Paddy Power targets Wayne Rooney sponsorship deal

Wayne Rooney: approach by Paddy Power
Wayne Rooney: approach by Paddy Power

The decision by Coca-Cola to end its deal with footballer Wayne Rooney has placed the sponsorship industry on alert, with brands considering an approach for the Manchester United and England star.

The soft-drinks company confirmed last week that it had ended its £600,000-a-year deal with Rooney, claiming its marketing plans have 'evolved' to focus on the London 2012 Games.

The decision came in the same week that Rooney was banned for two matches by the FA for swearing into a TV camera after scoring a hat-trick against West Ham.

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power was the first brand to confirm that it is putting together a sponsorship proposal for Rooney.

The decision follows its failure to conclude a £50m deal with golfer Tiger Woods, after he had been dropped by several sponsors following allegations about his private life.

Coca-Cola's archrival, Pepsi, has also reportedly been considering an approach for Rooney. However, sources close to the brand told Marketing that any such deal was unlikely.

Paddy Power considers an association with a high-profile sportsman as the next step in its development. Sources close to the bookmaker said it had identified Rooney as a brand ambassador before the end of his partnership with Coke.

A spokesman for Paddy Power said: 'No direct formal negotiations have been made, but there is an appetite for it at this end.'

The proposed tie-up would, say sources, involve Rooney, whose existing sponsors include Nike and EA Sports, taking part in brand endorsements, appearing in Paddy Power's TV ads and at promotional day events.

Some sport sponsorship experts believe that, despite being dropped by Coca-Cola, the footballer remains a desirable sponsorship property for brands.

'As long as Rooney keeps performing on the pitch, and also not behaving too badly off it, his rebellious, edgy appeal will bring in a raft of new sponsors. Rooney should be sponsored by Red Bull not Coca-Cola,' said Rupert Pratt, managing director of sponsorship agency generatesponsorship.

Angus McGougan, business director at sports marketing agency Fast Track, added that Rooney remained a 'fantastic player idolised by fans around the world', and still offered much to brands.

IN MY VIEW: EXPERT COMMENT - Nigel Currie, Director, brandRapport

Rooney is box-office material, so he will always attract sponsors. Now, however, they are less likely to be family brands and more likely to be 'lads' brands'.

Some sponsors will not worry about Rooney's behaviour, viewing it as part of what makes him who he is. Others, meanwhile, such as EA Sports, may have commitments with Rooney that are more long term, or also involve other major sports stars, making a split harder.


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