By Barry Janoff
February 6, 2016: Manchester United, already one of the most popular and valuable sports franchises in the world, is adding some new players to raise the bar, including Deadpool, Magneto, Psylocke, Storm and the "President" of the United States.
What was called a "ground-breaking global partnership" between ManU and 20th Century Fox will bring together such soccer players as Wayne Rooney, Ander Herrera, Juan Mata, Chris Smalling, David De Gea and Bastian Schweinsteiger with movies and movie characters from upcoming films.
Cross-marketing will see such 20th Century Fox releases as Deadpool, X-Men: Apocalypse and Independence Day: Resurgence promoted at ManU games and via club social media and other outlets.
Meanwhile, Manchester United will have opportunities to bring its brand into cinemas and other touch-points that reach movie-goers.
Initial joint-marketing is a 60-second spot, "Dream," in which the character Deadpool is seen on a soccer pitch scoring the winning goal on a free-kick. As Rooney and other ManU players congratulate him, he wakes up in his bed. "I had that weird Wayne Rooney dream again," he says.
Financial terms of the alliance were shared.
20th Century Fox joins a roster of Manchester United global partners that include ManU jersey-front sponsor Chevrolet, adidas, AON, Aeroflot, Bulova and Columbia.
“This partnership is the first of its kind for the club and 20th Century Fox," Richard Arnold, group managing director for Manchester United, said in a statement. "Last year in the U.K. alone, there were well over 150 million admissions to the cinema. And, like football, the film industry has unwavering global popularity and can be enjoyed by anyone."
In addition to commercials, Internet and social media, ManU's digital perimeter boards and post-match interview backdrops at the club's Old Trafford home stadium will be used to promote films throughout the season.
In addition, 20th Century Fox will have opportunities to provide entertainment for fans attending United home games as well as exclusive content for the club’s global audience via its various team and player digital platforms.
Manchester United has nearly seven million followers on Twitter and close to 68 million likes on its Facebook page.
ManU forward Rooney alone has 25.5 million likes on his Facebook page and 12.5 million followers on Twitter.
The franchise is valued at $3.1 billion, fifth worldwide behind Real Madrid FC ($3.3 billion), the NFL's Dallas Cowboys ($3.2 billion), MLB's New York Yankees ($3.2 billion) and Barcelona FC ($3.1 billion), per Forbes.
According to Paul Hanneman, 20th Century Fox president-worldwide theatrical marketing & distribution, “20th Century Fox is home to many of the world’s biggest film franchises and Manchester United is one of the world’s largest and most successful football clubs. We are excited by the opportunity to combine the entertainment of film with the power of live sports and the passion that Manchester United fans have for their club and the players.
“Together, we look forward to introducing each other to greater connections and more entertaining content that will engage film audiences and football fans."
“Together, we look forward to introducing each other to greater connections and more entertaining content that will engage film audiences and football fans around the globe," said Hanneman.
Activations will ramp-up as the scheduled release dates for 20th Century Fox films approach.
Deadpool is scheduled to hit the U.K. Feb 10 and the U.S. Feb 12.
The scheduled release for X-Men: Apocalypse in the U.K. is May 19 and in the U.S. May 27 (pictured).
Independence Day: Resurgence is scheduled for U.K. release June 23 and in the U.S. on June 24.
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