Welcome to the soccer marketing roundup! We’ve gathered some of our favorite past and present stories, from Soccer on TV recaps to the most popular soccer clubs in the U.S. to Aarhus turning to Zoom for an in-stadium fan solution. Whether it’s research, sponsorship news, thought leadership, or digital campaigns, we’ve got you covered.
Let this source be a revolving door for all your soccer marketing news and use the below table of contents to navigate to a story of interest.
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.
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.
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.
Rather than dwell on the current situation, I thought I’d take a moment to think about the industry post-COVID-19. What are the aspects of the COVID-19 playbook that will have a lasting impact and ultimately help shape the future of soccer marketing and sponsorship?
Soccer Marketing Research / Insights
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be here before you know it! We’ve organized a guide to make sure you’re prepared for the 22nd edition of the world’s greatest sporting event. From tournament dates to host cities and World Cup format to ticket info, we’ve got you covered.
You’ve settled down to watch soccer on TV when you realize you don’t know the channel or streaming platform on which a particular league or competition is featured. Fear not! We’ve built a rundown of some of the most-watched soccer competitions and where you can find them via remote or via app.
In addition to our monthly Soccer on TV recaps, we’ve begun to track the most-watched soccer games per week. From the Premier League to Liga MX and NWSL to La Liga, check in periodically to see what leagues and teams soccer fans are tuning into weekly.
One of our favorite pieces of annual content is our look back at the previous year and the number of games broadcast on U.S. TV. In 2019 there were just over 3,000 matches across 35 different broadcasting networks. What did 2020 have in store?
The 2020 list is more diverse, as well, with 10 different teams appearing in the top 10, including eight club teams. In 2019, only seven teams were represented in the top 10 with only four of them being club teams.
In a long-awaited follow-up to a 2016 rundown of America’s favorite soccer clubs, we’ve crunched some numbers, run a few surveys, updated the data, and are excited to unveil a new list of the most popular soccer clubs according to U.S. fans.
Soccer Sponsorship News
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.
As we continue our countdown of MLS-themed stories ahead of the league’s 25th season, we dove into what’s new in jersey sponsorship across the league.
We once again dive into the jersey sponsor partners for each team competing in the Premier League during the 2020/21 season. As you may expect, brands in the betting, transportation, and insurance / finance sectors comprise a large portion of the list.
Our client, Volkswagen of America, recently announced partnerships with ten U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team stars. Team VW, as the group is collectively called, will serve as ambassadors for the brand while helping communities grow the sport of soccer through nine local charities, each of which has received a contribution from Volkswagen.
Following the eMLS League Series One event held in January in Philadelphia, social analytics company, Zoomph, provided an in-depth look at the event based on fan affinity and social valuations for MLS teams, participating players, and event sponsors.
Following the awarding of a Major League Soccer franchise, the to-be-named team announced multiyear partnership with Ally Bank. The deal, worth a reported $7 million annually, sees the online bank become the team’s jersey sponsor.
Digital / Social Media in Soccer
Building community and amplifying fan stories is what’s so special about the work we do with the Premier League in the U.S. When Avery Dennison, official supplier of Premier League names, numbers, and sleeve badges, wanted to reward fans in the PLinUSA community, we had just the right idea.
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.
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.
As we think about upcoming holidays, next on the list is Valentine’s Day. We love tossing around ideas internally to leverage holiday moments and Valentine’s Day provides great creative opportunity. After all, what fans don’t enjoy showing appreciation for their favorite team? Or inversely, what teams don’t enjoy showing appreciation for their fans?
Fortnite and soccer, a dynamic duo poised for the Battle Royale! Epic Games, the developer of the immensely popular and free-to-play online video game, Fortnite, recently revealed two pieces of news relevant to soccer fans that shows an evolution in the connection between two of the more popular things on the planet.
Toward the end of 2020, Budweiser, a brand long involved in soccer, executed one of our favorite marketing activations of the year. Leveraging one of their partner athletes and a record-breaking accomplishment, Budweiser sent surprise gifts to members of the soccer community.
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?
What happens when a QSR brand partners with a middling English soccer club? In the case of Burger King and Stevenage FC… a lot. In one of the more innovative partnerships in recent memory, Burger King helped Stevenage FC go from relative unknown on a global scale to FIFA sensation.
No disrespect to the Belarusian Premier League, KBO League (Korean Baseball), and various other sports leagues, but the Bundesliga returning was the first “major” sporting league / event to take place since COVID-19 shut everything down. Schalke created a digital campaign to celebrate their return.
Covid Changes the Soccer Game
When Aarhus returns to play at the end of May they’ll do so in front of their most ardent and vocal fans… but with a twist! Zoom, the quarantine platform de jour, will serve as the conduit to help create the stadium atmosphere.
We’ve seen a variety of in-stadium solutions to make up for a lack of fans, whether it’s pumped-in crowd noise or cardboard cutouts. That got us thinking – what else can teams do to engage fans once their seasons begin?
In these difficult times, a brand’s purpose can be put to the test. If a brand has not shown prior interest in community involvement and aid, a sudden commitment may appear inauthentic. If a brand tries to keep things lighthearted and jovial it may come off as not serious enough. Perceived inauthenticity, whether accurate or not, is a dangerous game for brands.
From Captain Morgan to FIFA and Rocket League to cardboard fan cutouts, the soccer world is trying to cope with the COVID-19 situation. What has resonated with the GESM team? Is the “we’re all in this together” messaging overkill? We discuss our thoughts.
Businesses have had to adjust to a new, digital work culture thanks to the affects of the coronavirus. Here in Chicago, we’ve been in a citywide lockdown since Saturday, March 21st. As a company, we’ve been working from home since Friday, March 13th and, like many others, have transitioned to daily video chats and other means of staying connected.
We’re looking outside the soccer world to draw on an example of a fun idea that turned into digital gold. What can teams, leagues, and brands take away from this? Sometimes even the simplest ideas work well with the right personality and the right audience.