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Will Nissan’s UEFA Sponsorship Mean Footballers Drive Electric Cars?

For various reason — most of them related to age-old stereotypes — the world of football (soccer) isn’t exactly the first thing you’d associate with green cars or more specifically, electric vehicles.

That could all be changing however courtesy of a new four-year global partnership between Nissan and the Union of European Football Associations — otherwise known as UEFA. In a deal worth an estimated £45 million ($75million or €54 million) per season and with more than four billion TV viewers a year, we wonder if Nissan is about to turn football into the poster child for electric cars?

Nissan is going to be the official UEFA sponsor from the 2014/15 season. Will it make electric cars sexy with the help of football?

Nissan is going to be the official UEFA sponsor from the 2014/15 season. Will it make electric cars sexy with the help of football?

While the all-electric Nissan LEAF is just a tiny portion of Nissan’s global vehicle output, we think football and electric cars might soon become a thing. What’s more, it’s not as unusual as you might expect.

Massive scope

In a deal which will see Nissan replace Ford as the automotive partner of choice for the organization, the Japanese automaker will not only have the opportunity to have its brand associated with every single UEFA match, but it will also be able to offer exclusive branding content for its own customers and football fans around the world.

With exclusive rights to the matches, pre-match training sessions, content, media, hospitality, associated events and of course, the Final of each of the various championships run by UEFA — including the UEFA European Championship, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Super Cup — Nissan will be looking to maximize its associations with football fans across the UK, Europe, and beyond.

Ford, who has sponsored the UEFA Champions League since its inception 22 years ago, has even used UEFA matches to launch new cars. These have included the Ford S-Max MPV and Kuga crossover SUV, along with new generations of the Fiesta, Focus and Mondeo.

What’s more, with Ford planning to end its 22-year association with UEFA at the end of this season with a closely-guarded “Mustang Moment” publicity stunt, we think the all-electric LEAF is a perfect counter to the outgoing Muscle-car memory from Ford’s soon-to-end sponsorship.

Challenging Stereotypes

Stereotypically, with six-figure transfer fees and salaries as high as £300,000 a week, footballers aren’t exactly the sort of people you’d necessarily think of when talking about electric cars. Traditionally, they’re seen driving six-figure Italian sports cars and luxury SUVs with fuel economy measured not in tens of miles per gallon, but single digits.

Football and electric cars aren't new...

Mixing football with electric cars isn’t new…

Yet at the same time, individual footballers — not just the teams they play for — represent a massive potential of brand endorsement.  With many fans devoted to both their chosen team and the players on it, any brand associated with that team or player undoubtedly has a massive impact on that brand’s perceived quality, public awareness and impact.  In short, if a footballer uses, wears, or likes something, their fans will too. 

That goes for electric cars as much as it does the rest of Nissan’s lineup.

Football and electric cars isn’t new

At this point, we’ve got to admit that Nissan’s portfolio is far larger than just its electric car offerings. And in many ways, we expect some of Nissan’s more mainstream vehicles — like the Note, Juke and Qashqai — to receive most of the spotlight from any sponsorship deal with UEFA. With many football fans stereotypically loving beer, football and powerful cars, it’s perhaps even possible Nissan’s commercial vehicle fleet and sports car offerings make it into significant UEFA coverage.

On one level, it’s certainly more logical to think that Nissan’s powerful £78,000 GT-R is a far more obvious choice for high-salaried footballers. But sponsorship deals in sports aren’t about the players: it’s about the fans.

Portraying its electric lineup as powerful, economical and fun to drive could be a major coup for Nissan.

While Nissan has declined to comment on any of its UEFA marketing plans at this stage, it’s worth noting that the world of football is no stranger to electric cars. 

Both Vauxhall and Nissan in the UK have worked with football teams in the past, while Nissan is already heavily involved with various football clubs and organizations around the world.

Last year, Vauxhall, official sponsor of the England Women’s football team, loaned team members range-extended Vauxhall Ampera electric cars to use to get to and from training. The European version of the Chevrolet Volt, the car was well received by players.

Nissan, meanwhile, sponsored Forest Green Rovers, an entire football club in the south west of england, with all-electric Nissan LEAFs for both players and staff to use. Already sponsored by ecotricity, the locally-based utility company responsible for installing a nationwide network of quick charge stations for electric car drivers to use, Nissan also donated a CHAdeMO quick charge station for the footballers to use to charge their cars — and of course members of the public who passed by.

Of course, it’s too early to say what Nissan’s plans will be for its UEFA sponsorship, or what impact its all-electric LEAF hatchback and eNV200 minivan will have on football fans. But we’re curious as to what you think would be the best way to promote the joys of electric driving to the world of football.

Leave your suggestions in the Comments below.


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