Heineken has entered into a long-term agreement with Major League Soccer to become the Official Beer of MLS starting in January.
The agreement complements Heineken's other global soccer initiatives, including sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League (UCL). Heineken will further enhance their soccer properties with individual MLS club deals to be announced in the coming weeks.
Heineken will own exclusive rights to MLS content and is the latest indicator in the rise of the world's most popular sport in the United States, particularly among Millennials.
“MLS is this country’s premier soccer league, and the sport is rapidly growing at the U.S. at an unbelievable rate,” Colin Westcott-Pitt, VP Marketing, Heineken USA, tells Marketing Daily.
The league, in less than two decades of existence, has grown to draw an average of about 19,000 fans per game, and has the highest percentage of Millennial and Hispanic fans of any major sport, he adds.
Soccer fans are 50% more likely to drink premium import beers like Heineken versus any other sports fan.
“It’s safe to say that Heineken and MLS are a perfect match, and we look forward to challenging our American drinkers to chase new experiences and open their world,” Westcott-Pitt says. “Heineken is dedicated to engaging fans with unique experiences in a way that encourages current and future soccer fans to open their world and get closer to the game, and through MLS we are ensuring that we will play a large role in the conversations of American consumers and soccer fans.”
With the third-highest average attendance of any U.S. sports league, the highest percentage of Hispanic and Millennial audience of any major U.S. sport and more than 22 million Americans actively playing soccer in the United States, MLS has proven to attract a diverse and cosmopolitan audience that reflects Heineken's adult consumer, he says.
Heineken will present MLS Rivalry Week. In addition, the beer maker will feature strong visibility during nationally broadcast matches, on-site and digital activations, and point-of-sale materials.
Through the sponsorship, and by leveraging MLS' passionate and growing fan base, Heineken strives to further elevate its global status as a world class beer and provider of unparalleled fan engagement.
The relationship corresponds with the next phase of the league's evolution. In 2015, MLS' 20th season will include a new-look crest, two new expansion clubs, new media partners and a new premium beer brand.