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Visa’s sponsorship reached it’s first big win after the U.S. Women’s National Team won the World Cup back in June. Now, the financial company is going for more. The American audience on English-language television for the Women’s World Cup final was 20% higher than the 2018 men’s final.

Visa's sponsorship
VANCOUVER, BC – JULY 05: Carli Lloyd of USA (2nd R) celebrates scoring her 3rd goal with her teammates during the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2015 Final between USA and Japan at BC Place Stadium on July 5, 2015, in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Steve Bardens-FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images).

Back in May 2019, Visa announced a Five-Year Partnership with the U.S. Soccer Federation with special support of the U.S. Women’s National Team (USWNT). Visa had also locked a deal sponsoring the male team. But, the company made it soon clear that its support of the female division was serious.

At least 50% of Visa’s sponsorship budget would be designated for the women’s side, the company shared. It seems that Visa made a smart move. According to Fox Sports, the American audience on English-language television for the Women’s World Cup final was 20% higher than the 2018 men’s final.

That final was the one that made the USWNT four-time world champion. This represents more than any other women’s soccer team in the world.

This is only the beginning of a new growth era for the USWNT, and for Visa as its supporter. The company’s sponsorship also includes the SheBelieves Cup, a four-team women’s international team tournament played in the United States each year.

We talked to Chris Curtin, Chief Brand, and Innovation Marketing Officer at Visa, about the ongoing five-year sponsorship, and how the company is planning to leverage this new relationship.

Q&A

Chris Curtin, Chief Brand and Innovation Marketing Officer at Visa.

Portada: Why was now the right moment to lock a partnership with the U.S. Women’s National Team through 2023?

“Visa is partnering with the U.S. Women’s National Team because both the sport and the team are on the rise. We believe they represent the best values in Visa and we believe the sport is at a tipping point in popularity. Over the course of this summer, not just the performance of the team, but also the character will help advance the popularity of the sport in the United States and beyond.”

Portada: What does the sponsorship specifically include?

“Visa recently announced a five-year partnership with the U.S. Soccer Federation in support of the U.S. Women’s National Team through 2023. As the Official Payment Technology Partner of the US Soccer Federation, Visa will also be the presenting sponsor of the SheBelieves Cup, an annual four-team international invitational. The tournament is based around U.S. Soccer’s SheBelieves initiative to inspire girls and young women to achieve greatness, an integral theme throughout Visa’s FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™ campaign.”

Portada: Why did you choose to become the main sponsor of the SheBelieves Cup?

“Beyond the title and its mission – the main reason Visa sponsored the SheBelieves Cup is because it will be hosted in the United States and we think it is a nice precursor to the FIFA World Cup coming to the Americas. Also, the ability for younger female players in the United States to be able to attend the games and interact with the teams that will compete—at Visa, we believe those are really meaningful opportunities to be affiliated with.”

…we think it is a nice precursor to the FIFA World Cup coming to the Americas.

Read also -> Budweiser to Sponsor the NWSL, Weekly Soccer Marketing News

Portada: How will you leverage this sponsorship?

“Visa is best in class in terms of activating and supporting global sports properties and sponsorships. We use these moments in time to showcase the best of our brand and the future of payments to fans, media, and our partners.”

Portada: Which platforms will be key?

“At Visa, we try to focus on the right choreography with traditional and emerging platforms to live up to our tagline of ‘everywhere you want to be.'”

Portada: Who is your main target?

“We believe that this is the moment when women’s soccer is going to attract a broader audience and population. At Visa, we look forward to being a contributor to that outcome.”

This is the moment when women’s soccer is going to attract a broader audience and population.

Portada: How will you measure your return on investment?

“We look at all metrics, both for the impact of the brand but also the impact on the business. We are looking at the near term, midterm, and longer-term outcomes as a result of this particular effort.”

Portada: You have been described as the most progressive brand supporting women’s soccer. Do you agree with this term? Why?

“Personally, I do. It seems to be validated by those who are close to the sport and affiliated with the property. To be honest, our efforts are a source of great pride for the 16,000 employees that wake up every day and go work at Visa. We think it will serve as a beacon we stand for on our best days.”

Soccer Marketing

Portada: Where in the market is women’s soccer now?

“The sport is only growing in popularity and I have consistently said that the tournament this summer will be a tipping point for the sport and this is one of the reasons we are so excited to be a part of this journey, particularly at this stage.”

Read also -> P&G Calls for Women’s equal pay in soccer. Weekly Soccer Marketing News

Portada: What has been key for its growth?

“The quality of the play, as well as the character of the female footballers, are key for the growth of women’s football. Both have created a bond and connection with the audience, within the stadiums and beyond, which is contagious and growing.”

The quality of the play as well as the character of the female footballers are key for the growth of women’s football.

Portada: What makes it attractive for sponsors?

“Women’s soccer is attractive for sponsors as it provides an opportunity for your brand to make a statement about who you are and what you stand for. If at the end of the day, you only stand for mature well-established categories, then you are missing a lot of opportunities to stand for growth, development, and equality. Growth, development and equality are hallmarks of the Visa brand, both internally and externally.”

 

Barcelona will debut as the first sports club to use Facebook’s new fan subscription platform. 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.

Barcelona Facebook
Foto via Facebook.

FC Barcelona has become the first soccer club to use Facebook’s new fan subscriptions product. Subscribers will have access to special rewards, exclusive content and interactive experiences. Also, the social media platform will provide users with exclusive groups and virtual badges highlighting their status as a Barcelona supporter.

Barcelona’s site subscribers will have access to exclusive content in different formats, including on their news feed and in the supporter-only Facebook group. Barcelona’s official Facebook page will also have a ‘For Supporters’ tab, which will only be available to subscribers.

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Liverpool and Turner Sports have expanded their partnership. The US broadcaster will now share exclusive content from the club’s in-house channel LFCTV via streaming platform B/R Live.

Subscribers to the OTT service will have access to 40 live Liverpool matches each season. This number includes pre-season, women’s, academy and legends games. Also, users will be able to watch replays from all men’s first-team matches.

Turner will also distribute behind-the-scenes content. It will feature the European champions, including access to players and manager Jürgen Klopp.

USL is now officially open to receiving betting sponsorships. 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.

USL betting sponsorship
Photo courtesy Ivan Pierre Aguirre / El Paso Locomotive FC.

USL

Any USL team is now officially allowed to sign shirt sponsorships with sports betting companies. The change of the league’s policies puts the North American soccer’s secondary league body in line with the MLS, which opened its shirt sponsorship category to betting brands in July.

MLS

MLS has opened its sponsorship inventory for the match breaks created by video assistant referee (VAR) technology. League executive Carter Ladd, told the Sports Business Journal (SBJ) that MLS is in a “couple of ongoing conversations” with companies interested in sponsoring VAR, which was introduced to the league in 2017.

BODYARMOR has become MLS’ official sports drink partner in the US. As part of the agreement, BODYARMOR’s logo and branding will appear on coolers, cups, squirt bottles and towels on MLS sidelines within the US starting in 2020. Also, BODYARMOR and MLS will collaborate on exclusive custom content featuring top MLS players and BODYARMOR athlete partners.

Andrew Hauptman, chairman, and owner of the Chicago Fire, is selling his share to US billionaire Joseph Mansueto. Hence, Mansueto will take over control of the Fire with immediate effect. He will also assume the position of chairman. According to Forbes, Mansueto could have paid US$204 million to acquire the remaining 5% of the team.

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Women’s Soccer

A recent Wall Street Journal publication stated that advertisers invested close to $100 million on US spots in and around the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. This number is significantly higher than the company’s earlier estimate of $43 million. The report notes that the initial projection didn’t account for ad revenue generated by Spanish-language networks, such as Telemundo, which made up 11% of the total.

Secret deodorant brand will reportedly snatch up 9,000 seats to National Women’s Soccer League games this season. In July, Secret donated $529,000 to members of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team, to highlight the gaping pay difference between women and men.

Coca-Cola extends Euro sponsorship for the 2020 season. 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.

coca-cola euro
Foto via Uefa.com

Coca-Cola extended its deal with Uefa which makes the drinks company the Euro 2020’s official non-alcoholic beverage sponsor. Thus, Coca-Cola will showcase several of its brands across various city venues, using physical and digital branding. Next year’s competition will be hosted in 12 cities across the continent to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the UEFA EURO.

Subscribe to Portada’s weekly Sports Marketing Updates!

Sports AI and data expert Stats Perform announced a five-year deal with the Argentine Football Association (AFA). As a result, they get the rights to global betting video and data across competitions including Superliga Argentina, Copa Superliga Argentina, Argentina Cup, and Recopa Argentina.

German subscription streaming platform Sportdigital has added MLS competitions rights to its programming line-up. The company has acquired the rights as part of sub-licensing deals with DAZN, which holds MLS rights in the country.

La Liga locked a deal with Premier Sports to show Spanish soccer in the UK and Ireland. Hence, LaLigaTV, the league’s own 24/7 English-language content channel, becomes part of the broadcaster’s linear and over-the-top (OTT) channels.

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.

What: In early January, The San Jose Earthquakes announced the signing of Peruvian defender Marcos Lopez, bringing the total number of Hispanics on the team to six.
Why it matters: We spoke to Jed Mettee, Executive Vice President for the San Jose Earthquakes, on how Hispanic players help the team establish closer ties to its multicultural fan base.

“We’re very excited to welcome a young player of Marcos’ caliber to San Jose. His impressive performance over the last few years gives us confidence that he’ll be an important contributor in the present and future,” said Earthquakes head coach Matias Almeyda in a club statement issued when the team announced that Peruvian defender Marcos Lopez was joining the team.

On the field, Lopez represented “a left back that can have an immediate impact on both offense and defense,” according to Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli. Off the field, the new player represents an opportunity to connect closer with San Jose’s multicultural audience.

We talked to Jed Mettee, Executive Vice President for the San Jose Earthquakes, on how having Hispanic players allows the team to get closer to its fan base, and add new multicultural followers.

Portada: Why is it relevant for the team to have Hispanic players?

Jed Mettee: San Jose is a very diverse community and we would like our team to reflect that diversity. As 30% of the population identifies as Hispanic, it is a market we want to strongly engage. We connect with the Hispanic community through our grassroots efforts, but having players of Hispanic descent makes that connection even stronger.

Having players of Hispanic descent makes that connection even stronger.

Portada: What can Marcos Lopez add to the team?

J.M.: He is a young, exciting player we are looking forward to having on the field. When Peruvian players have come through San Jose in the past with other teams, the local Peruvian community has come out in solid numbers to support them, including last year when Raul Ruidiaz came from Seattle. We expect Marcos to connect with this community when he arrives and bring it out to the stadium to support the Quakes.

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https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/1006200604488695808/WHuGYQsZ_400x400.jpgPortada: How can the team leverage the connections a Latino player brings to the field?

J.M.: Latino players bring with them a strong connection to their home countries. We have had great success in the past building events with our Mexican, Honduran, and Salvadoran players. Players like Ronald Cerritos, Raul Diaz Arce, and Victor Bernardez, among others, really integrated into the local Salvadoran and Honduran communities. Latino players also attract media attention from the local Spanish-language television and radio stations.

Latino players also attract media attention from the local Spanish-language television and radio stations.

Portada: How do you segment your fan base with such a multicultural team?

J.M.: There a lot of ways to segment your fan base. You can do it through demographics, how they engage with content, purchasing habits, etc. We have specific segments for Spanish-speaking fans and for fans that came to events that feature a specific player from a certain country. We try to deliver them content and offers that best connect to the audience that we are serving.

Portada 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.

Portada: How do you promote a specific player and the marketing opportunities he offers at the same time that you promote the team as a whole?

J.M.: There is a balance between an individual and the team. We want to promote both, but the team always comes first at our club. Individual players can be promoted, but not at the expense of the team.

Individual players can be promoted, but not at the expense of the team.

What: Amazon has signed on to its largest ad buy on Univision Deportes, as presenting sponsor of “The Championship Week” soccer events this month.
Why it matters: As the brand continues to exert its marketing force more and more into sport, the Latino audience will become that much more valuable.

There is no secret that engaging the Latino community is going to be key for brand success more in the future than ever before. Tech and digital savvy millennials, as well as families looking to grow consumption, have to be key targets, whether they speak English or Spanish first. Also, if you are looking for an active audience with an affinity for sports, live sports even more so, then look to soccer, baseball and basketball as sports of choice.

Just ask Amazon (@amazon).

As the brand continues to exert its marketing force more and more into sport, the Latino audience will become that much more valuable, and published reports this week show that strategy around sports coming full circle this month.

Amazon’s investment could signal a key shift in spending both for sport and the Latino audience.

According to Terry Lefton of SportsBusiness Journal (@sbjsbd), Amazon’s push to break through the clutter and engage with Latinos during the critical holiday retail season will be through soccer, as they have signed on as presenting sponsor of “The Championships Week” across Univision Deportes (@UnivisionSports), a two-week festival of playoff soccer combining Univision’s premier fútbol properties.

It represents Amazon’s largest ad buy on Univision Deportes.

“We’re happy to find an advertiser as important as Amazon finding value in being across all of these top-level soccer games at a very busy time of year,” said Rick Resnick, Univision senior vice president, sales marketing strategy and solutions told Lefton.

“Semana de Campeonatos presentado por Amazon,” running during the first half of December, will include the MLS Cup (@MLSchampionship game next Sunday between Atlanta United (@ATLUTDand the Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC), along with the “two-legged” finals of Liga MX (@LigaMxEngand playoff competition from the UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague). Also in the package are spots during the games, a variety of shoulder programming and studio highlights shows, ranging from “Deportiva,” “Linea de Cuatro,” “Contacto Deportivo,” and “Mision Europa,” which airs from 5-6 p.m. Monday through Friday on the UniMas simulcast on UDN.

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!

“When you look at this package it is a great buy across a wide demo of soccer fans, from those with a passion for MLS to those who look more regionally and globally,” said Chris Lencheski, veteran sports marketer and professor at Columbia University. “While we don’t see Amazon yet buying streaming rights for these properties, they know the growing brand power that fútbol has and they are going right to a targeted and passionate sweet spot. If it’s successful, and there is no reason it won’t be, it could be a turning point for brands who still struggle to engage the Latino fan, be it in English or Spanish.”

While consumer brands like a Modelo (@ModeloUSAor Budweiser (@Budweiseror Goya (@GoyaFoodshave found fútbol a key engagement spot, tech and media brands have yet to make a wide push, preferring conservative spends. Amazon’s investment could signal a key shift in spending both for sport and the Latino audience, one which has been a long time in coming away from mega events like World Cup.

If it’s a win, it’s a trend to watch for 2019 and beyond, and might be the long rumored shift for brands to get more engaged with the demo, one which is clamoring for wide engagement.

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Cover Image: Flickr/Craig Dietrich

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: Super Soccer Stars, a growing grassroots program looking to build the game in 24 cities in 13 states, has hired longtime sports marketer Adam Geisler as CEO.
Why it matters: The organization can serve as a blueprint for matching support of youth soccer with marketing opportunities for brands also looking to grow the sport.

There is no doubt that the world’s soccer powers see North America as the next unconquered land in terms of fan and brand engagement and talent development. However much of that engagement starts, as Major League Soccer (@MLShas learned, at the grassroots. Getting young people to engage in the game, understand the game, and be active builds fans for life, and that is key in every community, especially among Latinos who may have a cultural affinity for the game.

One of the key groups that has done that engagement at the youth level really well is Super Soccer Stars (@SuperSoccerNY).

Founded in 2000, Super Soccer Stars is the largest grassroots program in New York City and also features locations in 24 cities in 13 different states reaching 150,000 children. The mission is to focus on a healthy lifestyle and basic athletic skills development while having fun and building self-confidence and teamwork. Soccer Super Stars’ custom coaching and player development modules are designed for players from 12 months up to 8 years of age and various skill levels. They recently also made a key addition on the business side, adding sports marketing veteran Adam Geisler as CEO. Geisler, whose background includes building brands like Everlast (@Everlast_and MISSION (@MissionAthlete), will be charged with figuring out how to harness that grassroots power, as well as the data that exists to grow not just the business, but the grassroots soccer community as one.

Super Soccer Stars … speaks directly to the interests of families and young kids in the Latino demo.

How does all that data, and all that engagement play out with young Latinos? Pretty well: so we asked Super Soccer Stars COO Sarah Natchez, and Dean Simpson, their Chief Programs Officer, to break it down for us.

Sarah Natchez

Portada: There is so much being talked about in terms of soccer growth in this country, how important at the grassroots level is the Latino demo, in terms of families and young kids?

Sarah Natchez: Soccer is often an intrinsic part of the culture at home in Latino communities—it is watched on TV, reinforced in the home, and a soccer ball is the first gift given to a child. Since Super Soccer Stars focuses on early skill development starting as young as 1 year old in an environment that promotes deliberate play, it speaks directly to the interests of families and young kids in the Latino demo.

Portada: Many may think it is easier to engage with young Latinos because of their potential affinity for soccer because of past generations. However, competition is still tough for disposable income and time. How does Super Soccer Stars cut through that clutter?

SN: Simply put: quality programming. With elite coaches and content, we are able to cut through the clutter by focusing on delivering the highest quality instruction. We also have a diverse and geographically broad schedule making our programming easy to access despite families’ hectic schedules and time commitments.

Portada: “Latino” means many things other than Spanish speaking. Does teaching a different type of soccer at the youth level, Mexican vs. Brazilian, really matter?

Dean Simpson: Diversity is key and having coaches who bring a unique patience, energy and creative flair to every session allows plays to take educated risks in an open environment. Having coaches who share two passions: a passion for soccer and a passion for working with children. Within this framework, brings an eclectic mix of talents and backgrounds: Latino coaches have a tenancy to have more of an attacking mindset, but the game is constantly evolving and having coaches who in general want to focus on ball pay, and ball mastery is key to youth development. Focusing on the individual first, evolve to a partner play and then ultimately the team within the unit as the group gets older.

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.

Portada: The company is very well embedded in inner cities. How valuable is that marketplace?

SN: It’s important for us to make Super Soccer Stars accessible to all communities. Inner cities often have highly skilled youth who do not have regular access to paid sports activities. We develop local partnerships to ensure that our programming is available to inner-city youth and gives them the opportunity to develop their talents.

Portada: Lastly, there is a great emphasis to develop healthy young people across all cultures. What are the best practices that the company is continuing to build upon in the cities like Miami where their roots are so deep?

SN: Since soccer is the gateway sport, we focus on building a comprehensive curriculum that includes a focus on nutrition, developing gross motor skills, and has a core emphasis on teamwork and building self-confidence. Having this holistic approach enables us to develop healthy young people across all cultures.

We keep our marketing efforts consistent across all demographics; however, we do often translate our collateral into Spanish in Miami and certain New York City communities.

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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: A new grassroots campaign, #BringUSTheGame, was launched last week by La Liga North America in support of the January 29 regular season club matchup between FC Barcelona and Girona FC.
Why it matters: La Liga and its U.S. partner Relevent Sports face opposition from some entities, including FIFA and the Spanish federation RFEF and are looking to push public opinion in its favor for the scheduled match.

Continuing its push to bring an actual league match between FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelonaand Girona FC (@GironaFCto Miami on Jan. 29, LaLiga (@LaLigaENNorth America last week announced a grassroots campaign in support of the game, which has faced some opposition from other soccer entities. Under the theme “It’s good for the fans. It’s good for the game.” the #BringUSTheGame promotion includes a mobile alerts signup, online petition and extensive online presence for the contest at Hard Rock Stadium.

“Fans across the country are excited for the chance to see their heroes play here at home. We know that the love for soccer has been growing by leaps and bounds over the years in the United States. Having the best league in the world play this game in Miami will continue to energize the millions of fans in America and accelerate the growth of the US soccer fan base,” said Boris Gartner, CEO of LaLiga North America in a statement. “This game has the chance to be something special, with real points on the line, and it is our hope that American soccer fans will get to experience the game in person played at its highest level.”

#BringUSTheGame is the league’s attempt to win in another venue: the court of public opinion.
Luis Suárez (Wikimedia/Lluís)

The top Spanish league has been one of the most proactive in extending their brand, and those of its clubs, in the U.S. and Latin America, with a variety of recent initiatives. The effort to bring this match, the first European club regular season to be held on U.S. soil, to Florida has been challenged by FIFA (@FIFAcomand the Spanish Football Federation (@rfef), whose president, Luis Rubiales, feels “disrespected” in working with groups other than RFEF to organize. The main issue is that as a league match and not a friendly, RFEF believes it should have been consulted. (Or perhaps been “cut in” on the deal?)

So where to next? Clearly, there is a market for European football in the U.S., and La Liga in particular: when Real Madrid played FC Barcelona as part of the International Champions Cup in Miami last year, over 1.7 million viewers tuned in on ESPN. Relevent Sports, La Liga’s New York-based partner in plans to bringing a game to the U.S. in each of the next 15 years, wants to avoid the characterization of the effort as an “Astroturf” campaign.

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.

“As American sports clamor for exposure abroad and the major soccer clubs themselves look to grow their brands with marketing dollars here, this seems really counterintuitive,” said Harrie Bakst, a longtime sports marketer who has worked with elite teams and leagues in and out of soccer.  “This seems more like a power play internally for dollars than a real disruption in the course of business for the clubs involved. if it doesn’t happen it says a lot about the short term growth issues clubs see vs. the bigger long term picture. My bet is that there is soccer in Miami in January, the first of what will be seen as a regular occurrence in the years to come.”

It could end up in the courts, as La Liga has indicated that it would take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport should FIFA try to prevent the match from occurring. #BringUSTheGame is the league’s attempt to win in another venue: the court of public opinion. Stay tuned.

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What: Zlatan Ibrahimović, Carlos Vela and Josef Martinez check in as the top three in sales on MLSstore.com to date in 2018.
Why it matters: That these and other Latino stars dominate the list reflects their popularity among not only Hispanic fans but soccer supporters in the U.S. as a whole.

As MLS (@MLSplayoffs get ready to kick in, it is interesting to see the rainbow of kits sold this season and who the fans are choosing to wear: Latino stars anyone?

Data released this week showed that Zlatan Ibrahimović’s (@Ibra_officialimpact on the league as a marketing opportunity was as big as it was on the field, as the 37-year-old led all sales on MLSstore.com since the beginning of 2018.

Ibrahimović beat crosstown rival Carlos Vela (@11carlosV), of LAFC, for the top spot. Atlanta United striker Josef Martinez (@JosefMartinez17ranked third, while former England captain Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) was fourth despite not signing with DC United until July. Atlanta’s Miguel Almirón, who had the top-selling jersey, fell to fifth.

The Latino market … continues to be the prime growth spot for MLS in North America.

The list for 2018 was reflective of MLS global appeal, especially in the Latino demo, as 18 MLS designated players featured on the list, including David Villa, Ezequiel Barco (YDP), Diego Valeri, Diego Rossi (YDP), and Giovani dos Santos.

Seven of the 13 non-American countries making the list again show the power of the Latino audience to MLS: Mexico (Vela, Dos Santos), Venezuela (Martinez), Paraguay (Almirón), Spain (Villa), Argentina (Barco, Valeri, Hector Villalba, Luciano Acosta), Uruguay (Rossi), and Colombia (Darwin Quintero Jr., Diego Chara).

The still to be determined value for MLS remains keeping home grown stars in the United States, as the majority of the bestselling Americans are the more established stars returning home after lucrative and successful careers abroad.

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.

“Major League Soccer continues to find its way up the chain in sports business in the United States, and the appeal of having global stars, especially identifiable Latino stars, in the mix is a huge selling point overall,” said veteran marketer and Columbia University Chris Lencheski. “Will it help when the days of Christian Pulisic and others playing on the national team are in their prime and playing in the U.S.? For sure. However for now the appeal of multinational players is just as important, and that’s great news for anyone involved in the business of soccer in America, a business which is still finding its way on the growth curve.”

The Latino market, one which is very soccer savvy and is no stranger to watching and embracing top flight soccer, continues to be the prime growth spot for MLS in North America. While recent reports have indicated more connections to Liga MX, which remains the most viewed professional soccer on the continent, that fact that Latino stars from various countries are still ratcheting up business is a good sign, and one that bodes well as the postseason begins for soccer in America.

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Cover Image: Carlos Vela (LAFC.com)

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

  • The San Jose Earthquakes hired Matías Almeyda as the team’s new coach. Almeyda was leading coach of the Chivas from Guadalajara during the team’s CONCACAF Liga de Campeones 2018 final. Almeyda will start his new position in 2019.

  • The South American Football Confederation (Conmebol) has signed its Copa Libertadores streaming rights over to Facebook. The deal will run from 2019 until 2022. Facebook will make the streaming available to all ten of Conmebol’s member nations.

 

  • Los Angeles FC Banc of California Stadium revealed a new virtual reality (VR) mobile app. The app allows LAFC fans and other customers to explore spaces within the stadium from anywhere in the world. Users can even select different camera angles to help visualize the various uses for each space.

 

  • Liverpool has signed a deal with AXA. Through the multi-year agreement, the insurance company will become the club’s first global insurance partner. AXA will host a range of Liverpool-themed mass participation events worldwide, as well as offer fan experiences.

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  • Brasileirão Serie ACampeonato Brasileiro Série A streaming rights were acquired by new sports technology startup Fanfoot for US$150 million. Fanfoot says it combines live streaming with a built-in online social community across any device in order to provide fans with high-quality video, engagement opportunities, unique content, and special promotions. The platform will be available to fans in early 2019.

 

  • Arsenal inked a new kit sponsorship deal with Adidas which is speculated to be worth around $78 million per year. The deal replaces Puma as the club’s partner and will go into effect on July 1 next year.

 

  • FIFA launched its first-ever global strategy for women’s soccer, “to realize the full potential that exists within the women’s game.” This Division will work closely with MAs around the world via workshops and special initiatives to assist them in bringing together key stakeholders to discuss, develop and implement their respective women’s football strategies and to ensure the greatest impact possible of their efforts to develop and grow the women’s game.

 

  • Perform Content has extended its exclusive betting partnership with LaLiga. Perform Content will remain the exclusive LaLiga betting video streaming provider until the 2022/23 season. The deal covers 848 matches per year.

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

  • Soccer club Barcelona is expecting to reach its highest ever revenues of €960 million (US$1.1 billion) during the 2018/19 season. The team also stated that it is expecting to reach its target of exceeding revenues of €1 billion by 2021.

 

  • Andrés Iniesta
    Andres Iniesta.

    Spanish player Andres Iniesta will have his own fly-on-the-wall documentary television series, focusing on his life in Japan with the J1 League Vissel Kobe team. The show will be produced by local e-commerce giant Rakuten, who financed Iniesta’s move to Kobe. The series will be available on Rakuten Viki in English, Spanish, and Japanese.

 

  • The Canadian Premier League (CPL) has signed a long-term deal with Macron, making the Italian-based company the official league kit provider beginning with the 2019 CPL season. The deal includes custom-designed playing kits and training gear for Canadian Premier League clubs; HFX Wanderers FC, York 9 FC, Forge FC, Valour FC, FC Edmonton, Cavalry FC, and Pacific FC squad and coaching staff.

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  • The New York Red Bulls has named New Jersey-based Brisas Bakery & Restaurant as the club’s official empanada. According to the club, this represents the first such sponsorship of any pro sports team in the country.

 

  • KonamiArsenal has expanded its global partnership agreement with Japanese video game company Konami, as the club’s official video game partner. In-game graphics of both the club’s first team players and the Emirates Stadium will benefit from 3D scanning, while former club legends will feature in the game for the first time.

 

  • Manchester United’s latest financial report showed revenues of UK£590 million (US$777 million). These numbers represent an increase of 1.5 percent on the previous year. The club cited sponsorship deals as a key revenue driver over the past year, with a total of seven partnerships signed including the team’s first ever sleeve sponsorship with Kohler.

 

  • The players of the FC Barcelona Club stepped into fashion by wearing Thom Browne custom made-to-measure suits for the first time, when arriving in London to play the Champions League match against Tottenham Hotspur. Thom Browne was announced as the official off-field outfitter of the Catalan soccer club in July 2018.

What: Family owned, San Antonio based Twang Partners tapped into the Chicago Hispanic market with activations supporting its lines of flavored seasonings.
Why it matters: Flavorful seasonings are a big part of Latino culture, and the Mexican-American Treviño family has expanded its six main brands to 46 states and online, with on-site connections like recent ones at Fire and White Sox games essential to its growth.

While the Goya (@GoyaFoodsbrand may be the first that comes to mind when considering the kinds of full-flavored seasonings so popular with Spanish eating and drinking, San Antonio-based family brand Twang Partners (@twang_officialhas carved out a niche, and with its products now available on shelves in 46 states as well as online, Twang recently made a push north, to Chicago, with activations at Fire (@ChicagoFire) and White Sox (@whitesoxtailgates and games as part of its growth plan. The guerrilla marketing was a hit with fans, according to Edmundo Macias, Director of Marketing at Twang.

“These activations were not endorsed or sponsored by the teams,” explained Macias. “We simply hired a street team that could hand out samples near the stadium including the parking lot to target tailgaters.”

Macias sees sports marketing as an important growth area as the company continues to offer its products to a wider audience, and even teach them the proper way to salt their beer.

With Chicago a new market for Twang, whose brand lines include flavored salts, sugars and seasonings with names like Twang-A-Rita, Cafe Zuca and ZAS!, and without the huge budgets of a Goya, Macias noted that the baseball and soccer crowds were the right fit to introduce the products.

“We want to increase our product’s brand awareness and trial where there was a good mix, demographically, with beer drinking adults,” he added. “We also wanted to make sure that there was a fair amount of Latinos as our product was originally inspired by the Mexican tradition of adding salt and lime to beers.”

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The Treviño family, which shook out its first beer salts under the Twang name in 1986 in San Antonio then throughout Texas, has had success with Mexican national soccer team games as well as bar promotions during boxing events featuring Mexican and Mexican-American fighters. But Macias sees sports marketing as an important growth area as the company continues to offer its products to a wider audience.

“We are hoping to also initiate some activations in and around Dodgers and Lakers games who both have a huge Latino fan base,” he noted.

With Twang’s products serving as complements to food and beverages, the company is also looking to partner with liquor and beer companies, particularly with its flagship Beer Salt product and, according to Macias, Twang-A-Rita, meant to rim drinks and cocktails.

“Our beer salts are great compliments to Mexican beers and domestic lagers,” concluded Macias, “so there are lots of possibilities to co-promote our products and give these facilities an opportunity to offer something completely unique to their customers.”

It’s a brand on the rise and one to look out for in the sports marketing space.

What: Get your tickets to #PortadaNY, Sept. 25 and learn about the best (and the not so great) consumer engagement practices during the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Daniel Keats, Director Consumer Marketing at Sponsorships, Allstate and Alejandro Solorio, Hispanic Marketing Director at Comcast Corporation will dig deep into the matter.
Why it matters: The world soccer tournament is arguably the most important sports event for advertisers, as a myriad of companies looks for the chance to increase brand health. Experts discuss the gist of the Russia 2018 opportunities.

After 2014’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil reached an audience of 3.2 billion people, with over one billion of viewers of the final match between Argentina and Germany alone, the expectations for this year’s tournament were pretty high. For instance, US $600 million bought Telemundo the exclusive rights to broadcast the 2018 and 2022 cups, leaving Univision out of the question. By the way, Telemundo reached 57% of the U.S. Hispanic population during the Russia 2018 World Cup, and Telemundo Deportes’ digital presentation reached 15.5 million unique users, generating a record-setting 130 million livestreams and 1.96 billion live minutes viewed.

Therefore, advertisers are usually enthusiastic about showing their products and services to an audience that has the huge passion point of soccer in common. And this year was more special: it was the most connected World Cup ever. In the cord-cutting era, digital disruption promised an array of ways for advertisers to reach consumers effectively; from in-app real-time push notifications celebrating a goal to interactive content on social media, every brand knew people would be watching in multiple screens, so what could be the best way to engage them? 

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Allstate’s Daniel Keats

As it turns out, FIFA has revealed that Russia 2018 is now the most-engaged World Cup in history, just as previously predicted by all those ready to display an omnichannel marketing arsenal. FIFA managed 7.5 billion engagements across FIFA digital platforms during the World Cup, over 580 million interactions on social media, and extended the number of followers to more than 128 million.

On September 25, you’ll have the chance to learn first-hand from two experts about what went right and what went slightly off during this year’s World Cup. Daniel Keats, Director Consumer Marketing at Sponsorships Allstate and member of Portada’s Sports Marketing Board, will join a conversation with Alejandro Solorio, Hispanic Marketing Director at Comcast Corporation, on what lessons we can all learn about consumer engagement around the most important soccer event.

Comcast’s Alejandro Solorio

Now that the joint bid between the USA, Canada and Mexico has won the right to host the 2026 World Cup, we should be aware of what went wrong this year and start preparing for the opportunities soccer will bring in the future. Don’t miss the chance to get ahead and join the conversation at #PortadaNY. Click on the banner below now!

 

 

 

 

What: Allstate continues its support of Latino sports and culture with title sponsorship of Alianza de Futbol’s “Sueño Alianza” program.
Why it matters: Allstate has put a strong foot forward in engaging with the loyal Latino community, particularly among youth.

There are not many major brands who have embraced the Latino culture around sport more than Allstate (@Allstate). Through soccer, that engagement will continue to grow.

Case in point was the company’s expansion into the youth soccer market, not only finding a new entry level into high school soccer with the Allstate All America Cup, but also much deeper into the commitment of cultivating Latino youth through a new title sponsorship with Brad Rothenberg’s co-founded and massively successful youth soccer platform, Alianza de Futbol (@alianzadefutbol). Over the past decade, his organization has held more than 300 events across the country for young players and has sent dozens of them to club teams in Mexico.

The brand signed on as the title sponsor of Alianza de Futbol’s “Sueño Alianza” program, which provides an opportunity for young Latino soccer players across the country to be scouted by professional clubs for a shot at soccer stardom. Jonathan Gonzalez, who was found by his current club, Monterrey, at the 2013 Allstate Sueño Alianza National Showcase, will serve as the spokesman for the program.

…[W]hile many brands still look for answers coming out of the successful efforts to market to Latinos following the World Cup, Allstate has doubled down in identifying the next stars.

Allstate was previously Alianza de Futbol’s official insurance sponsor and a sponsor of the Mexican federation in its activities in the United States.

“It’s great to see brands understand the power of grassroots marketing in soccer, and to see Allstate continue to put dollars and promotion behind this platform puts them in the driver’s seat for engaging with a group that is so brand loyal, the Latino consumer,” said Chris Lencheski, longtime sports marketer and professor at Columbia University. “Grassroots marketing is not always easy, but it is the best way to make sure you are reaching families where they live and work, and by doing these programs Allstate is building consumers for life.”

The Alianza de Futbol announcement was part of Allstate high school launch program, to recognize the nation’s top high school juniors and bring them together for an Allstate All-America Cup to be held at the 2019 MLS All-Star Game and televised on ESPNU. In all, 125 male and 125 female players will be named Allstate All-Americans, and of them 40 males and 40 females will be selected to play in the Allstate All-America Cup. The players will be honored at halftime of the 2019 MLS All-Star Game.

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“For more than a decade, Allstate has taken great pride in its commitment to the soccer community, always with the goal of providing superior protection to the fans and the sport they love.” said Pam Hollander, Allstate’s Vice President of Consumer Marketing in a statement. “The Allstate All-America program was designed to shine a spotlight on the student-athletes who represent the best of more than 800,000 high school soccer players in America. It extends Allstate’s commitment to soccer in the U.S. that started when we became the official insurance partner of Major League Soccer in 2011.”

So while many brands still look for answers coming out of the successful efforts to market to Latinos following the World Cup, Allstate has doubled down in identifying the next stars, and with that identification comes families and great stories. That type of engagement is, as another soccer sponsor likes to say, “Priceless.”

Cover image: credit Alianza de Futbol

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

  • Premier LeagueBeIN Sports has locked a multi-year Premier League media rights deal that secures exclusive coverage in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) until the end of the 2021/22 season. Fans in MENA will be able to watch all 380 games per season exclusively live on BeIN.

 

  • Manchester City announced a multi-year global partnership with deodorant brand Rexona (owned by Unilever). The deal sees Rexona become City’s official personal care partner and also includes their sister Major League Soccer (MLS) club, New York City FC. Financial terms of the agreement have not been disclosed. As well as Rexona, Unilever will use the partnership to promote its Sure and Degree brands – the trade names for Rexona in the UK and US respectively – in certain markets.

Tom Glick, Chief Commercial Officer at City Football Club, will be a speaker in our upcoming Portada NY conference. Sign up here.

  • Spanish soccer league, La Liga, has confirmed a landmark rights deal with Facebook that will allow fans in the Indian subcontinent to watch every game for free on the social media network for the next three years. The games will be available to viewers in India, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. The financial terms have not been released.

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  • Univision Deportes begins its tenure as the official Spanish-language broadcaster of UEFA this month, beginning with the play-off round on August 21-22 and 28-29, Univision Deportes will carry 137 Champions League matches live across its platforms.
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