Allstate is taking a much bigger sponsorship position around soccer. The company, which has partnered with Federacion Mexicana de Futbol Asociacion (FMF) around its games in the U.S. for several years, will now be the Official Insurance Sponsor of Major League Soccer (MLS), as well.
The deal, signed with the league's marketing arm Soccer United Marketing, also gives Allstate sponsorship opportunities with the U.S. Men's and Women's National Soccer Teams and adds a four-year renewal deal with FMF's U.S. games.
Allstate will also be the Official Insurance Sponsor of the Men's Olympic Team and 11 Youth National Teams. The company has said it wants to reach Hispanic consumers through MLS, especially during the next four years leading up to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Karen Uhler, senior marketing manager for Allstate, says the new program includes both Spanish and English advertising, using "Protection is Our Game," which the company launched in 2008. "It works really well for us so we are looking at it both from an advertising and an on-site perspective," she says.
The campaign ("Proteccion es la jugada"), launched as part of Allstate's program with FMF-"friendly" games in the U.S., used goalie Memo Ochoa in ads and as spokesperson.
Uhler says during MLS games Allstate will have a presence during broadcasts, with the company's logo on real estate around the field, on LED boards, billboards, and features. "We are going to have a regular presence in games, but two marquee events for us will be the MLS Cup and the All-Star Game in July," she says. For the MLS Cup Allstate is presenting sponsor of the goalkeeper award.
David Wright, VP of partnership marketing for Soccer United Marketing, says deals like Allstate's are becoming the norm. "We are seeing some of these major brands identify soccer as a strategic marketing platform," he says. "Allstate is a brand that has had success around FMF for a number of years, so they saw an opportunity to widen their stake."
He says that in addition to reaching Hispanics, Allstate's sponsorship of U.S. Soccer will reach a growing 18- to-34-year-old base of fans. Wright adds that in the next four years leading to the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, avid fans will converge and bring new fans in with them. "We now have broadcast partners who carry soccer 24/7, 365 days a year, and the following for the sport in traditional broadcast only continues to increase," says Wright. "Partners' commitment to secure media around soccer reflects that growth."
In this, the 16th regular MLS season, each of the league's 18 clubs will play 34 matches -- all of which will be broadcast live. "First Kick 2011," presented by Dick's Sporting Goods, airs March 15 on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.com. The regular season ends Oct. 23 when the Houston Dynamo host the L.A. Galaxy at 7 p.m. ET on Galavision.
ESPN and its properties will cover 21 regular-season games, according to MLS. Univision and its properties will broadcast 30 MLS regular-season games live, and the league says it is in talks with other networks.