Team England Brand Struggles to Deliver

Article excerpt

Oh dear, here we go again as England lose to Portugal and the press turns on Kevin Keegan. So what of the team's sponsors?

The England football side is marketed as Team England by the Football Association, but it's a brand that's struggled in recent years.

With Euro 2000 fever hitting its height, the commercial opportunities of being involved with Team England are great. But the risks are also apparent.

Since the World Cup, the team's on-field form has been lacklustre. It scraped into Euro 2000 through a play-off with Scotland and its first game in Euro 2000 saw the side unable to retain a two goal advantage over Portugal.

England's main sponsor is Nationwide, which paid [pounds]14m for the brand association, with secondary sponsors in the form of Burton, Sainsbury's, Umbro and others (see box).

But what value do these sponsorships have if the England team underperform and fail to progress in the tournament. Are sponsors losers too if England goes out?

We asked M&G's marketing director Gary Shaughnessy, who negotiated sponsorship of the FA Cup while at Axa, and Paul Vaughan, senior vice-president of consulting at sports marketing firm Octagon, for their views.

DIAGNOSIS

The Team England brand is riding three powerful waves: the continued resurgence of football itself in this country, with closer links to popular culture in general and the 'megastar' status of the finest players; national pride, which gives the team much more reach than football in general; and heritage -- harking back to the glory days of the 60s in both football and social terms.

There can be a tremendous sense of 'belonging' to this brand -- the whole nation bound together by one hope -- and an escapism that makes it unsurprising that victory can have a dramatic impact on general consumer confidence.

There are some buts: the team's unfulfilled promise, combined with a distancing of superstars from their fans by dint of their rising demands and occasional petulance; the continued spectre of hooliganism; and the FA's bureaucratic image. …

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