The position of football as a global sport provides a platform for individuals to operate as a brand. Through advertising endorsements, players lend their name and image to a product. In accordance with McCracken’s (1989) meaning transfer model, characteristics associated with the football player are in turn attributed to the product.
Yaya Touré is an individual that possesses huge global appeal. Hailing from Bouaké, Ivory Coast, he has played in a number of Europe’s top leagues and amongst his many club honours, Touré counts a Champions League title, La Liga title, Premier League title, and an FA Cup. Touré has also represented Ivory Coast in three World Cups and multiple African Cup of Nations; he has further been named African Footballer of the Year on two separate occasions.
Like many players, Touré has a lucrative partnership with sportswear brand Puma. The contract started in 2011 and is described as long term. It was reported that negotiations surrounding a new deal were taking place in the summer of 2014. As arguably one of Puma’s most high profile ambassadors (the brand is also endorsed by Mario Balotelli), Touré has fronted a number of advertising campaigns:
Recently Touré has joined Nissan’s Global Ambassador’s which coincides with the carmaker’s sponsorship of the African Cup of Nations and the Champions League.
How do the brands benefit from their partnership with Touré?
Yaya Touré is a model professional. He epitomises the fairy-tale of an African schoolboy achieving football greatness and he does it with great humility. On the pitch, he regularly demonstrates leadership, determination, power and exceptional pieces of skill; off the pitch he has a desire to improve the lives of those less fortunate than himself and is never one to boast about his celebrity status and lifestyle. Touré negotiated his Puma contract so as to include a charitable element whereby underprivileged people in West Africa receive clothing and shoes.
As McCracken’s model suggests, by acting as the face of these global brands, consumers attach the above-mentioned qualities of Yaya Touré to the products alongside which he appears. Especially in the world of football, emotionalizing products is vital to achieve differentiation from the competition.
Sponsoring an individual player vs. an entire club
It is interesting to draw from this a comparison between the relative merits of sponsoring a player as opposed to a club.
When sponsoring a club, the brand attaches its logo and name to a team, most noticeably in the form of shirt sponsorship. Thereby the brand hopes to benefit from the positive characteristics fans and football enthusiasts associate with a particular club. However, such kind of sponsorship can also bear the risk that certain fans will refrain from purchasing the brand as it is linked with the archrivals of their own club. As an example, it could happen that fans of Inter Milan will refrain to book their flights with ‘Emirates Airlines’ as the company is the shirt sponsor of the archrival AC Milan.
By sponsoring an individual football player instead, a brand can minimize this risk. In the case of Yaya Touré it might be that a fan is not a supporter of Manchester City. Yet, the positive qualities of the player (leadership, power, charitable work) will still appeal to him/her and this might therefore result for a brand like Puma in a sale of its products.
What do you think? Should brands generally favour the sponsoring of individual players?
Did you know? Touré established himself in European football as a teenager at Belgian club KSK Beveren; the club is no longer in existence.
Picture: Afrique Inside