Analysis by Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY, NSW: In a move so quiet it could almost be called ambush marketing, Sharp has slipped back into the epic world of football sponsorships, becoming the official partner of UEFA and several UEFA competitions, including Euro2012.

This itself is not news — the deal was done in August last year — but with the 2012 European Champions (commonly known as Euro2012) now just 12 months away, the focus on Sharp’s involvement will increase dramatically as the world’s attention turns to Poland and Ukraine.

One of the most interesting things about this association is how it affects the perception that Sony owns soccer. Sony globally has spent millions sponsoring several football competitions, clubs, individual players and the World Cup. It likes to think of itself as the go-to brand for football fans.

But the sun has not shined on this partnership as Sony would have liked. Although it trumpeted 3D coverage of the World Cup, its 3D TVs were not out in time, meaning Australians who watched the tournament in 3D did so on a Samsung model.

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Further adding to Sony’s frustration, within weeks of filming a state-of-the-art commercial with brand ambassador Kaka, the Brazilian switched clubs to Real Madrid, meaning the TVC of him wearing an AC Milan jersey was suddenly anachronistic. That his form then dropped so drastically as to become a fringe player at the Bernabeu was another blow.

So now Sharp is in the hot seat, with its global multimillion dollar deal incorporating Euro2012, two Under-21 Championships, Women’s Euro2013 and a Futsal Championship. Of these, only the senior men’s competition will attract sizable and widespread interest. And this interest is significant: whilst only featuring European countries, Euro tournaments have traditionally been hailed as more exciting and entertaining than World Cups, with none of the North Koreas or Cameroons able to take part.

Interest in European Championships in Australia is also high, with so many of the players based at English Premier League clubs, which are consistently growing their local supporter base.

These sorts of deals always involve elements of risk. Marrying your brand to the whims of sportsmen and organisation can prove disastrous. Examples of this include Gillette’s triple own goals, sponsoring Tiger Woods, Thierry Henry and Michael Clarke; and nauseating over exposure of Vodafone during the 2010-11 Ashes.

Sharp has previously been involved in football sponsorship, most famously with Manchester United in the late 1990s. With the emergence of the Korean brands, its exposure has diminished and it has slipped out of Big 4 brands, preferring to focus on unique technology servicing consumers’ wants rather than financial limitations. This return to big-brand, holistic marketing must be exciting for the satellite offices, include our own Sharp Corporation of Australia. For once in the world of sports marketing, this marriage looks like a good fit.

Sharp is an official partner of Euro2012 and several other tournaments.