The Detroit automaker is expected to announce Thursday a major marketing initiative and sponsorship deal with Manchester United, the world’s most popular soccer team, two people briefed on the plans said.
Global Chief Marketing Officer Joel Ewanick on Thursday will reveal details of a Chevrolet global sports marketing initiative. It’s a high-profile move that comes as GM said it was halting paid advertising on Facebook and would not advertise in the 2013 Super Bowl after running five ads in this year’s game.
The sponsorship deal could help Chevrolet — GM’s largest brand, which sold 4.76 million vehicles globally last year — reach new customers around the world as it works to increase sales in emerging markets and across Europe.
Forbes recently ranked Manchester as soccer’s most valuable club.
A survey from market researcher Kantar this month found Manchester United is the world’s most popular club with 659 million followers worldwide.
Kantar found that soccer — known almost everywhere outside North America as football — remains the world’s most popular sport, with 1.6 billion followers.
Manchester United’s games are broadcast to 1.15 billion households globally — and reach a total audience of more than 4 billion people a year. Manchester United has an estimated 34 million followers in the U.S.
It’s unclear how much the sponsorship will cost GM.
GM also is an advertising sponsor with NBC during the upcoming three-week Olympics in London, with advertising expected to center around Chevrolet, and the automaker showing some Cadillac ads.
GM this month announced that it will move production of its next-generation Opel Astra compact from Germany to its Ellesmere Port, England, plant, creating about 700 jobs. That plant is 40 miles southeast of Manchester.