By Paul Brown
Villa's marketing campaign surrounding the new Macron kit deal has been rewarded with a top business gong.
Stamford Bridge, home of Chelsea, hosted over 450 grandees in a black-tie ceremony to announce the winners of the first ever Football Business Awards.
Designed to recognise success off rather than on the pitch, the sixteen categories were fiercely contested by clubs and businesses working in football - not just from the UK but around the world.
Villa won the 'Best Retail/Merchandise Initiative' at the sparkling event.
The ceremony was hosted by Sky Sports News Vicky Gomersall and comedian Ian Moore with entertainment provided by holder of five world records and freestyle football champion, Dan Magness.
Villa were up against ATB Games, Brighton & Hove Albion, Lindley Venue Catering, MOC Games and Randers/ Loyal Solutions in their category.
Villa's club chiefs were keen to introduce the Macron brand to supporters after the completion of a five-year deal with Nike.
Maximum effort was put into creating content to show fans the level of love for the claret and blues from our new Italian kit suppliers.
AVTV travelled over to Bologna to film behind-the-scenes footage of the design and production process, as well as capturing interviews with the main men at the company.
Then a 'Beware of the Lions' microsite was created, with exclusive video, text, wallpaper and image content appearing for supporters to peruse and download - check out the website.
This engagement with our fans, seen as "vital" to the club, was influential in incredible sales figures when the home and away kits finally became available in stores.
Sales of the home kit have proved to be the best in a decade. Sales of the away top are the best ever!
The overall campaign certainly impressed Football Business Award judges, including Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck, broadcaster Bob Wilson, Manchester City's chief operating officer Tom Glick, head of marketing at The FA Adrian Wells and editor of Media Week Jeremy King.
And Villa staff, including head of marketing Russell Jones and head of merchandising John Greenfield, were on hand in the capital to collect the gong at the star-studded ceremony.
Jones said: "Regardless of the industry in which you work, being recognised and rewarded by your peers for excellence is always very pleasing. A huge amount of time and effort went in to the campaign by so many people.
"Very special thanks to Macron, Perform Group, Plain English and photographer Martin Brent."
Greenfield added: "It's just fantastic news for everyone who has been involved in this project.
"I am delighted that we have received recognition by way of the award at such a glittering event.
"It's never easy changing kit manufacturer but from a personal point of view it's been tremendous working so closely with this top Italian brand.
"We wanted to get across to supporters that Macron really do care deeply about representing the interests of Aston Villa, one of the most iconic clubs in English football.
"I feel we achieved that aim. The award is testament to that."
Make sure you're here to roar on the lads against Manchester United.