Vodafone set to sign up as U2 tour sponsor

Mobile phone giant Vodafone is in advanced talks with Irish rock band U2 over a multi-million pound sponsorship of one of the largest music tours ever organised.

A Vodafone spokeswoman admits that Vodafone is talking to the band’s management, but refuses to say any more during the “confidential negotiation period”. U2 refused to accept sponsorship during much of the Nineties, although it changed its stance on accepting corporate backing for 1997’s Popmart tour.

The deal is understood to involve the mobile phone media rights to the tour. One source says: “U2 are the Manchester United of rock: they appeal to a very wide audience around the world.”

Vodafone is one of a number of mobile companies looking at music sponsorship. Industry sources say T-Mobile is also reviewing its sponsorship properties and is searching for a suitable opportunity from among existing tours and festivals. Vodafone has used images of music festivals in its advertising in the past. Vodafone Live! signed up as an official sponsor of the MTV Europe Music Awards last year.

The forthcoming U2 tour is thought to include more than 50 dates around the world, with confirmed regions including the US, Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia. The band’s management has warned fans about buying fake tickets before all the dates have been agreed. U2 release the album How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb next month.

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