Premier League scores spectacular own goal with new Barclays sponsorship deal

July 3, 2012

The Premier League just doesn’t get it, does it? The world is crashing around Barclays ears: its chief executive Bob Diamond has just been forced to step down by the Governor of the Bank of England; its chief operating officer Jerry del Missier has quit; its chairman Marcus Agius will be exiting in the coming months; and Bob’s top team of investment bankers face a mass clear-out (if, that is, they had anything to do with BarCap between 2005 and 2008, which is highly likely).

And what does the Premier League do? It inks another sponsorship deal with Barclays Bank, this time for a whopping £35m a year over 3 years (or so Brand Republic tells us).

Granted, when scandal strikes, the boot is usually on the other foot: it’s the sponsor that  assesses the collateral brand damage and, if necessary, does the firing. For instance: Coca-Cola repudiating its association with Wayne Rooney, after the latter consorted with a prostitute while his wife was pregnant; everyone junking Tiger Woods once his elaborate sexual gymnastics came to light; Vodafone shaking a big stick at McLaren Mercedes (but not much else) over cheating on the F1 track; and Emirates Airline threatening to drop its World Cup sponsorship because of FIFA chief Sepp Blatter’s limp-wristed approach to racism on the pitch.

But the scandal now engulfing Barclays is of such epic proportions that even the Premier League – not normally known for its ethical sensitivity – should carefully consider whether it is prudent to continue its association with such a blighted brand. Let’s face it, it doesn’t look too clever, does it? ‘We’re a wholesome family sport, happy to take money from anyone – cheats and spivs especially welcome’.

Of course, the Premier League commercial negotiators have been unlucky in their timing. Little were they to know that, as protracted negotiations were nearing their conclusion, international financial regulators would hit Barclays with a £290m fine for manipulating the interbank lending rate. Even so, a suspension in the negotiations would now be the intelligent way forward – while the Premier League looks for an alternative commercial partner; and Barclays does the decent thing by withdrawing its offer. Tip for Premier League negotiators: try sectors other than financial services. It will save pain later.

Ex-LG Euro chief Dominic Chambers in hunt for new job

February 3, 2011

Little noticed so far has been the departure of LG’s European marketing director Dominic Chambers, who slipped away without a job to go to at the end of last year.

Why? Well, you could argue that he had done his “revolving door” bit with the Korean electronics and mobile phone handset manufacturer and decided to move on. A tenure of just over two years is consistent with his previous stint as Vodafone’s head of UK marketing: he joined Vodafone in 2005 and left in 2008.

But why the stealth, and why was another job not lined up? The truth, as you will have guessed, is a little more complicated.

Contrary to the suggestion in LG’s brand strapline, Life is not very Good at the moment. The Korean manufacturer has performed dismally in the smartphones arena. Mobile phone hand-sets used to be a third of its turnover; now they have slipped to about a quarter. Last September, a boardroom coup in Seoul ensured the rapid dispatch of Nam Yong, the unfortunate group chief executive responsible for this woeful performance, and his replacement by one of LG’s founders, Koo Bon-joon.

After regime-change comes the purge of the old order. Koo appears to believe that the best solution to LG’s problems is to re-establish central control, partly by ridding the company of its senior non-Korean elements.

Whether Chambers was actually fired, or simply left because he felt increasingly uncomfortable, I do not know. The bottom line is he is looking around. And when he finds his next berth, that may well be good news for BBH, Dare and/or Y&R, who have served him well in the past.

Wheldon on the way out at Vodafone?

February 9, 2010

All change in the world of chief marketing officers, it seems. Another CMO-type who appears to be heading for the exit is David Wheldon, global brand director at Vodafone.

Certainly, the headhunters have been alerted.  Cause of imminent departure? It would be guesswork, but guesswork along the same lines as Simon Clift’s situation at Unilever. New brooms do like to sweep clean.

In Wheldon’s case, the new boss is Wendy Becker, group chief marketing office and a member of the Vodafone executive committee. Becker joined last September from TalkTalk – a subsidiary of Charles Dunstone’s Carphone Warehouse – where she was managing director.

How smart is Vodafone’s new strategy?

October 6, 2009

These furry monstrosities muttering Dutch, Double Dutch or possibly Womble, represent the front-line of Vodafone’s new brand positioning. Out goes the stuffy grandstanding calculated to appeal to Dad, in comes a warm, cuddly positioning designed to sweep the youth market off its feet.

The commercial may seem laughable, but the intention is not. Vodafone needs to be taken more seriously as a Web-savvy service, hence the imminent launch of Facebook-oriented 360 and the new Power to You slogan.

Like other mobile operators, Vodafone fears it will lose out in the next evolutionary twist of convergence technology – the smart phone. If it doesn’t act quickly, others like Apple and Google will steal all the glory. And the money. Leaving the once proud mobile operators “dumb conduits” down which others pipe their more valuable wares.

More on this in my column this week.

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