The manufacturers of football kits have long since stretched the limits of an original design past their credible boundaries. There are only so many ways you can re-imagine a red shirt. Fortunately for the clubs, you don’t need the creative genius of Don Draper to sell these things. The discerning fan might question the thickness of stripes, or the tone of colour, but on the whole they stuff their cash in the club shop at every opportunity.
Even so, your club’s marketing team has to find an excuse to justify their existence, and the new kit is the perfect opportunity to do a bit of ‘brand management’. This year has been no exception.
Rather predictably, Chelsea opted for Frank Lampard; probably the safest choice of their established stars, but on this occasion, severely lacking in inspiration. I’m guessing Frank’s done this before, but he’s no Derek Zoolander. Where’s the Blue Steel? To be honest, it’s a risible effort. The level of enthusiasm on Frank’s face is pitiful.
Chelsea’s creative director (if they have one, they probably do) should have been watching Newcastle United’s launch. No doubting the sincerity in Kevin Nolan’s face (watch and learn, Frank) as he gives the press a double fist pump in the famous black and white. Everyone can see the joy on his face, “yes! I’m well up this season, COME ON! WAHEY!”, he appears to be shouting. A leader, a captain, and a West Ham player shortly after this photo was taken.
Grimsby Town recognised the limitations and risks of working with their players, so employed the talents of Lyndsay and Fionna instead. Their launch has a distinctive late-1990’s vibe to it, when clubs tried to sex-up their image by getting a few models to pose in their kit. Of course, the Mariners – sponsored by Young’s frozen fish and located in the glamorous resort of Cleethorpes – have one of the sexiest brands in football already, so the strategy was an obvious choice.
Norwich, on the other hand, have clearly splashed out on the creative process. The end result is a video featuring as many hackneyed Italian stereotypes as the average English football fan could think of in 60 seconds. I smell the work of the team responsible for those groundbreaking Dolmio adverts. Let’s see what we have, some opera; theatrical play acting; and, obsessive personal grooming? They’re all here. Drinking espresso; a Vespa; and, a copy of the Gazzetta? Tick, tick, tick! Why the mocking homage to Italian culture, you might ask. Is it an attempt to cash in on the status of an ageing Italian star that Norwich have signed? Not quite.
Norwich are sending up Italian culture because their kit is made by Errea, an Italian sportswear manufacturer. As a concept, it’s a bit like me claiming to have gone all German because I drive an old Polo, but let’s run with it (also ignoring the fact that Errea already make kits for numerous English clubs, such as the aforementioned Grimsby). If it’s stereotypes they’re after, I think they could have gone further, perhaps with Delia Smith as the dominant matriarch, smothering the Norwich players and feeding them into submission until they all sign new contracts. And smoking, there should have been much more smoking. Thankfully, they resisted the temptation to explore a cosa nostra angle with Paul Lambert as mafia don.
Although my instinct may have been to cringe at this nonsense, if we must go through this every summer, and it seems we must, then this is probably the pick of the bunch. See for yourselves, forza canarini.