SBJ/Feb. 14-20, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Allstate signs on with MLS, USSF

Major League Soccer has signed Allstate Insurance to a four-year deal as the league’s official insurance partner.
Building on a four-year partnership with the Mexican national soccer team, Allstate’s sponsorship deal with Soccer United Marketing also includes four-year partnerships with the U.S. Soccer Federation and the U.S. men’s and women’s national teams as well as a four-year extension with the Mexican national team. Industry sources peg the deal, which was negotiated by IMG, in the eight-figure range.

“We are casting a wider net,” said Karen Uhler, senior marketing manager at Allstate. “We’ve had a great track record with the Hispanic audience and it’s time to grow our involvement with the sport.”

The deal also extends the insurer’s sponsorship of the Mexican national soccer team.
Under the new deal, Allstate will continue its programs with the Mexican national team and will receive media and branding opportunities at MLS and U.S. national team games, as well as space in the pregame expo at MLS and national team games. Allstate also becomes the presenting sponsor of “Sueño MLS,” the league’s talent contest for teenagers that is featured on the Univision television show “Republica Deportiva.”

MLS has been without an insurance partner since 2003 when New York Life finished a four-year deal as the league’s official life insurance partner.

Under the new deal, Allstate has access to MLS marks. However, the company declined to discuss the creative specifics of its marketing. David Wright, vice president of partnership marketing for SUM, said he expects Allstate to have an innovative online presence.

“[Allstate] is very creative when it comes to digital,” Wright said. “I think [Allstate] recognized the opportunities available in North American soccer, and they want to take an ownership position.”

Allstate signed a partnership with the Mexican national team in 2007, and in 2008 it launched the Protection Is Our Game campaign around Mexican goalie Memo Ochoa that includes TV spots and an online video game where fans try to score on the goalie.

The insurer also hosted Futbol Fiesta parties at national team matches in the United States and Mexico, as well as the Sorpresa youth soccer tour with Mexican star Zague.

Michael Hitchcock, managing partner for the soccer marketing firm Playbook Management International and former general manager for FC Dallas, called the deal a logical progression for Allstate in the soccer market.
“It makes sense to market to the Hispanic community with soccer because [they] are so passionate and loyal,” Hitchcock said. “[The partnership] is a credit to MLS when you see companies wanting to reach out to young professionals and youth soccer communities, too.”

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