When I was a young copywriter at BMP, I saw a young account man going though a video of a football match with a stopwatch.
He kept freeze-framing the game, then rewinding it, then timing particular sections.
I watched what he was doing for a bit.
I tried to work out what he was timing.
Was it goals, or tackles, or passes, or fouls, or mistakes?
I couldn’t see any consistency in what he was timing.
In the end, I gave up and asked him what he was doing.
He said he was making a record of the amount of time the client’s perimeter board spent on camera.
Apparently, his client had bought a perimeter board at that game, and they wanted to know how much TV screen time they were getting for their money.
That struck me.
I’d stood there for ten minutes watching it over and over again, and I hadn’t noticed it once.
Because I was concentrating on the football.
That’s the difference between the way advertising people see ads, and the way punters see ads.
The account man and I were both watching the TV from different perspectives.
All he noticed were the ads, all I noticed was the football.
That’s how it works in the real world.
You notice what you’re interested in.
Unless the advertising does something particularly new or unusual or relevant to capture your attention.
In the days before Wenger was manager, Arsenal were a very frustrating team to watch.
JVC were Arsenal’s first sponsors.
David Bernstein, an avid Arsenal fan, told me he’d found out what the letters JVC stood for on the front of the Arsenal shirt.
He slapped his forehead and yelled “Jesus Vucking Christ”.
In those days fans noticed the names on the shirts because it was a novelty.
It was the first time it had been done.
So it stood out.
This was unfortunate for some clubs.
One of West Ham’s first sponsors was the athletic footwear brand PONY.
In east London ‘pony’ is rhyming slang (‘pony and trap’).
Not a good thing for a cockney club, particularly one playing like West Ham, to have on their shirt.
So everyone noticed the first sponsors, simply because they were the first.
There was no particular reason why JVC should be on an Arsenal shirt.
Or, in fact on any football shirt.
JVC made TV sets, radios, hi fi, VCRs, CD players.
There wasn’t really a link.
But they got noticed because they were the first.
That’s how novelty works, it’s new.
The second time around it isn’t new.
So it stops working.
The top eight clubs deals add up to roughly £123 million a year:
Liverpool £20 million, Man Utd £20 million, Man City £20 million, Sunderland £20 million, Chelsea £14 million, Newcastle £10 million, Tottenham £10 million, Aston Villa £8 million.
Below are the sponsors.
Apart from your own team, see how many you can place with the right club.
See how many you think got their money’s worth.
Aurasma, Virgin Money, Standard Chartered, Samsung, Genting Casinos, Aon, Invest in Africa, Etihad Airways.
The reason it’s difficult, is none of the sponsors have a genuine link to what’s being sponsored.
For it to work, you need a good reason for the name to be there.
A great example was Newcastle.
The Newcastle football strip everyone remembers had Newcastle Brown on the front.
The image of the Geordie beer and the Geordie club is totally consistent.
And beer is a perfect match for football games.
The pub is where most games are watched on TV.
Beer is what most men drink when they’re watching it.
Beer brand on shirt, beer brand in bar.
Every time they showed a Newcastle game on TV, it was a ninety-minute point-of-sale advert for Newcastle Brown.
That’s an advertising person thinking like a punter.