Real Madrid and Barca mimicking Reds’ sponsor strategy drives forward global juggernauts Manchester United

By Chris Bailey

As sponsorship trailblazers, Manchester United are being copied by Spanish powerhouses Real Madrid and Barcelona – but marketing manager Jonathan Rigby is adamant the Red Devils remain ahead of the game.

United continue to snap up sponsors in as far-flung places as Indonesia and China in a bid to bolster their commercial arm.

Though Madrid and Barcelona seem to be mimicking their strategy, Rigby insists copycats only encourage the Old Trafford club to keep expanding.

“We should always be conscious that other clubs will try to emulate or copy what we do,” he said.

“That is what keeps us continuing to go forward and investing significantly more in this area than anyone else.

“The other thing is that we have a great story to tell.

“We have a huge global fanbase and a very successful business model that helps us to finance the big players to keep us at the top.”

In July last year United announced a seven-year mega-deal with car manufacturers Chevrolet, who will pay £357million for shirt sponsorship commencing 2014.

And in their latest financial results – to June 30 2012 – commercial income rocketed by 13.7% to £117.6million.

But Rigby believes commercial avenues are far from exhausted as the Red Devils cash-in on their international fame.

“There is nothing of what we know of our own brand that suggests that is the case,” he added.

“We don’t see that at all. We see an increase in growth in the vibrancy of our brand.

“In fact we see the opposite. We see a fanbase that is growing, we see engagement levels growing, we see viewing figures continuing to grow.”

Picture courtesy of parrot of doom, with thanks

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