In the past two weeks, Major League Soccer has announced two major sponsorship deals with the Mondelez snack food conglomerate and the U.S. branch of the Audi automotive group. The Mondelez partnership will last for two years, while the Audi deal was only announced as a multi-year partnernship. According to Forbes, this marks a trend in sports marketing where sponsors are choosing to align with soccer over baseball due to millennials being more attracted to the less established sport.
Mondelez is the manufacturer of Oreo, Trident, and Ritz, and is already in the middle of a partnership with the U.S. Soccer Federation that organizes the national teams in the FIFA World Cup. Under the deal, Mondelez brands will have exposure at MLS stadiums, league media platforms, and the right to activate campaigns for major league events such as the All-Star game and MLS Cup final. The company also has the licensing rights to use four players for advertisements and product packaging. According to Forbes, Stephen Chriss, the head of the company’s consumer engagement and marketing in North America said that working with MLS allows Mondelez to market both nationally and at a grassroots level thanks to the nature of the league.
Under the Audi agreement, Audi will have field-level signage during nationally televised broadcasts, become the presenting sponsor of the MLS Cup Playoffs, and air MLS-themed commercials during these games as well. Here is the latest commercial that aired during the NYCFC home opener on ESPN2.
These deals show the growing profile of MLS’s popularity in North America and how large companies have been noticing the demographics of fans going to games. The most notable part of the deals were the importance of a digital presence for ads by Mondelez due to MLSSoccer.com’s reputation. If the trend continues, MLS could be on pace to gain more sponsorships by companies looking to reach millennials while sports slowly losing appeal due to the length of the game, like baseball, could have many reasons to be worried if adjustments aren’t made soon.