September 14 – This is real but the concept is a little surreal. Chinese firm UBTECH have become the first Official Robot Partner of Manchester City.
Where will this end? Are they looking for a second robot partner, perhaps a third? Is there no exclusivity in the robot partnership world?
And what does this mean for the Guardiola revolution at the Etihad Campus that was being trumpeted for bringing a human touch to de-programming English Premier League players from booting the ball into row Z at the first sign of trouble.
One fears the mixed messages being sent, and presumably hand-delivered by UBTECH’s well-known Jimu Robot or its record breaking Alpha 1 Robot.
“Alpha 1 Robot, arguably UBTECH’s most popular robot, is designed to be educational and entertaining and has built in intuitive programming,” said a City press release. Well, we won’t argue with that billing but eagerly look forward to Alpha’s match-day deployment as UBTECH rolls out its “consumer humanoid robots”.
With the club having networked its Chinese commercial hook-up into the technological hub of one of the world’s superpowers, how many of these robots will be let loose on the Etihad Campus to boldly go where no man has gone before in the world of football marketing? LED boards and in-house competitions will be their debut platform but you know it won’t stop there given football’s sudden rush to embrace all things technology now Voldemort Blatter has been booted from the FIFA presidency.
These are exciting times at Manchester City where too often it is progress that seems to have been holding them back.
Tom Glick, Group Chief Commercial Officer, City Football Group, said: “Partnering with UBTECH, who are a world leader in their field and share our passion for innovation and cooperation, is a natural fit for Manchester City. Together, we can reinvent the fan experience both at the Etihad Stadium and online by using pioneering technology and putting fans at the heart of the partnership.
“At Manchester City, we have a growing repertoire of partners who enable us to connect with our global fanbase in unique and ground-breaking ways. We are delighted to welcome UBTECH to the family and to have the opportunity to introduce our fans in Manchester, China and beyond to their exciting product range and the never before seen content and experiences this partnership will deliver.”
Glick is clearly a brave man when it comes to job security. This is the kind of press statement a PR robot could have written.
James Zhou, chairman and founder of UBTECH Robotics, and reportedly a human being, said: “The unique partnership between UBTECH Robotics and Manchester City will bring cutting edge robotics technology and sports marketing together. As one of the top football clubs in the world, Manchester City has a positive and healthy brand image. The Club constantly seeks to innovate and is dedicated to bringing beautiful football to its fans so they enjoy unforgettable moments. Innovation is also deeply embedded in the DNA of UBTECH Robotics and as a result we are excited to become the official global robot partner of Manchester City.
“UBTECH Robotics focuses on bringing intelligent consumer robots to every home in the world and creating a more intelligent, humanized lifestyle for all. With Manchester City, we look forward to bringing the excitement of intelligent robots and “beautiful football” together for all to enjoy.”
So there you have it. Simply decoded through the marketing speak, it’s all about getting the robot into the DNA of Man City fans.
No figure was released for this deal. One wonders if the currency of the transaction is Bitcoins.
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