SBJ/November 6 - 12, 2006/This Weeks News

Adidas rolling out silver soccer ball for MLS Cup

Adidas is bringing a whole new idea of playing for keeps to this year’s MLS Cup. On Sunday, the MLS partner unveiled a silver soccer ball designed exclusively for the MLS title game, set for Nov. 12 in Frisco, Texas, and the winner of this season’s championship will play all of its 2007 home games with the signature ball.

“No other league has this,” said Kathy Carter, executive vice president of business development for Soccer United Marketing, the MLS’s marketing arm. “There’s not a silver baseball or a silver football, and the Spalding basketball is the same every game. This is a point of difference for us and a way for us to help evolve our sport.”

Adidas, which is providing the match ball for the first time this year, approached MLS with the idea to create the ball earlier this year. The company also recommended the league let the winning team play with it all season, an idea that offered the brand a chance to extend the ball’s shelf life, said spokesman Evan Wiener.

The $130 “+Teamgeist Winner MLS Ball” will be sold on for the next two weeks. It then will be available at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Authority and specialty soccer shops.

Weiner declined to comment on sales projections for the ball. He said the concept was modeled after the Teamgeist gold ball used during the World Cup Final, a ball Adidas sold 15 million of worldwide.

The silver ball is only one of many activations being done around the MLS Cup as new partners such as Burger King and Chase try to tie into the event.

Burger King, MLS’s new fast-food partner, will offer one sweepstakes winner the chance to kick a penalty kick for $100,000 at halftime and also will hand out gift cards valued at $2.

Chase will have three booths featuring its newly launched MLS Ultimate Rewards Visa credit card. Fans can choose between cards representing MLS, the U.S. National Team and the Mexican National Team. They can earn points with purchases and redeem them for such things as a U.S. soccer replica ball.

Other initiatives have been undertaken by Honda, the Cartoon Network and RadioShack.

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