Two Cents: Never Tarnish Your Brand, Union

Can't believe the team borne from fans alienated some

First of all, I get it Philly Union. I do.

And on the surface, actually getting Bimbo to sponsor your jersey is a coup. It’s probably a pretty lucrative deal and the Bimbo brand carries weight…some places.

However, Bimbo as a sponsor of important clubs does not extend into the conscience of most fans in the  United States. Coupled with what the jargonistic word itself means to those that dwell in the fifty and it’s a double whammy.

First, as we spoke about in our Portland-Seattle post a few months back, it’s imperative to always partner with a strong brand. The best way to build a brand is to associate it with a stronger brand. (Why do you think online you see all those, “As seen on CNBC” or similar icons?)

Bimbo, while a major company, and perhaps a strong brand south of the border obviously does not carry the same value here. In fact, the “Bimbo” moniker is largely emblazoned on bread products in Mexico whereas in the states, on Wonder bread, the “Bimbo” moniker is nearly if not completely non-existent.

Secondly, and I say this part tongue-in-cheek and certainly loosely, this has a whiff of what Volkswagen encountered in their bid to target the Hispanic market. I’m saying the Bimbo-Union association is in the same realm–it’s not spot on.

Is it offensive for the jersey of an upstanding soccer club with great grassroots success and backing, and with a good part of that grassroots backing–women, to have a jersey sponsor that references what it does? I’m on the fence, but leaning toward tumbling over into “yes.”

For the non-soccer goers who will see a female Philly Union fan wearing the jersey, you’re inviting ridicule.

…why do you think Barcelona sponsored charities for so long on their kit–oops bad example.

Note: One note that I just included in the comments: I’m not talking about marketing or not marketing to the Hispanic demographic. I’m talking about not alienating any demographic.

23 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Tim on 2011/01/11 at 12:32 PM

    It is a local company. It’s american offices are based of Horsham, Pa, which is right outside Philly. Also we consume a lot of their products they make in Philadelphia. (i.e. Strohmans, Entenmanns, Thomas’…)


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/11 at 12:35 PM

      I’m talking about the brand, not the company….not purely semantics.

      I think the name of the company is terrible. Answer me this though..if the brand was strong, why don’t they emphasize it on products.

      Will the Union wear “Bimbo” across their chest/abdomen area…or whatever you call it?



        See note 4. I quote:

        “The name “Bimbo” has no specific meaning in Spanish; thus, the name has not caused significant uproar as it would in the United States, where the word “bimbo” has a negative connotation. The official theory believes that the name Bimbo, coined in 1945 when the company was rebranded from its previous name, Super Pan S.A., is the mixing of the words “bingo” and “Bambi”.”

        So there’s that. But also, what’s wrong with marketing to the Hispanic demographic?


        • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/11 at 12:43 PM

          I’m not talking about marketing to the Hispanic demographic. I’m talking about not alienating any demographic. Does that make sense?


        • Posted by John on 2011/01/11 at 12:49 PM

          Super Pan would look great on the front of a kit!

          Suuuuuuuuuper PAN!


        • If we’re not going to alienate any demographic, let’s only pick universally loved companies for shirt sponsors. You’ll find that subset of businesses to have exactly zero members.

          The real question is: Do you think women feel alienated by Bimbo because of the name Bimbo and its (alleged) negative connotation? Because I’m pretty sure women are capable of higher reasoning than you are giving them credit for – and they realize that this ‘Bimbo’ has nothing to do with the American colloquialism ‘Bimbo’.


      • > if the brand was strong, why don’t they emphasize it on products?

        I think that they’re beginning a push to do so, I’ve begun seeing advertisements all over the place and Bimbo stands in convenience stores. I’m too lazy to google to find out, but I bet that this is part of their campaign to raise brand awareness.

        (And I need to wash out my mouth after uttering such marketing bull)


        • Posted by Bruce on 2011/01/11 at 5:00 PM

          True. They have a large electronic billboard along one of the major expressways in Chicago. It seems clear that they are expanding their brand in the US and this fits that plan.

          I get the quick and obvious joke many see but I think as more teams (in all sports) begin to have sponsorships Americans will begin to get it. Eventually, most people can suppress the sophomore boy inside.

          You see plenty of America Primera Division shirts around already.


  2. Posted by jellenp on 2011/01/11 at 12:35 PM

    I must admit that initially I assumed it was a joke. Maybe it was their only offer? Don’t get the dumbness.


  3. Posted by Erik the Orange on 2011/01/11 at 1:07 PM

    Ever watch those asinine Dr. Scholl’s commercials?? “Hey, you gellin??” “YEAH!! I’m gellin like Magellan!!” Horrific. However, marketers are good at what they do. While every member of the human race, save some Mississippi residents, sees that ad as completely annoying, you remember it, dontcha?

    While the “Bimbo” moniker may be offensive to some…I bet these guys did their homework and know that in the long-run, while it may be offensive to some, the sponsorship will be a plus, net-net.

    P.S.- Really don’t like the Bimbo logo. I swear, if they start branding the Union’s socks, shorts, snoods, etc etc, I’m out!!


    • Posted by John on 2011/01/11 at 1:10 PM

      How dare you sir. I just spent a good 5 minutes at the Union shop website to get a gander at their snoods.

      They are currently snoodless.

      For Shame!


    • Posted by matthewsf on 2011/01/11 at 1:10 PM

      Oh, I’m sure it’s lucrative and memorable. As I just wrote on Twitter. I’m okay with it if the average female Union fan is fine with it.


  4. Posted by dth on 2011/01/11 at 1:21 PM

    I bet the Union did it because of another move in a long one to seize on other countries’ soccer symbols to confer authenticity in their own. If that’s true, I bet the Union see it as a strength rather than a weakness. And tbf there’s something to the idea that the MLS has to be better with soccer fans before it can break into the mainstream–how many people do we know in our lives who follow international soccer religiously but don’t care a whit for MLS? I know of a rabid Chelsea fan who went to like two NYRB games because of Henry, and that’s probably around the average.

    Still think the move is silly though–the negative initial shock of “Bimbo” is just too much.


    • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/11 at 1:56 PM

      Do you really think that or do you think Bimbo offered them more loot?


      • Posted by dth on 2011/01/11 at 2:25 PM

        I think it…a little bit. Ultimately, though, C.R.E.A.M.


        • Posted by GeorgeCross on 2011/01/11 at 2:45 PM

          I don’t know mate. Not sure I buy into the notion of a sponsoring company being a “soccer symbol”… but perhaps that’s just me.


        • Posted by dth on 2011/01/11 at 5:58 PM

          I’m just guessing from their perspective. If you want an example, look at the story announcing the thing–

          Sentences like this “Grupo Bimbo, the Mexican parent of Bimbo Bakeries USA, is a worldwide name in the soccer community…” make me think that their eyes are on that, however odd a goal that might seem.


  5. Posted by JM on 2011/01/11 at 1:33 PM

    Philly is simply following the status quo.

    If MLS, and football clubs in general, were concerned about branding they wouldn’t whore their shirts out to billboard advertising. Also, look at the propensity of football clubs to allow their equipment partners to put them into template uniforms. When you look at football club uniforms, the brands of the advertising partner and equipment partner dominate the club brand, which is limited to colors (not necessarily unique by any stretch) and a small badge.

    The NBA is partnered with Adidas, but all their teams have unique uniform designs. The NFL and NHL are partnered with Reebok (an Adidas company) and none of their clubs are forced into a template design. It should also be noted that those leagues command a hell of a lot more money from Adidas then the top 30 clubs in Europe (on average) generate from their equipment deals.

    Frankly, I think football clubs should fight for their brands, and hire some experienced sales & marketing executives to design partnership marketing packages to make up the money with the shirt sponsors.


  6. Posted by scweeb on 2011/01/11 at 1:53 PM

    So many chants just came to mind for the phily team.


  7. Posted by Kevin on 2011/01/11 at 3:11 PM

    I would rather have Bimbo than Amigo Energy. Amigo Energy is an insult to the club while Bimbo is a very big company and to some extent says how much your club is worth. I don’t think anyone will be rejecting this because the name of a foreign company in a different language. You can’t associate a company with a slang term that happen to share names. You’re telling me if it was Coca-Cola and the front of the jersey said “coke” you would find it offensive?


    • Posted by Faith on 2011/01/11 at 3:54 PM

      I totally agree with this. Amigo Energy (or, more to the point, their “We’re gonna have a guy with an over-emphasized Spanish accent narrate our commercials to show how Hispanic-friendly we are” tactic) is the precise reason I don’t have a Dynamo jersey.

      Speaking as a chick, I’d have no problem with the Bimbo logo on a jersey (but, then again, I’m from Houston, where we’re probably more aware of the brand than people are in Philadelphia). My only concern is that they make it look good with the Union’s colors. All the mock-ups I’ve seen today are hideous.


  8. […] to sport Bimbo logoPhiladelphia Business -Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia -The Shin Guardianall 19 news […]


  9. Posted by shutupayouface on 2011/01/12 at 12:21 AM

    apparently there was an all-femal focus group as part of the decision making process.


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