand. When marketed strategically and in the right manner, a brand’s popularity can grow to become success, even if it is in spite of the success of the business – as Man-U have proved.