May 9th, 2008

Volkswagen Strikes MLS Sponsorship Deals

By Richard Tedesco
PROMO Magazine

Volkswagen has scored deals to be the official car of Major League Soccer and the primary sponsor of D.C. United, one of the U.S. pro soccer league’s most successful franchises.

The one-year MLS deal will give VW signage at the Pepsi MLS All-Star Game, the MLS Cup and the MLS championship match. It will also give VW leverage for local activation with MLS teams through its auto dealerships.

The five-year pact with D. C. United puts the VW logo on the team’s uniforms.

“It was definitely a great fit since soccer is a global game and VW is a global company,” Marcy Morton, VW America media manager, said about the MLS deals.

Soccer sponsorships are part of VW’s corporate culture: in Europe, the automaker is part owner of the VLF Wolfsburg team in the German Bundesliga and its logo adorns team jerseys in the Bundesliga, Italy’s Serie A and the English Premiership.

The demographic of MLS fans also fits VW’s 18-49 year old target demographic, according to Morton, as it promotes five new vehicles this year, including a mini-van and the Tiguan compact SUV.

As part of its D.C. United activation, VW will install the Volkswagen Garage, a vehicle showroom with capacity for 1,000 people, behind the north goal at RFK Stadium. Visitors will be able to lounge in hammocks and Adirondack chairs, or play FIFA soccer video games at Xbox 360 stations and soccer-based car games, or buy VW-branded merchandise. VW will also create a separate VIP hospitality lounge at the stadium for dealers to entertain clients

VW will also be a participating sponsor of D.C. United’s pre-game Soccer Celebration in Parking Lot 8. And the first 50 VWs to enter lot No. 4 on game days will get a complimentary parking spot.

The automaker will also participate in D.C. United’s community outreach efforts, supporting charitable organizations the team is involved with and youth soccer leagues.

“Our brand aligns really well with their strong focus on community,” Morton said.

VW will evaluate results of its MLS sponsorship after the conclusion of the season, according to Morton, with an eye to extending the relationship. 

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