Ewanick Gone, GM Plods Ahead on Manchester United Partnership

Chevy's name goes on ManUnited jerseys in 2014.

by on Jul.30, 2012

Chevy expands its ties to Manchester United, arguably the world's most popular soccer team.

Just a day after GM’s global marketing chief Joel Ewanick was ousted – according to numerous reports due to issues related to the maker’s mega-million-dollar deal with Manchester United – the automaker has taken a further step to cement its relationship with the soccer world’s most popular team.

GM’s Chevrolet brand will displace insurer Aon and have its logo plastered all over the Manchester’s familiar red player’s jerseys.  Chevy will be only the fifth corporate sponsor in the team’s 134-year history.

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When the basic sponsorship deal was first announced, in late May, GM notably hadn’t inked rights to plastic its Chevy brand on the high-profile uniforms but Ewanick insisted the partnership was still a great play considering the British team generates nearly as many eyeballs watching its regular season games as watch the season-ending U.S. Super Bowl.

Former GM marketing czar Joel Ewanick with soccer ball.

In particular, the now-former marketing czar believed that the alliance would give Chevy great visibility in soccer-crazy China – where the maker was set to sponsor two big tournaments involving Manchester United.

“This is a fantastic, long-term deal for the Club. We have been partners with Chevrolet for only six weeks, but already they have produced some fantastic ideas that will benefit both the partnership and our 659 million followers around the world,” Manchester United’s Commercial Director, Richard Arnold, said in a statement.

It can only be guessed what sort of comment was originally plugged into the GM press release quoting Ewanick.  The executive “voluntarily” resigned on Sunday, though insiders report GM had initially considered describing his departure as an involuntary termination.

(Click Here to check out the latest report on Ewanick’s unexpected departure.)

The maker, while claiming to have no specific comment on the ouster has taken a decidedly sharp tone, nonetheless, spokesman Greg Martin saying of Ewanick, “He failed to meet the expectations the company has of its employees.”

Other sources have indicated there were “irregularities” in the handling of the Manchester United negotiations – though those sources were also quick to downplay any interpretation suggesting Ewanick had acted improperly for personal gain.

Commenting on the Manchester jersey deal which goes into effect with the 2014/2015 season, Ewanick’s interim successor, Alan Batey, said, “We are extremely proud to connect our brand, Chevrolet, with Manchester United and its passionate supporters all around the world. Manchester United’s statistics are impressive, but this relationship goes far beyond the numbers – this relationship is about connecting our brand with the deep-seated emotion that surrounds the team everywhere it goes.”

The original Manchester United deal was announced only weeks after GM confirmed it was pulling out of the advertising pool for the 2013 Super Bowl.  The automaker also raised headlines when it confirmed reports it would stop advertising on Facebook – a move made public, embarrassingly, just days before the social media site’s disastrous initial public offering.

Considering about two-thirds of Chevrolet’s sales now come from abroad, proponents say the decision to get into soccer makes a lot of sense. Ewanick clearly agreed, soon after adding a second, four-year sponsorship deal with the Liverpool Football Club.

Intriguingly, the two teams are bitter, long-time rivals yet whichever side might dominate when they face off Chevy now hopes to be the big winner – even if the man who approved the big sponsorship deals is gone.

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