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Looking back to the launch of Manchester United champagne

February, 2015

Do you remember when we helped to launch Manchester United champagne? Alison Hardy, Account Director for Kent PR agency Maxim, looks back to the 90s and her time socialising with the players.

The last place I ever expected to find myself was standing on the hallowed turf of Old Trafford in towering high heels and chatting to two Manchester United legends.

All the more surprising because my knowledge of the ‘beautiful game’ is equal to my understanding of quantum physics – ie zero – and the only football match I have ever attended was when my son was playing for the village team aged eight.

But find myself there I did… and it all started when client Lamberhurst Vineyard was asked to provide private label champagne for the club. A lunch at the vineyard, which is near Tunbridge Wells, was arranged and Alex Ferguson, other senior representatives of the club and celebrity fans – including Eammon Holmes and chef Gary Rhodes – invited for a champagne tasting.

Sparkling event

A lively little number from Marne et Champagne was chosen and an official launch event organised at Old Trafford.

I contacted all the key sports journalists and national newsdesks to invite them along, organised lunch in the club and set off for Manchester.

Much to my delight the place was bristling with journalists and cameras when I arrived – though I was less pleased that someone had invited a couple of scantily clad models along… but at least it got us into the red tops!

Meet the players

It was decided we needed a couple of the current Manchester United players for the pictures and I duly set off for the players club room to ferret some out. Difficult when you’ve never seen any of them!

There was only one thing for it… so I strode into the room and asked confidently and loudly if there were any current members of the team there. (My male colleagues were quite appalled when I related this to them.)

Luckily two very handsome chaps put up their hands and agreed to come for the photoshoot. It turned out they were star players Brian McClair and Gary Pallister and very charming they were too.

We headed off to the pitch (quite exciting actually) and I marched onto the grass aerating it with my high heels – to be told off immediately by the groundsman.

It was the year Manchester United won both the League and FA Cups and I was asked to hold one of them (can’t remember which but it was the big one) while we organised the shots.

Making headlines

As the TV cameras whirred and the press cameras clicked I felt even I could become a football fan. Even better, that night’s news covered the launch and the following morning every single national newspaper ran the story – though not all used the pictures with the models.

I had been on a steep football learning curve and the client was delighted, and it just goes to show that if you know how to handle the press you can organise anything!

PS. Cricket fans will be horrified to know that I was the one who went up to Richie Benaud at a party and asked him what he did for a living. Very self-effacingly he told me he was a sports journalist.

posted in: maxim/client news, media relations,

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