Sponsorship POV: A Huge Bet Has Been Placed on US Soccer
A perspective from Kyler Hengst, Group Director at Advantage – a sponsorship and brand experience agency.
A big bet was placed on the United States Men’s National Team (USMNT) to make the World Cup in 2022. Just how big was it? Approximately $73M. However, it was not placed in a casino or through an online service; it was made in the English Premier League transfer window. Chelsea FC has agreed to pay Borussia Dortmund the massive fee in order to secure US prodigy Christian Pulisic.
Now, I do not mean to diminish Pulisic’s ability; he is a talented young player with plenty of promise for the future. However, there is more to this deal than performance on the pitch. Teams in the English Premier League, and across Europe, have long targeted the US for sponsorship dollars and although there has been some success, the US remains largely untapped. This is where Chelsea are betting on Christian Pulisic and the USMNT. With a birth in the 2022 World Cup, Pulisic will have an opportunity to become a household name in the US and exponentially increase his marketing value and that of his Club; Chelsea FC. Without the World Cup, Pulisic will still have notoriety with passionate soccer fans in America, but less so with the casual soccer fan.
It’s not to say that Chelsea will have to wait until the World Cup to unleash their new marketing tool, as they will be able to leverage his marketability right away with some of their current efforts in the US. For example, Pulisic will certainly be on the roster for any of the International Champions Cup games they play in the US, and I would expect the team to hold a US Tour in the next couple of years in which Pulisic will certainly be prominently featured.
Chelsea FC are getting a talented young player, but maximum ROI of the deal rests in the hands of Pulisic gaining notoriety with a larger portion of the US audience. That will most likely require a strong performance from the USMNT leading up to, and in, the 2022 World Cup. Success for the USMNT equals worldwide sponsorship potential for Chelsea FC.
So, if you oversee sports sponsorships and are considering soccer sponsorships for your company, do your research and ready your responses because Chelsea FC’s sponsorship pitch is coming, and I bet you can guess who will be on the cover.