U.S. Soccer launches new campaign
One year from perhaps the darkest day in U.S. Soccer’s history, the men’s national team wants to send out a new message: The future is still bright.
It was Oct. 10, 2017, when the U.S. men’s national team lost 2-1 to Trinidad and Tobago, ensuring that the Americans would miss the World Cup for the first time since 1986.
Now, as the federation puts its focus on the USMNT playing in the 2022 event with a slate of high-profile friendlies this fall and next summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, it is bringing along with it the message “The Future is US.” The new campaign rolled out last Thursday, one day after the first anniversary of that fateful loss in the Caribbean.
“As we came out of last fall, it was certainly disappointing for us not only as a team and a federation, but for the fans as well,” said Kay Bradley, U.S. Soccer brand director. “While that experience was absolutely upsetting, we also felt it was an opportunity.”
Over the last 12 months, U.S. Soccer tried to put its finger on the pulse of the men’s team, doing research through its U.S. Soccer Voices fan panel and member council, having discussions with the American Outlaws supporters group and performing outreach at various soccer events — including with U.S. fans who still traveled to Russia despite the team not qualifying.
The takeaway? “They were extremely upset that the team wasn’t going to Russia, but they still had optimism, and there was this belief that there was a bright future ahead,” Bradley said. “A line that we use a lot here is ‘It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.’ The fans said a similar thing, and that was very encouraging for us.”
That led them to “The Future is US,” the first standalone campaign that U.S. soccer has ever done around the men’s team right after a World Cup. The message and branding was created in conjunction with Portland-based marketing agency Industry.
The campaign will be largely digitally focused, and there also will be a social media content push, all aimed to introduce casual fans to the new names on the team in more of an authentic and stylized manner than perhaps the federation is known for, letting the players’ personalities shine more.
The campaign rolled out last week, ahead of a friendly versus Colombia in Tampa. Bradley said while the federation has plans to use the messaging into next summer’s Gold Cup, it expects the campaign to evolve, a reflection that its World Cup aspirations are not the team’s alone.
“Our goal is to make sure that this feels like the restart of a journey that isn’t just about the players or the federation, but the fans as well,” she said.