Nationwide, sponsor of the England football team, walks away from the FA. After such a poor World Cup, can you blame them?!!

July 6, 2010

Nationwide, the building society, which replaced insurer Green Flag as England team sponsor in 1999, has announced that it is “unlikely” to renew its deal, worth ¬£20m over four years, which expires next month. A Nationwide spokeswoman commented: “Nationwide’s sponsorship of the England team has been extremely successful over 11 seasons and has significantly raised the profile of our organisation. Our current sponsorship deal ends at the end of July and it is unlikely to be renewed.”

It leaves The Football Association¬† with a rather large void in its funding, in the wake of England’s incredibly disappointing World Cup campaign, which culminated in the 4-1 defeat to Germany in the last 16 of the World Cup. Had England performed better and reached the Quarter Finals or gone further, surely Nationwide would have continued it’s sponsorship? It seems very unlikely that they would not have renewed the contract, following a successful tournament that engendered the goodwill and support of the English public, or the “consumer” in marketing parlance!!

The truth is that there has been a perfect synergy between sponsor and product. A nationwide Building Society, associated with a national football team, that carries the hopes and dreams of every man, woman and child in England. Unfortunately the general concensus of public and media opinion is that the England team woefully underperformed and failed to realise their true potential. Worse than their incompetence, is the fact that they were devoid of spirit and pride. The public perception is that the team was only a team in name – divided and indifferent. A nation was left disillusioned, and feeling massively let down. On this basis, why would Nationwide wish to continue to ally it’s brand alongside a product that is discredited and synonymous with failure?

Brand sponsorship / marketing is a ruthless business. The success of the alliance only works if the sponsorship vehicle is perceived as possessing positive values, that can then infuse the Sponsor with the same qualities in the conciousness of the consumer. Such is the level of public dissatisfaction and disillusionment with the England football team, it is the only sensible decision for the Nationwide Building Society to walk away from the FA. Times are hard enough for any institution in the Financial Services sector, without having the brand yoked to a product that is associated with overpaid, preening, pampered Prima Donnas, when their customers are struggling financially in an economic recession.

What are the sponsorship alternatives for the FA and the England team? Maybe they could return to the previous sponsor, Green Flag, on the basis that our national football team and it’s reputation, are in desperate need of rescue and recovery!! In terms of allying one discredited national brand synonymous with disaster, with another, then BP might be an option!! Let’s face it there’s a perfect synergy between the two – the England team and BP have both been turned over and undermined by the Americans in the last month!! My choice of new sponsor would be Vanish, on the basis that the product removes tough stains, albeit not necessarily from a national football team’s reputation. In terms of a perfect synergy, Vanish would sit comfortably with the speedy evaporation of a nation’s hopes and dreams of winning a World Cup!!

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