Monday, May 14, 2007


It's more than a game of football

I played football on Friday. Well, perhaps play is a bit too much. I puffed and wheezed myself through 60 minutes on a full size pitch giving myself a roving role as far from the ball as I could get without giving the impression I was shirking. One brief surge saw me work the keeper, either side and it would have been a goal but my pace isn't what it was when I was 13.

I was the only foreigner among two teams full of Indonesians. One lad had an Arema Malang shirt on, the rest sported Man Utd, England, AC Milan shirts. Same old same old. Before the game as I was slipping on my Reebok trainers one kid asked me why I wasn't wearing Nike? After all, Nike were Arsenal and I supported Arsenal. Did it mean I also liked Bolton? Did it heck as like, chuck! I turned off my mobile. Aah, our sharp eyed hanger on jumped in quick. Samsung! Does that mean you also like Chelsea?

These are not isolated observations. Many's the time I've been questioned about the brands I have and people are genuinely surprised when I tell them no, I ain't flying to the UK with Emirates! But for the marketing men behind today's English football they must be clinking their perenially full champagne glasses in glee. Product identification among 15-30 years old in my area of Jakarta is strong as is the potential for product loyalty.

Which of course segues nicely with Manchester United's proposed marketing jaunt round Asia. While they and Nike will be looking at increased shirt sales, is there a new one on the horizon?, their latest shirt sponsor, some insurance group, will be using the trip to piggy back their way into the nascent Asian market.

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