The National Football League kicked off the 2017-2018 season and marketers are looking to break through to viewers in the next five months, culminating with Super Bowl LII. But that got us thinking, soccer (a.k.a. football everywhere else in the world) is notably on the rise in the US – how are brands reacting? Here are three reasons some of the biggest brand sponsors of the Major League Soccer All-Star Game this past August chose to buy-in:
1) The “other football’s” fan base has grown by 25% in the last 2 years. Such growth is large-in-part due to the success of the USMNT and USWNT at recent World Cup tournaments. This has translated to retail sales – in 2016 soccer was the fastest growing athletics category with merchandise sales increasing by 10% from the previous year.
2) From youth soccer to the pro level, fans are extremely passionate. Fans also represent a wide range of target audiences: “"Soccer hits the sweet spot–it targets both men and women, and it’s multicultural and multigenerational."
3) American football has been a big area for ad- and sponsorship-spend for quite some time. The market is saturated. Brands looking at the “other football” have chosen to be an early adopter, gaining recognition now and potentially being a household name sponsor as soccer continues to grow: "Brands have realized they can come in big, come in early and make a massive impression, as opposed to being one of many attaching themselves to the NFL, where it is almost impossible to break through the noise and grab the spotlight."
What these brands also got right was timing. In this particular match, the MLS All-Stars’ opponent was world-renowned Real Madrid, thus bringing in both local and global viewers.