John Guppy

Want To Win With Soccer? Think Engagement

Marketers regularly debate the merits of reach vs. engagement and how to prioritize based on their brand objectives.  Both are important of course.  They address different goals that are very much hand in glove.

Last week at the MediaPost Marketing Sports: Soccer in America conference marketers discussed the importance of driving engagement to specifically connect with the soccer fan in America.  From digital and social media to promotional marketing to experiential marketing, delivering quality engagement experiences was seen as a key strategy.

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Here’s 25 insights from speakers at the conference on the general topic of driving engagement.

1. “Social media is by far the most efficient way to reach and engage soccer fans.” [10]

2. “All sports fans are passionate – that’s a universal. The real question is how do you tap into the soccer passion.  What’s the story that a brand can lock onto, develop and engage the fan?” [7]

3. “Access is one way to drive engagement. Think about the tunnel cam.  I love to see which players say hello and more interestingly which players don’t.” [9]

4. “The best thing about social media is that it has forced brands to be more authentic and talk like humans.” [4]

5. “MLS fans have grown up in a digital world so the medium is a natural foundation for them. This is different for other sports that are having to introduce their fans to a digital experience.” [8]

6. “Continental Tire doesn’t look at MLS the same way it looks at soccer internationally. In the U.S. it isn’t a signage play, it’s an opportunity to engage consumers on-site.” [11]

7. “Chipotle ran an MLS sweeps in June that provided a VIP trip to the MLS All Star Game. It was one of most successful programs ever because it was perfectly on target with the demo.” [11]

8. “There is now a large soccer-educated community in the USA. The question now is how does the MLS engage them.  How does MLS make a connection and not get crowded out or suffer from cannibalization from other leagues.” [1]

9. “The three A’s of social media engagement are: Authenticity, Access, Always On.” [10]

10. “If social and mobile are not part of your campaign you are at a significant disadvantage, particularly when trying to engage the Hispanic Millennial.” [5]

11. “Engagement is very important to a brand. MLS provides the opportunity to connect in person at the matches and stadiums – something international leagues can’t deliver. “[11]

12. “The most pivotal moment of the WWC was on June 21st when Tom Hanks recognized every U.S. player on Twitter and stated they were his heroes. He gave permission for everyone to get behind the Team.” [10]

13. “Women’s soccer players set the standard when it comes to social engagement. They are prolific and great story tellers.” [2]

14. “Twitter came to U.S. Soccer and asked if they could build a hash flag emoji to support the #SheBelieves campaign.” [10]


15. “The goal of the U.S. Women’s Team around the World Cup was to drive a message of empowerment.” [10]

16. “Gen Z doesn’t watch full soccer games, they like to watch highlights on Instagram. MLS is ahead of other leagues on engaging this audience through these types of platforms.” [3]

17. “Soccer culture in most countries around the world has already been established. In the US though, it’s being developed. MLS fans in the stadium own it, they developed it, it’s by them and it’s for them. There is an opportunity to tap into this owned culture.” [7]

18. “Some brands may look just at international soccer because that’s where the ratings are. But the ability to drive personal engagement is not as strong as it is for MLS.” [3]

19. “Social and mobile are the way in to connect with the Hispanic consumer. They provide tremendous over delivery and should be at parity with TV.” [5]

20. “MLS has grown up in the digital world and has a true foundation in the medium.” [8]

21. “Marketers need to make influencers truly believable advocates for their brand.” [4]

22. “The lasting effect of the Women’s World Cup was the creation of brand evangelists for the women’s game.” [10]

23. “Television provides great reach, but the focus for a brand should be on driving engagement.” [7]

24. “ROI in the Hispanic marketing means Return on Involvement.” [6]

25. “Passion for soccer in the Hispanic community never fades. It exists each and every day and is not tied to the occurrence of “big events”.” [6]

Disclosure Note. Quotes may not represent verbatim translations.

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[1] Derek Aframe, EVP, Octagon
[2] Diane Brandis Scavuzzo, Editor-in-Chief, GoalNation
[3] Jaime Cardenas – CEO, AC&M Group
[4] Miguel Garcia Castillo – Group Creative Director, Walton Isaacson
[5] Danielle Cherry – SVP Human Experience, Strategist, Starcom MediaVest Group
[6] Richard Copeland – President/CEO, BRC Group
[7] Dominic Curran, CEO Synergy U.S.
[8] Bryan Hughes – SVP, Audience Analysis Practice Lead MAGNAGLOBAL
[9] Greg Lalas – VP Content, MLS
[10] Tom Lillig – Director, Brand Management, Stone Ward Advertising
[11] Darren Marshall – EVP, Consulting & Research, rEvolution

Categories: Experiential, Featured, Hispanic Marketing, Major League Soccer, Promotions, Soccer Marketing, Social Media, Women's World Cup