Chevrolet Announces Partnership with U.S. Soccer

Not even a year after announcing what is now the world’s most expensive kit sponsorship deal with Barclays Premiere League club Manchester United, Chevrolet announced on Monday a new sponsorship deal with U.S. Soccer.

The United States Soccer Federation (USSF) and Chevrolet signed a three-year deal that makes the American car manufacturer the official partner of U.S. Soccer, which due to the organization’s breadth and depth, allows Chevrolet to touch roughly “1,000 dealerships and 850,000 youth” via this partnership, according to an article on the company’s website. The agreement details were facilitated between Chevrolet and Soccer United Marketing, the marketing arm of MLS, according to the article. Chevrolet’s Director of Advertising and Sales Promotions, Molly Peck was quoted in the article saying,

Courtesy of General Motor's Facebook Page

Photo courtesy of General Motors / Facebook

As fans well know, soccer is much more than the world’s favorite sport; it’s a communal experience and way of life. Our new U.S. Soccer partnership complements Chevrolet’s Global Soccer footprint that includes Manchester United and One World Futbol Project sponsorships. By bringing our customers closer to these initiatives, we’ll share the love of soccer all over the world, whether it’s parents driving youngsters to a Chevy Youth Soccer team practice, transforming the lives of children around the world through the power of play, to cheering on favorite teams at the FIFA World Cup next year in Brazil.

The One World Futbol Project is an initiative started by Chevrolet in 2012, in which the company provides “virtually indestructible” soccer balls to impoverished children in war-stricken areas across the globe. The balls never need to be pumped up, and will never run out of air, even if punctured, according to the foundation’s site. The project has donated 1.5 million One World Futbols to date, and is yet another way  for the company to expand its brand reach on a global scale in a positive manner.

The Manchester United partnership was another massive step towards achieving global brand awareness and scale for Chevrolet. The shirt sponsorship deal is worth approximately $80 million a year, for 7 years, beginning in the 2014/15 season (for more information on this deal, please click here). Sunil Gulati, President of USSF commented on Chevrolet’s global expansion efforts of late:

Chevrolet has an impressive history as a global brand and we’re excited to begin this partnership. We are looking forward to working closely with such a committed and supportive company across all of our National Teams, especially our Youth National Teams and Development Academy.

According to the article on Chevrolet’s site, a soccer player now lives in 30% of households in the United States. As the sport continues to grow, it has found strong footholds with the younger generations, particularly Millenials (12-24), where soccer ranks 2nd only to the NFL amongst these consumers in popularity. This consumer demographic group is very important in the marketing world because they are 80 million strong, and they represent the next major source of buying power in the marketplace.

As Boomers get older, so do Millenials, who are sometimes referred to as Gen Y. They have already started entering the workforce, and are increasing their disposable income as they do so – this means increased buying power. If you think about who buys the professional sporting event tickets in the marketplace, the groups that come to mind today are the Boomers (49-64) and Gen X (late 20’s – mid 40’s). As the Boomers “age out” of the category, a trend that has already started in other consumer product categories, the buying power will shift to Gen X, and to Millenials, making them an increasingly important point of focus for marketers.

This group grew up with the “soccer surge” from the U.S. Women’s National Team successes in World Cups and the Olympics, as well as increased levels of Men’s National Team progress and MLS expansion. They also are the first consumer generation to have grown up with technology like computers and cell phones. In other words, they do not remember a world without these technological advances and grew up with them as commonplace in the household. They are extremely tech savvy and socially active, making them a key target for new marketing strategies involving mobile and online technological executions.

The key data point for Chevrolet is the 850,000 youth that USSF engages with in its development academies and teams across the country. If they can leverage this new partnership with U.S. Soccer to its full potential and create a strong foundational relationship and experience with these youth players, it will come back to the company when these Millenials go to buy their first car, along with other ancillary benefits. This is the consumer group that will change the marketing landscape moving forward, so much so that many firms have created dedicated marketing plans directed at Millenials. It would behoove USSF and Chevrolet to leverage their new partnership to do the same to drive mutual growth.

What do you think about Chevrolet’s partnership with the United States Soccer Federation? Let us know in the comments section below or on Twitter.


Reporting on the business side of the world's game.