What Arsenal really need now is a new image maker



By Tony Attwood

PR and advertising have for many a long year been dirty words in England with the notion that both trades aim to turn things into what they are not and fool the public.   The most common response when people are asked to discuss both trades is that “I can see how other people could be fooled by that, but I’m not”.

Perhaps as a result of that perception, Arsenal don’t really seem to have an image maker – and that’s maybe because they feel they don’t need one (or maybe they do have one and he or she is not very good at the job).  After all Arsenal Holdings Ltd (not Arsenal Holdings plc as Wikipedia seem to insist) has a fairly mundane set of objectives as set out in its annual report, noting “that the company operates a Premier League football club and is engaged in a number of property developments.”

In its last published accounts it reported a loss of £107 million.

This is, in my view, where Arsenal have slipped in recent years, for by not having an image maker, or indeed an image-making team, the club has put itself utterly at the mercy of the media to create the image of the club.  It has willingly done that and the result has been a disaster.

Indeed if that media were as positive about Arsenal as they are about other clubs, and if they were willing and able to ignore various little side issues about Arsenal as they are about other clubs, then Arsenal would be fine.  But sadly the world is not like that.

For while, on a daily basis one reads and hears very little about what the Saudis who own Newcastle do, or what the Abu Dhabi United Group who own Manchester City are up to, Arsenal tend to be turned on for topics which although important pale into insignificance when comparerd to human rights abuses in the middle east.

Thus when Kroenke launched My Outdoor TV (MOTV) in the UK, a channel which in addition to such benign activities as angling, was also said to include films of classic English bloodsports, there was uproar.  

Quite why and how an organisation like the Kroenkes can get their PR so wrong is hard to fathom, but the fact is that after that cockup over MOTV, the family still didn’t seem to get a grip on PR.  

So while Manchester City have ensured themselves a comparatively peaceful ride even when involved in gigantic cock ups like trying to hire social media influencers to help improve their image, Arsenal are picked up at every turn.  There was some derision but when Man C fans chant through the silence to commemorate the dead at Hillsborough the criticism was muted and very short-term.   And as for picking up on the Der Spiegel stories about their finances, much of the media found outrage hard to come by and serious reporting impossible.

Thus P Morgan gets free regin to rage against Arsenal, and his latest bout of blustering in which he demands Arteta is sacked is by and large par for the course,  But there seems to be very limited organised PR to counter this. 

Instead Arsenal got itself involved in crypto currencies in such a way that the UK’s advertising regulator has banned two promotions for “fan tokens” from Arsenal Football Club – another PR cock-up.

These self-inflicted wounds are bad, and there seems to be nothing within Arsenal that is promoting the club’s positive aspects and achievements, as with for example Arsenal in the Community, or in terms of football, its heritage, and its improvements of late.

Thus the media is encouraged to knock the club endlessly, in a way that it doesn’t do with other clubs, because the media knows there will be no comeback.

We therefore get daily headlines such as “Report: Arsenal had real interest in signing £40m PL star in January but they dithered and missed out” from TBR.   There’s no evidence but the story is so common people now believe it.

Which is not to say that Arsenal should be responding to individual stories, but if they could be 1% as effective as Manchester City and Newcastle United are in managing stories about the human rights policies of its owners, the media coverage would be utterly different.

Of course part of the problem is that Arsenal is plagued by Arsenal Supporters Trust which has a long history of putting out anti-Arsenal stories which the media lap up, but even so the club surely could do better.

I wonder why they can’t, or won’t. 

8 Replies to “What Arsenal really need now is a new image maker”

  1. what happened to the old image maker and why does Arsenal need a new one? is it because the club want to look more prettier than ever or does the club really involve in some nasty shits and need to clean up after themself. if it’s all just because what people in the mainstream media said, (there’s this thing called freedom of speech) then the club have many other concerns they should focus on and if the articles they wrote or what they said is amount to slender territory, the club can sue. so the club don’t really need all this extreme makeover stuff and it’s only gonna make Arsenal looks guilty of something and like an oversensitive butthurt by going hellbent fighting transfer news/rumors clickbait and all the thing people in the mainstream said. supporters and fans mostly don’t bother much about transfer news/rumors and take it with a pinch of salt, plus clubs rejected by players is normal thing in football and it’s not end of the world stuff. so, no need to be bitter and salty about transfer news/rumors clickbait and also people are free to believe what they want

  2. It would be extremely embarrassing and bewildering if Arsenal didn’t have a coherent marketing plan that included an overall message or image they want to project. That is Business 101. I am not privy to this but I can infer from Tony’s article that he believes that the marketing plan seems to be at best ineffectual given the amount of negative press the club receives. I agree.

    Of course, there is the possibility that the club’s marketing guru’s don’t see negative press in the same way us we do…that negative press has a negative effect on performance. Perhaps they believe that any press is good press as long as it doesn’t affect the bottom line, and, Arsenal do have one of the largest internet presences if you include all the non club actors like Untold…but I still don’t like the false vitriol aimed our way.

  3. sorry, but what false vitriol that was aimed at Arsenal and negative press has nothing to do with how the team perform on the pitch. and to make unfounded accusations that nothing within Arsenal that is promoting the club’s positive aspects in the local community (did he really do the reporting on the local community), when the author himself living 100+ miles away from north London is just wrong in many ways

  4. Very interesting topic, makes you wonder, PR seems so important these days.
    Is it possible that the club has given up on trying to get a fair hand with the media, recognising an impossible job when they see one. There is clearly an English football establishment pecking order, picked or bought into on a number of factors, it extends from idiots like spitter Carragher, domestic abuser Collymore, Gary Neville with his track record in management, to Mike Riley and his minions, and the media are a big part of it.
    Compare and contrast the media treatment we get with, say, Tottenham
    Perhaps it is also used to motivate, create a siege mentality, but personally, I would love to see an attack dog employed to make the likes of Neville look the agenda driven idiots they are or maybe the club believe this would make things even worse?
    We have a lot of ex players in the media, but precious few are permitted to, or choose to defend the club.

  5. @Mandy, i rather the club/team proven people wrong with their fighting spirits and performance on the pitch and also it’s more satisfying to serve them their humble pies in that manner rather than try to fight them with all this pr stuff ala attack dogs as more dirty laundry will came out (players included). and yes, i agree with you that not many of our ex players really push back and defend the club like they should. it really shouldn’t be a problem of who their employer are as they have every right to speak up and defend the club but instead they most likely agreeing with the crap that their bad faith colleague is spewing. speaking of dirty laundries and scandals, there’s this French investigating football journalist that exposed officials, managers, players etc. that really make your jaw drop including players used to play for Arsenal

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