Bloomberg News

GM Prepares to Make Chevy, Manchester United Announcement

May 30, 2012

General Motors Co. (GM:US), the carmaker that said it will stop advertising in the Super Bowl because it’s too expensive, is preparing to make a marketing announcement between its Chevrolet brand and Manchester United Ltd.’s soccer team.

The world’s largest automaker has invited reporters to an announcement by Chevrolet and Manchester United in Shanghai on the evening of May 31. Joel Ewanick, GM’s chief marketing officer, will subsequently hold a briefing at the company’s Detroit headquarters about a Chevrolet global sports marketing initiative. Patrick Morrissey, a GM spokesman, declined to provide details of the announcements before the events are held.

A sponsorship deal would allow GM to promote its Chevrolet brand through Manchester United, the record 19-time English soccer champion, which is traveling to China to play two exhibition matches during the off-season. The team has dropped its former automotive partner, Volkswagen AG (VOW)’s Audi brand, from its official website. The German carmaker agreed to a deal with European champion Chelsea earlier this month.

Manchester United’s 659 million followers makes it the world’s “most popular club,” according to a study carried out for the team by market research company Kantar last year, when the club won the Premier League. In the study, 54,000 people in 39 countries were asked which team -- or teams -- they followed.

‘Followers Doubled’

“Our followers have doubled in five years,” Manchester United’s commercial director Richard Arnold told reporters in London yesterday. “It’s important to the club, not only for commercial partnerships: It gives us a road map to understand exactly what’s going on.”

Chevrolet sold a record 4.76 million vehicles globally last year, led by the Cruze compact sedan. Sales of the brand in China rose 9.5 percent to 595,068 units, according to the company.

GM, two years after a government-backed bankruptcy reorganization, earned $9.19 billion last year and sold more vehicles than any other automaker for the first time since 2007.

GM fell 2.1 percent to $22.37 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 10 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tim Higgins in Southfield, Michigan at thiggins21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jamie Butters at jbutters@bloomberg.net


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