Chris Bennett: Mahalo Manchester
Author: Chris Bennett
Thinking big isn’t something the eyewear business is particularly good at but this week two legends joined forces in a deal that has huge potential.
Hawaiian sunglass maker Maui Jim and Manchester United may seem like odd bedfellows (read our report). On one level just another affinity deal but the rationale is powerful.
It’s refreshing to see a brand step outside its comfort zone and actively seek customers it wouldn’t normally encounter.
As Maui Jim is quick to point: out you don’t play football in sunglasses and Manchester isn’t particularly sunny. The attraction, from the optical partner’s perspective, are the 800 million football fans who follow the Manchester club’s form from all four corners of the globe. Indeed the power of Premiership brands has already been recognised by many luxury accessory businesses.
That fan base is particularly powerful in the Far East and Asia allowing Maui Jim to say aloha to a heap of new customers it previously hadn’t encountered.
One of the first moves will be to put Maui Jim sunglasses in the Man Utd megastore, which of course has an online version. Later will come Asian fit frames, co-branded limited editions and an optical collection. Along the way various squads, most importantly the first team, will adopt Maui Jim eyewear as their official eyewear and the support staff will also wear the brand all providing wider brand exposure.
The Hawaiian islands are particularly rich in myth and fable, football too has many legends and there can be few places to rival Manchester United’s Old Trafford when it comes to deities of the Beautiful Game.
Bringing the Aloha spirit to Manchester is a brave move, whether it’s a legendary one only time will tell.