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Volume 25 No. 88
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Audi Of America Becomes MLS' Official Auto Sponsor In Four-Year Deal

Audi of America has signed a four-year deal with MLS, making it the league's official auto sponsor and presenting sponsor of the playoffs. A source described the deal as one of the largest in MLS history and Audi's largest U.S. sports marketing expenditure. The sponsorship includes a national TV package, on-field and stadium branding across the league, 30 player appearances, digital and social media and the rights to use MLS player likenesses. Audi also gets the rights to develop and market an MLS Cup trophy tour, develop in-market experiences around the MLS All-Star Game and MLS Cup and develop Audi-branded premium items. Volkswagen had been MLS' auto sponsor since '08. Sources said GroupM ESP negotiated the deal for Audi, but the carmaker has an RFP out seeking activation ideas for its new MLS affiliation and other "sports-related experiential marketing," including support of its U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association sponsorship and the Audi Quattro Cup amateur golf event. In the RFP, Audi describes itself as "sporty, sophisticated and progressive," and activation concepts "should reflect these core brand values and should appeal to the luxury consumer." The RFP also seeks a "full creative concept for an iconic way to announce the new sponsorship" -- with a launch budget not to exceed $1M -- along with the ability to work with national sponsorship partners, digital and social media plans, branded content development and plans to integrate player access. The experiential portion of Audi's MLS sponsorship will be supported by a $3M budget the first year and $2M per annum in the subsequent three years. An agency is expected to be selected by early April.