Heineken courts American soccer fans with expanded MLS partnership
- Heineken announced in a press release a new campaign, "Summer of Soccer," featuring TV spots and partnerships with Major League Soccer (MLS) and the International Champions Cup.
- The brewer is expanding its sponsorship as the Official Beer of MLS for another five years. Heineken is again sponsoring Rivalry Week, which runs Aug. 22-26 and includes national broadcasts of rivalry MLS games. The 2018 Heineken Rivalry Week will include a custom content series and on and off field activations. Heineken is a club partner with 11 teams and has tapped Carlos Vela, a Mexican national team player and Los Angeles Football Club team member, as spokesperson.
- The marketer will also be the official beer of the International Champions Cup, the pre-season tournament that runs July 20 to Aug. 12 and brings some of the world's best soccer clubs to the U.S. The beer brand will run events, fan experiences, ticket giveaways and digital content campaigns for the tournament.
Heineken is riding the wave of U.S. consumer interest in professional soccer on the tails of the FIFA World Cup, which ends July 15, and ahead of the International Champions Cup, which kicks off July 20. The U.S., Canada and Mexico also recently won the bid to host the 2026 World Cup, which means that there will be a likely uptick in American viewership of the sport over the next several years in the lead-up to the tournament.
The U.S. national team failed to qualify for the World Cup this year, which hampered ratings stateside. U.S. viewership of the global tournament is estimated to be down by as much as 42% this year, according to the Los Angeles Times. However, Heineken could be taking a longer view: MLS attendance has been on the rise despite lagging in TV viewership.
By focusing its marketing on real-world activations and digital content, Heineken is hoping to engage sports fans on a variety of platforms. The beer company announced last summer that it was broadly shifting its advertising budget from TV to digital channels for broad messaging and brand awareness.
"Summer of Soccer" expands Heineken's integrated marketing campaign, "Cheers to the Unexpected," that encourages beer drinkers to live in the moment. The effort, which the company launched in June, includes TV and digital video ads, outdoor branding experiences and a heavy soccer theme. Heineken USA recently named a CEO and CMO in order to better focus on the brew's heritage and add more spontaneity and discovery to its marketing messaging.
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