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Aon tempted by Man Utd gift box

Mon 12th Jul 2010 | Football Sponsorship

Manchester United aroused Aon’s interest in becoming a shirt sponsor after they sent shirts with Aon’s corporate logo on them to Aon Global CMO Phil Clement and Aon CEO Gregory Case.

An Aon-ized shirt  was mailed, in a box with a gold Man Utd crest on the front and an elegantly scripted invitation to inquire about the opportunity to bid for one of sports’ prime commercial assets.

The new Manchester United shirt will be unveiled this week at Niketown in Chicago and to mark the occasion Aon plans to give a new Red Devils’ to each of the company’s more than 36,000 employees according to Sports Business Journal.

Aon is looking at its four-year rental of sports’ most valuable real estate primarily as a means of coalescing a disparate company fashioned from 445 acquisitions over 20-plus years that is now spread over 500 offices in 120 countries.

“All that stuff put us in a position where we’d started to look for something four years ago that could really punch through the general noise and get our brand some global visibility,” said Aon Global CMO Phil Clement.

 “We saw competitors try to do this purely with advertising without seeing any real success,” Clement said, “and at numbers considerably larger than what we’re spending on this sponsorship.”

Nothing had the reach and immediacy of an association with what is arguably the world’s most famous sports team.

Aon assigned TSMGI to evaluate the Man Utd opportunity, headed by agency founder Jordan Bressler’s

“We had a suspicion that we were competing against people from the other end of the world,” Bressler said, “so we had to show Aon’s reach to differentiate.”

It was about impressing Man Utd as much as the other way around. Even veteran negotiators like Man Utd’s Arnold, chief of staff Ed Woodward and sponsorship director Tom Hill were visibly convinced by Aon’s global reach and commitment.

“To some degree, these are all about terms,” Bressler said, “but this particular deal was more about showing Man Utd that Aon had more to offer than your typical insurance company from a partnership perspective.”

And with that, Bressler and Aon touted reach, activation ideals and depth of the balance sheet. Lawyers were in the room the next day as the negotiations continued.

Price was among the thorniest points.

“No one would call it inexpensive,” Clement said, “but based on what we knew about how we could use it, there were numbers that would make it a good value.”

Also at issue were the ways in which Aon could market financial services products using Man Utd intellectual property. The deal ended up as two separate contracts: one covered the shirt sponsorship, another detailed Aon’s rights in the categories of insurance and related financial services.

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