Jun 23, 2009 at 02:00 PM
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How Man-U Courted AON

When the deal was announced on June 3rd, many were surprised to hear that little-known Chicago-based insurer, AON, had agreed to pay $130 million for some of the most coveted real estate in sports, Manchester United's jersey. The Atlantic this month has a fascinating look at how the Man-U and AON deal went down. Man-U execs hoped it could raise the profile of AON, which had offices throughout the world, but little consumer awareness. The piece doesn't address why a primarily b-to-b company would make consumer brand awareness a priority, but it did reference AIG to show the power of the Man-U global brand. AIG, which didn't make the Interbrand list of top 100 brands before their Manchester United deal, was the highest new entry onto the list, at number 47, in their first year of the deal and rose 54 spots on Barron's Most Respected Companies. However, according to the piece it wasn't necessarily the global brand exposure that caught AON's attention, but rather the unique opportunity to "piggyback" on a global franchise that would tie together all of the firm's previously fragmented sponsorship endeavors throughout the globe (horseraces, dragon boat racing, art exhibits, etc).

Clement remarked in the piece:

“Instead of running 20 marketing programs, we could potentially run one, lean, agile, program that would have more impact than any 20 combined. And the fact that I could hit Europe, China and India at the same time was phenomenal.”

Perhaps most important for sponsorship advocates is the fact that according to AON CMO Phil Clement, it would cost approximately $330 million in traditional advertising to replicate the amount of exposure AON will get from the Manchester United sponsorship, according to one of the measurement formulas the firm employs.