The Italian National Team has been a marquee global asset of PUMA since 2003. In 2015 the US marketing team wanted to leverage the aspirational appeal of the Team to engage influential youth soccer players in key markets around the country.
Even an established brand like PUMA with a high-profile property such as the Italian National Team can’t just show up and expect support from the youth soccer community. Youth soccer is a complex and competitive animal. PUMA turned to the expertise of GESM to help develop the right strategic approach and provide turnkey execution of all program elements.
We created Il Viaggio to be an exclusive invite-only program for U-14 players in New York, Los Angeles, and Toronto. Local trial events were attended by sixty-six (66) players in each market with the top players going onto a national trial held at Disney. The final sixteen (16) select players were provided with an experience of a lifetime; a week in Europe practicing and playing matches at the official training facility of the Italian National Team.
GESM responsibilities included concept development, trials execution, program management, retailer integration, and promotion and publicity.
- Il Viaggio was not a program for every soccer player. The goal was to focus on elite / competitive players and extend personal invitations to each. To accomplish this, we needed to tap deep into our knowledge of the local soccer landscape and personal relationships with coaches and community leaders.
- To drive even greater awareness for the program we partnered with KICK to chapter the experience of the select team during their trip to Italy. The resulting digital content series generated over 500,000 views and significant social engagement.
- Every player participating in the program was exposed to a powerful and lasting PUMA brand experience, but to drive a healthy ROI these experiences needed to be amplified to a wider audience. Sharable experiences and physical assets were continually provided to the players stimulating and motivating their social story telling.
- Rarely do you receive substantive feedback from consumers about a sponsorship / marketing activation. This program was different, and we received dozens of unsolicited notes of praise from participating players (both those who made the team and those who didn’t) and their parents. For us, this was certainly an activation highlight.