Sharp: Brand declined when Man Utd sponsorship ended

Sharp - 18 years as Man Utd's sponsor
Sharp - 18 years as Man Utd's sponsor

Sharp has told TechRadar that is keen to force its way back to the forefront of the UK public's consciousness, admitting that the brand has not been viewed as strongly since a high-profile sponsorship with Manchester United ended 10 years ago.

From 1982 to 2000 Sharp was the shirt sponsor of one of the biggest sports brands in the world in a period of explosive growth for Manchester United and huge success for the club.

However, Vodafone took over the sponsorship for the 2000-2001 season, and Sharp's long association with the Old Trafford club ended.

A brand decline

A decade on and Sharp's marketing communications manager Martin Arnold admits that the end of an era in football also marked a slide away for Sharp in the UK.

"I wouldn't say that it marked a step back from the UK market [for Sharp]," said Arnold. "I would say it was when a lot of people started to think that the brand was going into decline.

"When you say Sharp to people today many of them either bring up Manchester United or microwave ovens that have lasted for 20 years."

"Since we stepped away from Manchester United the awareness of Sharp has fallen."

New beginning

Sharp is pumping huge amounts of money into publicising its latest technology – Aquos Quattron televisions that add a yellow pixel to the familiar primary three of red green and blue – and Arnold believes that the time has come to bring the Sharp brand back to the forefront in the UK.

"We believe so much in this technology and that is why we are investing so heavily," he added.

Should Sharp want to get back on the Manchester United shirts, it may have to pump significantly more into its marketing budget.

Current Manchester United sponsors AIG spent £14 million per season for sponsorship, and will be replaced by Aon next season who are rumoured to have paid 80 million for a four-year deal.

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.