• Transform magazine
  • November 20, 2017

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Western Union and Liverpool FC announce multi-year partnership

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In 1979, Liverpool FC became the first British professional football club to complete a shirt sponsorship deal, inviting Japanese electronics manufacturer, Hitachi, to have its logo emblazoned on the Reds’ kit for the modest price of £50,000 a year. Over three decades later, Liverpool’s six-year deal with New Balance rakes in £25m per annum. Despite the Premier League’s rampant expansion widely regarded as a tinderbox of brand diversity, Liverpool’s newest partnership with Western Union sees brand strategy take the field, with hopes of scoring big.

Announced earlier this week, the partnership will see Western Union’s logo – rebranded in 2013 to incorporate the letters ‘WU’ – appear on Liverpool kits as the club’s first official shirt sleeve sponsor. The agreement also welcomes Western Union as Liverpool’s money transfer partner, which will see the club’s fanbase and community benefit from swift digital payments and money transfers internationally.

For both brands, recent decisions to expand into new territory have yielded successful progressions. Liverpool’s unorthodox move away from previous top flight kit manufacturers, Adidas and Umbro, proved cost-effective, whilst also welcoming new sponsors to the main frame of the Premier League. The club's 2012 deal with US sports firm, Warrior Sports, signified a landmark deal for both club and sponsor. The 2015 Warrior Sports takeover by New Balance added to the success of the pairing, whilst similar deals were mirrored by competitors such as Under Armour and Italian sports brand, Macron.

On the other end of the spectrum, Western Union’s gradual digital migration has seen the US brand transform itself from an industrial monopoly with a 160-year history, to a key player in digital technology, including leveraging popular instant messaging app, WeChat, allowing users in China to send up to $100 to over 200 countries.

Billy Hogan, chief commercial officer and managing director at Liverpool FC, says, “Western Union is an instantly recognisable brand with a truly global footprint and we are absolutely delighted to welcome them as our first ever shirt sleeve sponsor and official principal partner. We are very much looking forward to working with Western Union through this partnership to create new experiences and opportunities for our fans both in the UK and abroad.”

The Western Union ‘WU’ patch will appear on Liverpool’s 2017/18 kit, with merchandising taking full effect from 27 August. Yet the partnership will also showcase integrated collaboration between the two brands, with Western Union set to benefit from a range of Liverpool’s marketing and promotional rights, including pitch-side LED messaging and further branding across Liverpool’s Anfield stadium, as well as digital and social media support.