Close-Up: Client Of The Week - Vodafone laces up its boots/Vodafone’s Paul Donovan wants Manchester United to stay top

Manchester United fans are used to being ahead of the pack and the team’s new sponsor, Vodafone, intends to keep them there.

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

marketing activities.’

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.

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