Phila. Union is now officially team Bimbo
When the Philadelphia Union officially announced its multimillion-dollar deal with a jersey sponsor Tuesday, there wasn't a bimbo in sight - but Bimbo was everywhere.
The red, white, and blue logo of the big Mexico-based baker was plastered across PPL Park, on stadium signs, on backdrops, on shirts, and even on a Bimbo delivery truck parked outside.
How Union fans will digest having Bimbo on the front of the team jersey is unknown. The immediate reaction to news of the sponsor - it's pronounced BEEM-bo - was mixed.
"I just think it's kind of dumb," said Anne Ewing, a Union fan who lives in Philadelphia. "We'll all have to explain it over and over and over again."
Bryan James, president of the Sons of Ben supporters group, said that he could see how the common mispronunciation of Bimbo could cause some initial confusion - but that it would be overcome by time and marketing.
Personally, he's thrilled by the sponsorship and by the money it would bring to the team and major-league soccer.
"It's wonderful that a company of that size would take the opportunity to invest in our local team. It's the perfect product placement. It's the perfect venue for a sponsor."
He'll be getting a Bimbo logo stamped on the front of his team jersey and, in the meantime, buying Bimbo products as a way "to give back to the company that's giving to us."
At an afternoon news conference at the Chester stadium, team and company officials unveiled the Bimbo-adorned Union jersey to a crowd of about 100 reporters, photographers, businesspeople, and team employees.
A giant white Bimbo bear in baker's hat and apron roamed the club level, posing for pictures and slapping furry high-fives. Thirty tiny, stuffed bears sat unblinkingly on chairs. Stand-up displays held rows of loaves of bread and bags of treats, all topped by an image of the smiling bear, who proclaimed, "Bread packed with goodness. And baked with love."
Not everyone was feeling the love Tuesday, as word spread of the team's four-year, roughly $12 million deal with Horsham-based Bimbo Bakeries USA. Some found Bimbo hard to swallow.
"Are you kidding me?" one fan posted on Philly.com. "We're going to be laughingstock of the league."
The mispronunciation of Bimbo is leading the company to try to convince consumers that its name does not glorify dull-witted, readily bedded, sort-of celebrities. Bimbo has placed billboards along I-95 that instruct, "Say 'Beembo!'," and taken a trademark on that phrase.
Union chief executive officer Nick Sakiewicz said the team had no concerns that the Bimbo name could hamper jersey sales to women.
"Not at all," he said. "In the focus groups and discussions I've had with women, the vast majority of them think it's just the coolest thing. They think it's fun. Our data is telling us they think it's kind of cool. I have zero concerns on that."
The big impact for fans, he said, is going to be on the field - because the Bimbo deal means the Union will have more money to spend on players, training, and facilities. "All boats rise on this one," he said.
Bimbo has long insisted that its name is an invention, with no particular meaning, coined when the firm was founded in 1945 from two other words: Bingo, the game, and Bambi, the then-new Disney movie.
Contact staff writer Jeff Gammage at 215-854-2415 or firstname.lastname@example.org.