Sponsor Insights

World Cup Final

As the players get ready to take the pitch for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Final, we compare the two team’s brand portfolio and social game.

FIFA World Cup Fan Festival Hits Cities Worldwide

During the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the concept of “Fan Fest” was replaced by the “Fan Festival” concept.

FIFA’s plan was to reintroduce the Fan Fest as a more diverse and inclusive entertainment offering encompassing a wide variety of cultures, art, music, food and football outside the stadiums. The concept will also be rolled out during the Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand in 2023.

On December 4, the FIFA Fan Festival celebrated the 1 millionth visitor milestone across all of the Fan Festivals this year.

For this years World Cup, FIFA approved Fan Festival sites 

  • BudX Fan Festivals in London, Seoul and Dubai
  • Corona Fan Festival in Mexico City, Mexico
  • Brahma Fan Festivals in Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro 
  • Coca-Cola Fan Festival in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
  • Doha, Qatar, a non sponsored festival

Some of the Fan Festival activations

  • Interactive physical and digital football game stations
  • Sponsored activations 
  • Appearances from FIFA Legends
  • Official stores with licensed World Cup merchandise. 
  • Content within the FIFA+ streaming platform. 
  • A hat and cup from Budweiser for fans who attended the event in London, and an opportunity to win an England shirt signed by a football legend.
  • In London, Budweiser gave fans the opportunity to win an England signed shirt by a football legend.
  • An adidas-sponsored fan activation in Mexico where attendees played Teqball, a football-based sport played on a specially curved table within a designated area. 
  • adidas also gave away little footballs before, during, and after games. After all games ended, the event host would throw 5 adidas balls into the crowd.
  • Coca-Cola branding across all of the table football (foosball tables) at the event in Mexico City.

Thanks to a new licensing model FIFA introduced in 2022, existing and future FIFA partners can launch local Fan Festivals in major cities outside the host countries to make the tournament experience more accessible for the global fan community.

  • SponsorUnited was in attendance at the festivals in London, Mexico City, Dubai and will be going to Doha on December 17th.

MLS Report 2022

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Brands Spend a Record $461M in Sponsorships Across Major League Soccer Clubs in 2022.
Technology and Utilities categories topped the sponsorship growth chart, accounting for 15% of new brand sponsors.

The MLS 2022 Marketing Partnerships Report analyzes 1,750 partnership deals across the league, clubs and athletes during the 2022 season. The report uncovered that $461 million in club sponsorship revenue was generated across 1,300 unique brands. The beverage-alcohol category and media brands topped the charts with the most active brands.

Key findings from the report include:

Sporting KC, Philadelphia Union and Austin FC attract nearly 100 brand deals each
All three clubs exceeded 90 sponsorship deals for the 2022 season, eclipsing the league average of 62. Sporting KC leads in terms of deal volume, with new partners including Don Neron Tequila, Socios.com, Google Fiber, and Compass Minerals, its new front jersey partner. Austin FC quickly surpassed all other MLS clubs in terms of sponsorship category diversity in just its second season.

U.S. World Cup player DeAndre Yedlin of Inter Miami CF leads with the most new brand collaborations this year
Returning to the MLS this year after a 7-year hiatus, DeAndre Yedlin has inked five brand endorsements this season. Yedlin partnered with three league sponsors–Heineken, Audi, and DoorDash–in addition to Quaker State and Captain Morgan. LAFC player Giorgio Chiellini took the lead in endorsements with 18, and the number of branded social posts with 28.

Cryptocurrency and FinTech propelled Finance to the top of 2022’s list of most searched categories
Crypto sponsorship deals within MLS quintupled to five from just one last year. Cryptocurrency was the most searched financial category within the SponsorUnited platform as more than 250 cryptocurrency brands worldwide were searched, with Coinbase, Crypto.com, and eToro leading the way. 

International and domestic brands ramp up activations with MLS
For the 2022 season, MLS gained six new league partners: Avant, IHG, Socios.com, Sorare, Doordash and Caterpillar. Brands like the Japanese beverage company Asahi tapped into the North America market for the first time through MLS, in addition international brands including Volkswagen, Bermuda Tourism Authority, and Inter&Co. The five most active brands among the league and individual athletes include Heineken (785 social posts), Audi (658 posts), BodyArmour (618 posts), Bank of Montreal (403 posts) and Delta (390 posts).

“MLS continues to impress with its increasing popularity, game attendance, and sponsorships, propelling the league to be the fastest growing in the world,” said Bob Lynch, Founder and CEO of SponsorUnited. “It’s clear to see how MLS franchise median value grew 5x more than other U.S. pro leagues through new investments made from companies like DoorDash, as well as continued support from brands like Adidas, who has been a league partner for the past 26 years. It’s an exciting time for MLS and I’m looking forward to seeing the continued momentum.”

Methodology:
This report was compiled using SponsorUnited’s proprietary platform data from January 15, 2022, through November 8, 2022. Social data compiled from property or person-controlled Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and LinkedIn accounts and social activity.

USA vs. England FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

The much anticipated USA vs England FIFA World Cup match begins in just a few hours. Take a look at some of the new and extended partnerships brands have activated across both teams.

USA

11/16, Legends Partnership Extended with USA
Less than a week before the USMT’s first World Cup game of 2022 vs. Wales, Legends announced a partnership extension with the U.S. Soccer Federation. The new multi-year agreement builds on a previous four-year partnership to keep Legends as the provider for all U.S. Soccer Store experiences both online and at events. New objectives of this agreement include future plans to implement an elevated version of the Visa Fan Studio, a mobile unit that can be stationed at U.S. Men’s and Women’s National Team matches.

11/7, U.S. Soccer and Volkswagen announce partnership extension
Almost a month before the start of the FIFA World Cup, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced a multi-year partnership extension with Volkswagen. The extension follows the German manufacturers continued growth of electric vehicles, including the ID.4 SUV and upcoming ID. Buzz. New efforts for the partnership include a focus on sustainability and electrification, as U.S. Soccer and Volkswagen will team up to work towards actionable sustainability initiatives and encouraged EV adoption.

11/3, Anheuser-Busch singed a multi-year sponsorship extension with U.S. Soccer
The longest strategic partner of the U.S. Soccer Federation, Anheuser-Busch, announced a partnership renewal that builds off the pre-existing 35-year relationship. The extension includes Kickoff Parties before select World Cup matches that include live entertainment, giveaways, and guest appearances from influencers and alumni. Matt Davis, the Head of Sports Marketing of Anheuser-Busch, focused on supporting the continued growth of the U.S. soccer’s growing fanbase.

ENGLAND

5/30, Nuffled Health announced new partnership with the England FA
As part of a five-year partnership, Nuffled Health was announced as the FA’s Official Health and Wellbeing Partner. The partnership aims to improve the wellbeing of individuals and communities through the mental and physical benefits brought by the game of football.

5/23, Marks & Spencer (M&S) announced new joint partnership with England FA and more
To help promote the brand’s food division, M&S tapped England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland FA as part of a joint partnership. The campaign began in July, and includes both physical inventory and content integrations featuring star players from the country’s national team rosters.

FIFA World Cup Stars Score Big With Sponsors

The 22nd FIFA World Cup kicked off yesterday with Qatar vs. Ecuador, where Ecuador won over the host country 2-0. The month-long event–whose sponsors include adidas, Coca-Cola, Visa, and Qatar Airways, among others–will showcase the world’s best players in a blockbuster broadcast event that FIFA estimates will draw an audience of over 5B viewers worldwide.

Stars like Alphonso Davies and Sergiño Dest will strive to shine, while storied veterans Lionel Messi and Ronaldo will aim to end their storied careers with a bang in their last World Cup appearance. We compiled the following roundup of the most sponsored athletes in the competition, in order of number of deals.

Neymar Jr

The Brazilian Paris Saint-Germain powerhouse has hinted that this year’s tournament–his third–may be his last. His sponsorship stable includes a whopping 36 brands, among them Puma, Netflix, Qatar Airways, Red Bull, Facebook Gaming, and Pokerstars. Red Bull, Neymar’s partner since 2016, is the main sponsor of his Five, the world’s largest five-a-side football tournament. Neymar’s deal with Puma–reportedly the largest individual sports sponsorship in history–earns him a reported $30M per year. His social media numbers reflect his mega-stardom: with a cumulative social following of over 340M followers, Neymar posted 127 times, engaging within the last 12 months more than 71M and averaging an impressive engagement of 3.6M per brand and 405.5K per post. 

Lionel Messi

With this year’s appearance, Messi and Ronaldo will join an exclusive club–which currently includes just four other players–to have played in five World Cup tournaments. The Argentine legend’s 25 deals include Adidas–a lifetime contract that pays him a reported $25M per year–Budweiser, Pepsi, Lay’s, Gatorade, and Konami. He’s also the only athlete to have a deal with Cirque du Soleil.

With over 510M followers, Messi has become a social media marvel, posting 61 times in the last 12 months for a total engagement of nearly 150M, and averaging an astonishing 8.7M per brand and 1.3M per post. Messi’s 8 Adidas posts alone garnered engagement of 18.6M. The Argentinian phenom posted 11 times in 2022 for his premium lifestyle brand, The Messi Store (total followers:1.5M), engaging 16.5M fans.

Cristiano Ronaldo 

This year’s tournament marks the fifth and final World Cup appearance of the Manchester United megastar, whose 21 partnerships include Nike, Clear, Binance, Herbalife, LiveScore, and Therabody. Sponsored by Nike since 2003, he signed a lifetime contract with the Swoosh in a deal worth a reported $1B. Ronaldo’s unrivaled global reach–he’s the most prolific person in the world on social media, with a total following of close to 760M–allows him to sign slews of exclusive deals, like his partnership with Talabat, a food delivery service company in the UAE.

With 496M followers on Instagram alone, his engagement numbers–a staggering 180M this year across 69 sponsored posts, averaging 12.8M per brand and 1.8M per post–eclipse all players on this list. Ronaldo 7 posts for his clothing and fragrance brand, CR7, garnered engagement of 41.3M, while his 5 posts for Nike scored 25.4M. Ronaldo also owns his own lifestyle hotel called Pestana CR7, with locations in New York, Madrid, Lisbon, Marrakech, Funchal, and his native Madeira.

Son Heung-min

The South Korean star of the Tottenham Hotspurs will make his third World Cup appearance in Qatar, entering the tournament with 14 deals: Adidas, Calvin Klein, Gillete, EA Sports, Tiger Beer, Republic of Gamers, NFTStar, Volvo, Tumi, OpenSea, SK Telecom, Korean Tourism Organization, Cartier, and Gentle Monster. 

The only European football athlete sponsored by Volvo and Cartier, Son is Calvin Klein’s brand ambassador in South Korea, and joins Alan Walker, Loserfruit, Nyjah Huston, and Karl-Anthony Towns as a partner of gaming equipment maker, Republic of Gamers. In 2022, his 33 sponsored posts engaged 13.2M followers, with a per-brand average of 1.6M, while his 20 Adidas posts totaled 11M in engagement.

Jack Grealish

Following his monumental, $139M move from Aston Villa to Manchester City in August 2021–which broke the British signing record–Grealish will make his World Cup debut in Qatar, entering the tourney with a stacked endorsement portfolio of 12 brands: Nike, EA Sports, McDonald’s, Icons Memorabilia, Gucci, Amazon Prime Video, Panini, PlayStation, Topps, Bose and boohooMan. Grealish is one of two World Cup players, along with Serge Gnabry, to partner with Gucci, earning a reported $1.2M. The Man City megastar’s 21 sponsored posts totaled engagement of 3.1M this year, averaging 352.7K per brand.

Guillermo Ochoa

Heading into his fifth World Cup, the Mexican stalwart known as “Memo” boasts 9 deals with Xbox, Nike, Trebel Music, Expedia, Michelob Ultra, Troquer, Hugo Boss, Dolo Neurobion, and Perfumerica. Ochoa posted 42 times for the 9 brands in 2022 , totaling 1.4M in engagement. This year, Americans Christian Pulisic and Carli Llyod joined Ochoa in a TV spot for Michelob Ultra–which also partnered with designer Guillermo Andrade to create a limited-edition, unofficial World Cup jersey for fans.

Virgil Van Dijk

This year’s competition will be the Dutch Liverpool defender’s first, but the Champions League winner already has 8 brand deals–with EA Sports, Nike, JBL, Cadbury, Tundra eSports, Meta Quest, Freia, and Sponsor Thailand–thanks to his notable success at the club level. Van Dijk is one of two European football athletes–along with Mason Mount–to have a deal with JBL. Van Dijk’s sponsored engagement on social media totaled 2.7M, with an impressive 455K average per brand. 

Trent Alexander-Arnold

The breakout star for Liverpool and England will compete in his second World Cup in Qatar, entering the tournament with deals with Therabody, Red Bull, Konami, WeAre8, Palo Alto Networks, Bang & Olufsen, and Under Armour, with whom he inked a multi-year deal worth a reported $2M annually. With close to 20M total followers on social media, the stellar right-back chalked up 5M in engagement and an average 628.3K per brand across 19 sponsored posts.

Alphonso Davies

The Ghana-born, 22-year-old standout will lead Canada in its first World Cup appearance since 1986. Besides Nike, Davies partners with Bank of Montreal, Topps, EA Sports, BioSteel, Crocs, Jordan Brand, and HATTRICKS, teaming up with the TK to create a digital football collectable game. Davies’ 33 sponsored social posts racked up a total engagement of nearly 2M this year.

Kevin De Bruyne 

Playing in his third World Cup in 2022 the Belgian Manchester City star’s sponsor lineup includes Nike, Therabody, UFL, Balln, SecretLab, Phemex, Wow Hydrate, and Lanistar. He’s also the only athlete endorsed by AI company, Balln, and crypto platform, Phemex. With a cumulative social following of 45M, De Bruyne engaged 2.1M fans across 18 posts, averaging 314.1K per brand.

Sergiño Dest

The 22-year-old defender–on loan to AC Milan from La Liga club Barcelona–will be playing in his first World Cup for USMNT, and has deals with Nike, BioSteel, AT&T, Hugo Boss, Icons Memorabilia, and EA Sports. Dest posted 5 times on social media this year, engaging 465K followers.

 

 

USMNT FIFA World Cup Endorsements

The much anticipated United States men’s national team’s roster for the 2022 FIFA World Cup was released last night in New York.

The formation below portrays the players with the most endorsements and is mostly supported by brands such as AT&Tadidas and JLab.

Coca-Cola FIFA World Cup Campaign

With the world’s biggest quadrennial sporting event just 10 days away, SU has been capturing unique brand activations and crossover campaign insights into the longstanding partnership between FIFA and The Coca-Cola Company, a FIFA partner since 1976 and an official sponsor since 1978. Let’s take a closer look at this epic partnership:

FIFA World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola

The World Cup Trophy Tour–which kicked off in Dubai in May and included 51 countries and territories–wraps up this week in Toronto, its last stop in North America (host of the 2026 World Cup) before the trophy heads to Qatar for the hotly anticipated 2022 event, beginning November 20. For the first time ever, the tour visited all 32 countries that qualified for this year’s World Cup–bringing Coca-Cola and FIFA one step closer to their goal of visiting each of FIFA’s 211 member associations by 2030.

In another first, all activations throughout the tour were digitally led–reducing waste and minimizing consumption of water, energy, and materials at each stop–in a nod to the beverage giant’s wide-ranging sustainability efforts. 

SponsorUnited was on the ground for the tour’s stop in Dallas earlier this week. The seamless, two-day event proved to be a terrific experience for fans, who enjoyed activities including fast-feet interactive games and foosball. At Coke Ink Studio, they could get “inked” with temporary tattoos of Coke cans bearing promises they’d make if the US wins the World Cup, part of the company’s sprawling “Believing Is Magic” campaign (detailed below). Other fan favorites: a photo opp with the trophy, sponsored by Coca-Cola, as well as a chance to create a Panini trading card with a selfie.  

“Believing Is Magic” Campaign

To inspire fans worldwide to share the commitments they make in support of their favorite teams, Coca-Cola unveiled the “Believing is Magic” campaign in September, spotlighting authentic moments of connection between fans, and the beliefs, rituals, and promises inherent in World Cup fandom. In keeping with Coca-Cola’s focus on digitally driven initiatives, the campaign features an online hub that connects fans across the world, and three digital films about the promises fans make if their team wins. 

Taglines like, “If we win I’ll get a tattoo” will also feature on special edition “promise” packaging worldwide–part of Coca-Cola’s commitment to immerse fans in soccer’s unifying magic.

Once the World Cup kicks off on November 20, Coca-Cola will also unveil a program that highlights fan superstitions during matches. New packaging also will showcase team colors and shared promises. 

World Cup 2022 Anthem: “A Kind of Magic” 

On October 19, Coca-Cola and Universal Music Group announced the unveiling of the FIFA World Cup 2022 campaign anthem–a multicultural reimagining of Queen’s iconic track, “A Kind of Magic.” 

A collaboration between three female recording artists–Danna Paola of Mexico, Felukah of Egypt, and Tamtam of Saudi Arabia–the song was released on October 21, as was the accompanying performance video, filmed in Mexico City. The video captures the excitement for one of the biggest sporting events on the planet, fusing Latin and Arabic culture with the impassioned world of the FIFA World Cup.

An electrifying performance of “A Kind of Magic” is scheduled for the World Cup opening ceremony on November 20, when Qatar will face off against Ecuador to jumpstart the FIFA festivities.

 

Liga MX Final

Leg 1 of the the Liga MX Final begins tomorrow as Toluca FC matches up against CF Pachuca in this final stage.

Toluca FC top sponsors: RoshfransCaliente Interactive, Corona (Anheuser-Busch), Under Armour, and Aeromexico.

CF Pachuca top sponsors: TelcelBetcris, Corona (Anheuser-Busch), Cementos Fortaleza, and GRUPO CHARLY.

Ballon D’or SPRED Report 2022

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Congratulations to Karim Benzema and Alexia Putellas, the winners of this year’s Ballon d’Or (“Golden Ball”) Award, presented in Paris on October 17th. Nominees for the annual award recognizing the best player over the previous year–presented by French news magazine French Football since 1956–included 30 men’s and 20 women’s football players from around the world.

Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema–nicknamed “Karim the Dream”–was the favorite after winning the UEFA Nations League with France, the LaLiga title, the Spain Supercup, and the Champions League with Real Madrid, as well as the 2021/2022 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year. With 120M total followers, Benzema was the second most-followed Ballon d’Or nominee this year on social media. His partnerships with 6 brands–including adidas, Jean Paul Gaultier, Technogym, and Crypto.com–have generated 16M engagements and counting.

Alexia Putellas won the women’s Ballon d’Or Award for the second consecutive year, becoming the first female player to win the title twice. Her elite run has boosted her social following a whopping 330% year-over-year to 3M across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. The FC Barcelona midfielder takes the 5th spot among both male and female Ballon d’Or nominees in terms of brand partnerships, garnering more than 2.4M engagements across 18 branded posts.

With a staggering following of more than 740M, nominee Cristiano Ronaldo is the most popular person in the world on social media. He also leads the nominees in brand partnerships with 17, including LiveScore, Nike, Clear (Unilever), and CR7, his own underwear brand. With 18 nominations during his career–the most of any player–the Portuguese megastar has won 5 Ballon d’Or trophies, a feat surpassed only by Lionel Messi with 7 awards.

Alex Morgan tops the list of female players on social media with an audience of more than 20M–ranking her 15th among all Ballon d’Or nominees by total followers. With 27 deals, the San Diego Wave striker also partners with more brands than any other female athlete. Morgan’s most engaging branded post–on Instagram with Beat Everybody, the clothing brand she cofounded with fellow US Women’s National Soccer Team players Allie Long and Kelley O’Hara–has racked up 293K engagements since January.

El Clásico

One of the most anticipated games of the season takes place today in Santiago Bernabeu Stadium as Real Madrid and Barcelona meet in the first LaLiga Classico of the season.

Spotify, the primary jersey patch partner for Barcelona, has agreed to display an OVO Owl jersey patch in the game instead of their typical logo. The patch commemorates Canadian music artist Drake, who became the first artist with 50 billion streams on Spotify. The brand’s partnership with FC Barcelona has more than 3X the total assets of any other deal. The partnership includes venue naming rights and social content that amassed over 1M total engagements.

The two powerhouse teams are the top two most followed teams in LaLiga, and have additionally each seen YoY follower growth over 10%. Check out the graphic below to learn more about these teams/athletes competing and their partnership portfolio.