Tag Archives: Manchester United

Fifty Shades of Spray: Three Licensing Lessons from the Perfume Range of Zlatan Ibrahimović

With the anterior cruciate ligament injury that he sustained during Manchester United’s ultimately victorious UEFA Europa League quarter-final second leg against Belgian heavyweights Anderlecht possessing possibly career-ending properties, now is as good a time as any to consider what post-playing life might begin to look like for Zlatan Ibrahimović (‘Zlatan’, ‘Ibra’). The Swedish icon of Yugoslav descent will indubitably find himself in heavy demand within the world of football; however, whether he takes the familiar paths of management and/or punditry, or forges a yet more interesting second act – perhaps as a Trump-style, Corbyn-substance populist in politics – one thing will remain a constant in Zlatan’s life: licensing.

Ibrahimović has had an interesting collection of commercial partners from relatively early on in his career, but his status is such that in recent years he has transcended the usual celebrity endorsements of shampoos and chocolate bars, instead becoming the focus of a series of Zlatan-flavoured brands, perhaps most notably the Vitamin Well series of sports drinks – a product that he has not shied away from promoting relentlessly.

However, it is Ibrahimović’s latest venture – a line of fragrances concocted in collaboration with Montblanc perfumer Olivier Pescheux – that may turn out to be his most significant foray yet into the broader world of retail, not least because it highlights (and skilfully profits from) a number of societal transformations:

  1. The Reclassification of Football. For the overwhelming majority of its history (one or two key exceptional markets notwithstanding), soccer has been perceived as a largely working-class enterprise. The pitching of Ibrahimović’s perfumes at somewhere north of €50/50ml bottle confirms that the sport has definitively escaped these shackles.
  2. Football’s Feminisation. Ibra’s range of scents is divided neatly into two: the ‘Zlatan’ fragrance for men, and the ‘Supreme’ equivalent for women. The existence of the latter is no accident: football’s transmogrification into a markedly less violent sport from the early 1990s onwards has helped endear it to a new generation of women who are proud to wear a fashion brand co-created by a soccer player.
  3. Global Acceptance. The perfumes’ publicity material directly and prominently refers to Ibrahimović as a ‘world-renowned Swedish football player of Bosnian origin’; in a world where nationalism is gaining in political currency, realities such as this show up the limits of reactionary ideologies. Deepening globalisation is enabled by powerful borderless technologies which cannot be stopped by a wave of the legislative wand; it is essential for both individuals and organisations to contemplate the implications of this fact.

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Winners Love Winning, A Lot: Zlatan Ibrahimović World Tour Now Rocks London!

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Is MUFC the New USSR? Defeat in England’s Second Cup Competition ‘Spells Disintegration’!

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Stop Press (And Just About Everything Else): David Beckham to Retire!

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The Sky’s the Limit: Champions League ‘Finalists’ Borussia Dortmund Ink Airline Marketing Agreement!

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The Return of Madchester: City Pip United After Surreal Season’s End

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Athletic Bilbao: A Model for the Financial Fair Play Era?

This week saw one of the footballing sensations of the past couple of decades as Athletic Club (‘Athletic’) – generally known internationally by their name incorporating the industrial port city where they play their football, Athletic Bilbao – put on a display of stunning virtuosity and courage at Old Trafford, taking a 3-2 lead into the home leg of their last 16 UEFA Europa League tie with Manchester United. One of two really substantial clubs in Spain’s picturesque and sporadically unstable País Vasco, Athletic’s performance attracted critical and popular acclaim throughout Europe, with their voluminously passionate following providing a pulsating soundtrack to a genuinely memorable encounter.

Yet we at Mediolana believe that Athletic’s recent success – the 2010-2011 season saw a sixth place finish in La Liga, with the club clearly capitalising on the consequent Europa League entry –  is much more significant than the footballing public have thus far recognised. This is because Athletic are demonstrating a model – based on the intensive development of youth remunerated on relatively modest salaries, rather than expensive acquisitions compensated with multi-million euro contracts – that is likely to become increasingly salient as implementation of the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations begins to bite. These rules stipulate radical debt restrictions that must be followed by all clubs wishing to take part in UEFA club competitions, including the requirement that operating deficits for individual clubs be restricted to an absolute maximum of  €45m for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 seasons, a figure that shrinks to €30m per season for the three years to the summer of 2018 (Article 61 – Notion of Acceptable Deviation).

Given the reality of UEFA’s new financial regime, European football is facing a transformative period where – outside of the carefully-regulated leagues of France and Germany, whose members have long been subject to fiscal rules not dissimilar to those now being introduced continent-wide – many of its most famous club brands are being forced to confront the fact that they are insolvent. This can produce cognitive and practical dissonance of dizzying proportions: current European champions FC Barcelona, who as of Q3 2011 had liabilities on their balance sheet to the tune of around half a billion euros despite a lucrative sponsorship arrangement with the Qatar Foundation, responded to this state of affairs by banning colour photocopying; their opponents in last spring’s UEFA Champions League Final, Manchester United, are the posterboys for Biblical invocations against usury.

The splendid Manchester victory for Athletic’s all-Basque selection was not, despite the approval of some of the more insular elements of the media, primarily a victory for localism; rather, it was a triumph for financial humility and investment in education, as well as sumptuous technique and the admirable tactics of Marcelo Bielsa.

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