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Volume 22 No. 19
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Kellogg’s MLS deal includes esports support

Cheez-It and Pringles will remain the official snacks of MLS.

Kellogg’s has signed a three-year extension of its partnership with MLS, a deal in which the company will now also become the first non-endemic brand to make a long-term commitment to the league’s esports efforts.

While other MLS sponsors have previously activated against the league’s esports initiative, eMLS, those have been one-off arrangements, such as AT&T being involved in last year’s eMLS Cup and Wells Fargo presenting an all-star challenge event in August. Kellogg’s involvement will span multiple events across the length of the deal. PlayStation is the presenting partner of eMLS, its only other partner.

James Ruth, MLS senior director of properties, who oversees eMLS, said the league had been in discussions with Kellogg’s about supporting its esports efforts since its inaugural event last April.

“Kellogg’s has been really progressive in their thinking about how to access the fans, and we landed on the idea of being a big part of the player experience,” Ruth said. 

That came together at a newly created eMLS players lounge at the first event on its 2019 calendar last month in Los Angeles, with Cheez-It and Pringles serving as the presenting partners of the space. Those products were also made available to players in the space.

2019 EMLS Schedule

■ eMLS League Series One: Jan. 22 in Los Angeles
eMLS League Series Two:
Feb. 17 in Dallas
eMLS Cup:
March 30 in Boston
eMLS All-Star Game event:
TBD/July or August in Orlando

The brands also will be presenting partners of a digital series that will showcase the stories and personalities of all the eMLS gamers, something that the league will be focusing on in its second year. The next eMLS event is Feb. 17 in Dallas.

In addition, Kellogg’s will receive traditional MLS marketing assets, such as in-stadium ribbon-board advertising and a presence at MLS tentpole events. Other activations will include an on-package sweepstakes event providing tickets to the 2019 MLS All-Star Game in Orlando this summer, as well as prominence in a digital league content series around replays and a video series on referee decisions. Kellogg’s will also run MLS advertising on its Cheez-It and Pringles packaging in both English and Spanish.

Adrienne Barber, MLS and SUM vice president of partnership marketing, said that as more league partners are seeing the growth of eMLS, there is a natural extension to get involved beyond the on-field game.

“It’s a way to really engage with our next wave of fans for all of their game day, whether they’re watching or playing,” Barber said.

Per the terms of the deal, Cheez-It and Pringles will remain the league’s official snacks, while Eggo will now be the league’s official waffle. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed, although Kellogg’s will be increasing its level of investment around the deal, which also includes local club sponsorships. Those local deals for the 2019 season, which starts in March, have not yet been finalized.

The food manufacturing company has been a league partner since 2017, replacing Mondelez International in the snack category after that company’s deal expired at the end of the previous season.

For more coverage of the business of esports, visit our partners, esportsobserver.com