SBJ/April 15-21, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

AT&T back with MLS, U.S. and Mexican soccer

AT&T has signed a multiyear renewal of its sponsorship of MLS, U.S. Soccer and the Mexican Soccer Federation. The deal, valued by an industry source at eight figures annually, was completed last week with Soccer United Marketing, MLS’s commercial arm.

AT&T remains title sponsor of the All-Star Game, as it was last year in Chester, Pa.
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“AT&T is a significant partner for us,” said David Wright, senior vice president of global sponsorship for MLS and SUM. “The fact that they are back in a big, big way is incredible news.”

Wright declined to comment on the financial details of the deal. The source said the annual value of this deal is higher than that of the prior deal, which expired at the end of 2012.

With the deal, AT&T remains title sponsor of the annual MLS All-Star Game, which will be played this year on July 31 in Kansas City. The communications company has held title sponsorship of the game since 2009, when it first partnered with MLS and U.S. Soccer.

New for AT&T with the renewal will be title sponsorship of MLS’s Rookie of the Year award. It will continue as title sponsor of voting platforms for the league’s goals of the week, month and year, as it has been previously.

“We’ve recognized the growing passion for soccer in the U.S.,” said Greg Skasko, director of sponsorships for AT&T. “The engagement from our promotions has been very strong. It’s a multicultural fan base and really hits the 18-34 demographic. We also love that MLS is tech-savvy and so are their fans.”

AT&T also will be the presenting sponsor of what is expected to be U.S. Soccer’s biggest match of 2013, when the U.S. men’s national team plays a World Cup qualifier against Mexico in Columbus on Sept. 10. U.S. Soccer is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.

“Between the centennial and these qualifying matches for the World Cup, this is one of the biggest years in the history of U.S. Soccer,” Skasko said. “Being a part of it, especially with our partners at the Mexican national team as the opponent for that crucial match in Columbus, is huge for us.”

AT&T, which has sponsored the Mexican Soccer Federation since 2005 — when the communications company was known as Cingular — will be the title sponsor of Futbol Fiesta, a fan zone at Mexican national team matches that includes product demonstrations and fan interaction.

AT&T also is blending sports and entertainment with its engagement of the Mexican pop music duo Jesse & Joy to write and record a song called “Corazon de Campeon (Heart of a Champion)” that will be played during Mexican national team matches.

Other deal points with the Mexican Soccer Federation include sweepstakes promotions and in-store player appearances.

The Marketing Arm was the lead consulting agency for AT&T on the deal. AT&T’s activations at this year’s MLS All-Star Game and the U.S.-Mexico match in Columbus will be managed by Team Epic.

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