Chivas debuts in football by talking blends with Manchester United's 659m followers

Scotch whisky brand Chivas has partnered with top-tier English football team Manchester United. With the new relationship, Chivas marks its debut into the football marketing space.

Content from the three-year collaboration will compare how Manchester United blends talented players with the scotch brand blending premium ingredients. The brand will use the Manchester side’s platforms and equity to embark on its first foray talking to football audiences.

This will launch around an ad that was shot in Los Angeles during the club’s pre-season tour. It looks to highlight the unseen personalities of the players as they enjoy their much-deserved break after a frenetic World Cup in Russia.

Shefali Murdia, brand director for Chivas Regal, part of Pernod Ricard USA, told The Drum that the "US and the UK will be major points of interest for the collaboration given the nature of the partnership and impact on those communities". It has likely also noted a desirable cross-over between the club's fans and potential Chivas customers.

Instead of a product-led approach, the work will look to highlight Chivas’ values to a global audience. To some fans, it may serve as an introduction. However, a bespoke Manchester United product marking the partnership will be launched later this year.

The creative will lean on the “blended backgrounds” of the Manchester United squad, leaning into the blended heritage of Chivas’ portfolio. Murdia said: “We are genuinely excited to be bringing this defining aspect of our DNA to life with such a notable team.”

She said the brand will rally around Manchester United victories at personal touchpoints, primarily digital and social. There will often be a call to action through the next three seasons for fans to toast wins “over a glass of Chivas”.

Many may follow the example. Manchester United is one of the world's truly global football clubs. On Facebook alone, it boasts 73.5m likes, over a tenth are based in the UK and a substantial slice are based in the United States. It boasts of 659 million followers across all of its platforms, albeit with some cross-platform account duplication.

While it is the group’s first move into football, it has a comprehensive presence in boxing with the Chivas Fight Program led by middleweight boxer Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin. Chivas Brothers hails his humble beginnings and likens it to its own origin.

Murdia concluded: “This partnership also celebrates a blended individual and just as the values of Chivas’ fighting spirit are brought to life via Chivas Fight Club, the brand’s emphasis on celebrating the success of a blended generation correlates to the Manchester United partnership.”

Chivas promises a “360 campaign activated across all touch-points globally” starting this month. The relationship between the brands will also be underlined on Old Trafford’s perimeter boards. The partnership was to be unveiled 10 August ahead of the club’s first Premier League fixture against Leicester.

Jean-Christophe Coutures, chairman and chief executive at Chivas Brothers, said: “Partnering with Manchester United was a natural fit; we both firmly believe that great things can be achieved when we come together – from balancing the perfect blend of malt and grain whiskies that go into our scotch, to using the perfect combination of players’ skills on the pitch to create a winning team.”

Meanwhile, in China, the brand champions the NBA which helped fuel 2.4% growth in Asia. In-store activations, online sweepstakes and viewing parties were all credited as vital initiatives in this market.

Chivas was founded in 19th century Scotland now annually ships 4.2m nine-litre cases across the world.

It teased the new campaign below.

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