The Sports Business Journal is once again reporting on the fans of Major League Soccer’s remarkable connection to the corporate partners that support the league. In reporting the results of the latest Turnkey sports poll, SBJ states that, “MLS sponsors were correctly identified as such by the league’s fans at a higher rate than the companies’ rival brands across all categories, according to the results of this year’s MLS Sponsor Loyalty survey conducted for SportsBusiness Journal/Daily by Turnkey Sports & Entertainment”
MLS fans’ track record of brand loyalty is a recurring theme. Because of MLS’ relative newness to the sports scene, MLS fans have more “ownership” in the league’s success. Unlike fans of the NFL, MLB and other mainstream sports, fans of Major League Soccer have real concern about their league and its place on the sports landscape. Fans work hard to bring friends to games, introduce family to the sport and cheer for MLS teams in international competitions. This personalized relationship to the sport lends itself to these same fans taking an interest in the corporate entities that keep the league solvent. Moreover, because the relationships are promoted through means other than commercials (jerseys, signage, etc…), the names of these companies are always prominently displayed.
Some telling numbers from the survey (as reported by SBJ). League sponsors such as VW, Gatorade, Pepsi and Allstate generally earned recognition scores in excess of 30%. One major partner that fell below 30% was VW, at 28.5% . However, among all sports/leagues, that 28.5% was second to only Chevy’s affiliation to NASCAR in the auto category. AT&T”s relationship with the league was the biggest mover among all brands in the survey with almost a 16% year over year increase in fan recognition through its MLS partnership. One final note, Visa’s brand recognition; “more than 44 percent of avid fans recognized the relationship, the highest rate of any of the league’s sponsors among avid fans.”
We will have more on this survey over the next few days.