Manchester United fans are used to being ahead of the pack and the
team’s new sponsor, Vodafone, intends to keep them there.
Paul Donovan, Vodafone UK’s commercial and marketing director, claims
that the pounds 30 million sponsorship deal will enable the two brands
to enter new markets. He says: ’Vodafone and Manchester United are both
ambitious champions that are used to being - and staying - number
The four-year deal - the largest to be signed in the UK - extends beyond
shirts and hospitality and into the digital realm.
Fans will be able to buy Manchester United branded mobile phones. And
thanks to wireless application protocol technology, they will soon be
able to access the internet via these phones.
Eventually, before the four years are up, fans will also be able to see
highlights of Manchester United matches and watch classic goals on their
mobile telephones whenever and wherever they choose.
’It is a commercial alliance, not just a sponsorship,’ Donovan says.
’Vodafone intends to implement incremental aggressive branding and
Donovan is credited with building the One2One brand and hopes that he
can repeat that success with the more established Vodafone name. ’We are
seen to have spent less time on advertising than our competitors,’ he
Vodafone also spends less on advertising. One2One tops the list with an
annual budget of pounds 50 million, BT Cellnet spends pounds 36 million,
Orange pounds 35 million and Vodafone only pounds 31 million.
Donovan is quick to defend his brand. ’Vodafone is reliable, trusted and
value for money. We have a strong reputation for coverage and as the
pioneer of pre-pay.’
As far as future advertising strategy goes, he will not be drawn, except
to say that he has briefed his agency, BMP DDB, to ’concentrate on
For a man who is only just into his 40s, Donovan’s marketing CV is
He started off at Mars’ Pedigree division, went to Coca-Cola and then
became marketing director of Apple Computer. His move into telecoms came
with a job as head of business marketing at BT. This was followed by a
move to One2One as commercial director and then a spell in Australia at
Cable & Wireless Optus before returning to the UK and Vodafone in
Donovan says: ’Telecoms is the most exciting and dynamic sector. Mobile
phones will soon be the de facto internet access device. It’s a great
place for marketers to be.’
He is almost as enthusiastic about football. ’I am a significant
football fan,’ he says, ’but I am able to divorce my personal
preferences from professional considerations.’ By this he means that he
is a huge Arsenal fan, but that won’t stop him from making regular trips
to Old Trafford.