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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

What: Lizzie Seedhouse, SVP, Digital for USL, and Josh Keller, VP of Business Development for the USL, talked to Portada about the relevance of video to connect with fans and leverage brands’ sponsorships.
Why it matters: USL sealed a partnership with WSC Sports, to harness WSC’s technology platform to automate and simplify USL’s video creation capabilities.

Just one month ago, the United Soccer League (USL) announced a partnership with WSC Sports, the leader in AI-powered sports video content, to harness WSC’s technology platform to automate and simplify USL’s video creation capabilities.

The new technology would serve the second division soccer league to create automated video highlights for more than 500 games of the regular USL season and playoff games, allowing for easily customizable highlights packages and individual player highlight reels.

Lizzie Seedhouse, SVP of Digital for USL.

“Video content is the key to engaging any digital audience,” Lizzie Seedhouse, SVP of Digital for USL, tells Portada. According to USL’s analytics, their fans are no different. In fact, they are used to a higher level of accessibility to clubs, players and content, which becomes one more reason for the league to provide newer video content.

Video content is the key to engaging any digital audience.

“To accommodate the need for access and enjoy the game remotely we leverage video content and our digital platforms to give fans a taste of game-day experience inside and outside of the 90-minute game,” adds Seedhouse.

Every team will have the opportunity to opt-in and use WSC for editing, curating and publishing footage from any games that their club has played in. Also, each club will then have the freedom to tie partnerships and sponsors to the content they produce; “giving them an almost unbounded mass of content that they can monetize,” explains Seedhouse.

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Sponsorship Opportunities

Josh Keller, VP of Business Development for the USL, believes that “the great thing about WSC is the ease with which sponsors can activate their sponsorship with teams. The technology can identify numerous ‘sponsorable’ assets, which gives the team more assets to sell and execute on and makes it turnkey for activation.”

The technology can identify numerous ‘sponsorable’ assets, which gives the team more assets to sell.
Josh Keller, VP of Business Development for the USL.

The ease of distribution to pre-determined platforms can allow USL to geo- or demo- target based on content. This means that the system can create highlights of specific players to help reach targeted fanbases.

As a result, Keller says this new video content represents an additional dynamic inventory to sell. “The scale with which the platform can build new inventory is far more efficient than having internal staff to do this.”

Publishing Platforms

The other key to generating content is where to publish it. The USL is betting on social media, given that there is where it can find its fans spending most of their time, especially on Instagram.

Video content posted to their Instagram account gains approximately 40% of all video views on USL’s social media (Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook) so far this season. But, the league still looks to keep a multi-channel video distribution strategy.

“We look to create and serve platform-specific video content that meets the needs of our fans in that moment in time and not take a ‘one size fits all approach’ to video content,” details Seedhouse.

 

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

  • https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/983542117581516800/-qaNBZdk_400x400.jpgEnglish Premier League Manchester City inked a multiyear deal with dating app Tinder. This is the app’s first promotion in the sports market. Tinder is also partnering with Major League Soccer’s New York City Football Club.
  • Jake Reid has been named Sporting Club CEO and President of the Sporting Kansas City. Reid assumes his new role having served as Sporting KC President since January 2016. He joined the organization in 2010 as the Vice President of Ticket Sales and Service before his promotion to Chief Revenue Officer in 2012.
    “It’s as much about representing Kansas City as it is about representing Sporting. We’re still the second smallest market in MLS, but we feel like we’re punching way above our weight class, which is a great representation of our city,” Reid stated.
  • The USL has expanded its broadcast agreement with ESPN for the 2018 and 2019 seasons. The deal includes bringing more regular-season games to linear channels and making ESPN+ the league’s streaming subscription service in the US. There will now be six USL regular season games and the 2018 USL Cup aired on linear networks.

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  • NBC SportsNBC Sports’ broadcast of Manchester United’s win over Manchester City in the Manchester Derby, brought together a Total Audience Delivery average of 1.72 million viewers across all platforms. This represents the most-watched Premier League match in US history, according to Nielsen and Adobe Analytics. NBC delivered 1.35 million viewers, with 309,000 on Telemundo, and an Average Minute Audience of 59,800 across NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
  • Italian team Roma agreed on a new back-of-shirt sponsorship deal with Hyundai, according to a report in Roman daily Il Tempo. According to the newspaper, the deal will run for three years, with a US$4.3 million-per-season contract. The club will have to end its two-year official car partnership with Volvo a year early.
  • Kathy Carter
    Kathy Carter

    Major League Soccer and Soccer United Marketing have announced that SUM president Kathy Carter is departing her role. Carter had been SUM president, which oversees the commercial arm of MLS and other soccer properties, since 2010. Recently Carter lost against runner-up Carlos Cordeiro to become U.S. Soccer president.
    “My time with SUM and MLS has been deeply meaningful – building and expanding the game has been my profession and my passion. I will remain a huge supporter of MLS and US Soccer and will be cheering loudly from the stands for our clubs and players,’ Carter stated.

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: 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.

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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.

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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: El Paso is the latest addition to the United Soccer League, giving the league additional Southwestern presence.
Why it matters: The ownership group, MSSL, has strong ties to Mexico, including minority ownership of a Mexican League soccer team and food franchise ownership in the country by one of its partners, which can help the Division II soccer league gain a foothold in Mexico.

The fast-expanding United Soccer League (@USL) has added its fourth new franchise for 2019 with the news that El Paso, Texas, will join the league. MountainStar Sports Group (MSSG), which is also a minority owner in FC Juaréz of Mexico’s Liga Ascenso, will operate the franchise.

The new El Paso franchise, temporarily known as El Paso USL, gives the league another Southwest member, and one which boasts a population of more than 800,000 on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. The city has a AAA minor league baseball team in the El Paso Chihuahuas —also run by MSSG—as well as a top-level Division I athletics program at the University of Texas, El Paso in the nationally prominent Conference USA.

MSSG’s ties to Mexico, via FC Juaréz and Ms. De la Vega-Foster’s properties, can help the USL gain a foothold there.

Additionally, Alejandra De la Vega-Foster, a key member of the ownership group, is the Vice President of Almacenes Distribuidores de la Frontera, owner and operator of convenience stores in Ciudad Juaréz and northern Chihuahua, Mexico. She also owns the Domino’s Pizza franchise in Juarez and holds the franchise rights for La Madeleine Country French Café in El Paso, southern New Mexico, and Arizona.

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Other USL teams in the region include the Phoenix Rising FC, Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, Las Vegas Lights FC and Reno 1868 FC. The Tampa-based Division II pro soccer league reaches more than 75 million people in its markets.

The addition of a group as in tune to Hispanic marketing as MSSG to its ownership roster makes good sense for the league, which already boasts marketing partnerships with ESPN and SiriusXM. MSSG’s ties to Mexico, via FC Juaréz and Ms. De la Vega-Foster’s properties, can help the USL gain a foothold there.

Josh Hunt, MSSG Chairman and CEO, said in a statement, “Since our inception, improving the quality of life in our region and promoting economic development have been our core objectives. We’re very proud to bring this high level of professional soccer to El Paso and to be a part of the USL.”

Could further expansion for the league, even South of the border, be far behind?

Cover Photo courtesy Ivan Pierre Aguirre / El Paso USL

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

  • SwitchbacksFCColorado Springs Switchbacks FC announced a partnership with Capelli Sport as its official uniform and equipment supplier in a multi-year deal. Capelli Sport will supply its apparel and training gear to the organization for the 2018 season. This will mark the first year of a five-year agreement between the two organizations.
  • Carlos Cordeiro was elected new president of the US Soccer Federation. “I’m a little overwhelmed,” Cordeiro stated, after getting 68.6 percent of the votes.
  • Univision Deportes’ broadcast of Liga MX Saturday game Tigres vs America averaged 1.5 million viewers. That marks the highest-rated Liga MX match of the year. Meanwhile, the Chivas-Santos Laguna match averaged 1.4 million for the channel to rank as the second most-viewed Liga MX game this year.

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  • Major League Soccer confirmed on Tuesday that its streaming service will become a part of ESPN+ when it launches this year. ESPN+ subscribers will be able to stream out-of-market games that are not nationally televised, replacing the league’s separate MLS Live service for U.S. Las Vegas Lights FCusers. Last season MLS Live cost $79.99, while ESPN+ will cost $4.99 a month ($59.88 annually) and also include other live sporting events and ESPN content.
  • Las Vegas Lights FC unveiled their home uniforms in conjunction with primary jersey sponsor Zappos.
  • MLS announced its 2018 version of MLS Fantasy will be split into a spring and a fall season. The spring season is just around the corner: starting March 3 and running until July 29, a few days before the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target.
  • North Carolina FC will play host to the United States Men’s National Team as plays against Paraguay on Tuesday, March 27 at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park. The Men’s National Team returns to WakeMed Soccer Park for the first time since 2011.

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

  • David Beckham and MLS announced Monday the birth of the Miami MLS team. The team name, logo, when it will start playing and when the stadium will open still need to be set. “Bringing an MLS club to Miami has been a hell of a journey,” stated Beckham.

  • The New York Red Bulls announced the acquisition of German midfielder Marc Rzatkowski on loan from sister club Red Bull Salzburg of the Austrian Bundesliga. The 27-year-old will remain with New York on a season-long loan and will occupy an international spot on the club’s roster.

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  • LAFC partnered with YouTube TV as both its jersey-front sponsor and local English-language broadcaster. The multi-year deal marks the first time North-American pro sports will have all locally televised matches on a live TV streaming provider.

  • MLS and Liga MX are discussing an annual match between their respective champions, starting as early as this fall, according to Insider. The proposed first meeting would probably take place in mid-September at Toronto’s BMO Field.
  • Jay Heaps, former New England Revolution head coach, accepted a position as president and general manager of 2019 USL expansion team Birmingham Legion FC.

  • The National Women’s Soccer League announced Sunday that the Boston Breakers will cease operations in advance of the 2018 season, due to a lack of investors. “Discussions with an active buyer who had signed a letter of intent were ongoing since November of 2017. Unfortunately, due to certain factors that process was halted on short notice,” Boston Breakers managing partner Peter Stoller said in a statement.
    Fans who already bought tickets for the upcoming season will be given full refunds.

What: The longest standing member of the U.S. Soccer Federation announced the expansion of the USL Television Network to Pittsburgh.
Why it matters: In April, the USL Television Network announced local broadcast agreements in 17 unique markets, this allowed it to reach more than 10 million households, transmitting more than 300 games during the 2017 USL season.

USLUSL Productions, the league’s innovative $10 million broadcast center created in association with VISTA Worldlink in Fort Lauderdale, Fla, which houses the USL Television Network and Match Center, signed a broadcast agreement with CW affiliate WPCW-TV to air select Riverhounds matches this season in Pittsburgh.

“As an emerging leader in sports broadcast television syndications, we play a vital role in providing tailored local programming to the majority of our markets across the country in only our first year,” stated Tom Veit, USL Executive VP and Chief Revenue Officer. “This new partnership with the top broadcast group in Pittsburgh reinforces the USL’s vision of becoming one of the most recognized Division II professional soccer leagues in the world as we continue to reach supporters across multiple platforms.”

This new partnership with the top broadcast group in Pittsburgh reinforces the USL’s vision of becoming one of the most recognized Division II professional soccer leagues in the world.

Christopher Pike, Vice President and General Manager of WPCW-TV, explained how they “forge partnerships with well-established organizations and the USL is a perfect example of this. With the help of USL Production’s state-of-the-art technology, we look forward to CW being the home of the Riverhounds.”

Feature image: @PghRiverhounds

What: Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings, led by CEO Kevin Nagle, announced that it has bought  the USL soccer team Sacramento Republic FC.
Why it matters: Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings is also  leading Sacramento’s bid to become part of the Major League Soccer (MLS).

Soccer club Sacramento Republic FC will be acquired by Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings, the group led by executive Kevin Nagle that filed a Major League Soccer expansion application in January.  The acquisition of the USL soccer team Republic FC by Sac Soccer & Entertainment Holdings means that Sacramento has a bigger chance of receiving a  Major  League Soccer (MLS) expansion team. Nagle said this morning, outside of Sacramento City Hall.

All of us want Republic FC to represent Sacramento at the MLS level.

“Today we stand as one club and one community. I thank the Mayor and Warren Smith , Republic FC’s president and co-founder, for helping formalize what all of us wanted from day one: that Republic FC represents Sacramento at the MLS level,” Nagle said in an official statement.

There are more than ten cities bidding to join the MLS at the moment. The U.S. professional soccer league is expected to announce its expansion teams by the end of the year.

In addition, Sac Soccer & Entertainment announced that it is planning to build a stadium for  Republic FC.
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The PortadaLat Awards have announced the 2017 Golazo Award nominees. Voting is open through May 19 to determine the finalists who will battle it out in front of a jury at PortadaLat on June 7! Below are the 16 shortlisted nominees. Peer-to-Peer recognition is a foundation of the PortadaLat Awards and it’s up to you to vote on which candidates move on to the finalist round. Check out the nominees and vote for your favorite now!

Don’t forget to register to join sportscasting celebrity Fernando Fiore, industry leaders and game changers in Miami, June 7-8 for the ninth annual #PortadaLat Conference. The event kicks off on June 7 with a spotlight on the significant role of soccer marketing in the U.S. and Latin America. Learn more about Portada’s new ticket options.

Agencies, including PR agencies, brand marketers, and media properties were invited to nominate campaigns, concepts and ideas that substantially engage consumers in the U.S. or Latin America through soccer content. These are the nominees:

” MLS “”Stand as One Campaign”/Brooklyn Brothers “

https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/790548785864867841/414P_m13.jpgThe campaign featured creative elements including television spots, digital and print advertising, in-venue visibility, social content, and storytelling, and was rolled out during the 2016 MLS season. The campaign ran with spots across all MLS’ broadcast partners, along with significant online activation. “Stand as One,” created collaboratively by The Brooklyn Brothers and MLS’ in-house marketing and creative team, was designed to elevate the movement and the sport of soccer in North America. It highlighted the electric and unifying fan and stadium experience that is unique to MLS’ core, as well as the world-class quality demonstrated by its players every week.The campaign was supported by all five of MLS’ national broadcast partners: ESPN, FOX Sports, Univision,

The campaign was supported by all five of MLS’ national broadcast partners: ESPN, FOX Sports, Univision, TSN and RDS, as well as all international and regional MLS broadcast partners. In addition, MLS digital channels, including MLSsoccer.com, MLS Video and MLS’ social media, played a leading role in the campaign. The campaign captured the true essence of MLS by celebrating the stories of MLS’ clubs and local markets. The visual elements reflect the authenticity, unity, and excellence of Major League Soccer, its players and its supporters, who combine to define the sport in the United States and Canada.


“My Inter Jersey” / Gravity

Fans of Inter love to wear their team colors loudly and proudly. Digital natives enjoy generating their own content, especially if they can put their name on it. Our goal was to drive awareness and sales of the new Inter Milan jersey by Nike.

Based on this insight, Gravity proposed to create a web platform that would enable fans to create their own personalized wallpapers for devices depicting the new jersey design.

We targeted fans on social media that re-directed them to a microsite to create personalized jersey. To incentivize fans to purchase the new jersey, the first 10 thousand participates were provided with a discount coupon to buy the jersey from Nike.

Launched in mid-November, it has already attracted more than 24,000 fans from 155 different countries. There are over 12,800 newsletter subscribers and thousands of social mentions and positive sentiment.

Link to Campaign/Brand.


AT&T / MNT / The Marketing Arm

AT&T / MNT / The Marketing ArmIn efforts to connect with Hispanic Millennials, The Marketing Arm (TMA) launched the Expresa Tu Pasión soccer campaign, a collaboration between AT&T and the Mexican National Soccer Team (MNT). This campaign engaged Hispanic Millennials, both socially and in the real world through exclusive experiences and activations. To amplify the program, TMA created the “AT&T Expressions” app. A digital platform, which consisted of customized emoticons that brought soccer fan excitement to life. By using these emoticons, AT&T was able to easily interact with Hispanic Millennials in stadiums, music venues, social media channels, and AT&T retail stores nationwide.

The MNT consumer experience included Retail and exclusive VIP events with MNT legendary players, an interactive zone during the pre-game tailgate parties, Fútbol Fiesta, and leveraged the existing relationship with popular Univision sportscaster Adriana Monsalve as a celebrity guest during every match.

Link to Campaign/Brand.


FC Bayern Audi Summer Tour 2016 / FC Bayern Munich LLC

FC Bayern Audi Summer Tour 2016 / FC Bayern Munich LLC.FC Bayern Munich opened an office in New York (2014) to grow our fanbase and better connect with fans in the U.S.; bringing them closer to the club they love. In three years we’ve seen interest in Bayern grow from 13M to 27M followers.

The 2016 U.S. Audi Summer Tour campaign gave fans that haven’t been to Munich the chance to see their team on home soil. Fixtures in Charlotte, Chicago and New York, appealed to general sports and soccer fans, including the large Hispanic Bayern fanbase and population there.

Results:
• Attendance – 180,000+ for three games
• 340M+ people reached via social media
• 43.7M interactions & video views on our social channels
• 12M+ watched TV broadcast
• 65K increase in CRM database, 18K increase in newsletter subscribers
• 43 media appointments
• 20 player activations with partners

Link to Campaign/Brand.


Inter Milan / Gravity

Inter, the Milan-based professional Italian football club, was taking part in the U.S. International Champions Cup, and hoping to make a splash in the U.S. marketplace.

To broaden its reach, Inter worked closely with Gravity to create a campaign that would increase brand relevancy into the lives of U.S. soccer fans.

The campaign featured a video montage of past, and epic, goals, that showcased Inter’s legendary heritage. To further enhance relevancy, these videos used American NBA/NFL/MLB commentators from sports outside of soccer. When Inter was shown scoring a goal, the commentator called out “touchdown” or a “home run” in an effort to “teach America how to cheer.” The unexpected combination of European and American sports promoted Inter in an exciting and engaging way that people (especially soccer fans) across the globe understood.

The four videos were aired globally across Inter’s social media channels as well as boosted with paid social.

Link to Campaign/Brand.


Johnson & Johnson/MLS/U.S. Soccer

Johnson & Johnson/MLS/U.S. SoccerJohnson & Johnson announced a multi-year extension of its sponsorship as official healthcare partner of MLS and US Soccer. The sponsorship was first activated in 2015 and this is the second time the consumer brand renews its sponsorship.Johnson & Johnson Consumer Brands will be integrated throughout different platforms including digital, broadcast and video content, as well as in-stadium exposure. Johnson & Johnson will also continue to create on-site activations during relevant MLS events, such as the All-Star Game, which is presented by Target and the MLS Cup. For the US Soccer partnership, the healthcare company will sponsor both male and female senior and youth national teams. Johnson & Johnson will use its partnership to expose many of its different brands on the field. It will also integrate it into its marketing strategies, including the Johnson & Johnson Donate a Photo app, through which people can connect with causes that they care about and other key platforms and partners.


Pepsi “Momentos”/UEFA Champions League/BBDO

Pepsi™In 2017, in its second year as a sponsor of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). Pepsi launched its first global campaign based on a “Moments” creative platform. The campaign is active in nearly 75 countries including most of Latin America and the U.S.
The #PepsiMoment campaign, which features football/soccer stars Sergio Agüero, Alexis Sánchez and Vincent Kompany, looks to build on and associate the Pepsi brand with fans’ excitement in the lead-up to the UEFA Champions League Final on June 3 in Cardiff, Wales. Taglined “Show How Much It Means,” the campaign celebrates the sport’s fans by depicting their passion before, during and after matches. Pepsi posted creative from lead agency AMV BBDO on YouTube, including a 60-second anthem video that’s a montage of game-related moments, called “We Know How Much It Means”; several 10-second videos excerpted from the anthem; and short videos featuring the three brand-rep athletes talking about their favorite football moments. The campaign spans “always-on, exclusive content” and shareable social media creative, including fan-generated content. The campaign lives on Facebook, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat. Digital elements launched this week in the U.S. and most of the other nearly 75 countries targeted for the campaign, a brand rep reports. TV spots are also broadcast in most of those markets.

Link to Campaign/Brand.


Scotiabank/F.C. Barcelona

Scotiabank JamaicaFC Barcelona and the FC Barcelona Foundation announced an official partnership with Scotiabank that designates the Canadian bank as the Official Bank of FC Barcelona in Latin America and the Caribbean. This agreement will allow Banco Colpatria, Scotiabank’s Colombian partner, to sponsor youth-focused programs in Colombia, as well as participate in events and offer soccer experiences to its clients. Because it will support young people from Colombia through various programs sponsored through Banco Colpatria. The winners of the Scotiabank-organized championship will be able to travel and attend training events in Barcelona, Spain. Scotiabank, in association with its Colombian partner Banco Colpatria, will host a four-day FutbolNet Festival, in which a thousand young players will train and learn important sports and life skills.


 

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What:  Executives at Louisville City FC provided details of their plan to build a US $40 million soccer stadium in Louisville.
Why it matters: AccLouisville urgently needs a stadium for soccer to keep growing in the city, according to a study made by the team last August.

United Soccer League 2015 logo.svg Louisville City FC revealed plans and renderings of its new stadium near Campbell and Adams Streets in Butchertown.

Until now, the United Soccer League (USL) team created in 2014 has been playing its matches at the Louisville Slugger Field, which was actually built to play baseball.

The new stadium and adjacent space (office, retail and hotel space) will cover 40 acres of land for a 10,000-seat soccer stadium. An investment of approximately US $200 million is needed, US $40 million of which will be used for the stadium only. Executives at Luisville City FC are looking to create a “public-private partnership” with the Louisville Metro government and state officials, to raise that amount of money. In January, Louisville City signed an agreement with architecture firm HOK to design the 10,000-seat stadium which could later expand to 20,000 seats. HOK has already developed other soccer-specific stadiums with USL teams.

Nominate your candidates! Call for Entries: 2018 Golazo Soccer World Cup Campaign Award!