2010 was the year of the Zolo for the Philadelphia Union, but 2011 could be the year of the Bimbo. After a pure inaugural season, the the Inquirer reports that the Union will today announce a four-year, $12 million sponsorship with Bimbo Bakeries that may see the letters B-I-M-B-O on the front of each player's jersey. To quickly clear up a common mispronunciation, the Mexico-based company's name is pronounced beembo. So now that we've cleared that up, surely no one will make reference to the team as the Bimbos in the pronunciation we're all accustomed to. I don't think I've heard anyone make reference to another person as a bimbo in the past decade, but we could have a resurgence on our hands.
So much for my completely far-fetched dream of having Victory Brewing Company sponsor the team...
Union fans who saw the team play Chivas de Guadalajara last season will remember the look of the Bimbo logo on a soccer jersey, although that was on a kit that shared Bimbo's red, white, and blue color scheme. No word yet on whether it will be modified to fit the Union gear, but I guess that could be the one thing we find out at today's sponsorship unveiling with the main news already having been broken.
The Inquirer reports that the Horsham-based US arm of the company operates 34 bakeries, including Entenmann's and Stroehmann. Bimbo has been trying to spread the word about the proper pronunciation in a variety of ways, including placing billboards:
Hopefully the partnership is beneficial to both sides, though it's hard not to feel the Union will take a major branding hit. This is why they're being paid, and it's nothing new. Prominent sponsorship on soccer kits is a common and accepted part of the game worldwide, and while it's hard to imagine wanting to buy a Union jersey as much this year as last, it's hard not to be happy that our side just pulled in $12 million, even if it comes with a look many people won't find to be ideal. As is the case with nearly every club, the classic team name, crest, colors, and kit design will take a back seat to the branding of the sponsor, replaced by the word 'BIMBO' in whatever pronunciation and connotation is natural to the viewer. Union fans are for the most part a team-first lot, so I could see them putting in the effort to pronounce it correctly for the team and sponsor's sake, but also their own.
The casual observer? We'll have to see.
Photo by Flickr user jeffs4653.