Vauxhall plans ad push to build on football ties

Vauxhall: planning "emotional" campaign around sponsorship
Vauxhall: planning "emotional" campaign around sponsorship

Vauxhall is plotting a brand campaign to tie in with its estimated £25m sponsorship of the home nations international football teams, as it looks to develop a greater emotional connection with consumers.

Last week the General Motors-owned marque announced it is to sponsor the England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland football teams as part of a long-term push to become the UK's number-one car brand. The tie-ups follow an overhaul of the Vauxhall brand's management team over the past 12 months. Changes have included the appointment of managing director Duncan Aldred and marketing director Peter Hope.

According to Hope, Vauxhall will use the football sponsorships to promote its credentials as an 'aspirational British brand' and transform itself from a 'follower brand' into one 'loved' by car buyers.

The brand is developing a 'big marketing idea' to form a TV ad campaign that will launch later this year.

'Nobody does a big sponsorship like this without having an ambition for a big brand campaign,' said Hope. 'We all see that ultimate TV ad that sits up there with the Nike and Adidas campaigns; the ones that make the hairs on the back of the neck stand up. It's difficult to do that with car ads, which are usually very formulaic, but this sponsorship adds something different.'

With footballing organisations increasingly turning their attention to youth football, Vauxhall will also launch a series of social-media promotions intended to raise its profile among future drivers.

The sponsorship is being rolled out at a time when the new management has stated its ambition to transform Vauxhall into a market leader.

In 2009, GM was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the US, and came close to selling its European business, including Opel and Vauxhall, to Canadian automotive parts manufacturer Magna.

Last year, new-car registrations for Vauxhall increased by 4% year on year, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. The brand has a 12.2% share of the UK market, behind Ford on 15.9%.

'It was a painful process,' admitted Hope. 'We've gone through some restructuring at Vauxhall, but it has always been the powerhouse of GM Europe. We're very clear where our brand stands now.'

He added: 'We're in a phase of GM Europe and Vauxhall's life where there is real ambition for the brand endorsed at a senior level. With sponsorship we can transform the way we're seen. Vauxhall has been successful, but it's never been passionately loved as a brand.'

FA SPONSORSHIP

Mid-2009: FA offered £20m by Nationwide to extend its deal for four years. FA rejected offer.

Jul 2010: Nationwide ended 11-year sponsorship of England team; Facebook denied it was in talks to become sponsor.

Aug 2010: England played friendly against Hungary without sponsor; kits adorned with FA's 'Get into football' grass-roots engagement brand.

Jan 2011: Vauxhall unveiled as main sponsor of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland teams.

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