Phil Clement, global chief marketing and communications officer at Aon Corp., seeks value in everything he does. So when General Motors Co. recently brokered a deal with legendary English soccer club Manchester United to replace Aon as its primary shirt sponsor, the insurance brokerage and human resources consultancy struck an affordable yet advantageous deal.
Starting in 2014, Aon will become the title sponsor of Manchester United's Business Network and the Manchester United Foundation. It will continue to be the primary shirt sponsor for two more seasons, fulfilling a four-year commitment. Through the foundation, Aon will maintain philanthropic initiatives such as Pass It On, a program in which three soccer balls were dribbled across six continents over eight months to raise money.
Pass It On won BtoB's People's Choice Award in this year's Social Media Marketing Awards competition and received widespread exposure through social media. “We took footballs to the tip of New Zealand and had them hand off to Aon employees all the way to London,” Clement said.
“The last seven years has been about creating a platform recognized globally,” Clement said. Aon was created through several hundred acquisitions, and when Clement arrived almost 40% of the acquired businesses still used their own brand names. Not only has the Manchester United initiative unified the company behind the Aon name, it's also turned Aon's 61,000 employees into brand stewards
At $150 million over four years, the Manchester United shirt sponsorship wasn't cheap. Under the new arrangement, Aon will get nearly same exposure and still be able to reach hard-to-impress clients on a global scale, Clement said.
Marketing is about constantly re-evaluating your plan and trying something new, Clement said. “Sometimes we have the attitude of a $10 billion start-up,” he said.