Soccer moves the masses… and business

Copa America Centenario hosted this year by the United States, presents a particularly unique opportunity for brand exposure across both North and South America. This past Wednesday, a group of SMBA students were able to get a behind the scenes look at the tremendous effort it takes to present a globally visible event.

San Diego got a share of the action with the clash of Mexico versus Chile in a friendly match organized by Soccer United Marketing (SUM) a Major League Soccer’s marketing branch, which offered the sponsors an ideal scenario to engage with a very targeted market in a multicultural environment.

One of the most involved brands was the presenting sponsor All State, who had their name represented in a number of ways during the match including the flag presentation. A group of 14 lucky kids were tasked with the flag ceremony at the beginning of the match, carrying Chile’s, Mexico’s and FIFA’s cloths into the field for the protocol. They all sported the All State blue uniforms while closely supervised by an Octagon account manager to ensure that the brand’s commitments were fulfilled.

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Current SMBA students with ’09 alumna and MLS Player Care Coordinator, Natalie Akula

Home Depot gave 22 kids the chance of a lifetime. These young soccer fans got the chance to walk out on to the field with the Chile National Football Team and the Mexican National Football Team. The kids arrived at the stadium four hours prior to kickoff to rehearse for the opening ceremonies and it was well worth the wait! Each child held the hand of a player on the starting lineup and walked to center field for the national anthems. For some of these young athletes, it was their first time being in front a crowd, let alone a crowd of 68,254 passionate soccer fans.

Mexican national team games in the U.S. have always drawn huge crowds, comparing favorably against attendance from friendly matches played in Mexico. The fact that the Copa America Centenario is hosted in the U.S. this year (June 3 to June 26) seems to benefit the Mexican squad more than any other team – even the USMNT.

The SMBA’17 cohort assisted the MLS team across all areas of match presentation including locker room duty, ball and flag kids, press assistance, and any other necessary tasks the MLS requested. It was an invaluable experience for the group to witness the effort that goes into making sure the match flows smoothly, especially considering all of the time constraints that come with a live televised game. The Copa America has since commenced and our group will assuredly pay special attention to match presentation details.

Written by Amy Wesson, Daniel Margolin, Grace Morgan, David Smiddy, Addison Magness and Jessica Anguiano.