Soccer fans ought to be familiar with Aon, the B2B risk advisory company whose logo graces the jersey of one of the world's most famous clubs, Manchester United. Phil Clement, Global Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of Aon, and his marketing team have witnessed first hand how supporting a sports team can reap tremendous financial rewards.
Aon's sponsorship of Manchester United has also greatly benefited the company internally. Specifically, it has led to significant improvement in three key areas: connectedness of the global team, employee morale and awareness of the company's message.
Uniting a Global Team
For brand managers of global companies, coordinating marketing efforts across two separate locations is challenging enough. Aon, meanwhile, has a presence in 120 countries - nearly half the world's territories. How did Clement and his team plan to unite a brand with such global spread? By putting their company logo on one of the most recognizable soccer jerseys in the world. As Clement puts it, "Manchester United is understood in every country."
"Having a globally established brand is important," Clement says. "The Manchester United sponsorship has been a big part of that because we can use the same team, same language, same sponsorship material, same explanation for what we're doing, how we're doing it, and why we're doing it across the world."
Restoring Pride in the Company Brand
Before the Manchester United sponsorship, Aon administered a survey to their employees, asking them if they felt Aon had a strong and engaging brand, and whether they were proud to work at the firm. The results were not inspiring - the brand question received the lowest responses, and pride did not fare much better. However, after the sponsorship began, the survey results completely flipped.
"We did extraordinarily well," Clement says of the post-sponsorship employee survey. "Pride and whether Aon has a strong brand were the two highest responses in the survey."
Through the sponsorship, Clement and his team managed to not only increase Aon's brand recognition, but also its employee morale - a double-header if ever there were one.
Building Public Understanding
One of the biggest struggles facing Aon is that the general public often misunderstands the company at a fundamental level. As a risk advisory company, Aon works predominately in the B2B space, advising businesses on their internal insurance practices. However, the public often confuses Aon's work with consumer insurance.
"Because we're loosely affiliated with insurance, and people understand insurance as consumer insurance, they don't really get what we do," says Clement.
As awareness of the Aon brand continues to grow, due in no small part to the Manchester United sponsorship, Clement sees an excellent opportunity to further the public's comprehension of his company and shine a light on the broader risk advisory category in which it does business.
"We've done a really good job of developing an awareness of our brand. We also need to develop an understanding of what we do," he says. "I'm hoping I can create a global dialogue around what I think is the best profession in the world."
In partnership with The CMO Club, The CMO of the Week series profiles CMOs who are shaping, changing and challenging the world of modern marketing. For Neisser's complete interview with CMO Award Winner Phil Clement, click here.