SBJ/July 16-22, 2012/Events and Attractions

MiCoach launching at MLS All-Star

This year’s AT&T Major League Soccer All-Star Game might not have the scale of last year’s event, which featured iconic club Manchester United and was played in the New York City area, but the July 25 matchup in Chester, Pa., still aims to make a mark, with planned activations by close to two dozen league partners.

Most notably, this year’s match between the league’s top players and EPL’s Chelsea FC will serve as the global launch platform of the Adidas miCoach tracking system. Using a device embedded within the players’ uniforms, MLS and Adidas will capture real-time athlete data, including speed, distance covered and power output. Fans will be able to access the metrics at the miCoach Lounge and at kiosks on the concourse at PPL Park.

Adidas and AT&T will be among sponsors activating at Philadelphia’s home stadium.
New creative on the miCoach system will debut on ESPN’s broadcast of the game, which is being branded by the league and Adidas as the world’s first “smart soccer” match.

“Adidas is a pioneer and leader in sports analytics, so it’s an honor that they are debuting this game-changing technology at our All-Star Game,” said Nelson Rodriguez, MLS executive vice president of competition, technical and game operations.

Adidas plans on rolling out the tracking system globally, including at European league games and regular-season MLS matches, but it saw the All-Star Game as an ideal starting point. “MLS understands digital innovation,” said Patrik Nilsson, president of Adidas America.

Adidas, however, will not be alone in activating in Chester.

“The game is a tent-pole event for the league, and Philadelphia is a market that our partners are really excited to activate in,” said Russell Sargeant, MLS senior director of partnership marketing.

Many of the activations will revolve around youth soccer. Allstate is hosting a clinic for young goalkeepers with Sorpresa, the Spanish-language children’s network. All-Star Game title sponsor AT&T will host clinics at nearby Science and Discovery High School on a field it is building with the Philadelphia Union Foundation and MLS W.O.R.K.S., the league’s charitable arm. Former player and current ESPN analyst Alexi Lalas is appearing in Philadelphia-area AT&T retail stores as part of the buildup to the event.

Volkswagen is presenting the North American finals of the Junior Masters, a global grassroots tournament. Eight teams, which qualified from regional tournaments, will compete in the finals on July 25 at the Philadelphia Union’s training facility in Chester. Volkswagen also will have a vehicle presence around All-Star events, including in the activation area — known as the Soccer Celebration space — adjacent to PPL Park on game day.

“The All-Star Game activation gives us the ability to engage our core target: the fans,” said Victoria Gagliardi, sports marketing coordinator for Volkswagen Group of America. “It’s an opportunity to connect with our customers in an environment that is comfortable and significant to them and a chance to interact with potential new customers.”

Dick’s Sporting Goods is hosting an event at its store in nearby Wilmington, Del., featuring appearances by players from the Union and an Adidas mini-pitch. Fans with tickets to the All-Star Game can travel round-trip between the Wilmington store and PPL Park on a Dick’s-branded bus. Budweiser will have retail activations at Philadelphia-area bars and restaurants, with MLS player appearances, and Pepsi street teams will be spread across Philadelphia and its suburbs in the week leading up to the game.

Gatorade and Quaker Oats will provide product for the MLS all-stars and Chelsea players. Also participating in the Soccer Celebration space will be Makita power tools, Bimbo Bread, National Guard, Xbox and Home Depot.

On the licensing side, Maribeth Towers, MLS senior vice president of consumer products, said PPL Park will have three new kiosks on the concourse to sell All-Star merchandise, along with a van that will operate as a retail shop at Soccer Celebration. In addition, product will be available at Dick’s, Modell’s and Macy’s locations in the Philadelphia area.

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