American sports group Warrior Sports – owner of New Balance – have recently created the largest kit deal in the world with Liverpool FC worth some US$40m a year, beating Manchester United’s Nike deal.
No coincidence that Warrior also have a kit deal with Boston Red Sox baseball team, owned by the same people who own Liverpool, showing the benefits of globally aware foreign investors.
The surprising aspect of the deal was how adidas completely misunderstood Liverpool’s appeal and tried to bid half as much as Warrior did. They put it down to last season’s form but they missed the point of the legendary Liverpool brand’s power overseas regardless of form in one season.
Having said this the events of the infamous Suarez weekend of Feb 11/12 and the handshake that wasn’t may give Warrior some serious worries as to their perception in the market place and the perceived tarnished nature of the brand across the world. The fact
that Liverpool are still wearing the adidas stripes will have only enhanced the view in the adidas boardroom that they made the right decision by pulling out.
Like all controversies in football however this will blow over and the Liverpool brand will survive just as it did after rioting by Liverpool and Juventus fans led to a wall collapse that killed 39 Juventus fans and injured 600 more at the Heysel Stadium in 1985. Blame was given to Liverpool fans and resulted in a ban from Europe and the negative associations with hooliganism. The Liverpool brand fought back from that and replenished the brand good will pot and they will do so from the Suarez affair too, commercially they have to.
A great example of this global and Asian attraction and legendary status is the Standard Chartered sponsorship of Liverpool which is solely aimed at the Asian and Middle East markets where Standard Chartered either dominate such as India or have a notable presence amongst certain expat/affluent target audiences. The whole sponsorship is not aimed at the UK, an amazing decision but one that adidas should have considered before passing on the deal.
Sales of the Liverpool's replica shirts are claimed to reach nearly 900,000 a year, making it the fourth-highest selling kit in the world behind Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid.
Liverpool have also recently partnered with car-battery manufacturer 3K Battery as part of its strategy to grow its brand in Thailand, another wise move to capture market share from Manchester United who are doing a Far East your this year as are Arsenal.
The partnership will see the club work alongside 3K Battery to raise its profile and engage with Liverpool supporters in Thailand
which will be mutually beneficial and raise both brand awareness and sales for the battery brand.
They have also partnered with Turkish Tourism following the end of their relationship with Spanish Tourism.