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The WSL Comes to Mexico after securing its first overseas broadcast rights deal. Here you’ll find a weekly summary of the most exciting news in soccer marketing. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop-shop.

European Soccer

WSL
Foto via the University of Reading.

England’s top female soccer league, the Women’s Super League (WSL), secured its first overseas broadcast rights deals. As a result, Sky Mexico and Scandinavian broadcast group NENT have both signed three-year deals with the Football Association (FA). Most importantly, Sky Mexico’s deal covers Mexican rights, including those in Central American territories and the Dominican Republic.

English soccer’s governing body locked a partnership with Deliveroo. The food delivery platform will become an official partner of the England national teams and the FA Cup. Also, Deliveroo becomes the national team’s first sleeve sponsor, with branding on the training kit.

FC Barcelona named Cupra official automotive and mobility partner for the next five seasons. Hence Barca will work with Cupra developing new projects aimed at improving urban mobility. Also, the team will collaborate on different marketing and sponsorship activations.

MLS

Atlanta United is looking to secure an expansion franchise in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), US media reported. In this context, Merritt Paulson, owner of NWSL’s Portland Thorns and part of the league’s expansion committee, told an open forum with supporters that as many as three new teams could join the nine-team division by 2021.

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Movie star Matthew McConaughey has joined as one of four new minority owners of expansion franchise Austin FC. Therefore he’ll join Austin FC’s majority owner and CEO Anthony Precourt, who will continue to represent the club as governor on the MLS board.

USL

The USL and ESPN locked a new three-year rights agreement to showcase the USL Championship and League One matches through the 2022 season. The new deal includes a higher number of games televised annually on ESPN’s networks. Also, the deal includes the addition of Spanish-language telecasts on ESPN Deportes.

Premier Partnerships has become the USL commercial-rights and sponsorship-deals handler for the USL Championship and USL League One men’s professional soccer leagues. The agreement puts the US-based consultancy firm in charge of negotiations and rights management for North American soccer’s second and third tiers.

Mediapro has secured Canadian broadcast rights to Concacaf’s inaugural Nations League competition. The Spanish agency will cover every match played by the confederation’s 41 member associations across North and Central America and the Caribbean.

 

Women’s soccer keeps getting attention with new partnerships and the promise to double the prize money for the 2023 Women’s World Cup. This is a summary of the most exciting news in soccer marketing. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop-shop.

soccerMLS

Austin FC and SeatGeek have reached a multiyear agreement. Through this deal, the software becomes the MLS club’s official ticketing partner. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Active PDF and the LA Galaxy have locked a partnership for the remainder of the 2019 season. Through this new deal, ActivePDF becomes the Naming Sponsor of the “Substitutions” image posted on the Galaxy Twitter feed. The new partnership includes a prominent display of the ActivePDF logo and branding within the Galaxy’s home field stadium at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, California.

Audi of America and the MLS announced a multi-year initiative to improve the experience at MLS academies. The partnership includes the brand-new youth academy support program, Audi Goals Drive Progress, to help provide funding for MLS academies.

European Soccer

Dutch soccer champions Ajax and beer brand Budweiser locked a long-term partnership until June 2025. The deal covers both Ajax’s men’s and women’s teams. Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) presented its revamped model for Spanish women’s soccer. Iberdrola is also expanding and extending its title sponsorship deal for six more years. The top-flight will be entitled Primera Iberdrola, while the second division will now be known as the Reto Iberdrola.

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NWSLWomen’s Soccer

The numbers are out, Fox Sports earned US$506,665 on average for each 30-second advertising slot sold for its coverage of the USA’s 2-0 win over the Netherlands in the Fifa Women’s World Cup final. Provided by analytics company SQAD the figure tops the average US$437,707 that each ad spot went for on the US network for its broadcast of the men’s 2018 Fifa World Cup final between France and Croatia.

FIFA’s Council approved expanding the Women’s World Cup from 24 teams to 32 for the 2023 tournament. Nine national associations are looking to host the next world cup: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Japan, New Zealand, South Africa, and South Korea, which could bid jointly with North Korea. Formal bids are due Oct. 4.

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) has signed an extension with Nike its exclusive kit supplier through 2022. The sports brand will continue to supply uniforms, apparel, and equipment for the NWSL. “The relationship with Nike aligns with our goals to strengthen the level of competition, as well as to support and develop female athletes as they continue to train and play at the highest level,” said league president Amanda Duffy.

Women’s soccer keeps getting attention from Fifa is promising to exceed its commitment to double the prize money for the 2023 Women’s World Cup to US$60 million. “We have until 2023 to discuss the prize money,” Gianni Infantino, president of Fifa said. “I think we need to market it as well in a certain way. I’m very confident, I’m sure we can go higher than doubling.”

 

A summary of the most exciting news in soccer marketing. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

  • Spanish Atlético de Madrid will face the best in MLS in the 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target, played at Orlando City Stadium on July 31and televised domestically on FS1 and UniMás in the U.S., on TSN and TVA Sports in Canada, and in more than 170 countries around the world. “The atmosphere in Orlando will be intense and memorable when Atlético de Madrid takes on the MLS All-Stars,” said MLS Commissioner Don Garber.  “Atlético de Madrid joins the list of the many prominent clubs in global soccer to play in our midseason showcase, and we know the passionate supporters that make up The Wall and the rest of Orlando City Stadium will provide a distinctive home-field advantage for the MLS All-Stars.”

 

  • VisaVisa presented its global marketing campaign for the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019. The campaign is titled “One Moment Can Change the Game” and designed to amplify “the meaningful moments women are creating on and off the pitch, whether it be inspiring athletic greatness on the field, influencing business outcomes in the boardroom or driving economic impact at home and across industries.”

 

  • England’s women’s national soccer team locked deals in the past few months with sports drink giant Lucozade, beer brand Budweiser and health and beauty retailer Boots UK, and Lewis. England’s Lionesses got more interest from publishers and brands for this summer’s Fifa Women’s World Cup than the men’s team received for the male equivalent in Russia, according to Georgina Lewis, head of marketing at the Football Association (FA).

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  • HBO got hold of the exclusive US television and streaming rights to the feature-length film Diego Maradona. Drawing on more than 500 hours of never-before-seen footage from the Argentine icon’s personal archives, the documentary debuts Sept. 24 at 8p. Asif Kapadia will be executive producer and director.

 

  • Univision DeportesUnivision Deportes announced a rebrand, evolving its multi-platform sports brand and cable network into ‘TUDN’. Under the TUDN brand, “Univision will continue to deliver more live soccer than any other U.S. media company while offering a richer and more engaging experience through new world-class programming, all-star talent and enhanced production capabilities,” according to the announcement, debuting this summer and debuting in Mexico simultaneously as part of a collaboration between the sports divisions of Univision and Grupo Televisa.

 

  • beIN SPORTS USA and HC2 Network announced a partnership with Azteca America, to represent media sales under one unified force in the United States. This marks a television network milestone as Azteca America leads media sales for beIN’s English and Spanish-language TV channels to cover advertisers and clients under one umbrella on an exclusive basis – including beIN SPORTS, beIN SPORTS en Español, and beIN SPORTS CONNECT, the live streaming platform.

 

  • Allstate has recognized 100 of the top high school soccer players in the country for their on-field achievements, naming them as 2019 Allstate All-Americans. These players will join the 150 standout teens previously named to the list after the fall soccer season. These final 100 players will complete the full list of 250 players representative of every state in the country.

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  • Ramón Loarte, Sevilla’s chief marketing officer explained the Spanish league was late to recognize the value of marketing to an international audience but is now focusing on growing its audience around the world. “Honestly, I think we all have been very lazy understanding that the Spanish league is worldwide,” Loarte said Tuesday, comparing La Liga with England’s Premier League.

 

  • AXAEnglish soccer team Liverpool and AXA have extended their partnership, which makes AXA the team’s official training kit partner from the 2019/20 season. The Premier League club initially struck a four-year deal with AXA in 2018 which saw the insurance firm become a global partner, with the expanded contract covering three years until the end of the 2021/22 season, according to the Liverpool Echo.

 

  • Patrick Lowe has become La Liga’s new North American head of sales. Lowe will lead on all commercial efforts in the US and Canada across a variety of properties, including digital and social content, experiential and events, and sporting development projects. Before this announcement, Lowe worked at La Liga’s headquarters in Madrid as the global partnerships sales manager.

A summary of the most exciting news in multicultural sports marketing. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

  • FIFA.com en españolKarina LeBlanc and Aaron West will co-host FOX Sports’ “FIFA Women’s World Cup Now” live on Twitter every matchday, from its Paris studio. From June 7-July 7, FOX Sports will produce and stream the show on Twitter via the @FOXSports and @FOXSocceraccounts. “We want FIFA WOMEN’S WORLD CUP NOW to be bold, dynamic and interactive,” said David Katz, Executive Vice President of Digital for FOX Sports. “Karina and Aaron are the perfect ambassadors to engage, inform and inspire the millions of fans who will tune in to this global celebration of soccer.”

 

  • Saudi Arabia has been put on the US government’s Priority Watch List amid ongoing pressure from several national sports bodies and international broadcasters to bring down the pirate broadcaster BeoutQ. Two reports have been released by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), condemning the Saudi-based piracy operation, and call out the country for its failure to protect intellectual property (IP).

 

  • The United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) announced a sponsorship deal with safety technology company Reovo Hg, to provide a safe playing environment for every UPSL player. As part of the sponsorship, every UPSL team will have access to Reovo’s product line and reduced pricing, and UPSL members can go to reovohg.com/upsl to access a special league-only offer.

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  • Huawei TechnologiesDAZN signed a three-year partnership with Huawei to distribute part of its Spanish sports rights via the tech company’s mobile platforms. The agreement includes coverage of the Premier League among other sports. Subscriptions to the service cost €4.99 (US$5.60) per month.

 

  • Twitter has expanded its content deals with the Major League Soccer (MLS) as part of a new line-up of video programming. The agreement will see North America’s premier soccer league continue to provide the platform with live and on-demand content each week, including every goal of the season, until 2022. The move also means select live matches in English will continue to be broadcast on Twitter via the official MLS and Univision Deportes handles. “Our collaboration with Twitter has proven to be a highly effective vehicle to connecting with fans in innovative ways and bringing our teams and world-class athletes to new audiences,” said Chris Schlosser, senior vice president of media at MLS.

 

  • Heineken launched a new video campaign, ahead of this week’s UEFA Champions League first Semi-Finals match – Tottenham vs. Ajax – featuring Andrea Pirlo pulling off the ultimate “Unmissable Moment,” by surprising local ZogSports athletes ahead of their rec soccer match. Pirlo warmed up with them, put their goalies to the test, and surprised them yet again with the UCL Trophy that’s on the line in Madrid this year. With the Champions League finals just a month away, Heineken and Pirlo teamed up to bring the trophy on a tour of NYC this week, as the futbol hype in America continues to grow.

  • TNT Sports LANielsen has reported that year one of the UEFA Champions League on TNT is averaging its most viewed domestic English language coverage ever, with 246k viewers tuning in each week. TNT garnered a 31% gain in viewership only for this month’s live match Quarterfinals telecasts vs. last year’s comparable coverage. Meanwhile, UEFA Champions League content on Bleacher Report and B/R Football’s social media accounts have combined to deliver more than 100 million Engagements and 260 million Video Views through the Quarterfinals, greater than any other domestic rightsholder.

 

  • Valvoline Inc. is the latest brand to sign on as a partner of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup soccer championship. Valvoline will serve as an official marketing partner of the 2019 Concacaf Gold Cup and underwrite the “High Mileage Stats of the Game Presented by Valvoline” digital platform, which will deliver unique statistics and infographics to fans throughout the tournament. “Valvoline shares our passion for the game and vision to provide an innovative and premium quality experience to fans as they interact and consume the best football in the region,” said Concacaf General Secretary Philippe Moggio.

What: The choices for brands looking to engage in soccer in North America are vastly different than five years ago.
Why it matters: Soccer in North America is a business not just worth watching but engaging in as an emerging market, with the region seen as an emerging market in the sport.

There is no doubt that over almost a quarter century, Major League Soccer (@MLShas built a North American brand that has elite status, proactive marketing, a young, engaged fan base and a diverse and growing ownership group that has put professional soccer not just on the map, but into the fabric of professional sports fandom.

Over that time the interest from the professional level to the grassroots in playing and engaging in soccer has risen on a path in North America that is even beyond the growth level of MLS as a property, something which many diehards had hoped for but sometimes not thought possible in the years prior to MLS launch and subsequent expansion as a property.

However with the meteoric growth of the MLS brand, and its clubs, athletes, coaches and partners, has come the realization by many of the elite clubs of the world that soccer in North America is a business not just worth watching but engaging in as an emerging market. North America as an emerging market in anything may literally seem foreign to many, but in the case of some global sports; not just soccer but sports like rugby and even in some isolated areas cricket, the market for monetization, and even expansion is more fertile than anywhere else on the planet that’s not China, and even China, in terms of commercial interests in sports business, in many ways cannot trump what North America can for now.

…[I]f you want to sell product and grow consistently in key markets in soccer, you look to MLS as your partner here. It all comes down to where you want to spend and how.
Aly Keita

In the eye of that growth area is also the sexy baubles of demos that brands, and teams, want: rising numbers of Latino fans, more engagement with women, and even a growth to be the choice of millennials who now have more discretionary income, and soccer, as MLS can attest to with the largest growth numbers in each of those categories for sports leagues, can talk to all of those more than most other professional sports in North America.

So if you are a brand, one with solid budgets, a look to engage wide audiences in all forms of media as well as at the grassroots activation level, and you want to make a big impact with a push towards a measurable ROI, and you also want to make sure you take care of your North American interests, you may pick soccer as your “all in sport,” right? The trends are going that way. But would you pick MLS? Maybe yes, maybe no, it depends on your scope.

The reason why you could look to soccer, or football, is that the marketplace today in North America has changed drastically in the past five years as the elite clubs, and leagues, of the world have put down roots and are looking to import their brand and experience and expertise into North America more than ever before.

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How and why? The why is pretty simple. A marketplace that is more savvy and more engaged in all things soccer than ever before. How? First start with media. NBC’s pioneering coverage of the Premier League (@premierleague), finding a live home for the EPL that became acceptable to fans on Sunday mornings, combined with ancillary programming both online and on broadcast, created the perfect test case to show that live soccer had an audience. That opened the door for other elite leagues to expand broadcast offerings with everyone from Fox to Turner to beIN to ESPN to Univision and Telemundo, and the ability to watch your favorite clubs, the most elite soccer stars of the world in real time without having to search out a pub or a small supporters group, made the best soccer in the world easy to find.

Then you lop on the move to digital and streaming not just by broadcast outlets but by other platforms (Bleacher Report Live, ESPN +, Eleven Sports), and suddenly you could almost find any club available on any device. This helped growth of soccer among a mobile friendly audience, especially down to the grassroots level, and also renewed easier alliance with the new immigrant, who craved soccer and the loyalty to his or her home club, and could now watch that club easily in their adopted home.

The explosion and availability of merchandise for global clubs also fueled the brand fire, with families getting access to club kits from around the world, and those kits became part of school apparel for boys and girls laying the game in cities big and small. You also lay on top of all of that access the influx of ownership dollars into elite global clubs by deep pocketed American owners, and the connection between clubs once far away and the suburban living room was easier once again.

Next step, as mentioned earlier, is the elite clubs and leagues of the world tracking fan loyalty in the digital space and seeing the opportunity for sales and brand growth in a country where they were not playing games, but where fans were watching and engaging. Into that mix came a number of clubs; most notable was FC Bayern Munich (@FCBayernUS), who enacted a very savvy supporters group campaign run through social media, whereby local fans could build their own sanctioned clubs.

The plan, which was well in advance of the clubs US tour, gave Bayern a leg up on local loyalty and set the way for what is arguably the most effective local supporter network for a non US team of any kind in North America, with followers of various sizes in every state in the U.S. and most Canadian provinces. That helped show the opportunistic door for what clubs, and leagues could do in North America, and really set the stage for anywhere from 10 to 12 non US soccer clubs setting down stakes in North America in the past few years, including the teams that have US owners.

With all that as the backdrop, the opportunities and choices for brands now looking to engage has changed a great deal, and presents some really unique challenges or opportunities. There was time not too long ago, when Coke (@CocaCola), a longtime World Cup sponsor, and Ford (@Fordand Chevrolet (@chevrolet), two dyed in the wool American brands, took on new sponsorship deals in the Premier League. Those were seen as game changing for their non U.S. scope. Today, the ability to engage with soccer fans around the world has made elite clubs even more attractive to US brands for activation, in part because of the deeper roots that the biggest clubs of the world, from Barcelona to Chelsea to Roma to Bayern, have planted on North American soil, and their ability to deliver ROI in the States, through media partnerships, through social, and culminating when the clubs play matches in the States on summer tours, that was not as realistic even five years ago.

That does not mean that the option of MLS, or even the U.S. Women’s National team this summer for World Cup, is less strong for brands, especially those hyper focused on local markets and on the North American footprint primarily, it just presents more options and choices today.

What Are the Differences and the Advantages?

“With La Liga (@LaLigaEN) having a bigger presence in the U.S. now, our offering is much more than it could have been a few years ago,” said Rebeca Díaz González (@rebsdg), who leads international business development for La Liga in the U.S. “We have what we think is really a compelling offering to bring to U.S. businesses in soccer: premium association of two of the big sports brands in the world in Real Madrid and FC Barcelona (as well as the other clubs of La Liga), an association with the best players and some of the most recognizable faces in sport, an eight month long advertising property that runs from August to March (keeping in mind the MLS season is virtually opposite of that), customization in content creation for U.S. partners (content, academies, media assets, activations and grassroots properties), and the cultivation of a young and diverse soccer fan base in the U.S. that appreciates the high level of play of La Liga. All of that makes us really well positioned to take advantages of opportunities here and into the future, and that’s very exciting for us.”

From a club level, FC Bayern Munich saw early on the advantage they had with companies like Audi (@Audi), Adidas (@adidas), T-Mobile (@TMobileand Allianz (@Allianz), as well as a partner in Qatar Airways (@qatarairwaysthat had its own agenda for U.S, growth. They leveraged those brand partnerships that had U.S. ties and marketing budgets (some of which, like Audi and Adidas, were already spending in the U.S. with MLS) to create programs that catapulted the visibility of FCB, not just to fans, but to casual consumers who were enjoying soccer but were not yet aware of the Bayern story.

“When FC Bayern came to the U.S. our aim was to grow the fan base in the Americas, form mutually beneficial partnerships and help to grow the sport of soccer on and off the field,” added Rudolf Vidal, President Americas, FC Bayern München. “After five very successful years, FC Bayern can now talk extensively about our reach, engagement and activation in the Americas as well as Europe and Asia highlighting the club’s global appeal. “Since 2014, the club’s following has almost tripled from 13M to 32M followers. We started with eight official fan clubs and now we have 147 fan clubs in 49 states. We have signed seven North American based partners as well as forming media partnerships with ESPN, FOX, Goal.com and Univision. Our growth in North America is extremely valuable to our internationalization strategy and is consistent with our club values…responsibility, partnership and innovation.”

Vidal’s statements and scope echo the excitement of many clubs who see the U.S. as very fertile ground for growth. However not being in market with teams (the rare crossover ownership groups include City Football Club, whose global ownership presence and brand influence ties together nicely with NYCFC (@NYCFCof MLS and Manchester City (@ManCity)) still gives MLS a distinct advantage for brands that cannot simply be equalized with big name stars and elite brands.

MLS vs. the World

Tony Ponturo

“With MLS as a brand you are buying that national presence with a very passionate local following, and that’s very important when you look at your budget and your return,” added Tony Ponturo (@ponturo), who for over 30 years built and grew the sports marketing platform of Anheuser Busch and now works on the consulting side for Turnkey Intelligence. “Manchester United, Real Madrid are global buys way beyond soccer, but if you want to sell product and grow consistently in key markets in soccer, you look to MLS as your partner here. It all comes down to where you want to spend and how.”

“We are always aware of competition from all forms of entertainment, not just soccer,” added MLS SVP of Partnership Marketing Jen Cramer. “When brands look for consistent, proactive partnership activation in soccer in the U.S., we are able to create an opportunity that reaches millions and is very customized to what their needs are. We live and breathe soccer in the North America all year round, and we know that what we offer for partners of all sizes, be they club sponsorships or as a league partner, really drive ROI. Our record speaks for itself, and we are both proud and excited about what the future holds.”

Jen Cramer

So is there a decision on where and when brands will spend, if they are steeped in American business? “Global football clubs bring with them the eyes of the world, and with that comes a big price tag,” added Chris Lencheski, a longtime sports marketer now teaching at Columbia University. “There are brands that can choose to go that route, and now you will see a bigger return in the U.S. because of the visibility of those clubs with media, social play, and as time permits, local summer tours. However as a market that is still growing, MLS continues to have the position of a cost effective, proactive property that gives you a return in very specific cities that you can tailor to. That also does not include the spends you can do around clubs in fervent markets like New York and L.A. and Atlanta and Portland and Seattle. There you can also take advantage of spends and exposure that can nicely complement all you are doing elsewhere. It’s not an easy balance, but it comes down to how and where you see your brand succeeding and there are pluses and minutes to both. It’s certainly does not have to be one or the other.”

The Pool Remains Deep and Very Wide for Brands

The good news is that for brands looking to activate in North America the choices are pretty vast, and are more unique than ever before. Do you want the allegiance of a global club with a footprint that resonates well beyond the shores? There are clubs, and even leagues, with offices here to talk to. Do you want to be hyper focused on the Americas, including Liga MX, that option exists and is growing. Do you want a hybrid? You can create that as well. It certainly is not an easy choice, but it is a buyers market, and the market is well stocked and growing it seems, each week.

A summary of the most exciting news in soccer marketing. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

  • Liga IberdrolaMediapro has extended its deal for the Liga Femenina Iberdrola, Spain’s top division of women’s soccer, through 2022, the equivalent to a three-season contract. According to Rubén Alcaine, president of the Association of Women’s Soccer Clubs (ACFF), the deal is worth a total of US$10.1 million. “It’s a historic day, of absolute joy. It is the result of a lot of work. We have not left anything to improvisation and the result is this,” said Alcaine. However, the clubs’ body is currently at loggerheads with the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) over the organization and commercialization of domestic women’s soccer.

 

  • FloSports announced a multi-year rights contract with FC Cincinnati. This represents its second deal with a Major League Soccer (MLS) franchise. In January, FloSports announced a similar deal with DC United.

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  • FC CincinnatiMLS team Atlanta United has announced a partnership with Knot Standard, which will officially provide pre-match and travel apparel for the team during the 2018 MLS Cup champions. This deal coincides with the opening of Knot Standard’s Atlanta-based showroom in May. The deal also allows the apparel brand to host a number of premium fan events during 2019. “The team has an incredibly loyal fanbase, and the players are known to be some of the most stylish in the league,” said Knot Standard co-founder and chief executive officer; John Ballay. “We are proud to outfit the Atlanta United team for the upcoming season.”

The Portada Brand-Sports Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

  • BMWBMW is in talks with German team Bayern Munich to enter into a ten-year strategic partnership by 2025. Bayern board member Edmund Stoiber confirmed the discussions, telling Manager Magazin: “Both sides have already signed a memorandum of understanding last year.”

 

  • Nike signed a five-year partnership with Uefa, joining the European soccer’s governing body’s Together #WePlayStrong campaign, to help raise the profile of women’s soccer in Europe. Nike will become the exclusive official match ball supplier for the Uefa Women’s Champions League and the 2021 Uefa Women’s European Championship. “We are delighted to have such a prestigious global brand such as Nike, who are committed to equality within the sport and renowned for empowering female athletes all over the world,” said Nadine Kessler, Uefa’s head of women’s football.

What: MLS has announced a series of partnerships reflecting and promoting the diversity of its teams and fans.
Why it matters: More than any other league in North America, MLS thinks and act multilingual in almost every business action it has.

Jen Cramer

“For brands, Major League Soccer (@MLS) is the property that best reflects who North America is today.”

That pretty heady statement by MLS SVP of Partnership Marketing Jen Cramer may make some skeptics roll their eyes (especially those heavily engaged in everything from the NFL and NBA to NASCAR and MLB), but as MLS kicked off a new season last weekend and into this week, the Don Garber (@thesoccerdon) led property is still on the upswing, especially for those looking to the multicultural marketplace that can deliver across all three North American countries and through the grassroots and into even more elite play like the U.S. men’s and women’s National teams. And for brands looking for engagement, MLS continues to be a growing, proactive and somewhat disruptive sweet spot, especially when you look at the key element not just of impressions, but of long term value add, at a pretty cost-effective price.

WHAT’S IN STORE FOR THE SPRING

Some of the highlights of the 24th season that will have broadcast partners ESPN (@espn) (which just added the Caribbean and Latin America to its growing list of MLS territories), FOX (@FOXSports), Univision (@UnivisionSports), TSN (@TSN_Sportsand TVA (@TVASportsas well as a growing partnership with Twitter engaged more than ever will include the addition of a 24th club, a new stadium in Minnesota, a new crop of dynamic players – including the South American player of the year, and a new playoff format that will further reward regular season performance. The league is coming off its most successful season in 2018 with record revenue for attendance, the debut of two new world-class venues in LA and Wash. D.C., record TV viewership, and the highest quality of play in league history; more than any other league in North America, it thinks and acts multicultural in almost every business action it has.

We have to always ask ‘how do we create more value’ and develop true partnerships, especially in a multicultural audience.

That multicultural impact is felt by everyone; from fans and players to brands and media partners.

“Our goal was and remains to create unique tie ins and campaigns with our partners for a diverse fan base that consumes the game of soccer in so many forms,” Cramer added. “We know for that to work it has to be authentic to each group; you can’t really fake it and hope it gets accepted. It must be a real engagement that makes sense to all involved, and that includes all we do in the multicultural space, especially as we market to a young bilingual Latino audience.”

The examples extend beyond brand marketing and into the digital and promotional campaigns the league is rolling out. Their 2019 “Our Soccer” campaign is featuring Multi-Platinum Latin Superstar Prince Royce (@PrinceRoyce). The campaign, a big push to unite sports, culture, and entertainment, features an anthem that expresses the unique experience of being an MLS fan and the growth of the soccer movement in North America. It was produced in English, Spanish, and “Spanglish” (a fusion of English and Spanish), French-Canadian (for MLS fans in Quebec) and will run on MLS partner networks including ESPN, FOX Sports, Univision, TSN, and TVA Sports, and across international broadcast partner platforms, as well as the league’s own digital channels.

The “Our Sound” spot, voiced by Prince Royce, features him wearing Inter Miami CF gear, the MLS expansion club co-owned by cultural icon David Beckham, while at a party watching a soccer game alongside Grammy-nominated producer and DJ TOKiMONSTA (@TOKiMONSTA), representing her hometown, featured wearing a Los Angeles Football Club jersey.

RAMPING UP DIGITAL

On the digital side, the MLS reinvestment includes expanding its relationship with Twitter, streaming its Univision game of the week, along with an expansion of utility and fan engagement touch points in the relaunched MLS app, most if not all of which will cater to a mobile savvy, and diverse audience. MLS’s content production team also serves as the in house storytelling agency for many of its partners both on the brand and the media side, which helps streamline the engagement process for all.

“We have a young, savvy audience that enjoys very diverse and very unique content,” added MLS Senior Vice President – Media Chris Schlosser. “It is our challenge and our responsibility to deliver that diverse content with ease of use to our fans however they would like it, and our growing and changing offerings reflect that need and where we can take it.”

ENGAGING BRANDS

Then there are the brands and their engagement touchpoints, both in the community and directly with the team and its players, be it in venue, on broadcast or in the digital space.

Leading the new initiatives is Kellogg’s (@KelloggsUS), which will run a national campaign featuring bilingual packaging. The two-year partnership will have Cheez-It® and Pringles® as the league’s official snacks, Eggo® will be given the designation as the official waffle, and Kellogg’s will become a core partner of eMLS – MLS’ competitive EA SPORTS™ FIFA 19 league. Cheez-It® and Pringles® will become presenting partners of the eMLS Player Lounge and the presenting partners of the 2019 eMLS Player Profiles, a digital series highlighting competitor’s personal stories.

The wide-ranging partnership also features digital, video and content brand integration, in-stadium exposure, on-site activation at events, and a new sweepstakes where lucky fans have a chance to win a trip for two to the 2019 MLS All-Star Week in Orlando, along with other prizes. The campaign will include more than 20 million boxes on display during the season, taking the partnership direct to casual fans more than ever before.

“As MLS viewership and engagement rises in record numbers, our sponsorship gives Kellogg’s and our retail partners a unique opportunity to reach the diverse Hispanic, Gen Z and Millennial audiences through their passions – soccer and gaming – with unique experiences,” added Zion Doran, Senior Director of North American Promotions, Kellogg’s.

Another expanded relationship for 2019 is with longtime partner Coca-Cola (@CocaCola), which will employ its new and innovative “Sip & Scan” technology via a national retail program with MLS Club and League marks featured on over 500,000 packages

Audi (@Audiwill also continue with its Audi Player Index, providing fans data and insights to illuminate discussion on the sport they love as well as other brand extensions both nationally and with ten clubs.

Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019 at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing’s preeminent topics. Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

Then there is Adidas (@adidas), in the first year of long-term partnership running through 2024. Looking to capture not just the multicultural soccer fan, the brand is working with MLS on fashion initiatives, featuring a Stadium to Street narrative, engaging with local creators/influencers to tie both soccer and culture together. The program will include both traditional media and digital activations, as well as programs featuring the ten markets the Adidas Creators Network is in, ranging from New York and LA to Portland, Seattle, and Toronto.

“We have always known that soccer and culture go way beyond the game and to have a partner like Adidas help us visualize that tie on a national scale with such diversity of thought and content is really unique, and compliments all we are trying to do to drive fandom and the love of soccer to everyone,” Cramer said.

Another key expansion of growing the culture of MLS tied to brands is the partnership with JLab Audio (@JLabAudio), the league’s wireless headphone and speaker provider. Players, starting with DC United’s Wayne Rooney, will create an MLS x JLab Player Playlist program that will feature a once-a-month playlist that will be supported across MLS and partner channels. The playlist will reflect the diversity of the league and will be a big boost in connecting casual fans to some of the league’s most unique personalities through the medium of sound.

Those partnerships, in addition to evolving existing partnerships with companies like Heineken, The Home Depot, Wells Fargo and AT&T, as well as localized expansion with brands through new deals, like kits sponsorships (Chicago Fire – Motorola, Houston Dynamo – University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Seattle Sounders – Zulily and FCC – Mercy Health ) all continue to paint a robust, aggressive and proactive picture for MLS heading into a landmark season, especially for a league that has the highest preponderance of millennial (39%), Hispanic (34%) and female (41%) fans in North America.

POISED FOR A BIG YEAR

“Our fans and our brand partners are just like our players, they demand excellence,” Cramer concluded. “We have to always ask ‘how do we create more value’ and develop true partnerships, especially in a multicultural audience. We want to keep building relationships that are solution based and really set us apart, and we think that these initiatives, as well as ones to come, are helping us get there.”

“There” is a continued bright future for MLS as a quarter century approaches, new stars and stories keep being refined, and soccer brand marketing rises across this spring and summer.

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What: Global engagement is more critical than ever for teams, brands, and leagues.
Why it matters: Here are eight ways for entities to cultivate a wider, more diverse audience.

Sports business has never been more global, and fans and brands more engaged, than they are today. Whether it is Liga MX (@LIGABancomerMXexpanding its footprint more into the United States, MLB (@MLBto Japan or the NBA (@NBAto India, the largest properties in the world are spreading their reach and touching fans in ways like never before. Fandom is still celebrated locally, but the reach and level of fandom are beyond borders.

With that reach can there can be some slippery slopes. A misplayed National Anthem here, a misunderstood custom there, and clubs looking to cultivate a wider audience, especially in their home venues, can easily undo the goodwill, and the brand activations, that they were trying to grow.

With that eye to global engagement, we looked at eight ways to best engage, be it team, brand or league.

Elisa Padilla

Be Authentic. It is becoming more and more cliché, but an authentic engagement into a multicultural space is key. There were times years ago when the NBA would slap “Los” on a jersey and play mariachi music and call it Latino night. Check the box and move on. Those days are gone. “Social media today has given fans the ability to respond pretty quickly to what we are doing, and if something seems contrived, we hear it right away,” said Elisa Padilla, SVP of Marketing and Community Relations for the Miami Marlins (@Marlins) in a conversation last year.  “Everything we do, especially when trying to engage a multicultural Latino audience that may be Cuban, Venezuelan and Puerto Rican, each with their own nuances, has to be sincere. If it’s not the brand can lose great credibility and it is hard to get it back.”

Know The Audience. Also along those lines, knowing who is following, who is engaging and what they are responding to and asking about is also critical to success. Creating promotions and marketing to a community that is not as engaged in your team or your sport, or doesn’t fit culturally, can lead to issues. “The beauty of data collection today is that we know more and more not just who is buying a ticket, but who is coming into the building every night,” said veteran sports marketer Chris Lencheski, currently a professor at Columbia University. “That data now gives us great insight not just into the buying habits but into the physical makeup of who is at an event, and that can help us create programs for audiences that we may not have known a lot about. It also gives us the opportunity to survey that audience and ask them what they would like.” Those types of fan engagement platforms have led to landmark changes in areas like concessions, where teams are now selling more and more ethnic and local foods, or in how a game is presented in terms of language for public address. Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls), for example, make all announcements in both English and Spanish, something which does not happen regularly at an NFL or NBA game. Understanding who is in the seats, by asking and collecting data, gives you a great chance to serve the audience enjoying the event.

Kristaps Porzingis (Wikimedia Commons/Ed)

Build Over Time. Often times teams, or even leagues, will see a trend and rush to adapt and capture a moment, which in the end may come across as both unauthentic and contrived. Recently the New York Knicks (@nyknickscreated “Latvian Heritage Night” to try and make their young star Kristaps Porzingis (@kporzee) more at home. When Porzingis was traded, Latvian Heritage Night was canceled. While the effort to try and tie to the culture of a rising star is understandable, the ability to build and connect with an audience and culture who may be the first time in an arena is now lost. Instead of finding ways to expand a relationship, the effort seemed more contrived and some brand damage is done. Also, especially with Latino marketing in sports, trying small programs that identify with select groups: Cubans in Miami, Puerto Ricans in New York, Mexicans in Houston, and then expanding out from there, and building on success, sometimes works better than just branding “Latinos” and trying to pull from a mass that may be disconnected. “As a Latina with a Puerto Rican background, I may be able to identify with a Venezuelan or even a Dominican cultural event, but it’s doubtful I will be able to connect to more nuanced happenings from say Panama or Brazil,” added Karin Buchholz, former head of community relations for the New York Knicks. “I have Latina pride and loved seeing that pride played out in sports, but if it seemed rushed or contrived just to check the box, it didn’t work. Better to be sure and steady than to rush and try to be everything to everyone.”

Taking the time to listen to the players and the coaches and then building programs around their interests makes the connection so much stronger.

Take It To The Community. In the past, many efforts in multicultural marketing were just tied to an event. Find a sponsor, do a giveaway, check the box and cash the check. These days, initiatives have to transcend the arena or stadium to be effective. ‘We only have a certain amount of people coming into a building, and multicultural marketing needs to be very experiential, especially since many of the people we want to reach may only be able to come to a game once or twice a year,” Padilla added. “Programs need to have arms and legs and go into the market, not just take place at a game. We need to show that we are supporting community initiatives and delivering value in the neighborhood as well. That’s the best way to build trust and affinity.” In addition to food and clothing drives and school initiatives, one of those efforts is an annual program run by DC United (@dcunited) of MLS. Partido de las Estrellas is an all-star match involving old and current Hispanic players as well as local celebrities. The venue is located in Columbia Heights, a part of the city with a notably large Hispanic and Latino population, and aside from the match itself, there’s music, food and other forms of entertainment celebrating the community’s value to the city. It takes the experience beyond a pitch and delivers it in the backyard of the fan.

Get buy-in from those on the field. Sometimes the best programs are those where coaches and players, not just marketers, have input. Listening to the stories of the players; their traditions, the places they spend their time, is also essential. “Often times we would look at a team makeup and ask if they looked like us, like those in the community,” added Buchholz. “Especially in leagues like MLB, MLS and the NBA, the players are coming from such diverse cultural backgrounds that their stories can relate to an audience we may not have thought of. Taking the time to listen to the players and the coaches and then building programs around their interests makes the connection so much stronger, and that becomes an even great win than just trying to randomly force an initiative.”

Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019 at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing’s preeminent topics. Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

Goya/NYCFC

Identify New Partners: The unending quest to find new revenue sometimes can lead teams back to the same safe places again; categories are limited, and especially at the five elite leagues in North America, the prices paid for exclusivity in a category can be exorbitant. However multicultural marketing gives the chance for teams to bring in custom brand categories for programs and events, sometimes at a lower price point, than could be done in a general marketing environment. “We see it more and more, an entrepreneurial salesperson sees an opportunity around a player or a cultural event, and goes and finds brands willing to come in and activate around it that may not have been able to find their way in any other way,” Lencheski added. Case in point was the Philadelphia 76ers and their rising star, Australian Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25). The Sixers created a niche with the Australian Company, Four and Twenty Meat Pies, an Australian favorite, to give them the ability to come in and sample and do an “Australian Heritage Night.” In a traditional environment, Four and Twenty (@FourntwentyUSAmight have been blocked from being in the building by larger vendors and sponsors in a food category. However by creating an Australian flavor (no pun intended), a carve-out for exposure was created, buzz generated, and exposure grew. In many other markets, ethnic brands like Goya Foods (@GoyaFoodshave found Latino or Hispanic culture nights as their way into an arena or venue to start a conversation about partnership and story tell, and often times those brands help take that experience back out to the market in a consumer promotion. By looking deeper, and being smarter, teams and leagues can re-slice and dice a category that was once whole, and everyone involved can win.

Speak the Language: Another sometimes overlooked nuance is being able to not just act in a multicultural environment but to also deliver materials and programs in the language that is not English. The Oakland Raiders in recent years have worked closely with Native American groups who are loyal to the team, and out of that came the ability to broadcast games in Navajo. The Detroit Tigers do all outreach in both English and Spanish, as do a growing number of MLB teams, and built their annual “Fiesta Tigres” event as a way to celebrate Spanish language first fans. “It is essential that we have programs that don’t just address culture, especially Latino culture, but take that culture and deliver every element in Spanish,” Detroit Tigers (@tigersVP of Communications Ron Colangelo said. “We need to make the transition to fandom easy, and sometimes the easiest way to do that is to take the language of sport, be it radio, TV or in print, and literally deliver it to the fan base in a way that they can easily understand. It builds great trust and shows no matter how subtly, that no matter what your language is, we are here for you as a team and as a brand.”

If It Doesn’t Fit, Don’t Do It: We kind of end where we started; with authenticity. In a copycat business world, the rush to do something for the sake of doing it, or because the concept can be sold, is not always the best. There are many teams, despite pressure from a league, do not do all forms of multicultural marketing because at this point, their audience, and their community, is not as diverse as others, or doesn’t have a large makeup as certain other cities. The Houston Rockets (@HoustonRocketsfor example, have a vast program marketing to the Chinese community; it worked very well and has a natural fit in the culture of Houston. A team like the Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewersmay market heavily to a German or Polish fan base because of the traditions in that city. It does not mean that you are culturally closed off; what it means is that you need to take the time to do programs right, keep them authentic and deliver to the community which you are in. trying to do too much every time is tough, and often leads to failure. Listening and being engaged in the community means you have the ability to see, hear and feel trends, especially with emerging ethnic groups. Taking the time to know when to engage, how to engage, and where to engage is not just good business, it’s good human nature.

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Cover image: Partido de las Estrellas/DC United

A summary of the most exciting news in soccer marketing. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

  • TwitchThe MLS has locked in a one-year sponsorship deal with streaming platform Twitch. Through this deal, the MLS will start streaming the second season of their esports league in conjunction with EA Sports’ FIFA franchise, eMLS Cup, starting March. “FIFA is one of the main generators of the fans that we have,” MLS Digital Senior VP Chris Schlosser said, via an official statement. “If you look at it historically – radio built baseball, television built the NFL and NBA, and the internet is building soccer.”
    The partnership between Twitch and MLS could also include content outside of the eMLS Cup, featuring highlights or media produced by MLS teams, or clips of MLS games moving forward.

 

  • Univision Deportes announced it would broadcast 27 matches of the 2019 Major League Soccer regular season, this year, along with the MLS All-Star Game, two MLS Playoff matches, and the 2019 MLS Cup. Broadcast networks Univision and UniMas will both be home to MLS action this season, with most matches simulcast on Univision Deportes Network.

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  • MEDIAPROCanadian Soccer Business inked a ten-year “Official Media Partnership” with MEDIAPRO, which includes the global and domestic rights to the Canadian Premier League, and the global and domestic media rights to the Canadian Championship. MEDIAPRO will continue to work with CSB to contemplate all distribution opportunities, partnerships, and platforms that ensure the future success of CSB’s media assets.

 

  • USL and ESPN locked in a deal to bring every game of USL League One’s inaugural 2019 season to ESPN+, with the regular season kicking off the weekend of March 29-30. ESPN+ will stream a total of more than 700 games across the USL Championship and League One in the 2019 season.

 

  • Los Angeles-based mezcal label Mezcal El Silencio has been announced as a strategic new partner to the LA Galaxy and the team’s home stadium, Dignity Health Sports Park. The multi-year agreement makes Silencio the exclusive mezcal of both the multi-use sports stadium and the Los Angeles MLS team. Silencio is the first mezcal ever to strike a partnership of this kind with a professional sports team.

Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019, at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing’s preeminent topics.  Felix Palau, VP Marketing, Heineken will discuss “How to measure ROI and transfer best practices between sports marketing platforms”. Other speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: “Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?”Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

  • FC CincinnatiFC Cincinnati has added three new corporate partners ahead of the team’s inaugural 2019 season in Major League Soccer. The club has signed new sponsorship agreements with Advocare, Heineken and Mike’s Carwash. The new partnerships were announced by FCC President and General Manager Jeff Berding during his “State of the Club” media roundtable at the club’s annual Media Day.

 

  • Italian soccer player Alessandro Del Piero confirmed being an owner of LA10 FC, a small soccer club based in Los Angeles. “After a period of anonymity (you know me, I like privacy), I decided to share this beautiful experience and give credit to the entire team for the amazing results they’ve achieved,” Del Piero wrote on his website. The former Juventus striker decided to go public after the team went undefeated this season to gain promotion to the highest level of the United Premier Soccer League (UPSL).

A summary for Corporate Marketers, Media Sales Executives and Advertising Agencies to see what clients are moving into the market and/or targeting U.S. consumers right now.

For prior Sales Leads editions, click here.

 

  • GM Chevrolet

General Motors has recently moved the local portion of its Chevrolet media business from Dentsu’s Carat to Publicis-owned Martin Retail Group, Adweek has reported. Martin Retail Group will handle media planning and buying duties for the brand’s regional dealers across the United States. Carat will remain global media agency of record for all GM brands.

 

 

  • Nintendo

Japanese gaming giant Nintendo has tapped Interpublic’s Initiative to handle its’ U.S. media business following a competitive review, AdAge first reported the news. Publicis Media’s Blue 449 was incumbent. Nintendo spent US$84 million on paid media in the U.S. in 2017 and just under US$36 million during the first nine months of 2018, according to Kantar Media.

 

 

 

 

  • Major League Soccer

Major League Soccer unveiled the newest iteration of its brand campaign, “Our Soccer,” highlighting the intersection of sports, culture and entertainment. The campaign features an anthem that expresses the unique experience of being an MLS fan and the growth of the soccer movement in North America. The most diverse sports league in the world, MLS places the spotlight on its star-studded, multi-cultural fan base by featuring multi-platinum Latin superstar Prince Royce.The campaign was produced by Cornerstone and The FADER, MLS’ creative agency of record. Spots were directed by acclaimed filmmaker Clayton Vomero.The spot was produced in English, Spanish, and Spanglish (a fusion of English and Spanish), French-Canadian (for MLS’ fans in Quebec) all reflective of MLS’ rich, multicultural fan base. The campaign will run on MLS partner networks including ESPN, FOX Sports, Univision, TSN and TVA Sports, and across international broadcast partner platforms, as well as the league’s own digital channels.

2019 NETWORKING SOLUTIONS. To find out about Portada’s new networking solutions targeting the decision makers of the above campaigns, please contact our Sales Manager Isabel Ojeda at Isabel@portada-online.com.

  • Los Altos Ranch Market

Phoenix leading Hispanic grocer Los Altos Ranch Market is planning to enter the Tucson market. Los Altos Ranch Market will occupy the former Fry’s store in the Placita del Rio shopping center, on the northeast corner of Irvington Road and Interstate 19.

 

 

 

  • Pancheros Mexican Grill

Pancheros Mexican Grill, a chain of fast casual Tex Mex restaurants in the United States serving Mexican-style cuisine, has appointed Boulder-Colorado-based Supply as its media agency-of-record following a review. Pancheros previously worked with J.W. Morton. The chain was founded in 1992 by Rodney Anderson when he opened two units: one in Iowa City, Iowa (near the University of Iowa campus), and one in East Lansing, Michigan (near the Michigan State University campus). There are currently 71 units throughout the country.

 

What: After examining last year’s happenings throughout the vast realm of sports. Portada has identified the top Latino stars, poised to hit it big on the marketing side in 2019.
Why it matters: Standouts in various sports, at different stages of their careers, are attractive options for brands moving forward.

As we enter the deep freeze of winter, who are the Latino athletes plying their trade in the U.S. who brand marketers should be keeping an eye on? Here are six to watch:

1. Canelo Alvarez (@Canelo):
Canelo Alvarez

His sponsor list is growing, and includes deals with Under Armour (@UnderArmour), Tecate (@tecate), Hennessy (@HennessyUS) and Everlast (@Everlast_), bringing in more than seven figures outside his boxing and media deals. His exclusive deal with DAZN (@DAZN_USAhas put the streaming service’s marketing dollars behind him as well, and boxing, not just for the Latino community, remains smoking hot. His star keeps rising in the ring.

 

2. Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo):

Henry Cejudo

The Olympic wrestling and now UFC (@ufcflyweight champion took less money but scored big ratings growth for ESPN (@espnon Saturday night, when he defended his title with a TKO over T.J. Dillashaw (@TJDillashawat Barclays Center. The son of undocumented immigrants, Cejudo is the American Latino success story. With Modelo (@ModeloUSA) now on board as the “Official Beer,” and 7- Eleven (@7eleven) as “Official Convenience Store,” the UFC’s growth to attract casual fight fans through partnerships is in a great place, and Cejudo can help seed that market as a mature, bilingual and very relatable champion in MMA.

 

 

 

3. Sofia Huerta (@schuerta):

Sofia Huerta (Jamie Smed)

This is going to be a big year for women’s soccer, so one to watch is the 26 year old Mexican-American currently playing for Houston Dash (@HoustonDashof the National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL), and on loan to Australian club Sydney FC for the 2018–19 W-League season. Huerta played for the Mexican National team but is now on the rise with the U.S. Women’s National team and is in contention for World Cup eligibility later this year. Her style and background make her worth a follow.

 

…[W]herever [Machado] ends up he will take a massive Jordan Brand deal with him and his permanent home after his time in L.A. at the end of last year will make him very desirable for years to come.

4. Josef Martinez (@JosefMartinez17):

Josef Martinez (credit: Atlanta United)

MLS will be heading to training camp soon, and all signs are that their 25 year old MVP, who led Atlanta United (@ATLUTDto a record year, will be back in the fold for now. Personable, telegenic and the perfect face of a bilingual soccer culture, Martinez is tied to Adidas (@adidas), but should he stay in Atlanta, should be on pace for some marketing gold as the cleats go back on this spring.

 

 

 

 

Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019 at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing’s preeminent topics. Speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: “Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?”Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

 

Manny Machado (Keith Allison)

5. Manny Machado:

Where will the All Star end up before spring training? The jury is still out, but wherever he ends up he will take a massive Jordan Brand deal with him and his permanent home after his time in L.A. at the end of last year will make him very desirable for years to come. Baseball brands like Rawlings, which markets a Machado model glove, will also be in the mix moving forward.

 

 

 

Mariano Rivera

6. Mariano Rivera:

Even in retirement, the iconic closer will become more valuable this week as “Hall of Fame” goes on his résumé. He earned $170 million in salary over 19 years, all with the Yankees, and has partnered with businesses like Bank of America (@BankofAmerica), The Hartford (@TheHartford) insurance and insole provider OrthoLite (@OrthoLite).

Subscribe to Portada’s weekly Sports Marketing Updates!

 

 

 

Cover Image: Sofia Huerta (credit: Jamie Smed)

A summary of the most exciting news in soccer marketing. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

  • JuventusFCJuventus announced the extension of its partnership with Adidas until 2027. The deal, estimated at US$58 million per year, will see Adidas be the technical partner of the club’s youth side, in addition of keeping its kit supplier rights. Separate from the new arrangement, Adidas will also grant Juventus a US$17 million bonus as a result of the club’s successful 2018.

 

  • Italian team AC Milan has locked a partnership with pasta company La Molisana. The two-year deal will include La Molisana’s branding at the San Siro stadium, both around the pitch and in the venue’s hospitality areas. In addition, AC Milan will promote the Italian food company through its social media. “The partnership with Milan is a strategic partnership, the north is an objective area for us,” stated Giuseppe Ferro, owner and chief executive of La Molisana.

The Portada Brand-Sports Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

  • D.C. UnitedD.C. United has signed a multiyear live and on-demand coverage agreement with FloSports. Beginning in the 2019 season, the media company will broadcast nearly every D.C. United home and away game, plus other select matches, featuring both English- and Spanish-language broadcasts.

 

  • Inter Miami FC has hired Niki Budalic as the club’s director of soccer operations, adding another experienced MLS executive to the club’s growing technical staff, pending approval of his US work permit. “Niki’s experience working alongside players and coaches at all levels will be an important addition to our technical staff, and one that will allow us to create an environment that cultivates success,” stated Doug McDonough in a club release.

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What: Off its MLS Cup victory, Atlanta United FC faces some tough decisions regarding the retention its young Latino stars.
Why it matters: It is a challenge and an opportunity not lost on the powers that be in MLS, and one which will be key in the next level of development as a league.

What if Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30), after leading the Golden State Warriors (@warriors) to the NBA title, left for Maccabi Tel Aviv (@MaccabitlvBC), or Alex Cora, after leading the Boston Red Sox (@RedSoxto the World Series Championship, took his young, personable and marketable style to the Tokyo Giants (@TokyoGiants)? The upheaval and brand damage that could be done to those storied American franchises would be massive.

Yet those are the decisions, and the choices that Atlanta United FC (@ATLUTD) stars have, coming off an epic season not just in Major League Soccer (@MLS) but in North American sport. For MLS still, stars bring dollar value, more so abroad than to have them stay, pay and build a brand here. In the case of no fewer than two prominent Latino stars who are reaching new heights well beyond Atlanta, that’s not great news for anyone but their potential buyers.

The great Latino experiment shines brightly but may fade quickly, at least for this cycle.
Josef Martinez ()Delta News Hub)

That brand value and talent were in full force during last weekend’s MLS Cup before a record crowd of 73,019 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium when Josef Martínez of Venezuela, the MLS MVP, nailed a free kick from teammate Miguel Almirón of Paraguay toward the net, where Franco Escobar was waiting to score. Multicultural fans from across America, as well as those in Atlanta, rejoiced.

That was the great moment, one which stars of other sports can build on in their market. In reality, Atlanta fans will be waving goodbye, as coach Gerardo “Tata” Martino is departing along with Almirón, who finished second in the M.V.P. voting, heading to Europe and Martínez rumored to be following. The great Latino experiment shines brightly, but may fade quickly, at least for this cycle.

The value in America for Martínez, MVP, record-setting goal scorer, bright marketable face, might not ever be higher. It speaks to the market that MLS continues to refine: young, telegenic multicultural stars whose brand appeal can be very high. “He is tremendous, transcends the sport not just in America but around the world,” said Copa 90’s (@COPA90Marc Horine when asked this week about the Martínez effect on soccer in America. “He is socially conscious, understands the business side and resonates with a multicultural audience, what more could you want in a superstar?”

Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019 at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing’s preeminent topics. Felix Palau, VP Marketing, Heineken will discuss “How to measure ROI and transfer best practices between sports marketing platforms”. Other speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: “Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?”Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

What you would want are staying power in the market and the ability to grow his personality and story with brands in America looking for that crossover star playing here in his prime. However MLS is still a sellers’ market, so Martínez brightest stars may be shining abroad soon. It is a challenge and an opportunity not lost on the powers that be in MLS, and one which will be key in the next level of development as a league. Growing the stories not just of multicultural stars, but of Americans, and keeping them home to play their best days.

“We need to start becoming as much of a seller as we are a buyer in order for the economics of our investment to make sense,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber said to the New York Times last weekend. “That’s the way the overall global soccer market works, and it’s something that needs to work a little more effectively in Major League Soccer.”

Now all will certainly not be lost in Atlanta. The culture around the club, led at the top by owner Arthur Blank, will keep the franchise growing and vibrant as new names and stars are developed for their thousands of fans. The buying and selling of players is not unusual for American fans: free agency is deeply rooted in most pro team sports; however it is usually in the confines of the continent, not a world away.

The Atlanta story and its players is a great one for multicultural sports business in America; keeping the team together to grow would be an even better one.

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A summary of the most exciting news in multicultural sports marketing. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

  • NikeNike is ready to sign a new esports deal with the Chinese League of Legends Pro League (LPL). According to Lanxiong Sports, we are looking at a possible five-year partnership worth up to the equivalent of US$144 million. If the partnership happens, Nike would provide clothing, accessories, and shoes for all LPL team players and representatives.

 

  • The UFC has confirmed its plans to open the world’s largest mixed martial arts (MMA) training facility in Shanghai, in China. The facility is planned to open its doors in 2019 and will have a sport-specific training system to develop and support MMA athletes from across mainland China and the greater Asia-Pacific region. The building will also be designated the UFC’s headquarters in Asia.

 

  • Nascar is planning on launching its own OTT streaming service. According to SportsBusiness Journal, the service could arrive as soon as 2020. Meanwhile, Fox Sports and NBC Sports are set to air three of Nascar’s national series for an extended six years, through 2024.

Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019 at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing’s preeminent topics.  Felix Palau, VP Marketing, Heineken will discuss “How to measure ROI and transfer best practices between sports marketing platforms”. Other speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: “Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?”Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

  • Manny PacquiaoManny Pacquiao announced being ready to end his two-year absence from boxing to return to Las Vegas to defend his World Boxing Association welterweight world title against former four-division world champion Adrien Broner. The encounter will take place on Jan. 19 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena and be produced and distributed live by SHOWTIME PPV.

 

  • T-Mobile has locked the naming rights to the Seattle Mariners’ Safeco Field. According to Forbes, some sources reported the deal to be worth up to US$3 million annually. Still, the deal hasn’t been officially announced.

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  • Estadio AztecaThe NFL and Mexico’s President-Elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador confirmed that 2019 will see Mexico’s Estadio Azteca hosting the third game of the existing agreement signed in 2016. The announcement comes after this year’s game was moved back to the US due to bad field conditions. The details of next year’s game will be established next spring.

 

  • Mitel has become the title partner of the first two Major League Baseball London Series. The pair of two-game slated to be played at London Stadium will become the first games ever played in Europe. The Boston Red Sox will face the New York Yankees on June 29-30 between. Mitel will act as the league’s Official Business Technology & Communications Partner into all activation, branding, and marketing surrounding the games played in the UK.

 

A summary of the most exciting news in soccer marketing. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

  • LaLigaLa Liga and gaming developer SportsHero, based in Singapore, signed a second exclusive partnership for the league to reinforce engagement with its Malaysian fans. SportsHero will become the regional partner in the Sports Prediction App category until the end of the 2019/20 season, having already agreed a similar deal in Indonesia.

 

  • Juventus mentioned the possibility of playing Serie A matches abroad in order to grow its marketing outside Europe. This follows a trend of European leagues seeking to expand their reach by taking advantage of additional markets, including America.

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  • Chicago FireThe Chicago Fire Soccer Club has named Kyle Sheldon as its new Senior Vice President of Marketing. The longtime Seattle Sounders FC and D.C. United executive will oversee all Club marketing, advertising, creative services, and brand identity. “Kyle is an important hire for our Club,” stated Chief Operating Officer John Urban. “He’s a well-respected and well-known executive in our industry who has dedicated the majority of his career to help to grow the sport in the United States and Canada.”

 

  • The MLS is expanding its esports presence through an expansion of its current partnership with EA Sports. The soccer league is adding Atlanta United, DC United, and FC Cincinnati to the eMLS competition ahead of the 2019 season. All events will be played exclusively on PlayStation 4.

Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019 at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing’s preeminent topics.  Felix Palau, VP Marketing, Heineken will discuss “How to measure ROI and transfer best practices between sports marketing platforms”. Other speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: “Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?”Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

  • Univision Deportes is launching “Cerebros del Futbol,” a series that will present “the human side of the coaches, soccer stars and personalities that are shaping the game today.” Hristo Stoichkov will interview each soccer luminary, while Luis Omar Tapia will narrate each installment. The show premieres on Thanksgiving Day at 9p on UDN.

What: MLS and Liga Bancomer MX have reportedly discussed the possibility of a superleague, encompassing clubs in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
Why it matters: The opportunities for partners in such a superleague would be enticing, with more than 50 combined markets across North America.

credit: Flickr/Paul Bailey

When The United Bid (@united2026), submitted together by the U.S., Canada and Mexico soccer federations, to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCupproved successful, speculation grew that the partnership between the North American nations could be expanded into other areas to further grow the game on the continent. Now fans are wondering what a combined Major League Soccer (@MLSand Liga Bancomer MX (@LIGABancomerMXmight look like, as reports out of last month’s Leaders Summit in the UK quote Liga MX President Enrique Bonilla as being open to further discussion.

“It’s a possibility, a North American league,” he said to reporters there. “We have to determine how and see the pros and cons, but I think that’s a way to grow and to compete again. “If we can make a World Cup then we can make a North American league or a North American cup. The main idea is that we have to grow together to compete. If not, there is only going to be the rich guys in Europe and the rest of the world.”

…[T]he combined North American entity for World Cup, the MLS-Liga MX superleague would represent a huge opportunity for multinational companies like Adidas and AT&T…

The Campeones Cup (@CampeonesCup), held in September between Toronto FC of MLS and Tigres UANL of Liga MX, can be seen as a direct manifestation of the same spirit of partnership that made The United Bid possible. Tigres won by a 301 count in Toronto, and while the building was half-full, the blueprint for future on-field matches of consequence was set.

“We think this opportunity with the World Cup in 2026 opens the door for us to make a lot of things different and better,” added Bonilla.

“We have been discussing with Liga MX additional ways we can collaborate on and off the field,” said MLS executive Dan Courtemanche at the same event. “We are excited about the future opportunities that exist between our two leagues.”

The Portada Brand-Sports Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

So what would a combined North American professional soccer organization look like, beyond the Campeones Cup? Liga MX, which has been in existence for more than seven decades, is currently comprised of 18 teams across Mexico, and MLS, which began competition in 1996, comprises 20 U.S. and 3 Canadian sides. 41 clubs would seem to be an unwieldy number, but fans who follow college sports here know that “Power 5” schools, the largest NCAA programs, total more than 60 schools, each with huge fan bases over a diverse combined footprint.

For marketers, there may be some initial negotiation to be done with exclusive sponsors, at least until current deals expire, on both the MLS and Liga MX ends. But in the same way that partners will be working with CONCACAF (@Concacafand the combined North American entity for World Cup, the MLS-Liga MX superleague would represent a huge opportunity for multinational companies like Adidas (@adidasand AT&T (@ATT), which have official partnerships with both leagues, and any of a dozen beverages, airlines and banks that could gain a foothold across the continent in one fell swoop. Not to mention what a Fox Sports, ESPN or NBC/Telemundo could do to attract broadcast advertisers for such a wide-ranging organization.

Some U.S. fans, their own squad not qualifying for World Cup, took to rooting for Mexico last summer. It would be in that spirit: a bold move, one which would have dozens of moving parts and would require concessions and copious amounts of cooperation and faith from both ends to make a reality. But sometimes the sum of the parts is greater than the whole; getting huge organizations, with layers of politics and red tape to fight through, to subscribe to that concept might be too big an obstacle to overcome. But fans of the superleague can always dream.

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What: We talked to Tyson Hill, Senior Director of Digital Media of the Minnesota United FC, about the league’s use of content to keep fans engaged on different platforms.
Why it matters: In mid-September, Minnesota United FC joined forces with content-curating platform Wakelet, becoming the first team of its division to do so.

Minnesota United FC.
Tyson Hill, Senior Director of Digital Media of the Minnesota United FC.

Minnesota United FC joined the MLS in 2017. Now, the team is looking to improve its connection with fans through a key partnership with Wakelet. The British content-curating platform allows followers to create and share online content.

We talked to Tyson Hill, Senior Director of Digital Media of the Minnesota United FC, about the importance of content. He also shared how the team will make use of it as a key strategy, without it appearing like propaganda. And he talked about the challenge of marketing soccer in the U.S. market.

Q&A

Portada: Why do you believe content is key to connect with your fan base?

Tyson Hill: “The content we create allows fans the opportunity to connect with players and develop a relationship with the team outside of game day. It’s organic –not transactional– and one of the purest forms of communication we have with our fans.”

Portada: Which marketing goals are you looking to reach through your partnership with Wakelet?

TH: “Minneapolis/Saint Paul is a crowded sports market. There are the Twins, Gophers, Vikings, Lynx, Timberwolves and Wild, all within 15 miles of one another. What Wakelet does is help to amplify the earned media coverage the club gets in this marketplace by congregating all of the content created around the team in a given week.”

Portada: Why was now the right moment to grow your content creation?

TH: “Creating more content about the team is a consistent goal for the club. What makes this time special is that we are moving from a borrowed stadium to a stadium that is unique to us: Allianz Field. We are the loudest we’ve ever been in this market and by creating and amplifying content around the team, we’re becoming more accessible to both existing and potential fans of the club.”

We are the loudest we’ve ever been in this market.

Portada: Which are the most relevant platforms to share this content?

TH: “We’ve embedded Wakelet on our website and share the platform through our social media channels. It’s updated weekly to reflect any articles that have been written about the club globally and throughout the Twin Cities.”

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Fan engagement

Portada: Which fans will you target through content?

TH: “Fans of the club tend to be younger, ages 18-36. However, we create content relevant to all of our fans regardless of demographics. Our target audience is Minnesota sports fans and soccer fans.”

Portada: Will you generate specific content for a multicultural and Hispanic audience?

TH: “One of the key values of Minnesota United is accessibility. So, we’ve created outlets for Spanish speakers to consume our content in their native language. We have a section of our website dedicated to our Spanish-speaking fanbase and social accounts that update those fans daily around key club events.”

We’ve created outlets for Spanish speakers to consume our content in their native language.

Portada: What challenges are there when trying to connect with fans through content?

TH: “It is difficult to become a trusted source for news information without it appearing like propaganda. Because we represent the club that we’re creating content around, there is an inherent bias to everything we create. We try to negate that as much as possible by removing ourselves and our narrative from the stories and videos we publish. We share behind-the-scenes footage of the players and let them narrate the story while we fill in the gaps.”

It is difficult to become a trusted source for news without it appearing like propaganda.

Strategy

Portada: What have you found is the best marketing strategy to reach out to your fan base?

TH: “We use a non-traditional marketing strategy to reach our fans, with a lot of organic content creation and digital advertising.”

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Portada: What about reaching and adding new fans?

Minnesota United FCTH: “Community content – that is, content created when the club volunteers in the community – resonates most with fans that are interacting with the brand for the first time. We have full-staff volunteer opportunities in the community. Our players volunteer weekly at different events throughout the Twin Cities, which we amplify on our digital channels.”

Portada: What is still the most challenging part of marketing a soccer club in the US?

TH: “For the past five years, soccer has been among the fastest-growing team sports in the United States, but U.S. professional soccer teams aren’t just competing with other sports in the United States.”

Soccer has been among the fastest-growing team sports in the United States.

“Major League Soccer is constantly compared to soccer leagues around the world competing for broadcast viewers and sponsors. MLS has a geographic advantage over those other leagues in the United States. It is the only league where you can watch live competitive soccer matches without having to hop on a plane.”

A summary of the most exciting news in soccer marketing. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

  • LaLigaLaLiga North America launched its #BringUStheGame campaign, addressing the growth of soccer in America and “the desire from American fans to bring the greatest soccer league in the world to the US to play the first ever European club regular season match held outside of Europe.” The game between FC Barcelona and Girona FC will be played at the Hard Rock Stadium on Jan 26 in Miami, Florida.

 

  • New US-based OTT Vidgo had a nationwide debut with the Barcelona vs Real Madrid streaming. This represented a ‘soft launch’ of its Latino package in anticipation for Sunday’s El Clásico clash, which was streamed via BeIN Sports. CEO Shane Cannon told Light Reading that the opening week was a success.

 

  • The Conmebol has signed a new four-and-a-half years sponsorship deal with Qatar Airways. The deal sees the Qatari company become the organization’s official airline. Conmebol president Alejandro Dominguez said: “The Conmebol competitions have a great legacy and are among the most exciting and competitive in the world, and thanks to recent reforms to raise their standards, they are also among the fastest growing sports competitions.”

The Portada Brand-Sports Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

  • Lavazza USAEnglish soccer teams Liverpool and Arsenal have both announced regional three-years deals with Italian coffee brand Lavazza. Limited to UK-territory, Lavazza will become the official coffee partner of the two clubs. The Italian company will also become the exclusive coffee supplier at both Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and Anfield, Liverpool’s historic home ground.

 

  • As part of its presence expansion in Latin America, Bayern Munich has launched a Spanish language online shop. The site maintains a similar form to its German and English equivalents, featuring more than 1,200 products, including replica shirts and household accessories.

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  • Real Madrid is close to signing a record ten-year, €1.1 billion (US$1.25 billion) sponsorship renewal with Adidas, according to Marca. If confirmed, this would represent the most expensive kit deal in soccer. Under its current contract, Adidas pays the club annually €52 million.

What: Qatar Airways’s sponsorship with CONMEBOL is the latest partnership for an international carrier in the sport of soccer.
Why it matters: The agreement shows the continued growth of Latino markets and fans as affluent consumers and creates a more varied playing field now for a lucrative category.

Gareth_Bale (Football.ua)

The global airlines category in and around the elite world of soccer can be elusive and sometimes difficult to navigate, with many carriers choosing to spend their marketing dollars on sports more locally than around the world.

However, a handful of carriers, especially those looking to expand brand into the Americas, are continuing to look to soccer as a way to engage and storytell to an emerging audience.

Such was the case last week when Qatar Airways (@qatarairwaysannounced its latest sports partnership, this one not with a club but with CONMEBOL ( @CONMEBOL), making the Middle East-based carrier the sponsor of CONMEBOL’s professional competitions across South America through 2022, including the Copa Libertadores, Copa Sudamericana, and the Recopa. With the Americas being a growth market for the airline, the CONMEBOL deal can bring a wide range of opportunities to Qatar Airways, who has already spent big with global clubs like with Bayern Munich, AS Roma, Boca Juniors as well as with FIFA and in the U.S. with the Brooklyn Nets of the NBA.

…[B]ringing in a relatively new but established player is good news for everyone.
David Villa (Arturo Pardavila III)

“We are continually striving to boost our global sporting sponsorship portfolio, and this partnership is just one more example of our dedication to the sports sector. We are also excited to further expand our presence in South America, and look forward to supporting the forthcoming CONMEBOL football competitions,” said Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker.

The move is a bold strategy for Qatar Airways as some of its bigger competitors look to the west to also increase their global footprint, sales and brand awareness. Etihad Airways, (@EtihadAirways) for example, supports soccer globally through various partnerships including a Principal Partnership with New York City Football Club (@NYCFC), Manchester City Football Club (@ManCity), Melbourne City Football Club (@MelbourneCity, Al Ittihad Football Club and Al Ain Football Club in the emirate of Abu Dhabi as well as a multiyear and expanded agreement with Major League Soccer (@MLS). They also have a solid place in Washington, D.C. as the official airline of Verizon Center in the Washington Capitals (@Capitals) (NHL), the Washington Wizards (@WashWizards) (NBA), and the Washington Mystics (@WashMystics(WNBA).

The Portada Brand-Sports Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

Emirates Stadium (Arsenal mjh)

Emirates Airline (@emirates) has also gone the big brand in soccer route, with deals that include Arsenal and Emirates Stadium, Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain, AC Milan, Benfica, Hamburg SV, Olympiacos, the Emirates FA Cup, the Arabian Gulf League, and the Asian Football Confederation as well as an ongoing partnership with the New York Cosmos, currently looking for a new home after the demise of the NASL.

“If you are going to try and infiltrate the Americas and are already a global carrier with best in class service, the wide footprint that a strategic partnership in soccer can have can reap great benefits,” added Chris Lencheski, a longtime sports marketing expert who has spent years in the soccer space and teaches at Columbia University. “There is no doubt that the world is still looking to the Americas, as well as China, as the still to be refined growth areas for soccer and soccer marketing. Getting in now, as these airlines have done, with both clubs and properties that are looking to seize that opportunity is very smart, and sends a very strong message to the consumer and the business world about areas they believe will grow with partnerships they develop.”

The move to the Americas with CONMEBOL is one to watch for a number of reasons. First, it shows the continued growth of Latino markets and fans as affluent consumers and gives a look into the long-term strategies for nontraditional brands looking for a new way to engage. Second, it creates a more varied playing field now for a lucrative category, as most of these types of deals are not done just as a one-off; they are usually done as stepping stones for other deals as dollars and opportunities become available in other markets.

On the sell side, it is always great to have a new aggressive brand in the marketplace, and bringing in a relatively new but established player is good news for everyone, especially those doing business in soccer in the Americas for years to come.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

Cover Image: credit Clément Bucco-Lechat

A summary of the most exciting news in soccer marketing. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

  • https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/877433269029089281/FVfZXf-H_400x400.jpgDue to resistance from UEFA and European clubs, FIFA is putting its plans to launch a Club World Cup and Global Nations League on hold. Now, a cohort will look into tournament options before reporting back to the FIFA Council when they meet in March next year in Miami.

 

  • Mediapro’s naming rights to Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium have been rejected. The €300 million bid seems to have broken down over a demand from the La Liga reigning champions that Mediapro were to withdraw a lawsuit filed against Sandro Rosell, the club’s former president.

 

  • Telemundo Deportes will start its of FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 coverage on Dec. 8 with an exclusive, Spanish-language broadcast of the Final Draw on Telemundo and Universo. Andres Cantor will lead the coverage from Paris with Carlota Vizmanos also reporting from the site and Miguel Gurwitz, Ana Jurka, Copan Alvarez, and guests commentators live from Telemundo Center in Miami.

 

  • BMOThe Canadian soccer team Montreal Impact announced a new long-term agreement with BMO Financial Group, with the team’s jerseys to retain the BMO sponsorship. “We are both excited and feverish to continue what we have already started with BMO,” said Montreal Impact president Joey Saputo in a team statement. “For us, this is a historic deal, because our club can always count on the unconditional support of a prestigious partner for the years to come.” BMO has been a presenting partner with the Impact since 2012.

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  • Fifa is betting on female soccer by doubling the prize money available at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. The US$30 million will be split between the 24 teams taking part at next year’s tournament in France. In addition, clubs will receive financial rewards for the participation of their players in the competition for the first time.

 

  • Inter Milan 🇮🇹 ⚽The Inter Milan has finally decided to create its first women’s team by acquiring the naming rights to the ASD Femminile Inter Milano soccer club. Through the acquisition, the team will officially take on Inter’s name following a deal approved by new Italian Football Association (FIGC) president Gabriele Gravina, who was elected earlier this week. “This is a vital step for the club and one that strengthens an increasingly complete sporting area which has clear plans and a concrete vision for the future,” stated Alessandro Antonello, Inter CEO.

 

  • This year’s MLS regular season attendance showed an average decline for the first time in five years. According to SportsBusiness Daily, MLS’s average attendance throughout the 2018 regular season stood at 21,873 – marking a 1.1 percent decrease. Among the declination, factors are Columbus Crew’s potential relocation to Texas, which saw the league’s most drastic decrease in attendance with a 19.4 percent drop compared to 2017. 
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