Pattie Falch, Director, Sponsorships & Events at Heineken USA recently signed a deal with MLS to make Heineken the new official beer of the MLS starting in 2015. Portada caught up with Falch to talk about the importance of soccer and sports in Heineken’s global marketing strategy.
Portada: How are you integrating your international Soccer Marketing efforts (e.g. UEFA) with your MLS sponsorship?
Pattie Falch, Director, Sponsorships & Events at Heineken USA: “Soccer, one of Heineken’s main passion points, is growing at an unbelievable rate in the U.S. Heineken is the biggest international premium beer brand and is enjoyed all over the world. Through our partnerships with premier soccer properties like the UEFA Champions League, Heineken has become synonymous with soccer. Soccer fans are also 50% more likely to drink premium import beers like Heineken vs. any other sports fan. It’s safe to say that Heineken and MLS are a perfect match, and we look forward to challenging our American consumers to enjoy a great match.”
For the MLS and UEFA games, Heineken has existing buys with FOX Deportes and Univision,
What tactics do you specifically use to reach out to the U.S. Hispanic population via soccer?
P.F.: “We recognize that Hispanics in the U.S. have been been key in driving the passion for soccer in this country. That’s why we feel that many of our Hispanic fans will identify with Heineken’s support of the MLS. No matter where you go in the world, a soccer ball is not too far away—and neither is a Heineken. For the MLS and UEFA games, Heineken has existing buys with FOX Deportes and Univision, which are both top ranked networks in primetime. Both of these stations target our key consumers in the Hispanic market. Outside of our MLS commitment, we have been involved with UEFA Champions League for the past decade, particularly focused on reaching the Hispanic consumer. To engage with our target audience in 2014, we held a campaign called “Share the Sofa” where each week, a soccer legend took over the @Heineken_US Twitter handle to engage with fans and answer their questions about the game or the players’ soccer careers.
Legends such as Fernando Morientes tweeted in English and Spanish and uploaded bilingual videos during the games. We saw great results – Heineken owned 98% of the sponsor conversation during each match week due to “Share The Sofa” and we saw online, print, broadcast and radio coverage in top Hispanic outlets, including ESPN Deportes and Fox Deportes. We were really pleased with consumers’ engagement and were happy to see them interact with soccer legends through Heineken during key matches.”
Can you expand on the following regarding your 2015 MLS sponsorship? “Starting in 2015, the Official Beer of MLS will present ‘MLS Rivalry Week.’
P.F.: “Heineken will play a big role in multiple initiatives, including MLS Rivalry week, we will feature a Heineken House at major MLS events and exclusive web content, media rights as well as branding materials. It’s a thorough partnership that will be beneficial to everyone involved. Additionally, we have existing buys with ESPN, FOX Sports, FOX Deportes, Univision, NFL Network and other sports networks. About 40% of our TV schedule is sports related. Heineken will feature strong visibility during nationally broadcast matches, on- site and digital activations and point-of-sale materials.”
Portada: How do you measure Sponsorship Investment? E.g. do you look at sort of a CPM rate? Some sort of engagement metrics, both or how do you do it?
P.F.: “Heineken focuses on the social activity, experiences and environment around sports, as well as people enjoying a special moment together and drinking a beer before and after the game. We hope to enhance the experience of attending and watching a Major League Soccer game and participating in conversations around the league. As far as CPM rates and investment, we see a good ROI on the sponsorship investment – if we didn’t we would not take part. We do not share this information as it is commercially sensitive, but we believe that the popularity of soccer will continue to grow, and are proud to continue our investment in the sport, which started more than 10 years ago.”
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