England kit-maker Umbro has enjoyed a high-profile World Cup year despite the country’s early exit. Marketing director Trevor Cairns looks forward to how it can help England’s bid to host the World Cup, parent brand Nike, and its plans to become a “football culture” brand.
MW: Parent company Nike has clearly identified growth in football as a priority. What will be Umbro’s role be in this?
Cairns: Umbro is an important part of the Nike portfolio and the business’s growth plan. Nike and Umbro together are now the world’s biggest football brand. To maintain and strengthen this position, Umbro will continue to play on our heritage in the game and build our profile as a football culture brand. This complements Nike’s focus on performance and what’s happening on the pitch. Umbro will concentrate on the culture around the game. Our growth strategy will tap into our global potential and look to broaden our offering beyond performance and into sportswear. We’re a football tailoring brand, and have been since 1924, so our potential in sportswear is very exciting.
MW: What activity can we expect to see from you around your sponsorship of England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup?
Cairns: We’re a committed partner of the bid campaign and between now and the decision day we’re working to garner more support from the public to show the inspectors just how passionate the English are about the game and the desire within the country to host the world’s biggest football tournament. This will be a digital campaign through umbro.com where we’re asking people to download videos of them explaining in 18 seconds why England should win the 2018 bid. We’ve had some great support so far from the likes of Noel Gallagher, Robbie Williams and Michael Owen and we’ll keep working with The FA and the other bid partners to put the best possible case forward.
MW: You have talked in the past about focusing on “where football and culture collide” How do you plan to achieve this?
Cairns: Being a football culture brand will continue to be our brand positioning. But it’s certainly not confined to music. It could be art, comedy, gaming or any element of culture that’s inspired by football. Music was at the heart of our England Away kit launch featuring Kasabian. But we’ve also tapped into other areas – we recently commissioned a work of art using Opta statistics from each game in the World Cup; comedian, author and football fan Mark Watson wrote a regular blog for us during the tournament; and we collaborated with some of the hottest artists from across the globe to design our World Champions collection. This limited edition range featured crests designed by the likes of Andre in France, English graffiti artist Ben Eine and Chamarelli in Brazil. So it’s culture in it’s broader sense which means a huge opportunity for Umbro to make an impact and continue reassessment of the brand.
MW: Is the recent campaign for your GT football boot part of a concerted push into the youth football boot market? Why is that market important?
Cairns: We’re excited about the Umbro GT as it’s the lightest boot Umbro has ever made, designed for players who both play and live fast. The colourways, technology and the pop-art inspired campaign around it featuring Darren Bent does make this boot appeal to a youth market. And that’s important for us as it’s fair to say that in our recent history Umbro has not been on this audience’s radar – teenagers have grown up with Nike and Adidas. With this campaign, following the Stealth launch earlier in the year which also resonated with younger footballers, we’re making inroads in changing perceptions of the Umbro brand. This reassessment of Umbro is key for the future success of the brand.