Champions and Charities | The Morson Story - Part 7
Morson Group has been celebrating 50 years in business in 2019. As part of our celebrations, we’ve created a book about the business; its foundations, its growth and its people.
Over the next six weeks, we’re going to be releasing excerpts from the book, charting the Morson story from its earliest days to the present day.
Cap In Hand
There’s nothing unusual about baseball caps carrying a brand’s logo; unless of course they end up being worn when they shouldn’t. That’s why Ged’s love of football, and his determination to maximise the presence of the Morson brand, led to one of the most memorable marketing coups in the company’s history.
It was at one of Manchester United’s last games of the season, when Ged managed to persuade Jimmy McGregor, the team physio, to hand out Morson caps to the players if they won. Sure enough, they did and Jimmy duly handed the caps over to some of the players.
“A few days later, all you could see on the pictures in the papers was the Morson hats with scarves covering up the logo of their main sponsor Sharp,” says Ged. “The next think I knew was United’s chairman Martin Edwards phoning my father in the office saying, ‘I don’t know how you’ve done it, I don’t care how you’ve done it, but it can’t happen again!’”
"Despite this, I have ended up being good friends with both Sir Alex Ferguson and Martin Edwards. To this day, Sir Alex looks at me strangely when I remind him of the caps, because it all happened under his watch,” says Ged with a smile.
“Seeing those caps and the Morson brand out there made me think two things really. One was loving the fact our competitors would see our name in lights when they hadn’t thought of it. And secondly, our contractors were feeling part of Morson and thinking ‘wow, that’s the company I work for’. And that’s why we continue to to get our brand out there today.”
Boxing and Horse Racing
In the first decade of the new Millennium Ricky Hatton’s star burned bright, winning multiple world championships at light welterweight and one at
welterweight. Regarded as the best British light-welterweight of all time, ‘The Hitman’ is remembered as one of the most popular boxers the country has ever produced.
He was also instrumental in helping grow Morson’s brand presence across the globe.
“Morson didn’t have a massive marketing budget, so any activity was based on value for money. It was also based, perhaps selfishly, around the sports I was interested in,” says Ged. “Like my father, who followed Muhammed Ali, I was into boxing. That’s why, within budget constraints, sponsoring Ricky Hatton allowed us to maximise our exposure of the Morson brand. This really took us places and, for the sponsor’s contribution we paid, we secured world-wide television exposure that’s difficult to put a price on.”
Morson also supported another local boxer and former champion, Anthony Crolla, who held the British
lightweight title between 2011 and 2012 and the world title between 2015 and 2016. Support like this was invaluable for young fighters like Anthony:
“Early on in my career, if it wasn’t for the likes of Ged who was helping me with my sponsorship to buy new kit — even filling up my car to get to the gym — I wouldn’t have got to where I am now.” - Anthony Crolla
But it’s not just boxing that defines Morson’s sponsorship strategy. The brand’s strong relationship with the stables owned by champion horse trainer Paul Nicholls in Somerset is another great example.
“I can’t thank Ged and Morson enough for sponsoring the yard,” says Paul. “It’s really taken sponsorship to a new level. All the owners appreciate it immensely.” - Paul Nicholls
Charities - £1,118,512 and counting
The consistent success of Morson’s charitable activity is best explained by the committee’s chairman David Robinson, who talks about the importance of ensuring there is always a variety of different fundraising ideas to help keep things fresh. He is also quick to credit the commitment and enthusiasm of company staff.
“People come up to committee members in the corridor and suggest new ideas for fundraising activities, which we always consider. Another boost for Morson charity work comes from the company’s sponsorship of the local All-Star charity football team which is made up of retired footballing legends, as well as local celebrities including cast members from Coronation Street and Emmerdale,” says David. “In return, they make guest appearances at Morson’s own charity events.”
Of all the worthy and deserving charities Morson has supported over the years, the Seashell mTrust, which provides a happy and secure environment for children and adults with complex and severe disabilities, has a special place in mthe hearts of the Mason family.
“The Seashell Trust has been a Morson charity twice,” says Ged. “It was one of the earliest ones the committee highlighted and because it was early days we wanted to go and see them for ourselves. It was only when we went down that we could see it was such a good cause. Dad and I had a real attachment to that.”
The lasting legacy of the relationship is seen in Gerry Mason House, as Dominic Tinner from Seashell Trust explains:
“This house was funded by Ged in memory of his father. It has all the right adaptions, it’s homely and really it caters for the individuals that reside here.” - Dominic Tinner, Seashell Trust
True to form, Morson’s engineering skills and further funding are now helping Seashell Trust plan the expansion of their site with a new school and dining room, sensory area, assembly hall and interactive pool, as well as a sustainable energy centre to provide all the hot water and heating for the site.
“In any year, there are probably another half dozen charities that benefit over and above our two main ones,” says Ged. “Though we’ve done our best for a charity in that year, we don’t drop them. Life always continues with these charities.”