A recent blog post on the FNB (First National Bank) blog, Shine 2010, was a nice complement to my recent post about the McDonald’s grassroots football program in the UK and the construction of 27 artificial pitches in South Africa to support the development of youth football.
It turns out that Manchester United, one of the most recognizable global sports brands, and Nike are making their presence felt in South Africa, in support of youth football. Take that Adidas!
MU and Nike have teamed up to support the Soweto Football Association (SFA), helping put on the Manchester United Premier Cup (MUPC), an under-15 football tournament, taking place, where else, but in Soweto. The tournament will take place May 29-31st and is being hosted by the Gauteng Provincial Government, along with Nike and the SFA. As the blog post goes to state “The winner of the this tournament will have the honour of representing South Africa at the MUPC World Finals in early August 2009 in Manchester, UK, where they will compete against 19 of the best international teams for the coveted MUPC World Finals title.”
Manchester United is already one of the most popular sports brands in the country; even 9 years ago I remember seeing enough Man U gear being worn by South Africans that you’d think they were a local team, if you didn’t know any better. They were even one of the first major premier league teams (besides Leeds) to feature a South African player; remember Quintin Fortune?
Now, it’s not like these are unknown brands. But in light of the upcoming FIFA Confederations Cup and WC2010, both heavily endorsed by Adidas, it seems like a good move by Nike; they are actively participating in the football culture, exposing their brand to youth (up and coming consumers), and building greater market awareness. They have also recently announced the formalization of support for the Soweto Football Association for the next 5-years.
For Man U, it appears to be a good PR maneuver while also giving them the opportunity to identify and track new talent. Already, previous MUPC’s have unearthed some of South Africa’s current top talent, including Siboniso Gaxa, Sphelele Bhengu and Thulani Serero. Also, I imagine they fancy they’ll also be able to sell a few more team jerseys, although as long as the 20-30 rand ($2-3 USD) one’s are available, I don’t know if the $40USD jerseys will be flying off the shelves.
This is a good example of strong brands, Nike and Man U, both supporting a cause, youth football, that aligns with their core business, and increases their brand exposure in a growing market. This is nice example of doing good while doing good business.
Now let’s just hope that they end up using some of those nicely developed turf pitches!
Full blog post can be found here: http://www.shine2010.co.za/blog/2009/05/19/manchester-united-premier-cup/