SBJ/November 5-11, 2012/Marketing and Sponsorship

Field-level signage at men’s Mexican national team matches boosts SUM revenue

New field-level signage at select men’s Mexican national team matches has become an additional revenue generator this year for Soccer United Marketing, the marketing arm of MLS.

SUM has made the new digital boards available as an extension of its relationship with the Mexican Football Federation (FMF), which governs the Mexican national team. SUM manages marketing rights for the team.

Historically, there has been only one field-level LED system in-venue for the team’s matches in Mexico, and that has been tied to the match’s primary TV outlet: the feed within Mexico. This year, the new, second system was set up around the opposite half of the field for those games, with designs on it being tied to the U.S. broadcast feed, via Univision.

The “reverse-field boards,” field-level signage situated across from the television cameras, have proved a popular in-game media platform. According to the participating sponsors, it’s that TV visibility that’s the key to their deals more so than any visibility gained with the in-stadium audience.

Marriott, Panasonic and Subway signed field-board deals with SUM this year for the Mexican national team’s matches in part because of the availability of the new boards. Adding to existing deals with the new signage were Anheuser-Busch, AT&T, Castrol, The Home Depot, Mission Foods and Unilever.

“Since we don’t have broadcast timeouts in soccer, the field boards have become a very popular option for a host of sophisticated brands,” said David Wright, SUM senior vice president of global sponsorship.

Industry sources estimate the placement to cost upward of $20,000 per minute, depending on the number of matches purchased, minutes purchased per match and profile of the match. For example, the most expensive match for which to purchase field-level signage this year was Mexico’s friendly against the United States on Aug. 15 at Azteca Stadium in Mexico City. In North America, the game was shown on ESPN2 and Univision. Exact pricing details for the match were not available.

“Our report showed that we received a combined nine to 10 minutes of airtime during the U.S.-Mexico match on Univision and ESPN2,” said Joanna Todd, vice president of segment strategy for Marriott. “We haven’t done a complete analysis yet, but nine to 10 minutes is a good ROI. We saw the buy as a low-cost way to integrate into a high-profile event.” She declined to comment on what Marriott spent for the presence.

The signage is in place only for the team’s games in Mexico. In addition to the club’s Aug. 15 friendly against the U.S. national team, that span has included three World Cup qualifiers at Azteca Stadium this year.

“Our buy of the reverse-field boards allows us to communicate and reinforce our brand message to the FMF fan,” said Tracy Drelich-Knauer, associate sponsorship and promotions manager for BP Lubricants USA, the parent company of Castrol. Drelich-Knauer said Castrol’s season package of field boards is the company’s only deal with FMF. She is waiting for an evaluation of results before deciding on any plans for 2013.

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