Is Malcolm Glazer's take-over of the sporting institution that is Manchester United a venture to enhance the US tycoon's own personal wealth or, elevate the brand name of the already flourishing franchisee With soccer's continuing status as the world's largest spectator sport, enjoying a high percentage of TV coverage and viewership, sold out match attendances and cross continental merchandizing, the high revenues these sources generate presents a lucrative business opportunity…
Acquiring the Man United brand means more than just owning a trademark. Brand acquisition gives an opportunity for brand exploitation. And nowhere is brand exploitation more rampant and unrestrained than in the United States. As a hunting ground to further the Man United brand image, the US holds vast potential, and this is where Glazer's extensive marketing skills and resources come into play. But the US market is very competitive. Soccer has to contest with traditional American sporting pastimes like baseball, American Football and basketball. Soccer's rising popularity though, over the past ten years due in part to the 1994 World Cup held in the states could make Man United a household name as is the case in other countries around the globe. Even in Asia where Man United has a huge base of fans who neither speak English nor know where Britain is, brand image has rooted itself in the public mindset.
Contrary to popular perceptions, Man United already has a fan following in the US, albeit a small one. When they played the Champion World Tour of exhibition games two years in a row the average crowd attendance was over 65,000 for each game, exceeding that of some NFL games. Americans know about the club through soccer telecasts and the products available on the streets. Merchandising had also made business there but in a small way, yet better than all the US Major Soccer Leagues put together (Chris Isidore). With more co-coordinated marketing efforts in the media (cable and DTH), wider coverage of soccer games, increased media exposure to star players and a retelling of past glories and successes, the Man United brand can further cement itself into the American collective conscience, reaching iconic status in a few short years. The mere purchase of the club puts the Glazers half way towards making Man United a household name. But there is still some way to go.
There are other advantages in associating with a brand as well known as Man United. It gives Glazer's other businesses better commercial prospects. When a brand publicly joins forces with a marketing juggernaut, the value of both, in terms of market exposure and business opportunities multiplies. For Glazer whose diverse business portfolio at least in the US include food service equipment, packaging and supplies, marine protein, broadcasting, health care, real estate, banking, natural gas and oil protection, Internet publications, stocks, government securities and corporate bonds, the introduction and expansion of these businesses in Britain as a result of this acquisition gains importance (Bill Hutchison). Glazer's ventures may unhesitatingly attract investment in the hopes that the new businesses will pay rich dividends in the future. But these ventures may suffer if Man United's brand persistence is challenged by rivals. Sustaining the brand position therefore requires the football team to maintain a high success rate. The business side of the club must take a back seat to allow team management to ...
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