Why Huddersfield Town Is A Global Brand With A Great Image
Mohammed Bhana, Huddersfield Town Football Ambassador
As one of the Directors at the global automotive brand – Kahn Design – my remit not only includes the PR aspect of the business – but also the HR side of the business – along with purchasing and selling cherished registrations – ensuring we have one of the most valuable number plate collections in the world.
I once convinced the owner, Afzal Khan to purchase the F1 number plate for over £400,000 back in 2008, a record figure at the time.
However, the value has since jumped to a fabulous £15 million – making it the most valuable number plate on the planet.
I have also purchased many other registrations - IIII T, which I sold on for a tidy profit, along with 08 00 and the Darts centric - 180 – which I purchased for a massive figure in front of a stunned crowd at an auction in Leeds.
There is however, one number plate that got away, one that I should not have sold - 70WN – short form for Town!
I remember inviting Sean Jarvis to Kahn Laboratories for a meeting with myself and Mr.Kahn and told him about how we let the number plate go for a paltry £1,500 a few years ago.
I remember Sean saying: “I would have been interested in that number plate. Dean (Hoyle) would have also been very interested,” before myself and Mr. Kahn once again lamented the decision to part with such a prestigious registration.
Although I have many other number plates on the books, 70 WN is definitely the one that got away.
Why do I regret selling it? Well, Huddersfield Town is after all, a global brand with a great image. The club boasts some of the most passionate fans in the world and it would have been great to see either Sean, Dean Hoyle or a regular Town fan with the number plate affixed to their car.
Or maybe I could have affixed it to one of my cars? If only my son had pestered me to take him to a town match a few years ago!!
I have a habit of rooting for the underdog – seeing Town hold their own, in The Premier League, for me, on a personal note, has been great to see.
We work in a very similar fashion at Kahn - from establishing The Chelsea Truck Company brand – which outsells entire networks of dealers around the UK – to gaining the respect of the dreaded automotive media at events such as the biggest car show in the world – Geneva - we have achieved the impossible on a shoestring budget because I do not like spending money – full stop – so we have to be very street-wise and creative instead.
This is precisely what I like about the club – working with big teams - is easy because the global fan bases are large enough to aggressively market the clubs – hence they earn enough revenue to buy top class players.
I love working with the underdog – this is because everyone expects you to fall flat on your face!
However, the question now is – how can we further Huddersfield’s status as an international brand – turn on-field success into off-field profits whilst ensuring traditionalists are not left behind?
On the surface, this seems a relatively simple and straightforward task. The international fan base is growing, the global profile is in place and Town has a number of international players in the ranks.
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However, my opinion is - the key to accessing markets such as the U.S.A, Australia and China will be the disposition and character of the players off the pitch along with how they fare on the pitch.
I remember a couple of years ago; I had a blazing row with a former England captain. Although he was a global icon, he wasn’t the brightest spark in the box.
I stood up to him, put him in his place, in no uncertain terms, before a fellow member of staff spelt everything out to him once again, in plain English – explaining why needed to nip something in the bud - or else we would not be able to get a potentially damaging story out of the press.
He indulged in yet another hissy fit and trudged off in a manner that Kevin and Perry from Harry Enfield And Chums would have been proud of, as his stooges followed open mouthed.
We were not surprised at all – but thankfully – we kept the story out of the press and no harm was done.
When it comes to money, many issues present themselves that are contrary to one’s temperament; many people become greedy and avaricious.
However, immersing oneself with honesty and trustworthiness are great qualities; therefore I am very pleased that my eldest son, Adam, has learned about these qualities, as a Huddersfield Town fan.
For example, Aaron Mooy met Adam after he decided not to keep a £5 note because it did not belong to him, and he wrote a letter to the Australian international, with the money in tow.
When they met, Adam just looked at Aaron, who also looked at Adam; you could not hear a pin drop....
When they finally did speak to each other, it was a very courteous encounter that my son will treasure.
I remember being really impressed with the way Aaron came across, very quiet, very humble and shy, as opposed to the chap I mentioned previously, who was the total opposite.
My point is - the likes of Aaron Mooy, Christopher Schindler, Jonas Lossl and the rest of the lads are attractive endorsers for global businesses looking to increase brand awareness and boost sales.
They have credible images to promote products - meaning fans will look to emulate them by buying what they endorse and invariably any global business will benefit by that association,
This is exactly what sponsors crave – they steer clear from players who behave badly in the public eye – they do not want ‘negativity by association’.
I remember securing exclusive interviews with Sepp Blatter, Lord Coe, Tony Blair and many others, when I was a journalist. However, apart from BIatter, I honestly cannot remember much about those particular interviews, even though I have the press cuttings and web links.
However, I do remember being mesmerised by Sir Tom Finney when I interviewed him, I believe I was the last person to interview him before he retired from public life; he was an absolute legend, in every sense of the word – every marketing director’s dream!
He was polite, intelligent and funny – we spoke for over an hour – I was in my twenties at the time.
I still remember the interview as it was yesterday, the way he walked into the Preston North End board room to meet me - the words of advice he gave me – to the things he said about the legendary Bill Shankly, Sir Stanley Matthews and Sir Bobby Charlton.
I also enjoyed speaking with Xavi Alonso, the former Real Madrid, Liverpool and Bayern Munich midfielder. I was supposed to have about 20 minutes with him; the interview went on for just short of two hours as we started speaking about philosophy, books and why he decided to combine playing football with studying for a university degree.
However, the highlight of my career has to be when I visited Simon Mould in London. Simon looks after the relationship between his employers, Standard Chartered and Liverpool F.C, Simon explained how pivotal my book, The Asian Liver Bird, was to the partnership - as copies were given to all Standard Chartered Board members at a meeting in Singapore.
According to Simon, Standard Chartered Bank’s C.E.O – Jaspal Singh Bindra – signed the £80 million pound deal after the club showcased the contents of the book to him.
I obviously benefited, from the club, as per my contract; however, I politely declined taking up an option of an offer from Standard Chartered as accepting money from a bank, due to the interest based transactions that occur, is against my beliefs.
They were dumbfounded that I refused – but like I have taught my boys – in life – it is better to do the right thing - even if you lose out because goodness will inevitably bring you success, in the long term.
No, I’m not naive – far from it – you only need to take a look at my CV to realise that I’m not just an Asian guy with a beard - nor do I follow dreams – I hunt goals and try to achieve them.
I got Kenny Dalglish to write the foreword in my book. I’ll never forget some of his words: “It’s always nice when someone says good things about you as long as you keep your feet on the ground and don’t think you are something special.
“It’s one thing being a legend in someone else’s mind. You should never start thinking you are a legend in your own mind.”
Adam epitomised these words – he took everything in his stride when he was the talk of the town and I was very proud of what he did.
However, what people do not know, is that his teacher asked him to practice writing more, therefore, he saw writing the letter as a perfect opportunity to do just that.
It is said, to beg or to ask is to put oneself into disgrace. A king however, however, has such a lofty status that he is beyond looking with contempt at anybody.
His heart is too magnanimous and his wisdom too farsighted to stoop to such pettiness – therefore - I would like to pay tribute to Sean Jarvis in particular, who called out the haters, some of whom had the audacity to question his integrity along with mine and that of my family.
It was also very nice of Aaron Mooy to spot Adam, after the Arsenal game. The Aussie gave him an almighty hug and took time out to speak with my amazing little hero and his little brother, along with fan girl (Mrs B), in front of many fans and made Adam, once again, feel very special.
This is the kind of thing that has ensured Adam works hard and earns his rewards.
Huddersfield Town – from my perspective - is brimming with positive values – akin to being able to dine at a King’s table.
Granted, I have had to ‘respect’ certain decisions – but the club have also respected some of my decisions. Regardless of what the future holds – I will hold Huddersfield Town in high esteem.
Rest assured, partners such as Bowers and Wilkins, Veissmann, GC Rail and many others are benefitting from being associated with the club.
Global brands the world over – should give Sean Jarvis a call and become a club partner!
Before I finish writing this piece – I’ll give you all a tip – I hear number plates with the letters UTT – are available for as little as £167!
Why Huddersfield Town Is A Global Brand With A Great Image, 14th May 2018, 22:21 PM