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Volume 23 No. 17
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Sara Toussaint, Wells Fargo

Photo: Germán Alegría
Photo: Germán Alegría
Photo: Germán Alegría

Sara Toussaint

Vice President, Sponsorships, Wells Fargo
Born: San Juan, Puerto Rico; raised on Chicago’s South Side
Education: B.A., University of Chicago; MBA, NYU Stern School of Business

Sara Toussaint knew it would be edgy to get Landon Donovan to promote Mexico’s national soccer team for sponsor Wells Fargo this summer at the World Cup. While the U.S. team was not in the tournament, it still was a bold move, especially given the political dynamic between the two countries.

“We had been sponsoring the Mexican national team for four years and felt we hadn’t really moved the needle in that space,” she said. “Given the political climate in the U.S., we wanted to give this message of sportsmanship and inclusivity and cheering on a team that is our neighbor.”

Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Chicago, Toussaint conceded that she was slightly naïve and underestimated the vitriol the campaign might spark.

She felt bad for Donovan, because he received the brunt of the online hostility, including accusations of treason.

“It was hard to see that being hurled at him,” she said. “That was the worst, seeing people question his allegiance to the U.S.”

“I read every single comment, every single post in response to Landon’s posts, in response to our posts … and I would say maybe a third was negative,” she said. “But the Hispanic fans loved it, loved it, loved it.”

And that ultimately is Toussaint’s mission, to market to Hispanics and target millennials, using Wells Fargo’s soccer sponsorship, including MLS and the Mexican team.

Daniel Kaplan

Getting to know...

Proudest professional achievement: Elevating Wells Fargo’s Mexican national team sponsorship during this year’s World Cup. In the first week of the tournament, Wells Fargo was the third-most-tweeted brand after Adidas and Nike in the U.S. I knew our message was going to be noteworthy, but I didn’t expect international headlines. Or memes.
Woman in sports business I’d like to meet:
Kim Ng because I’d like to trade some University of Chicago and MLB stories, as well as Bozoma Saint John because she’s a brilliant marketer and I’d like to be her friend; she seems to lift up everyone in her orbit.
I wish I’d known at my career’s start:
That negotiating compensation is a standard practice.
Role of sports in social issues:
I understand people’s desire to use sports as their escape. However, to not leverage sports to spotlight issues such as police brutality, domestic violence or LGBTQ discrimination is a disservice to our communities.