It’s hard to believe we’ve already surpassed the first quarter of 2021. Between new sponsors and partners, digital initiatives, and emerging social platforms, a lot happened in the first few months of the year. To bring you up to speed we’ve gathered all the soccer marketing news you need to know as a primer for the months to come.
- GESM editorials
- Four future uses for soccer NFTs
- Austin FC social media impact on MLS opening weekend
- 2021 MLS jersey and sleeve partners
- Chelsea FC showcases fans in New York City
- For the right brand partner the U.S. Open Cup is calling
- The future of soccer broadcasting
- Value of Clubhouse for brands, marketers, teams
- Value of TikTok for brands, marketers, teams
- Top news stories
- Soccer resources
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are all the rage right now. In their current existence, NFTs are almost exclusively limited to digital experiences like art and trading card collecting. However, as NFT and blockchain popularity grow, more and more use cases for soccer NFTs will arise.
After years of anticipation, Austin FC finally played their first game in Major League Soccer. We dove into the social conversation surrounding the debutants and the #AustinFC hashtag. From impressions and mentions to sentiment and growth, we examined hashtag usage on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
There are 27 teams that will compete in the 2021 MLS regular season, including debutant Austin FC. All but two, Inter Miami and the Colorado Rapids, will dawn a front-of-jersey sponsor to start the season. Additionally, there are 12 brands featured on the sleeves of 10 teams.
We’re elated to tell a small chapter of the American soccer novel through the lens of one of our clients, Chelsea FC. In partnership with famous music and social justice photographer Mel D. Cole and his photography agency Charcoal Pitch FC, we documented the story of five Chelsea fans in New York City.
Like many soccer fans, we admittedly have a soft spot for the nostalgia of the U.S. Open Cup. But as marketers, we also recognize the unique position of the tournament. For the U.S. Open Cup, soccer authenticity equals brand equity.
One of the compelling trends to watch over the next few years is the multi-dimensional disruption of the soccer broadcast industry in America. What is the future of soccer broadcasting? How will broadcasters utilize soccer to address linear and OTT platform needs? How will properties view this evolution and balance exposure desires with maximizing rights fees? What new opportunities will technological advances open up? How will the industry adapt to changing consumer viewing habits?
Over the past few months there’s been increased attention given to Clubhouse. What is the platform? What value does Clubhouse have for brands and marketers? Should you be on it? We answer all those questions and more in our deep dive into Clubhouse.
Several years ago we published a piece discussing how brands and teams can utilize Snapchat, the rising social platform at the time, to increase fan engagement. Fast forward to 2021 and there’s another platform taking the world by storm, which raises the question: what is the value of TikTok for leagues, teams, and brands?
Top news stories
There’s a lot of soccer marketing news we haven’t covered in-depth, instead opting to include as a news link in our weekly newsletter. We haven’t included all links below, but here’s a sampling of the top newsworthy items of 2021, to date.
Sponsorship, partnerships, branding
- Austin FC announced Q2 as their stadium naming partner.
- Starbucks became the presenting partner of OL Reign’s Legends Campaign
- McDonald’s of Southern California partnered with LAFC to support eMLS initiatives
- DoorDash signed a reported eight-figure deal to become Angel City FC’s jersey sponsor
- Lay’s launched a campaign for UEFA Champions League featuring Lionel Messi and others
- TikTok is now an official sponsor of EURO 2020 and the Portland Timbers and Thorns
- FC Dallas has a new jersey partner in Frisco-based tech company, MTX
- LA Galaxy announced a new partnership with LA-based technology company, Honey
- Austin FC added Diageo North America as a Founding Partner and C4 Energy as the official energy drink
- LAFC announced a multi-year partnership with FLEX
- Nationwide and Ally are NWSL’s newest league partners
- The Sounders teamed up with the Payallup Tribe’s Emerald Queen Casino
- Angry Orchard is the official hard cider of the Concacaf Gold Cup
- San Jose Earthquakes entered a 10-year stadium naming rights deal with PayPal
- St. Louis CITY SC secured its jersey sponsor in St. Louis headquartered brand, Purina
- LAFC extended their Postmates partnership and also added new partner, Nectar Sleep
- Columbus Crew SC announced a new community partner in KultureCity
- Hyperice is U.S. Soccer’s newest multi-year partner
- MLS and Proctor & Gamble have entered a five-year partnership
- AutoNation has signed a multi-year partnership with Inter Miami
- Palmer Square partnered with NWSL Kansas City
- Avaya is now the jersey sponsor of newly-rebranded Gotham FC
- The Portland Timbers announced a multi-year partnership with Luckii, an Oregon-based casino
- Bundesliga club VfL Wolfsburg is now the official away jersey sponsor of Chattanooga FC
- MLS partnered with the University of South Carolina to continue online educational offerings
- FC Cincinnati has a naming rights partner for their brand new stadium in Total Quality Logistics (TQL)
- Naomi Osaka announced she’s now a part owner of the North Carolina Courage
- Manchester City partnered with blockchain-based fan engagement platform, Socios.com
- 50% of Club Necaxa is now owned by a primarily American ownership group
- To celebrate Earth Day, MLS WORKS, the league, and its clubs pledged to plant 27,000 trees in local communities
Last but not least, we’ve compiled a host of information on our website to help you, the soccer fan or soccer marketer, be easier in-tune with sport. We have resources for everything from news, to soccer viewing, to the 2022 FIFA World Cup… because it’s never soon enough to think about the greatest sporting event in the world!
Looking for more details than the above compiled list? Every news story included in our newsletter can be found on this page. Let it serve as your one-stop-shop for all the major soccer marketing stories.
The good news? American soccer fans have more options to view the sport on TV or streaming than anywhere else in the world. The bad news? American soccer fans have more options to view the sport on TV or streaming than anywhere else in the world.
We’ve built a list of what networks and streaming platforms you can find almost every soccer league available to fans.
Do you like checking to see how many viewers the MLS broadcast got over the weekend and how it compared to the Premier League? Thanks to our friends at ShowBuzz Daily, we highlight the ten most-watched broadcasts of the previous week.
Curious which individual soccer games are the most-watched games in U.S. TV history? We’ve got you covered.