How football shirts chart the rise and fall of tech giants

Article by Ravi Hiranand and Leo Schwartz: “It’s the ultimate status symbol, a level of exposure achieved by few companies — but one available to any company that’s willing and able to pay a hefty price. It’s an honor that costs millions of dollars, and in return, your company’s logo is on the TV screens of millions of people every week.

Sponsoring a football club — proper football, that is — is more than just a business transaction. It’s about using the world’s most watched sport to promote your brand. Getting your company’s logo on the shirt of a team like Liverpool or Real Madrid means tying your brand to a global icon. And for decades, it’s been a route taken by emerging tech companies, flush with cash to burn and a name to earn.

But these sponsorships actually reveal something about the tech industry as a whole: when you trace the history of these commercial deals across the decades, patterns emerge. Rather than individual companies, entire sectors of the industry — from cars to consumer tech to gambling websites — seem to jump into the sport at once, signaling their rise to, or the desire to, dominate global markets where football is also part of everyday life. It’s no coincidence, for example, that mobile phone companies turned to sponsoring football clubs during the beginning of the new millenium: with handsets becoming increasingly common and 3G just around the corner, companies like Samsung and Vodafone wasted no time in paying record amounts to some of the most successful clubs in England.

Rest of World took a look at some of the more memorable shirt sponsorship deals in football — from Sony’s affiliation with Italy’s champions to Rakuten’s deal with a Spanish giant — and what they say about the rise and fall of the tech sectors those companies represented…(More)”.