Sunderland Football Club has raided United Distillers & Vinters’ (UDV) marketing department to poach Jim Slater as its first marketing director.
Slater was international marketing manager for UDV’s Johnnie Walker Scotch – the biggest Scotch whisky brand in the world. Prior to joining UDV, Slater worked at Mars and Kraft Jacobs Suchard.
Slater will look for brand extension opportunities at the first division club, which regularly draws home crowds of 40,000. He will also develop supporter loyalty programmes and handle new technology strategy.
Sunderland is one of the first clubs to appoint a dedicated marketing director. Most carry the post only at marketing manager level.
Slater says: “Football continues to enjoy a massive boom in the UK, and in Sunderland there is no doubt that we have one of the nation’s top brands, with a staggering potential for growth.”
Sunderland was floated in Dec-ember 1996 and its Stadium of Light ground seats 42,000.
A number of football clubs are already cashing in on the loyalty of fans with ranges of branded goods – Chelsea and Manchester United sell branded wine and beer and Glasgow Rangers offers financial services to its fans.