Tag

soccer

Browsing

What: ESPN has built and dedicated a multifunctional sports space in Xochimilco, Mexico.
Why it matters: This home to programs that teach young people employability skills through sports is an example of how sports and soccer can change the world, with the help of corporate partners.

via ESPN

Sports in general, and soccer in particular, as a catalyst for good across the globe is not a new concept. For years, organizations like Laureus (@LaureusSport), openingboundaries (@OB_0fficialand many others have found ways to use sport to benefit youth in tangible ways. Sometimes it’s as simple as having equipment and safe places to play that can change lives.

In that spirit, ESPN (@espn), which has a strong presence in Latin America (@ESPNmxand among Spanish speakers in the U.S., teamed with community leaders in Xochimilco, Mexico City, earlier this month to launch the construction of a new sports court as part of its global project, which includes six such multifunctional units across Latin America and one in India.

The Xochimilco safe space is an opportunity for young people to use sport to find their way in life and also to provide training for future employment.
courtesy Beyond Sport

The goal, per community leaders and ESPN personnel, is to help youngsters by using the refurbished court to hold job skills and other programs via A Ganar (@A_Ganar), a Latin American and Caribbean based organization which has targeted 16-24 year olds in fighting the problems of youth unemployment in nearly 20 countries for more than a decade.

“At ESPN we believe that sport has the ability to transform lives, and we are committed to providing resources to enable kids in Mexico City to play sports,” said Russell Wolff, executive vice president and managing director, ESPN International, in a statement. “This is our second safe space in Mexico City and we are pleased to collaborate with love.fútbol, A Ganar, Beyond Sport, and Street Soccer Mexico once again to build this court in a community where there is a need, as it can truly make a difference.”

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

“As with our first build together in Chimalhuacán, our goal is to improve the quality of life of marginalized youth and vulnerable communities in Mexico. The Xochimilco safe space is an opportunity for young people to use sport to find their way in life and also to provide training for future employment,” added Daniel Copto, CEO and President, Street Soccer México.

Programs like this are vital, especially on a continuing basis. Empowering local residents to continue the push is key. The Xochimilco launch event, hosted by ESPN broadcasters Miroslava Montemayor and Sergio Dipp, brought the community together for a celebration, with the Santiaguito location chosen based largely on need, in conjunction with community facility specialist love.fútbol.

ESPN had previously announced a similar space in Bogota, Colombia, in April , following previous ESPN safe space initiatives in Mexico City, Mexico; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil.

Cover Image via beyondsport.org

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

  • Paris Saint-GermainFrench soccer team Paris Saint-Germain is ending their shirt sponsorship deal with Emirates after the upcoming 2018/19 season. Emirates were not willing to meet president Nasser Al-Khelaifi’s up to US$93 million-per-year demand. PSG are searching for a replacement for Emirates, with an Asian company in insurance or electronics a possibility. Qatar Airways has also been touted as a potential replacement.

 

  • English Manchester United have expanded their partnership with German coffee company Melitta. Melitta is going from a regional agreement to a global one. The expansion includes the creation of a global initiative which will bring some of the club’s international fans to Old Trafford for a VIP experience. “At Manchester United we pride ourselves on offering to our fans the best possible experience when visiting Old Trafford,” said Richard Arnold, United’s group managing director.

 

  • The English soccer giant has also announced a multi-year global partnership with MoPlay, a new mobile betting and gaming brand. The deal will see the two brands create exclusive collaborative content for fans, as well as engage in innovative co-branded activations around the world. “MoPlay are an innovative and dynamic company looking to further enhance our fans’ gaming experience,” said Arnold.

 

  • Continuing with Manchester United, Scotch whisky Chivas teamed up with the English team in a three-year global partnership. No financial details of the multi-year partnership were revealed but the deal will see Chivas’ range of whiskies made available throughout Old Trafford’s hospitality suites, while the company’s branding will be displayed on digital perimeter boards as well as throughout the stadium.

Subscribe to Portada daily Sports Marketing Updates!

  • Sina Sports90min announced a deal with Sina Sport to provide fan-driven international football content to the Chinese market and help Sina Sports attract and engage with “the next generation football fan.” In addition, with assistance from Sina Sports, 90min is one of the first foreign sports media to open and operate an official Weibo account. In order to service Sina Sport in its localized language, 90min has created a dedicated community team which curates and publishes all content in Chinese.

 

 

  • ESPN and ESPN+ locked in an exclusive, multi-year rights agreement in the US for Italian soccer league Serie A TIM. The deal will bring more than 340 matches per season to ESPN+. Most telecasts will air on ESPN and ESPN2, and the Match of the Week will also be available in Spanish on ESPN Deportes.

 

  • Telemundo Deportes hit the Premier League this week, detailing production plans as for its exclusive Spanish-language coverage. The Telemundo Deportes soccer expert team returns to provide play-by-play commentary led by Andres Cantor, Sammy Sadovnik, Copán Álvarez, Carlos Hermosillo and Manuel Sol.

What: We talked to Jed Mettee, Executive VP of the San Jose Earthquakes, about how the MLS team took advantage of the World Cup, by broadcasting every game for free at the Avaya Stadium.
Why it matters: Even though the US national soccer team didn’t make it to the World Cup this year, the San Jose Quakes managed to make use of the competition to connect with local fans, old and new ones. More than 40,000 fans went to Avaya Stadium, including the 7,000 that went to the final.

Jed Mettee, Executive VP of the San Jose Earthquakes.

It’s been a few weeks since we saw how France became, for the second time ever, the soccer world champion. Now, while we still adjust to the void created when the most exciting soccer event reached its end, we are still discovering how the World Cup brought together fans around the world, no matter what team they were cheering for.

Every brand and organization looked for a way to take advantage of this opportunity. The San Jose Quakes were not the exception. Even though the US didn’t make it to the World Cup, every soccer follower (anyone really) wanted to be updated on the game. The Quakes decided to open their doors, and invited fans to follow every game of the World Cup for free at the Avaya Stadium.

We talked to Jed Mettee, Executive VP of the San Jose Earthquakes, about how the team connected with its fans, and what results they got during the past month of World-Cup matches.

Fan engagement

Portada: Why was it so important to the team to connect with fans during the World Cup?

Jed Mettee: “We are the local professional soccer team and we want to bring soccer to the community.  The World Cup is the biggest sporting event in the world, and San Jose was no exception in wanting to celebrate it. By showing every single World Cup match on our video board at Avaya for free, we created a community meeting place for San Jose and the greater Bay Area. People from all different backgrounds could come and enjoy the spectacle.”

By showing every single World Cup match on our video board at Avaya for free, we created a community meeting place.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

Portada: What was the main goal?

J.M.: “We wanted to make Avaya Stadium the gathering place for the World Cup in the San Jose and the greater Bay Area. These matches allowed us to engage with a wide audience from San Jose and across the region. Through this, we brought new soccer fans into our stadium. These fans are now more likely to come back and attend a Quakes match.”

Portada: What did the team offer during the World Cup, other than to broadcast the games?

J.M.: “We had activities for fans at the matches to heighten the fan experience. As we are on the West Coast, the earliest game started at 3 a.m. PT, so for the first game each day we had free coffee and donuts. We also had inflatables, cornhole and a Quakes prize wheel at all the matches.

Our stadium bar, the longest outdoor bar in North America, opened at 6 a.m., and food trucks were also onsite throughout the tournament. Our concessions provider, Spectra, also offered food for games, and for specific games had special dishes from the countries that were competing.

At games with a larger attendance, we had FIFA video game stations and face painters, and our passport program rewarded fans that returned to watch multiple games.”

Portada: Tell us more about the passport program?

J.M.: “Fans that watched the matches at Avaya Stadium received a passport and could collect a stamp for each day that they came. With five stamps they received a Quakes scarf, 10 stamps they got tickets to our match against Seattle Sounders FC next Wednesday, July 25, and those that have all the stamps will attend a meet and greet with our players after the match against Seattle.

The response from fans was great. In total, they received 500 scarves. We also gave out 200 tickets to the Seattle match, and 25 fans are going to attend the meet and greet.”

san jose quakes
Photo: ISI Photos

Portada: Which game got the largest number of attendees?

J.M.: “The viewing parties were incredibly successful. Fans thoroughly enjoyed them, and more than 40,000 fans came to our stadium to watch the matches throughout the tournament, including 7,000 that came to the final.”

The match with the largest number of attendees was the Mexico vs. Sweden match on July 2, as 7,500 fans came to watch.

“We even had over 200 people for the 3 a.m. France vs. Australia game. The match with the largest number of attendees was the Mexico vs. Sweden match on July 2, as 7,500 fans came to watch.”

Portada: Did you include your sponsors in the activities?

J.M.: “Per FIFA regulations, we did not have sponsorship activations at our stadium for the World Cup viewing parties. That being said, we had San Jose Quakes branding and prizes for the attendees.”

Portada: In general, was this a successful strategy?

J.M.: “Showing every single World Cup match at our stadium was hugely successful. Fans enjoyed it and came back to watch other games.”

We were able to introduce our stadium to new fans.

“We also had thousands of fans attend games who had not been to the stadium for a San Jose Quakes game. So we were able to introduce our stadium to new fans. In many ways, we surpassed our expectations for the viewing parties.”

Subscribe to Portada daily Sports Marketing Updates!

Portada: Are you going to repeat this type of screenings?  For which tournaments?

J.M.: “We are currently making plans for the upcoming tournaments, but we have not finalized anything yet.”

Portada: What is up next for the Quakes marketing team?

J.M.: “We are focusing on San Jose, and our slogan is ‘We Are San Jose’. We will continue to display our passion for the city that has served as our home since 1974.”

“Our San Jose Neighborhood Nights program in partnership with Wells Fargo will also keep happening. This program celebrates the diverse neighborhoods around San Jose each game at the stadium and connects us more with the community.”

Featured photo: ISI Photos

What: Beach soccer has grown internationally by more than 60% in the past decade, with outreach to CONCACAF and CONMEBOL to increase the number of events in the region.
Why it matters: As it continues its push into the U.S. and Latin America, Beach Soccer Worldwide executive Joan Cusco believes the sport can tap into the Hispanic fan base’s support for all things soccer.

Photo by Lea Weil

While beach volleyball, morphed from the indoor version of the American-invented game, traces its “organized” history back to the post-World War II era—even gaining Olympic status in 1993 for its first inclusion in the Atlanta Games in 1996—beach soccer’s origins are a bit more hazy. While the game has been played casually for decades, under whatever rules may have applied at the time and place, it wasn’t until 1993 that Beach Soccer Worldwide (@BeachSoccer_WW) formed, unifying the rules and hosting its first official event that July.

Flash forward 25 years later, and the sport is flourishing. A recent agreement with mycujoo is expanding its broadcast footprint exponentially, with more than 1500 webcasts planned in the next three years. According to BSWW, there are 139 national associations, with 77 having joined in the last decade, an increase of more than 60%. That growth has been even more impressive on the women’s side, as BSWW will hold four international events with 35 teams, up from zero just three year ago.

…[T]he sport has its roots in Brazil, as everybody reckons, and the whole Latin America area is a place where the passion for beach soccer is strongly felt.
Joan Cusco

BSWW, recognized by FIFA (@FIFAcom ‏) as the major entity behind the creation and growth of the beach game, is based in Barcelona and is responsible for the organization of all major international beach soccer events. It became part of FIFA in 2005 and has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with the worldwide soccer organization.

Joan Cusco, BSWW Executive Vice President, took some time to discuss the sport and its bright future.

Portada: How has Beach Soccer as an organization tried to market to U.S. Hispanics and Latin American fans?

Joan Cusco: Hispanic and Latin American fans are one of the most passionate soccer fans in the world. They love soccer, and they are also naturally gifted for beach soccer. So the combination sounds just perfect. This is why we have always invested and supported the National FAs in these regions to help lay the foundations for beach soccer to become a key part of the soccer fans lives. Actually, the sport has its roots in Brazil, as everybody reckons, and the whole Latin America area is a place where the passion for beach soccer is strongly felt. We have to keep on supporting that passion working with the National Football Associations to set up grassroots programs, National Leagues, International events, etc. This is how we will see how the sport keeps growing in the Hispanic and Latin American communities.

Portada: Are there any Beach Soccer sponsors or partners that are tied into Latino support of the sport?

J.C.: The sponsors of our events normally come from the market where the event takes place. So, for example, when having an event in Miami or Rio de Janeiro, or Paraguay, or El Salvador, the sponsors supporting the event come from the local markets, which means they are a part of the fans reality in that same region.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

Portada: Are there plans for additional events in Latin America and/or traditionally strong Hispanic U.S. markets?

J.C.: We are working hand in hand with CONCACAF and CONMEBOL to increase the number of the events in those markets where beach soccer has a strong presence already and, at the same time, to help the markets that have an interest to make their first steps in the organization of international events. Very importantly, we are working hard to help develop Women’s beach soccer, to see more and more teams take part in competitions. Last year we saw the first ever International Women’s competition in Puerto Vallarta (MEX), with Spain and Mexico, an event that grows this year in number of participants. At the same time, San Diego, home to the next World Beach Games 2019

Portada: What are some of the factors that will determine the sport’s growth over the next 3-5 years?

J.C.: Obviously, the number of players, number of teams involved and number of international events are the figures that will determine the growth of the sport. But there are also other factors, such as the increasing participation of women, the number of National Leagues, etc.

Cover image courtesy Beach Soccer Worldwide

What: love.fútbol is a non-profit that mobilizes and engages communities to plan, build, manage, activate and redefine their own football pitches as sustainable platforms for social change.
Why it matters: World Cup is the perfect time for organizations like love.fútbol to connect with global brands to spread their messages and maximize their visibility.

We have seen the impact “The Beautiful Game” has on communities big and small, especially around World Cup this month. How can one create bigger initiatives tied to soccer, from the grassroots to the biggest stars, whether the Cup is glowing or not? That’s where love.fútbol (@lovefutbolhas thrived.

We wanted to learn more about the organization’s mission, its origins and its success that continues to evolve, so we asked co-founder and CEO Drew Chafetz (@DrewChafetzto tell the story.

Portada-Online: What was the genesis of love.fútbol as a brand?

Drew Chafetz: “The idea for love.fútbol was conceived in December 2005 while traveling through a small town in central Morocco. I came across a small group of young children playing soccer in a back alleyway that had a dangerous canal running lengthwise through their makeshift pitch. I have been very grateful in my life to soccer and the inherent benefits that playing the game gave me, and had been fortunate to travel extensively as a child connecting with kids my age through the game. For the first time it occurred to me that children might not have a safe place to go to play soccer. This simple game is a fundamental opportunity for youth around the world and ensuring it is the premise of our mission and organization.

The love.fútbol brand stands for the global connection we have through passion for soccer. Across languages, cultures, religions, economics, race and all else that may divide us, there are universal mediums of self-expression – like sport, art, music and dance – that remind us of our shared humanity. The “dot” in our name represents this global connection we have through soccer, and more expansively through sport, but also serves as a pivot point to embrace and represent other mediums of self-expression that bond us.”

Portada: Where have you seen the greatest impact?

Drew Chafetz

D.C.: “The communities we serve drive love.fútbol sports infrastructure projects. As a result, the greatest impact we see comes from community engagement. On average, locals invest 2,500 volunteer hours to make each safe space a reality. As a result, spaces become tangible symbols of collective strength and success for the community and the impact is much further reaching. Sports spaces become centers of community that host long-term youth development programs through partnerships with local NGOs, diverse events and activities, and can include multiple revenue streams to sustain the space and programs through social enterprise.”

To play and have passion is a fundamental opportunity to connect with oneself, one’s community and the world.

Portada: The Latino fan base is going to be key in the US for World Cup growth, why is it so powerful, and untapped, by sports business in the US?

D.C.: “Regardless of where you go, brands must find a way to connect with consumers on an emotional level, which often means making impact on the community level. There is great need for community sports spaces in lower-income communities across Central and South America, as well as at home here in the USA. Sport can help us make these connections to original and second-generation immigrant communities that are deeply connected to their home countries, but living in the USA.”

Portada: How can and do brands tie to your programs?

D.C.: “Since 2010, brands such as ESPN (@espn), Coca-Cola (@CocaCola), Unilever (@Unilever), Under Armour (@UnderArmour), UEFA (@UEFAand Manchester City (@ManCity), have sponsored love.fútbol projects around the world. We align social impact and a more sustainable approach to the development of sports facilities with priority markets of our brand partners. Sponsors benefit from enhanced PR and community relations, unique storytelling and content, and a turnkey opportunity to engage local offices, employees and stakeholders as active partners in each project. For example, hundreds of ESPN employee volunteers from local offices in Rio, Buenos Aires, São Paulo, Mexico City, Bogotá and Bangalore have gotten their hands dirty alongside locals on community build days.”

Portada: You have many examples of how soccer has changed the lives of young people through your program; give us one or two examples.

D.C.: “Together with ESPN, love.fútbol has built multi-sport courts in six communities across three continents and mobilized more than 1,280 community members who contributed over 7,600 volunteer hours to the projects. These spaces are used every day and benefit close to 6,000 children and young adults, and indirectly their families. In each community, local NGOs were trained to deliver long-term programs using sport to teach life and job skills delivered to 1,237 youth, 68% of whom graduated from the program, and a majority of which went onto gain employment or further their formal education.

We are happy to share a full impact report with any interested parties.”

Portada: Why is sport, especially soccer, such a powerful element in positively impacting lives?

D.C.: “With more than three billion fans, soccer is the world’s most popular sport and is deeply embedded within the culture of communities across the globe. The game’s great strength is its simplicity — that it can be played almost anywhere, allowing children to be creative and play despite sometimes highly challenging circumstances around them. To play and have passion is a fundamental opportunity to connect with oneself, one’s community and the world.

Beyond the inherent health and life skills benefits of playing sports, such as teamwork, leadership and discipline, sport has great power to serve as a hook for grabbing people’s attention and energy that can then be channeled in new directions. In our sector of sport for social development, myriad social impact outcomes are delivered through curriculum-based programs that focus on health education, job training, peacebuilding, gender equality, and helping the homeless get themselves back on their feet, to name a few examples. A sports space with community ownership can be used to address any given community’s most pressing social needs.”

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

Portada: How can you use the power of the World Cup to grow your efforts?

D.C.: “Soccer gives us a lot and throughout the world people are grateful. We believe there is no clearer way to give back to the game than provide youth the opportunity to play. The World Cup is the pinnacle opportunity for the ecosystem of sport, business and society to come together around this ideal. We work with players, fans and brands to raise awareness, sponsor projects and build community through sport. love.fútbol was named as an official partner of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, so we are excited to play a more formal role in four years!”

Portada: Where do you think love.fútbol can be in say, three years, as an element of social change?

D.C.: “love.fútbol is the global leader in mobilizing and empowering communities to create sustainable sports spaces as platforms for long-term social change. Right now, we are working to scale our methodology to reach more communities and strengthen our leadership role in the sport for development sector through helping organizations reach more youth with their programs. Every neighborhood around the world stands to benefit from the power of sport – we aspire to help communities reach this potential.”

Cover image: love.fútbol inauguration day festivities in El Coyolito, Mexico City, with project sponsor Manchester City

What: Multi-national media, sports and entertainment group RELEVENT has acquired BRC Group, a leading marketer and producer of Hispanic soccer programs in the U.S
Why it matters: The agreement expands RELEVENT’s reach into the Hispanic grassroots market and should be a boon for youth soccer programs across the country.

Mergers and acquisitions are usually more suited to the boardroom than the soccer pitch. But in the case of today’s announcement by multinational sports and entertainment group RELEVENT that it has acquired Hispanic soccer marketer and producer BRC Group (@brcgrp), the real winners are U.S. Hispanic soccer fans, and, importantly, youth soccer players from underprivileged backgrounds across the country.

The move boosts the prospects and profile of Alianza de Futbol (@Alianza__U), the country’s largest and most prestigious amateur Hispanic soccer program, JUGOtv (@JUGO_tv), a multi-platform digital sports network for U.S. Hispanic soccer fans, and Alianza U, the Foundation arm of BRC which has provided more than two dozen Latino soccer players access to financial aid or scholarships to play college soccer. These BRC properties all fall under the RELEVENT umbrella, which further strengthens the firm’s connection with the Hispanic grassroots market.

“We are excited to join forces with BRC and the experienced leadership of Richard Copeland, Brad Rothenberg and Joaquin Escoto, who hold extensive relationships in U.S. and Mexican soccer,” said Daniel Sillman, CEO of RELEVENT in a statement. “As the Latino population accounts for half of the national population growth in the past two decades, we are proud to make this investment in the development of the sport within this passionate community.”

With the acquisition, RELEVENT has further solidified its status as a major player in the soccer world with recent announcements of the International Champions Cup and first Women’s International Champions Cup.

BRC has done great work with these programs. With more than 30,000 players and more than 250,000 fans attending Alianza events every year and JUGOtv reaching more than 60 million on social media every month, RELEVENT’s platform for the Hispanic community has never been on more solid ground.

“Everything we do at BRC is about providing access and opportunity for the US-Latino soccer player,” said Brad Rothenberg, Partner, BRC. “RELEVENT provides a bridge for our community to connect to world-class soccer programming from the ICC to new initiatives we intend to create together making this a first-ever partnership in the USA.”

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

With the acquisition, RELEVENT has further solidified its status as a major player in the soccer world with recent announcements of the International Champions Cup (@IntChampionsCupand first Women’s International Champions Cup, beginning next month.

“We’ve made it our mission to promote and grow soccer globally, and the acquisition of BRC is a pivotal move for RELEVENT, setting into motion our plans for investing in multicultural communities across the United States.” added Sillman.

Cover Image: NES-Mag.com

What: The Association soccer league has created a new, athletics-based way of networking in Los Angeles.
Why it matters: Big brands like SpaceX and Beats by Dre are already on board in this opportunity for multicultural connections in the diverse Los Angeles market.

Successful sports marketing, especially around the fast-growing business of soccer in the United States, is all about networking, seizing opportunities and the converge of events.

Meet The Association soccer league.

Billed as a place where soccer and culture meet, and partially coordinated by colleague Mario Flores (@LatinoSportsGuyat Sportivo, The Association recently launched in Los Angeles with teams made up of colleagues at a wide variety of brands, ranging from SpaceX (@SpaceX), and Beats by Dre (@beatsbydre), to Red Bull (@redbull) and Jason Markk (@jason_markk). “The Association is not just about soccer. In fact, I think the games play a secondary role in this unique experience. It’s like a social environment where soccer games happen to be going on,” Flores said. “For brands, the opportunity to connect with a truly multicultural audience exists in only a few places like Thursday nights in Los Angeles at The Association.”

Each brand gets a chance to host and tell the latest and greatest, and then take to the pitch for some five-on-five competitive soccer.

Supported by Adidas (@adidas), El Jimador (@ElJimadorand Kia (@Kia), games are played Thursday evenings with every week curated by a participating brand. A DJ lends the soundtrack to the evening while teams play on concrete fields enclosed by pallets that serve as fencing; night-club-style lighting lends a unique ambiance. Games are free to attend and open to all ages.

The five versus five influencer soccer league was built around merging street soccer, art, music, and fashion in a 10-week season at the Adidas soccer L.A. Base, a futsal-style warehouse in the Lincoln Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles.

The goal is simple: have a curated group of like-minded individuals come together to talk about what they are doing to build their networks and see if there are common areas of collaboration. Each brand gets a chance to host and tell the latest and greatest, and then take to the pitch for some five-on-five competitive soccer.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

While scores are kept, the real unique value are the potential scores for brand building and networking, with a collaborative passion around soccer and a drive for some cutting-edge business development. Now social networks around curated leagues have existed for years; some of the biggest deals on Wall Street have been forged in highly competitive hoops games in places like Basketball City (@BasketballCity), and pickup soccer leagues have sprung up in urban areas pulling together a unique group of passionate players whose skills extend beyond a field and into entrepreneurship. However, The Association being invitation only with a core of disruptive brands is a little different.

While we didn’t get a chance to attend this time out in LA, it is an idea that can have some very interesting upsides as sports, pop culture, entrepreneurship and art continue to converge, this time on a soccer pitch.

It’s a new type of competitive networking which goes beyond drinks and snacks. While it may not be for everyone, for an engaged group it is certainly something to watch. Let’s see how it plays out not just in final scores, but in some unique collaborative business ideas down the road.

Cover Image: courtesy The Association

What: Telemundo may have benefited from the U.S. not qualifying for FIFA World Cup, reportedly selling 90% of its inventory to date.
Why it matters: At least some of those sales are from companies that might have gone with Fox Sports’ English-language broadcasts.

Most of the talk in the U.S. about FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCuphas been the absence of the American team from the contest for the first time since 1986. And while that may be working to the detriment of U.S. English language rightsholder FOX Sports (@FOXSports) it may be having the opposite effect for Telemundo (@Telemundo), which will broadcast the games in Spanish. With power players like Coca-Cola (presenting postgame show sponsor), Sprint (halftime) and Volkswagen (primetime show presenting sponsor) on board, the broadcaster has announced a near sellout of its ad inventory.

The international soccer business is indeed booming, and FIFA is leveraging that for everything it’s worth—and more. In an attempt to enliven the North American bid, a combined effort by the U.S., Mexico and Canada, for the 2026 tournament, with selection looming next month, the N.Y. Times this week reported that organizers have offered visas to all visitors attending the games, regardless of where they are coming from, as well as a minimum US $11 billion profit for the sport’s international governing body, which has been plagued with corruption for decades. How that fits into the current political climate and U.S. laws is still to be determined.

With media rights reported at US $425 million for Fox and US $600 million for Telemundo, they’ll need every bit of ad sales to help make up what has been projected as tens of millions lost when the U.S. didn’t qualify.

It follows that a significant portion of that US $11 billion would flow from marketers who would be eager to capture the fans of many nationalities already in the three North American countries as well as those who would otherwise have only a passing interest in the tournament. With the 2026 World Cup expanding to 48 teams and 80 matches, there would be more inventory for all types of sponsorship, from stadium signage to broadcasts to special events.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

But what if Morocco, the other bidder for 2026, gets the games? At 5 hours ahead of Eastern Time (8 hours ahead of Pacific), broadcasters would face less of a challenge than this summer in Russia (between 7-9 hours ahead of ET) and Qatar (7 hours) in 2022, but clearly having the games in this hemisphere would make broadcasts more palatable and sponsor activations logistically simpler and more targeted to North American consumers.

All is not lost for FOX in its World Cup coverage starting next month, as interest in the event is still high among the growing soccer fan base as well as first- and second-generation Americans with roots in Russia, France, Brazil, Germany, England, Poland, Japan and other countries rooting on their native national squads among the 32 qualifiers. 23andMe (@23andMe), a DNA testing site, is an official Fox World Cup partner, and has a campaign tying in fans’ ancestry with teams they can support. With media rights reported at $425 million for Fox and $600 million for Telemundo, they’ll need every bit of ad sales to help make up what has been projected as tens of millions lost when the U.S. didn’t qualify.

Cover Image: FIFA World Cup 2014 (credit: Danilo Borges/Portal da Copa)

What: Tech newcomer Tronsmart has signed Uruguay National Team star Luis Suárez as brand ambassador in advance of the FIFA World Cup next month.
Why it matters: Brands that don’t have the wherewithal for official FIFA World Cup partnerships can still find under-the-radar ways of promoting their products during the time when soccer fever is highest across the world.

The FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCupis nearly upon us, with Group Play in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other Russian cities just six weeks away. Global brands are finding their way into the games, whether through official sponsorships or back-door via deals with individual athletes as spokesmen.

Upstart Chinese tech firm Tronsmart (@Tronsmart ), founded less than five years ago to take advantage of the burgeoning global live streaming TV box market, has kicked off marketing to soccer fans by signing Uruguay National Team star Luis Suárez as brand ambassador in a deal announced this week. While not thought of by some fans in the same breath as other South American countries like Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay has a deep, strong World Cup history and is considered a solid contender to advance out of Group play by many prognosticators.

With World Cup sponsorships coming fast and furious leading up to and through the summer, a brand like Tronsmart may have found an under-the-radar way to reach sports fans.

The prolific goal scorer (@LuisSuarez9), who also stars for FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona), is an inspired if perhaps risky choice for the Shenzhen-based firm’s first real foray into sports marketing. The Salto native made headlines in the last World Cup in Brazil, having been found to have bitten Italian player Giorgio Chiellini during a match. That cost him a sponsorship with fledgling online poker company 888poker thereafter and was suspended for a time because of the action.

But Suárez has bounced back, leaving Liverpool and the Premier League after the incident and moving to La Liga, where he’s been a consistent scorer for Barça. He was able to keep his Adidas sponsorship and is still active with numerous partners in his native Uruguay, including telecommunications giant Antel.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

“Mr. Suárez is an international icon that has won fans all around the world,” said Mr. Eric, Chairman of Tronsmart, in a statement. “He is an extraordinary football player and a wonderful family man. I am looking forward to watching Mr. Suárez compete this year and will be rooting for him!”

With World Cup sponsorships coming fast and furious leading up to and through the summer, a brand like Tronsmart may have found an under-the-radar way to reach sports fans in its target markets in the Americas as well as Europe, Middle East, and Asia.

Cover image courtesy of Tronsmart.

What: N.Y. Cosmos owner Rocco Commisso has put forth a US $500 million plan (half of which would be his own investment) for an American soccer entity to rival MLS and boost U.S. Soccer.
Why it matters: A push to host a future FIFA World Cup, providing a major boost to the sport in North America, would be helped by an even stronger, more unified pro base.

With American soccer fans —and brands— scrambling after the U.S. men’s national team failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCupfor the first time since the Reagan administration, there has been no shortage of opinions about potential ways to get the program back on track— from the grassroots on up, numerous outlets have reported that New York Cosmos (@NYCosmosowner Rocco Commisso has put forth a US $500 million plan for a league that might even compete with MLS (@MLS).

The outspoken Commisso —a native of Italy who has made his fortune in the U.S. cable industry— has his own issues with the U.S. Soccer Federation (@ussoccer), which has borne the brunt of the national team’s failure to qualify for Russia this summer. The 67-year-old, who has two lawsuits pending against U.S. Soccer, is offering to fund half of the planned half-billion dollar investment in the new entity, which would have a ripple effect on the sport and its partner brands, whether it exists as a direct competitor or a second-level feeder.

Would brands that haven’t traditionally invested in the sport and its fan base get on board, even more than they did for the 1994 men’s and 1999 and 2003 women’s World Cups held in the U.S.?
Rocco Commisso (Mediacom Communications Corporation)

The breadth of such a league could further connect with the Latino fan base, similar to how the NASL (@naslofficial), in which Commisso’s Cosmos compete, included Miami and Puerto Rico entries in its most recent (albeit trimmed down four-team) iteration.

Indeed, marketing is at the heart of Commisso’s dispute with USSF. In a series of letters to U.S. Soccer, FIFA, CONCACAF and the U.S. Senate that were made public this week, Commisso enumerated his demands as part of the huge investment, notably the dissolving of the relationship between USSF and its external marketing, for-profit outfit Soccer United Marketing, which he sees as too interconnected, to the detriment of other soccer entities (notably the NASL), as well as changes in national team licensing procedures, broadcast rights and other areas critical to the sport’s success here.

How might this proposal benefit soccer fans and brands? In short, a push to host a future FIFA World Cup, providing a major boost to the sport in North America, would be helped by an even stronger, more unified pro base. If so, would brands that haven’t traditionally invested in the sport and its fan base get on board, even more than they did for the 1994 men’s and 1999 and 2003 women’s World Cups held in the U.S.?

Cover Image courtesy NY Cosmos

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

What: Dallas is a thriving soccer market, with a strong base of Spanish-speaking and bilingual fans. FC Dallas VP Gina Miller discussed some of the club’s strategies.
Why it matters: As a team that plays in Dallas/Fort Worth, engaging the Latino and Spanish-speaking fan base is a daily focus for Miller and her team.

There are few more vibrant sports cities than Dallas, and few areas with a thriving grassroots soccer community as well as an ever-growing Latino community that is both traditionally Spanish-speaking and a younger English-first population that still cherishes its Latino roots and traditions. One of those traditions is obviously soccer, so we wanted to talk to FC Dallas (@FCDallasabout how they engage with the community, and most importantly how they are growing and evolving as an MLS (@MLSclub to engage.

Gina Miller (@TheGinaMiller), VP of Media and Communications for FC Dallas, gave us a look.

Portada: How important is the Latino marketing effort to a club like FC Dallas?

Gina Miller: “It’s a huge priority for FC Dallas. According to the Dallas Convention and Visitors Bureau (@visit_dallas), the population of Dallas alone is 43% Latino. As a team that plays in Dallas/Fort Worth, engaging our Latino and Spanish-speaking fan base is something we focus on daily.”

Portada: Are there brands that have marketed directly to that community, and if so who and how?

G.M.: “A number of our partners are focused on connecting with our Latino fan base. One great example is FIESTA Mart (@FiestaMartgrocery stores. They host Spanish-language radio shows in primarily Latino communities around DFW. From that partnership, FC Dallas players hold autograph sessions and take photos with fans during the radio remotes.”

From the content side, engaging our Spanish-speaking fan base, whether it’s Spanish as a first language or bilingual fans, is incredibly important for us.

Portada: Is the audience specifically Spanish language or have you carved out a niche for young Latinos who are English speaking but also enjoy their Latino heritage?

G.M.: “From the content side, engaging our Spanish-speaking fan base, whether it’s Spanish as a first language or bilingual fans, is incredibly important for us. We’re fortunate to have a bilingual coaching staff as well as a roster comprised of at least 11 players who speak both Spanish and English.

To serve that fan base better on the content side, we’ve hired a bilingual multimedia journalist, Jhannet Sanchez. She has helped us tell stories that we weren’t able to tell in the past. Whether it’s a livestream on Twitter or a feature story, her content consistently remains among our most popular. She also does in-game interviews with our Spanish-speaking players on our game broadcasts on our local broadcast partner, TXA21, which she translates into English. Not easy but, again, well-received.”

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

Portada: Do you market programs directly to a Mexican audience, or is the Latino message for the team more homogeneous?

G.M.: “Not specifically Mexican but FC Dallas has always had a Spanish-language radio broadcast. Carlos Alvarado has been the club’s Spanish play-by-play voice since 1996, the first year of Major League Soccer. He also writes match previews for FCDallas.com each week. On the community relations side, we also take into consideration our audience. For example, we also organize player appearances strategically so that we have Spanish-speaking players engaging students at elementary schools or community programs that have a large Latino population.”

“On the community relations side, we also take into consideration our audience. For example, we also organize player appearances strategically so that we have Spanish-speaking players engaging students at elementary schools or community programs that have a large Latino population.”

Portada: On the grassroots side, what are your programs like to include young players who also might come from a Spanish speaking household?

G.M.: “The majority of the FC Dallas Academy coaches are fluent in Spanish. Our current Academy Director, Luchi Gonzalez, played professionally in Peru and is fluent in Spanish. Fourteen of our league-high 24 players whom we have signed from our youth academy are Latino. Three of the four goalkeepers we have signed from our academy have played for Mexican Youth National Teams (Jesse Gonzalez, Carlos Avilez and Richard Sanchez). There is a strong tradition of Spanish-speaking players at FC Dallas and in the FC Dallas Academy, which is regarded as the best in MLS.”

Portada: Have supporter groups looked to aggregate just as a Latino source? how do you take advantage of that?

G.M.: “Most of our Latino fans are bi-lingual so the message is consistent. Sanchez and FC Dallas’ grass roots team work closely with El Matador, our Spanish-language Supporters group. This group formed 2009. This season, we combined all our Supporters sections at Toyota Stadium. It has added a healthy competition among the Supporters groups which has absolutely elevated the energy level at home games. During a recent rain-filled match against the Philadelphia Union, our head coach noted in his postgame press conference how loud the stadium was and how diverse the chants were. This gives FC Dallas a unique competitive advantage.”

cover image: Michael Barera

What: At a breakfast hosted by CNN en Español and Portada in New York this week, marketers discussed how sports draws the Latino audience.
Why it matters: The impact brands can have in sports is strong and still growing, in soccer in particular, especially with World Cup just weeks away.

The message that sports deliver to the Latin demographic was made pretty clear Tuesday morning at The Lamb’s Club, when CNN en Español (@CNNEEand Portada hosted a special breakfast to talk about the challenges and opportunities in Multicultural Marketing. The packed room listened to a spirited debate about the impact brands can, or aren’t having in the Spanish speaking community and the steps measurement and engagement are taking to continue to create opportunities with outlets like CNN en Español, the largest Spanish-language platform in the country and perhaps the most impactful in North America to penetrate the Spanish language consumer.

Away from that, the topic of sports continued to assert itself, as an engagement point across cultures, languages and all barriers. “When looking for where to spend, we go to where people are engaged, and many times that engagement is in sports,” said Manny Gonzalez, Senior Director-Multicultural at Moët Hennessy USA (@MoetHennessy). “In many cases our consumers are led less by language and more by lifestyle, so that makes sports a key part of our marketing. Sports crosses all barriers and gives consumers a common ground to share stories and storytelling is key to building a brand.”

While the numbers across all platforms are encouraging for those looking to engage the Latino audience, the question of accurate and targeted measurement is still in flux.

That common experience in sports, especially for Latinos, continues to be in soccer. “The Beautiful Game,” as we head toward the World Cup, remains the fastest-growing sport for viewing and for grassroots engagement in North America, a fact that is not lost on marketers who have grown up experiencing a multicultural environment.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

“When you look at the numbers and see that 93 percent of Liga MX fans don’t watch the NBA, and 74 percent don’t watch the NFL, it tells you a lot about the power of soccer and how important it is to engage with the Latino fan in the U.S.,’ added Nelson Pinero, Senior Digital Director, Senior Partner at GroupM. “That is a really powerful look at how valuable not just sports, but soccer is, to brand engagement in the Latino community.”

How this translates to brand spends is still up for some debate. While the numbers across all platforms are encouraging for those looking to engage the Latino audience, the question of accurate and targeted measurement is still in flux. CNN en Español’s recent expanded partnership with Nielsen (@Nielsenwill help ease those questions and should bring more brands into the mix for the platform, and for those working in sports marketing, the purchase of Spanish language or sports that tread heavily in Latino culture should benefit from bigger numbers and better engagement as we head toward World Cup, and a key sport like soccer continues to be a big factor in the mind of the consumer.

No matter what the language, sports continues to be key.

Check out the stars of Portada’s Sports Marketing Board, who will meet at Portada Miami on April 18-19 to discuss various topics related to the future of marketing and innovation in sports. Register now!

What: Both Gerard Piqué and Alex Rodriguez have been in the news lately for bold and successful business ventures.
Why it matters: These athletes are paving the way for other Latin and Hispanic athletes to recognize that they too can find financial success outside of their sport both during and after their playing days.

Kobe Bryant made headlines recently for his Oscar-winning documentary Dear Basketball, and he has since been lauded as the next great athlete to succeed in business ventures beyond their own sport. Kobe is following the trail blazed by fellow basketball stars Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson in this regard, but it should be highlighted that two Hispanic and Latin superstars have been making entrepreneurial headlines of their own: Gerard Piqué (@3gerardpique) and Alex Rodríguez (@AROD).

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

Piqué is showing that Hispanic athletes can also join the movement of athletes looking to become financial powerhouses.

Gerard Piqué: Soccer Star and Tennis Entrepreneur

Gerard Pique
Gerard Piqué: the world’s best defender and a leading entrepreneur (credit: TSM Plug)

Gerard Piqué is currently working on his master’s in business at Harvard University while also leading the charge to create the World Cup of Tennis, which will fill the hole that the Davis Cup leaves behind. Piqué is also a leader, writer, and ambassador of The Players’ Tribune Global (@PlayersTribune) initiative and has multiple other investments and business ventures. Apart from these impressive initiatives, he’s taking FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) on the path towards winning an impressive double of LaLiga and Copa del Rey championships. The usual path for athletes’ financial success off the field has usually been to develop their brand and social media appeal as much as possible and then lock up endorsement deals that net them revenue for appearing in commercials. Though Piqué strikes these types of partnerships as well, he is bucking convention by seeking unique opportunities in the market to grow different businesses. This type of entrepreneurship is more associated with someone who has been trained in finance all their life, but Piqué is showing that Hispanic athletes can also join the movement of athletes looking to become financial powerhouses.

Rodríguez has piggybacked off of his successful investment firm A-Rod Corp to create space for himself on a channel that usually shows coverage of the New York Stock Exchange.

Alex Rodríguez: A New Type of Television Personality

Alex Rodríguez has become a business mogul and has turned his financial prowess into his own CNBC show (credit: John Anderson, The Austin Chronicle)

Another figure making the most of his business instincts and intellect is Alex Rodriguez. He not only has garnered rave reviews as a host on MLB on Fox, but he is also the star and host of a new show on CNBC called Back in The Game. The premise of this show is that Rodríguez helps former athletes regain a hold on their finances. His MLB on Fox position, in which he offers truly insightful commentary and meshes well with his high-profile co-stars, is more in line with jobs typically associated with former athletes: broadcasting, coaching, etc. The CNBC show, though, is a new example for retired athletes, particularly those who are Latino, to follow. Rodríguez has piggybacked off of his successful investment firm A-ROD CORP (@_ARodCorp) to create space for himself on a channel that usually shows coverage of the New York Stock Exchange. Rodríguez has used the money he earned from his mega-contract with the Yankees not only to invest in fruitful ventures, but he is showing athletes, regardless of background, that they can take an active, responsible role in their financial success.

When a Latin or Hispanic athlete joins the ranks of the Billionaire Athletes Club, they will deserve much of the credit.

Inspiration for Other Latin and Hispanic Athletes

The biggest impact of athletes such as Piqué and Rodríguez will likely be seen years down the line. There will be a kid out there, though, in Barcelona, Miami, or elsewhere who will look at their examples and be inspired to not just work hard on their game, but also cultivate their mind and dream bigger than just ball. Motivation does not have to come from one type of source, but there is something to be said for being able to look up to someone out in the world who looks like you, sounds like you, and is breaking barriers that you did not know were possible. Whether it is through their own ventures or the inspiration the path they carved for others, when a Latin or Hispanic athlete joins the ranks of the Billionaire Athletes Club, they will deserve much of the credit.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

Check out the stars of Portada’s Sports Marketing Board, who will meet at Portada Miami on April 18-19 to discuss various topics related to the future of marketing and innovation in sports. Register now!

What: Liga MX squad Club América announced a broadbased partnership with Toyota.
Why it matters: Toyota is the No. 1 auto brand in the U.S. Hispanic market. Its sponsorship of Tour Águila, Club América’s annual U.S. Tour, is key to leveraging that position in the market.

This week, Club América (@ClubAmericaofficially announced an integrated partnership with Toyota Motor North America (@Toyotaas its official automotive partner in the U.S. Toyota, the number one auto brand in the U.S. Hispanic market, will bring fans closer to the team through content featuring players, advertising campaigns, social and digital programs, and much more.

The partnership is the latest in an expanded soccer portfolio for Toyota not just in North America but around the global soccer world. Its partnership portfolio includes one with Univision Deportes as the official sponsor of juanfutbol (@juanfutbol), the social-first soccer channel focused on creating socially-native content for Hispanic millennials as well as their overall Univision CONCACAF Gold Cup partnership. The Japanese automaker has MLS partnerships with a host of clubs including Sporting Kansas City, the Philadelphia Union, FC Dallas (which includes the naming rights at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas) and the Chicago Fire, which includes the naming rights to Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill.

Our partnership with the Club will allow us to engage with Liga MX fans year-round across multiple touch points and we are excited to amplify the fans’ experience by igniting their passion and spirit for the game.

In Asia, Toyota has the FIFA World Cup Brazil™ Asian Qualifiers, the AFC Asian Cup, the AFC Women’s Asian Cup, the FC U-23 Championship and the AFC Futsal Championship as part of its platform.

“We are very excited to continue our expansion in the United States by partnering with Toyota, a global leader and innovator in the automotive industry,” said Mauricio Culebro, Club América’s President, in a statement. “Toyota understands soccer as a passion point and the value of engaging our fans year long.”

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

Toyota’s sponsorship also includes participation in Tour Águila, Club América’s annual U.S. Tour. The Tour consists of a series of friendly matches against some of the most important teams in Liga MX and MLS during the preseason and FIFA dates. These matches take place in key Hispanic markets including cities in California and Texas, and are broadcasted on Univision Deportes in the U.S. and on Televisa in Mexico.
“Club América has a storied history and winning tradition in Liga MX, the most watched soccer league in the U.S. Our partnership with the Club will allow us to engage with Liga MX fans year-round across multiple touch points and we are excited to amplify the fans’ experience by igniting their passion and spirit for the game,” said Tyler McBride, Engagement and Event Manager, Toyota Motor North America, in a statement.
The Toyota sponsorship was secured by PRIMETIME Sports (@PTimeSports), U.S commercial agency for Club América in the U.S. and producer of the annual Tour Águila.

Check out the stars of Portada’s Sports Marketing Board, who will meet at Portada Miami on April 18-19 to discuss various topics related to the future of marketing and innovation in sports. Register now!

Cover Image credit: Club América

What: We talked to Jason Howarth Panini America’s VP of Marketing about the 2018 World Cup sticker book and app.
Why it matters: Panini has a proud tradition in the Latin and Hispanic market and is taking an innovative approach to integrating physical and digital products. Howarth will be speaking at our upcoming Portada Los Angeles on May 10 (Loews Santa Monica Hotel).

For many across the United States and countries across the globe, the onset of FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) fever every four years occurs months before the tournament begins. The event that marks this excitement is the release of Panini’s World Cup sticker book. Since the book’s inception in 1970, completing the book with each player’s sticker has become an obsession, with friends spending hours working on deals to help fill out their collection. The release of the 2018 edition is just one reason why there is buzz around Panini, as their trading card business, both physical and digital, has seen dramatic growth as of late. We had the opportunity to speak with Jason Howarth, VP, Marketing at Panini America (@sportsmktgguy) about the company’s most recent developments and where it is looking to go in the future.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily  Sports Marketing Updates!

The Excitement Surrounding the Sticker Collection is Multi-Generational

Portada: What does your market in the United States typically look like demographically? Are there specific strategies in this 2018 World Cup Sticker cycle to engage with the Hispanic community?

NBA legend Kobe Bryant showing off his Leo Messi Panini World Cup sticker (courtesy: Panini America)

Jason Howarth: “The FIFA World Cup sticker collection and the World Cup come every four years, so there’s this anticipation for it. That exists in the US marketplace and all over the world. The demographics might be different based on each country. One of the other things that we have in the US marketplace, where we’re very fortunate, is we have a diverse population that follows multiple teams in multiple countries as opposed to maybe another country that might not qualify for the World Cup, and their interest might be somewhat diminished…

There’s been an evolution. 2014 was really eye-opening. You have the Colombian president getting out of his motorcade in the middle of an election to be part of a Panini (@PaniniAmerica) swap day. That’s how ingrained in the culture it is. That’s an awesome product to have, and we’re fortunate to have had that product since 1970. The audience is really diverse. You’ve got kids that collect it; in the US marketplace, it’s a multi-generational collection. There are grandparents who collect this album every time it comes out, and they do it with their grandkids. They do it because they did it when they were kids. There’s that excitement and that energy around it.”

Portada: Given the rise of social media and influencer-marketing, have you developed any new strategies during the last two World Cup cycles to market to the younger demographic?

J.H.: “Even in just the last four years, our conversation and how we plan on executing is very different and very dynamic. There are some tried and true things: there is nothing that is ever going to trump getting the product into the hands of consumers, so sampling is tried and true.

There are some really strong influencers that love soccer, that love the Panini sticker album, so there’s a natural fit there. It doesn’t feel like it’s forced; it feels authentic.

The role that digital plays, though, in terms of how you drive excitement, energy, and integration, was a thing that wasn’t even as prevalent to us four years ago. It’s extremely important to us… Whether that’s campaigns via Facebook, Instagram, or other executions so to speak, integrations with partners, those are all driving great content. We’re so fortunate that we’ve got an 80-page album with 681 stickers that are all great pieces of content representing 32 countries and legends from past World Cups. There’s such a huge platform for us when you look at it from a social perspective. We just did our first online unboxing video for FIFA World Cup stickers and put that on YouTube, put it on our blog, and that was the first reveal of the product in the US marketplace. We didn’t do that in 2014. Those opportunities and incorporating social to help promote and highlight our content and our product is really compelling to us.

Certainly, if you look at the impact of influencers and the popularity that those guys have, there are some really strong influencers that love soccer, that love the Panini sticker album, so there’s a natural fit there. It doesn’t feel like it’s forced; it feels authentic. I feel like that’s definitely something that you’ll see here as we move into the World Cup.”

The Relationship with Players Allows for Organic Engagement

Portada: We noticed that you had a VIP lounge at the NBA All-Star game. Is trying to get your product in marquee events becoming more part of your overall marketing strategy? Are you realizing that in today’s day and age, athletes from different sports are able to market athletic events at a higher level?

J.H.: “The level of relationship that we have with players is probably very different than a lot of other partners. For us, on the trading card side of our business  —in the US marketplace, that’s what drives Panini America— we have deals with a lot of these players to sign trading cards for us… There’s nothing more authentic than a guy holding his own card or his teammate’s card.

Former US Men’s National Team star Cobi Jones proudly holding up his old Panini sticker (courtesy: Panini America)

Even when we activate at the NBA All-Star Game, for example, there’s a mix between partners there and players getting the opportunity to decompress and understand who we are as a brand beyond just sitting there signing cards for us all the time. I remember we did an event in 2014 with Cobi Jones (@cobijones), and we pulled out some of his previous World Cup stickers. He got the biggest kick out of it and was making fun of himself from the previous World Cups thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe that that was me!” It’s so authentic to these players that there’s a natural feeling to it

Soccer is a global sport, but it’s not the only sport that exists in the US marketplace: there’s football players, basketball players, baseball players, NASCAR drivers. A good portion of them have an affinity for the game of soccer and are excited by the tournament. If there’s an opportunity to utilize those guys to create an organic, authentic feel to be engaged with our product, we’re going to do it.”

Hispanics and Young People: Essential Audiences of Panini

Portada: Do you try to tailor content specifically to the Latin and Hispanic market in any way? Are you trying to find particular athletes who will resonate with that demographic? Do you try to do promotions in Spanish? Or, is it just part of a greater overall strategy?

J.H.: “It’s part of a greater overall strategy, though we do place emphasis on the Hispanic market when it comes to World Cup. The partners that we’ll be leveraging in this World Cup are definitely Hispanic-centric. It’s an important market for us. We’ve got a multi-lingual product: our FIFA World Cup sticker collection is featured in six languages. Thankfully for us, the product is also very visual in terms of the players, so that makes our lives easier in terms of pushing the product and promoting the product… It’s a multi-generational collection for those who grew up with it. For the Anglo-American who has just started to follow soccer since the 1994 World Cup, that’s a process that’s growing.”

 There are grandparents who collect this album every time it comes out, and they do it with their grandkids. They do it because they did it when they were kids.

Portada: Another huge part of your business is the digital trading card game. For someone who may be completely foreign to it, why is it appealing to the younger demographic? How does it differ from trading cards, and why is it doing so well?

J.H.: “Some of it is that it replicates the physical experience to a certain extent. We’ve always said at Panini that we want to cater to however the collector wants to collect, whether that’s collecting digital trading cards on their phone; whether that’s collecting the physical product itself… We want to create that experience no matter how they collect, and that’s how digital trading cards came into play for us.

Win digital trading cards against competitors across the globe in Panini’s FIFA World Cup app’s PackBattle (courtesy: Panini America)

It delivers another element of stickiness within the app. When you’re a kid and playing with your trading cards, you’re viewing them as a piece of entertainment, not just a commodity that you could sell on the secondary market. In the scenario where we’ve got our NFL Blitz app and our NBA Dunk app, and we actually just launched our FIFA World Cup trading app… You can trade around the globe with fans all over the place that have the same interest in the sport that you do.

We have a thing in our NFL Blitz app, in our Dunk app, and in our FIFA app called PackBattle. There’s a little bit of a strategy involved there in terms of using statistics or power performance numbers of the player. The winner gets to keep the card…. It’s a best out of five, and it’s awesome. It’s an easy, quick, fun game. I can’t even tell you how long I’ve played the Pack Battle over this past weekend on FIFA: it’s ridiculous. It’s always, ‘One more. Just one more.’

I think the other thing that’s really cool, as we’re on the subject of the FIFA World Cup app… on the back of that sticker back there’s a code, and you download the app, and you can go to paninipromocode.com, and you can enter in that code, and you get a special, free digital pack to start collecting the digital piece of it.”

Portada: Is there a unique opportunity for you as a business to track consumer data in the digital game through the app? Is that one of your focuses?

J.H.: “Our focus more than anything is just making sure that we’re always where the collector is and where they want to collect. Obviously, there are interactions that we can have with the consumer from a one-to-one perspective that we don’t always get in the physical space… whether it’s rewarding them with special packs or coins in the app, it’s really compelling.”

Portada: Has the Latin American market responded to the digital trading card game that differs from other demographics? Are they just as crazy about it as the hard copy game?

J.H.: “I think it’s still too early to tell on the FIFA World Cup app, because we launched it less than a week ago. Collectors are collectors are collectors… It’s truly a global app for us because of the affinity for the product and how our physical collection is distributed in over 100 countries. There’s going to be quite an audience there as compared to some that are more targeted to certain regions and certain markets.”

Portada: Beyond the obvious answer, sales, what are your key performance indicators for the World Cup and for your company overall? Are there new goals such as growth in certain markets or social media views that are new KPI’s for the upcoming World Cup?

J.H.: “Driving the number of packets that are in the market from a global perspective is huge. In the US market, we’ve continued to see this growth and progression for the FIFA World Cup sticker collection every four years and the excitement for the growth of soccer… There are lots of kids walking around in Messi jerseys, Ronaldo jerseys, and Neymar jerseys in the US that probably wouldn’t support any of those teams if it weren’t for those players. So, as that continues to evolve and grow, that’s a KPI for the US marketplace: seeing how far that growth comes in the US marketplace compared to 2014.

US Men’s National Team star has a unique sponsorship with Panini (courtesy: Panini America)

We also have some things that are a disadvantage. Does the US team [not qualifying for the World Cup] have an impact on us this year? To be honest, none of us really know that. We don’t anticipate that it will. We wish that they were there because that would help amplify and generate another level of excitement in the US marketplace. Christian Pulisic (@cpulisic_10) is one of our exclusive athletes. He’s the first soccer player we’ve signed as an exclusive athlete. He’s a great kid and an amazing, energetic player. If he was on the World Cup stage this year, what would that do for him and US Soccer? We’ll have to wait and see on that.”

Keeping an Eye on the Future

Portada: Where do you think the trading card business will be in 5-10 years? Are there technological changes such as Voice, AR, VR, or thing that you may know of that will be the biggest driver of change coming up? Or, are there other factors that will change the business moving forward?

Neymar’s Panini digital trading card (courtesy: Panini America)

J.H.: “I think physical is huge. It’s not going to go away five years from now, ten years from now. We continue to see phenomenal growth on the physical side of the business, especially with our core products. We’re in the second year with the NFL and the NFLPA as an exclusive trading card partner. We’ve had great growth this past year… The NBA marketplace in the trading card space from a physical perspective has grown exponentially since we became an exclusive partner there. Our first year was 2009, and that’s grown from a global perspective. All of those things are really exciting to us.

I mentioned before, how do we make it so we continue to create a tradition of collecting and being where consumers want to collect, whether that’s physical or digital. I can’t go into too much detail about where I can see technological changes going, but I can tell you that there will be. I don’t think that it replaces one way of collecting over another. If anything else, maybe it creates a new level or a new generation of collectors and consumers because it’s a different way to collect. We’re on a great little ride here right now in terms of the excitement in the marketplace for trading cards, both physical and digital… Any opportunity we have to incorporate new tech and new experience, we’re going to try to make it work.”

Portada: Are there any other points you would like to cover?

J.H.: “As you mentioned, the heritage and tradition with the physical collection is huge. The new exciting component that we’re bringing to it this year is marriage between the physical and digital, where you’re getting the sticker in your hand and then you’re actually getting a free digital pack when you download the Panini FIFA World Cup app. That’s probably the single biggest difference from where we’ve come from 1970 to 2018, and we’re really excited to see how that plays out.”

Panini’s unique approach to promoting physical and digital products harmoniously is a strategy that should be taken note of across industries. Howarth is right that there are some products that will always carry value in the physical space, but in today’s more technologically-centric world, there are creative ways to still tailor these products towards younger demographics that spend a tremendous amount of time on mobile devices. This foresight on behalf of Panini should allow the company to have success with its 2018 FIFA World Cup initiatives, but this mindset will also allow the tradition of young and old to collect together to continue for future generations in the Latin market and beyond.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily  Sports Marketing Updates!

What: Modelo Especial has become the official import beer of the MLS’s LA Galaxy, strengthening its deep connection in the sport.
Why it matters: Combined with official beer status with the UFC, Constellation Brands has positioned Modelo well within two sports (MMA and soccer) that resonate strongly with Latino fans.

Constellation Brands (@cbrands) has announced it has extended and expanded its partnership with the MLS L.A. Galaxy (@LAGalaxyand StubHub Center, making Modelo Especial (@ModeloUSAthe official import beer of the club and stadium. The multiyear deal also includes building a Modelo-branded area atop the west terrace. Modelo will also be a lead marketing partner of the team, which will include co-branding marketing materials, fan merchandise, consumer promotions and fan engagements.

Previously the Modelo Especial brand was the exclusive import beer sponsor of both the LA Galaxy and their StubHub Center home. Given that the San Diego Chargers are also playing in the StubHub Center these days, is more Modelo in the offing for sports marketing?

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

With the expansion of soccer, Modelo can continue to tie to a pair of sports, fight sports and soccer, that are truly aligned with Latino culture in the U.S.

In addition to their soccer spends, which also includes a partnership that runs until 2020 with CONCACAF (@Concacafand their events from the the Gold Cup, the Women’s World Cup Qualifying Championship, Women’s Olympic Qualifying Championship, the Futsal Championship, the Beach Soccer Championship and club soccer’s CONCACAF Champions League, the brand is now tied closely to the UFC (@ufc).

Modelo became the official beer of the UFC at the start of 2018, replacing Bud Light, which had served in the role since 2008. Its “Fighting Spirit” tagline fits well with the MMA culture, and Modelo’s build out for consumer and athlete partnerships is just beginning. With the expansion of soccer, Modelo can continue to tie to a pair of sports, fight sports and soccer, that are truly aligned with Latino culture in the U.S., and their brand loyalty build should continue to escalate as they expand marketshare.

Check out the stars of Portada’s Sports Marketing Board, who will meet at Portada Miami on April 18-19 to discuss various topics related to the future of marketing and innovation in sports. Register now!

cover image courtesy LA Galaxy

What: We talked to Las Vegas Lights FC owner Brett Lashbrook about his new USL team.
Why it matters: Lashbrook has a bold vision for owning a team in a city with a strong Latin presence.

Brett Lashbrook, Owner & CEO of Las Vegas Lights FC (credit: Las Vegas Lights FC via USL)

In February, we had the opportunity to speak with several executives from Las Vegas Lights FC (@lvlightsfc@lvlightsfc_es), the newest team in the United States 2nd division of professional soccer, USL (@USL). For this follow-up interview, we had the opportunity to speak with the man behind this ambitious project: Brett Lashbrook. Brett has worked in the soccer world for over twenty years at both the league and team levels, and he believes that his grasp on the conscience of soccer in this country and his appreciation for Latino passion for the game will guide his club to a fruitful first season. The team opened up its inaugural USL campaign with a 3-2 road victory this weekend, and it will have its first regular season home game at Cashman Field this Saturday against budding rival Reno 1868 FC. The interview below shows that Lashbrook’s ambitions extend far beyond the playing field, and their success will hinge in large part on the club’s ability to tap into the Latin and Hispanic market.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily  Sports Marketing Updates!

I believe when I say I want our games to be a slice of Mexico City, a slice of Buenos Aires, a slice of Madrid, and I mean that… what’s our special sauce? Let the fans speak, let them sing, dance, cheer, bring smoke, bring drums, bring tables, bring trumpets: let them be the show.

Portada: Why a USL team? Why a USL team in Las Vegas?

Brett Lashbrook (Owner & CEO) : “One, the financial hurdles to launch a Major League Soccer team… starts at a half billion dollar investment: it’s a testament to the growth of the game that that’s the financial parameters of starting an MLS team…

Las Vegas (@CityOfLasvegas) is not only the second largest market in the world without a professional soccer team; we have a… 10,000 seat stadium in downtown Las Vegas that’s near bars, restaurants, casinos, nightlife, and music. It’s the ideal scenario. If you look at Google Maps at Cashman Field, it is the only baseball stadium in the world that is a square. It’s a perfect square! I don’t know what they were thinking, but it’s absolutely perfect for soccer.

A young family supporting their new local soccer team, Las Vegas Lights FC (credit: LVSportsBiz.com)

We know what the real Las Vegas is. We don’t go out to the Strip every night and drink US $15 beers. That’s not what we are. This has to be one hundred percent a local play. This is not for tourists. Now,I think that we can do a lot of things sports-related with some other events, but the core is “for locals, by locals, of locals.” Then, when you look at Las Vegas, what are we?… I now have the guts to say publicly, “You’re right. A 0-0 game can be exciting, but it’s usually not.” People want to see goals. People want to see attacking soccer. People want to see go, go, go. When you think of Las Vegas, you think of that flash, glitz, and sizzle…

I want to be clear: this is not a Hispanic play: we think there’s a market opportunity. There’s not enough Mexican influence in American soccer… there aren’t Mexican coaches at the professional level. None in USL, one in MLS. You just start to think this doesn’t make sense. We have this huge, diverse player population, but we’re not seeing it in the coaching, and we’re not always seeing that in the stands.

I believe when I say I want our games to be a slice of Mexico City, a slice of Buenos Aires, a slice of Madrid, and I mean that. We don’t have a better jumbo Tron… We don’t have a US $500 million arena. So, what’s our special sauce? Let the fans speak, let them sing, dance, cheer, bring smoke, bring drums, bring tables, bring trumpets: let them be the show. All that I’ll say is that you have to do it in an authentic manner: letting the people speak, letting the people express themselves, letting the true traditions from the grassroots-and-up level create something really cool.”

Portada: As you said, you want it to be organic, and you want to expand upon some of the trends and patterns in viewing experiences that have been going on in grassroots soccer. Have you spent yourself a good amount of time going to youth soccer games around Las Vegas and other semi-professional or college games and seeing what the environment is like there as a basis for what you think it could be like for Lights FC?

B.L.: “The short answer is yes, but I was seeing the exact same things when I was CEO in Orlando or when I was special advisor to the commissioner of Major League Soccer in these communities. We are a soccer nation; it’s not like ten years ago… One of the biggest surprises of this project is how little I’ve had to explain to people what we’re doing. This sport has taken off so much… it’s almost a decade now that MLS is outdrawing on a per-game basis the NBA and the NHL. It’s been the number one participation sport for 30 years, the old cliché. Those kids now have families, they now run businesses… they’ve grown up with the sport.

 I’m incredibly bullish about the opportunity for soccer’s growth America, and I think USL is perfectly positioned to do that. It’s not all about money, but it’s a half a billion dollars to get into the billionaires’ game in MLS, and you have to go find land… that’s hard. Go ask the people in Cincinnati, Sacramento, in Miami, that’s hard. It’s really hard! That’s why 7 of the last 11 expansion teams have come from the 2nd division: it’s an opportunity to prove what we know is already there.”
I really think that we can build this year-round platform by using soccer as a driver for tourists as well, which fits right in with the core of what Las Vegas is.

Portada: Cashman Field is really well located, and you’re obviously making the playing surface top-notch, but how are you addressing some concerns by the previous Minor League baseball tenant?

An electric atmosphere at Cashman Field: (credit: Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal)

B.L.: “We think this is a wonderful hidden gem. It is a 10,000-seat stadium with a club level, all the locker rooms, all the storage, it is a comprehensive stadium. Is it old? Yeah, but I think soccer can breathe new life into it… On that grass, we have to continue to switch between soccer and baseball because we’re sharing for one year with baseball, and that’s a real cost. You could just go play the game in the outfield… but it’s not a good, authentic fan experience. At our cost, you only get one chance to make a first impression.”

Portada: At some point, do you have plans to host other events there and generate revenue through those means?

B.L.: “One hundred percent. We are in Las Vegas… Lights FC is a hyper local project. But, now that we have a 10,000-seat stadium, that is expandable up to 50,000 seats… we think we can create a lot of really cool new events. The one we are most focused on now is Major League Soccer Spring Training. My goal is to start with three teams this year, which immediately starts to grow… so that every night in downtown Las Vegas in the month of February there’s another Major League Soccer game going on… The other ones where I think there’s a real opportunity… is in the summer: getting the Mexican club teams to come here during their preseason in the month of July.

All these European teams, all these EPL teams, for instance, want to come to America. This is the last frontier, they’re going to brand themselves… Look at some of those second and lower tier teams in the Premier League or LaLiga, etc.; look at the markets that they’re playing in, because they want to come to the United States so bad…

At the base of this cake we have these 20 USL games and this community asset, etc., but now it’s February, and we’ve got Major League Soccer teams. In July, we’ve got international teams from Mexico. December and January, we’ve got German teams. I really think that we can build this year-round platform by using soccer as a driver for tourists as well, which fits right in with the core of what Las Vegas is.”

[Chelís] had that great quote at his press conference, “I want players that smell like Las Vegas.” He gets it. I have been incredibly pleased with Chelís, and I think he’s the perfect leader for this project.

Portada:  There’s a lot of excitement around Chelís. As you said, at least at first, your priority is putting on a highly entertaining product with the style matching the city. Sure, you want results, but entertainment comes first. How did those conversations go with Chelís when you were hiring him, and do you think he’ll have a different kind of leash in terms of what managers usually have in terms of results?

Las Vegas Lights FC Manager Chelís yells alongside fans after being ejected (credit: Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal)

B.L.: “The first answer has a great story. I met Chelís late in the process. I had gone through a lot of interviews, and I was telling people what I was trying to do. You could tell within 30 seconds with some of these guys: ‘Nope. No way. Not going to do it. That’s not the way it’s played. I like goals too, but you’ve got to have five defenders.’ You just knew they weren’t going to be the right fit for Las Vegas.

My first interview with Chelís was late in the process and was via Skype call… He said, “You know, this is very risky. Spectacular soccer is not easy to play. To be spectacular is very risky.” I told him I understand but we’re committed to doing this, to finding a leader who can do this. He leaps towards the Skype camera and says, ‘I love you. I’ve been waiting for you my whole life. Let’s do it.’

The only thing from the soccer thing that I said I’d get involved in is that I said I wanted to be the first professional team in American history to guarantee at all times, every year, at least one local kid. It’s not a charity case: there are 2.2 million people here… I told Chelís I needed one. Chelís said, ‘Why only one? Can I have two? Three? I love this!’ And then he had that great quote at his press conference, ‘I want players that smell like Las Vegas.’ He gets it. I have been incredibly pleased with Chelís, and I think he’s the perfect leader for this project.”

Portada: You said that the club’s mission is to break the traditional American sports model. You’ve mentioned some already, but are there are other ways that you think your club is doing things drastically different than most American teams?

B.L.: “We let the fans pick our name. We let the fans help design our logo. We are going to unveil the most fashion forward jersey you have ever seen. There’s everything about Chelís: smoking on the sidelines and being who he is. It’s having this Las Vegas swagger about us and not being afraid of where we’re from.

We’re going to be the first professional sports team in the United States to fully embrace sports gambling… It is regulated by great institutions here in Nevada, and we would never do anything to jeopardize the integrity of the game, but the reality is that people enjoy betting on sports… and we are going to be the first team that actually steps forward and says we have a betting partner… All these other teams can’t do it: we’re going to fully embrace it…

No other team has guaranteed a local player a roster spot. I was just speaking to the Latin Chamber of Commerce (@lvlcc). I told them about Chelís, and they said, “Oh, that’s nice.”  When you talk about Julian Portugal (@portujulian) from North Las Vegas who went to UNLV, and he’s on the team, I get a round of applause! The reaction to the local player has been better than I ever expected.”

I think it’s intangible. In one year, when people talk about Las Vegas sports, do they think of us the same as the Golden Knights and the Raiders? We want to become part of this community from Day One.

Portada: We asked this question to your fellow executives as well: what would have to happen to call Las Vegas Lights FC a success in Year One?

Las Vegas Lights FC scores against Vancouver Whitecaps FC (credit: Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal)

B.L.: “That’s a good question. I think it’s an intangible. In one year, when people talk about Las Vegas sports, do they think of us the same as the Golden Knights and the Raiders? We want to become part of this community from Day One. We think we have the sport to do it. We think we have the price point to do it. We think we have the stadium to do it. We think we have the market demographics from being young and diverse. That’s what I’ll be measuring. It manifests itself in many different ways. Some of that is butts in seats, but, also, it’s just that feel. Do we see this momentum building? Do we know we’re tapping into this Las Vegas pride?  When you have those intangibles, good things are going to happen.

People ask me a lot of times, ‘What’s the future? What’s the next big thing in soccer’” I don’t know the answer to any of that, but I do know that all roads start with a successful 2018 season at the USL level… We need to come out of the gate and prove what we already know: we are a soccer city… We can do this, we deserve this, and as long we continue to feel that in the community, we’ll have success in Year One.”

Portada: Is there anything else you would like to add?

B.L.: “The only other thing that I would add is soccer is fun. Las Vegas is fun. We’re the entertainment capital of the world… I say this with a smile on my face: our jersey has to be fun. We are not afraid, we are not embarrassed, and we will not shy away from being from Las Vegas. We love Las Vegas, this is a town we call home, and we embrace Las Vegas fully.”

Brett Lashbrook could be the new face of soccer ownership in America: young, extremely energetic, opportunistic, creative, and keenly aware of under-appreciated areas in the US marketplace. It will be interesting to see whether or not he and his club will be strategic and patient enough to properly execute on enough of their plans to carve out a lasting space for themselves in the Las Vegas and national landscapes. There is a general sense in US soccer, though, that it is time to take the next step in the evolution of the game here in this country; Brett’s fearless, unabashed commitment to providing a fan-friendly experience that is infused with Las Vegas’s identity could be a wake-up call for how soccer ownership and marketing should be viewed moving forward. Lashbrook and Las Vegas Lights FC is a story worth following throughout 2018 and beyond.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily  Sports Marketing Updates!

Check out the stars of Portada’s Sports Marketing Board, who will meet at Portada Miami on April 18-19 to discuss various topics related to the future of marketing and innovation in sports. Register now!

What: Genius Sports Group Communications Director Chris Dougan will be one of this year’s speakers at Portada Miami. He will discuss Gaming and Gambling with Ben Spoont at the EAST hotel on April 19.
Why it matters: This is one of the topics that are changing the future of sports marketing. There will be plenty of questions moving forward as more entities, particularly in the U.S., embrace legal gambling on sports and eSports.

Joe Favorito, chair of the Sports Marketing Board, has prepared a background piece on speaker Chris Dougan and the topic he will be discussing at Portada Miami. To join the conversation with him and all our other speakers, register here!

The buzz words in sports business, not just in the U.S. but around the world, are gaming, eSports and gambling. As sports gambling becomes closer to a reality not just in North America but in other countries, including those in Latin America, how will the consumer be protected and the games stay safe? And how will data protection, and even gambling play a role in eSports?

At the center of all those discussions is Genius Sports, the world’s fast-growing leader in data protection around professional sports. Based in London, Genius (@geniussports) works 24/7 to make sure the data for some of the world’s biggest leagues, from the Premier League to Major League Baseball and the PGA Tour, are safe and secure. And as eSports becomes more valuable, Genius Sports work will take them deep into working with the biggest gaming companies to again make sure all data is secure and protected.

Helping lead the charge for Genius, not just in the U.S. but in Latin America as well, is Chris Dougan.

Dougan will explain the value of data protection, the scope of the gaming and gambling industry, and how companies will work to protect brands.

Dougan is the Group Communications Director for Genius Sports Group, with responsibility for developing and implementing the global corporate communication, marketing and public affairs strategy. He spent his early career at MGM Studios before moving into ballot measures and issue advocacy work. For over fifteen years, Dougan has specialized in managing integrated public affairs, strategic communications and issue advocacy campaigns on behalf of highly regulated sectors. He has planned and executed multiple campaigns across the US, EU, and EMEA region on behalf of national governments, institutions, and multinational corporations.

Since joining Genius Sports Group in 2015, Dougan has driven stakeholder engagement efforts and leads the US advocacy program by providing senior counsel to C-suite executives, opinion leaders, regulators and politicians. Outside the US, he has helped extend the Group’s reach into emerging markets by leading the debate on regulation and positioning the organization at the forefront of sports betting policy initiatives.

On April 18 at Portada Miami, Dougan will explain the value of data protection, the scope of the gaming and gambling industry, and how companies will work to protect brands, players, broadcasters and fans from catastrophic business failures tied to illegal activity in the space.

Check out the stars of Portada’s Sports Marketing Board, who will meet at Portada Miami on April 18-19 to discuss various topics related to the future of marketing and innovation in sports. Register now!

[featured image: Courtesy ESL, Fortune. Streaming of eSports event in Katowice, Poland]

What: Major League Soccer and Liga MX announced a long-term partnership designed to strengthen the sport in North America.
Why it matters: The agreement sends a clear message of unity to FIFA as the 2026 World Cup bid comes into focus.

The recently-announced partnership between MLS (@MLSand Liga MX (@LIGABancomerMXadds more than just a game between the leagues’ respective champions. It represents the setting of a solid goal to work together to enhance the status of both organizations, and the entire North American continent, in world soccer.

“For MLS and its brand partners this is a huge entry point to connect with fans of Liga MX, who have been skeptical of the quality of play and of the pro teams from the U.S.,” said Mario Flores, founder of Sportivo, a leading U.S. Latino marketing firm. “For Liga MX, it’s an opportunity to showcase their league and players to fans who might otherwise not tune in to watch a match. Soccer remains the number one sport of choice among Latinos so this is a very big opportunity, and another option for brands in the U.S. and Mexico to capitalize on the passion of futbol. This is very good news and I already see this as a win for MLS, Liga MX and fans of soccer. It’s really a no-brainer.”

[The Partnership]… represents the setting of a solid goal to work together to enhance the status of both organizations, and the entire North American region, in world soccer.

On that grand scale, the strategic agreement between the continent’s two largest leagues is a great message to brands that want to market professional soccer across North America, particularly to a bilingual and multicultural audience. It helps lift MLS promotion by working closely with the most-watched North American soccer platform.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

Courtesy Toronto FC

“Major League Soccer is proud to come together with Liga MX for this unprecedented partnership,” MLS Commissioner Don Garber (@thesoccerdonadded in a statement. “Together, we have a vision to elevate the popularity of our game to even higher levels in North America.”

Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla agreed. “It’s an opportunity for their champion to play our champion,” he noted, “in a way that can really create enormous interest and attention for both leagues.”

More events on the pitch are in the works, but the first is the annual event dubbed the “Campeones Cup” between the champions of each league, building on the mutual growing rivalry in the CONCACAF Champions League. The inaugural event will pit Toronto FC against either 2017 Apertura champion Tigres UANL or the winner of the current 2018 Clausura Liga MX season at Toronto’s BMO Field on September 19.

Liga MX under-20 teams will also participate during MLS All-Star Week as the annual opponent in the MLS Homegrown Game, to be held this year on August 1 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Check out the stars of Portada’s Sports Marketing Board, who will meet at Portada Miami on April 18-19 to discuss various topics related to the future of marketing and innovation in sports. Register now!

What: Coca-Cola, Sprint, Volkswagen, BuzzFeed and VICE are among the international partners for Telemundo Deportes’ coverage of FIFA World Cup 2018.
Why it matters: Power brands providing sponsorship and Spanish-language content across multimedia platforms, even without a U.S. team presence in Russia, demonstrates the desire to connect with this audience.

The countdown to FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCupis on for fútbol fans across the globe, and nowhere is that fervor stronger than in Latin America. Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama, Peru, and Uruguay will represent the region in various Groups in Russia beginning on June 14, and for many fans, Telemundo Deportes (@TelemundoSportswill be the preferred outlet to follow the world’s largest sporting event.

Telemundo has unveiled its top-level slate of partners, including worldwide sponsors like Coca-Cola (@CocaCola), Sprint (@sprintand Volkswagen (@Volkswagen), and content creators NBCU Digital Lab, BuzzFeed (@BuzzFeedand VICE (@VICESports).

On the content side, in which Telemundo plans more than 1,000 hours, VICE will create short features and stories geared toward the younger soccer audience.

“We are kicking off the 100-day countdown in a big way to celebrate this historic moment for Telemundo Deportes,” said Ray Warren, President of Telemundo Deportes, in a statement. “This will be the most consumed and most widely distributed digital event in Spanish-language television history. All of the initiatives announced today support our mission to bring our viewers the most authentic and complete coverage in the history of the tournament.”

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

On the sponsorship side, Coca-Cola will present the post-game shows and will appear on the in-game clocks on Telemundo’s coverage. Sprint will serve as the halftime sponsor and will allow its customers access to a portal with exclusive Spanish-language content. VW gains the lead on the primetime show, airing highlights and commentary nightly from 7-8 p.m.

On the content side, in which Telemundo plans more than 1,000 hours, VICE will create short features and stories geared toward the younger soccer audience. NBCU Digital Lab will work with Telemundo on the digital docu-series “Somos el Mundial” (“We are the World”), while BuzzFeed will create other short-form content for its multimedia platforms.

Some of the personalities on Telemundo Deportes’ coverage include Tab Ramos, Diego Forlán, Jesús “Chucho” Ramírez and Teófilo Cubillas.

Check out the stars of Portada’s Sports Marketing Board, who will meet at Portada Miami on April 18-19 to discuss various topics related to the future of marketing and innovation in sports. Register now!

cover image: 2014 World Cup Final (Danilo Borges-copa2014.gov.br)
WP to LinkedIn Auto Publish Powered By : XYZScripts.com