Both the passion and engagement of the United and Liverpool fans were felt in force this week as supporters voiced their displeasure at an online video from the brand featuring both teams.
The online spot features spliced shots of United stars Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Robin van Persie and Paul Scholes with Liverpool’s Jordan Henderson, Joe Allen, Glen Johnson and Jonjo Shelvey reciting a mantra about how much their club means.
It has generated negative reactions from fans of both clubs since it launched at the weekend over a perceived failure to respect the long-running rivalry between the sides. The advert is the football equivalent of openly supporting the policies of David Cameron and Ed Miliband. It just does not mix.
Chevrolet has multi-million sponsorship deals with both clubs, so it is no surprise to see their players pop up in an ad for the car marque. It makes commercial sense for the car brand to try and leverage both its assets as much as possible, but the advert fails to take into account how the United and Liverpool supporters feel that these two clubs that have such a deep-running rivalry have teamed up to generate money together.
Still, at least Chevrolet did not have Patrice Evra and Luis Suarez appear together.
Chevrolet clearly has its eye on the global picture with its football strategy and it is perhaps arguable that the Manifesto advert has been produced with its target markets of Europe and Asia – where both clubs have strong support bases but the animosity between the two is not as prevalent.
More locally, however, Chevrolet have scored an own goal. The US based company has bought in to the ideal not the reality of Premier League football. There remains a dark underbelly to football in England that is far from marketable. The density of rivalry between the two North West clubs can often be ugly.
Future campaigns should look to play up the competitive element between both teams rather than focus on the similarities between the two. No football fan wants to be reminded about how much their club has in common with another. There’s mileage in Chevrolet’s #DrivenBy marketing strategy, the car brand just needs to work closer with the United and Liverpool commercial teams to get out of first gear.