In today’s modern celebrity-obsessed culture, products endorsed by film and sports stars will inevitably sell to thousands of adoring fans wishing to emulate their idols. With multi-million pound pay packets, a penchant for designer clothes and super-fast luxury cars, football (soccer) fans are among some of the most idolised sports celebrities of all, especially in countries where football is considered a national pastime.
Traditionally, cars which have carried with them the prestige of footballer celebrity status have included supercars like the Bugatti Veyron, the Bentley Continental GT and of course, the Range Rover Sport. Yet in a few short years, footballers, their wives and girlfriends could be endorsing zero emission electric cars like the Nissan LEAF instead of ultra-high ticket, gas-guzzling SUVs and sports cars.
That’s according to Roel de Vries, Nissan’s global head of marketing. In an interview with the Financial Times, de Vries said that a new football sponsorship deal being announced on Thursday by the Japanese automaker — the latest in a growing line of football sponsorship deals by Nissan — will see its brand and vehicles front and centre on the international football stage.
“For us, football works,” he said. ‘We have to deliver for the fans and we belong there. our excitement is we manage to play on the main stage.”
For Nissan, it’s the latest in a growing line of football-related sponsorship deals.
Back in 2012, Nissan sponsored Forest Green Rovers, an entire football club int he south west of England, by donating a whole fleet of all-electric Nissan LEAFs for players and staff to use. It even installed a DC CHAdeMO quick charge station connected to the Ecotricity rapid charge network at the team’s home stadium so that both the club and members of the public could stop and charge when needed.
This April, Nissan announced it would be taking over from Ford in a new football sponsorship deal with the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). Known for its yearly UEFA European Championship, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League and UEFA Super Cup that deal — worth an estimated £45 million ($75 million) per season and reaching more than four billion TV viewers per year — will give Nissan massive prominence throughout Europe.
Back then, we asked Nissan if its UEFA sponsorship deal would mean more footballers and their significant others would be getting behind the wheel of an electric car. At that time, Nissan declined to comment, but it appears now that electric cars will play an important part in Nissan’s future football deals.
The image of the overpaid, millionaire football stars with too much cash and no concern for the world around them is “finished,” says de Vries. Instead, he hinted, the next generation of footballers and their families will be focusing on more environmentally conscious cars like the all-electric LEAF.
Naturally, while Nissan hasn’t said so, while the LEAF will play a part in future sponsorship deals with football clubs and football stars, we suspect more powerful electric and plug-in hybrids — like those with the ZEOD technology found in Nissan’s Le Mans racer and promised in Nissan high-end cars by Nissan Vice President Andy Palmer — will also play an important part. Given the breadth of Nissan’s promised future electric car lineups, we think anything is possible.
Nissan’s hope presumably, is where footballers go, mere mortals will follow. But do you think it will work? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
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