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-Reach Hispanic Families in Los Angeles-

Leveraging an Emotional Pastime:

Why Sponsoring an Hispanic Amateur Soccer League or Tournament in Los Angeles could be Your Company's Best Marketing Channel

About 16 million people play soccer in the United States, a number that is growing as immigration increases from Latin America, where soccer is wildly popular. Some fans have the disposable income to attend professional games and tournaments, while the large majority of Latinos attend local unaffiliated amateur games, as players or spectators. They choose this form of inexpensive family entertainment over going to the movies, theme parks, or other fee-based events. Why?

Consistently High Emotional Experiences

Other than the simply motivation of choosing a frugal entertainment option, there are powerful emotional bonds that keep families attending amateur soccer events. Obviously, if a family member or friend is playing, they will cheer with enthusiasm when their team wins and feel the same sadness when defeated, much like any other sporting event. And yet, there are still more deeper reasons why Latinos habitually attend amateur soccer. It isn't the effect of marketing, as these team and leagues rarely advertise. Many of the fans are immigrants where their memories of small town soccer events are stirred, making this emotional and social experience a refuge of sorts. They not only meet up with their friends, but, often eat comfort foods, creating a nostalgia for their home country. Further, the carnival-like atmosphere raises the event to a consistently emotionally-uplifting experience.

Los Angeles is know as the capital of American soccer. With roughly 10 million people living in Los Angeles County, about 47% are of Hispanic origin (according to US Census Bureau). Hispanics are also the fastest growing minority group in the US, at 3% annual growth. And, even with our courrent tougher economic times, Hispanics in California have seen the fastest rise in disposable income over any other demographic. In fact, 20% of firms in Los Angeles county are owned by Hispanics. And, a large majority of these Hispanics either play in or are fans within local amateur teams and tournaments.

A Powerful Marketing Channel in Los Angeles

With consistent game attendance and a committed fan base, both professional and amateur soccer teams, leagues, and tournaments are receiving greater and greater attention from Fortune 1000 sponsors. MLS Commissioner Don Garber, blogging on the MLS Web site, offers that soccer has a bright future in America: "Since I became commissioner of Major League Soccer in 1999, I have felt strongly that the seismic shifts in America's demographics, economy, family, social dynamics and media/technology landscape will drive the popularity of soccer in our country. It is why I was bullish on the sport when I joined the league nearly 10 years ago. And it is why I am now even more optimistic about our future."

Mike Hodgkinson, of LA City Beat magazine, said in a 2003 cover story, "Los Angeles soccer culture is at the center of the fastest-growing sport in the country. ... More than any other city, L.A. will measure - and to a large extent define - the emotional and spiritual development of soccer in the nation as a whole." He further said that Major League Soccer has deemed Los Angeles the "Soccer Nation."

Hodgkinson went on to say further that soccer in Los Angeles is "ripe for fanaticism. On paper, the health of the new Soccer Nation looks good. According to the National Soccer Participation Survey (an annual report commissioned by the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association), almost twice as many Americans play soccer than baseball. Soccer is the second most popular U.S. team sport behind basketball, and, although three-quarters of those playing are between 6 and 17 years old, the number of adult (age 18+) soccer players increased from 3.9 million in 2000 to 5.1 million in 2002: a solid 30 percent rise."

In Los Angeles County, ethnic demographic trends would also appear to add muscle to the new Soccer Nation. Again, Hodgkinson said "About 47 percent of L.A. County's roughly 10 million residents have Hispanic or Latino roots - and most of them regard soccer as a first sport like they regard Spanish as a first language. Still, the Hispanic majority has not created a soccer stronghold, based around MLS, as quickly as some had predicted. Foreign-born Hispanics arrive with die-hard allegiances and will not automatically change them for the Galaxy, even if the Home Depot Center makes an impressive new house of worship for MLS converts. Once a supporter's team is decided, usually at birth, it's set in stone - anything else, post-immigration, will always seem like a sideshow."

The Logical Alternative to Professional Team Allegiances

When they are not following their favorite professional team on TV, Hispanics play soccer or watch their friends play amateur soccer on small fields throughout Los Angeles County. While regional tournaments have been played, there has never been a Los Angeles County-wide amateur soccer tournament for adult men.... Until Copa Los Angeles. With a strong presence as a sponsor in 2010, your company can leverage its presence on and off the field to reach over 100,000 Hispanic hearts and minds, creating a strong emotional connection with your brand at a better cost-benefit ratio than any other opportunity in Los Angeles.

The Experts Agree

Jack Bell of the NY Times wrote, in a 2003 article, interviewing the MLS regarding reaching out to Hispanics, "''For many Hispanics, the game is part of their souls -- they paint their faces, they chant, they sing soccer songs,'' Don Garber, commissioner of M.L.S., said. ''There is more on the line in the game; it is not about statistics and fantasy leagues. Ethnic fans see the game as a competition for pride.''

Bell continued, saying "Many American marketing people incorrectly look at the Hispanic market, now 12.5 percent of the United States population, as a vast Spanish-speaking monolith. Nothing could be further from the truth. While nearly 60 percent of the Hispanics in the United States are from Mexico, immigrants have come from 40 Latin nations that share bits of culture.”

''The Latin community is not a homogenous group,'' Enrique Morones, the former vice president for international marketing of the San Diego Padres, said. ''Attracting Hispanics is more than just doing games in Spanish and translating material. ''There are a lot of opportunities that M.L.S. does not take advantage of.'' MLS focuses on reaching the Hispanic demographic that watches and attends professional teams and the MLS Cup. They are beginning to reach out to the amateur league players and fans, as they see the potential in broadening their reach, as witnessed in their 2009 “VW Road to the MLS Cup” series of amateur team mini-tournaments and clinics.

Further, in a article of May 2007, Mike Woitalla wrote that "...of the U.S. Hispanic population of more than 40 million, a vast majority hails from soccer-loving nations. Woitalla reported that "17 years ago the "U.S. Soccer Federation began dedicating a few staff coaches to creating liaisons with the Latino soccer community. They were charged with creating coaching clinics for Latinos who weren't familiar with the U.S. Soccer coaching schools and convincing unaffiliated Latin leagues to enter the fold."

And yet, in 2009, over 200 unaffiliated amateur adult male leagues still exist within Los Angeles County alone. Every weekend, hundreds of thousands of players and fans are showing up on fields across the county. Larger US companies are reaching part of this market through sponsoring professional teams and tournaments. However, there is a segment of the Hispanic market that they are missing, as we'll describe below.

In an Hispanic Marketing Report article by Della de Lafuente in June of 2008 (from Marketing Medios), she wrote "There's more of a market to reach Hispanics [with soccer] and you can look at any match today in the United States that pits a Mexican team against an American team, or any of the Mexican matches, and they draw huge Hispanic audiences," said Bob Dorfman, evp and CD, Baker Street Partners, San Francisco, and editor of the Sports Marketers' Scouting Report. "It's a great way to target the Hispanic audience in the United States and to reach this group in one fell swoop," Dorfman said. "Soccer is the way to go."

Also, de Lafuente reported that “Across Spanish-Language TV, Hispanic audience turn out for soccer in the stadiums and on TV. For instance, Univision’s live broadcast earlier this year of a USA v. Mexico game on Feb. 6 was watched by adults 18 to 34 in its entirety, or in part, by 9.2 million viewers, averaging nearly 5.1 million total viewers, ahead of ABC, CBS, NBC and the CW for the entire night. "The ability for U.S. companies to utilize the sport of soccer to target the U.S. Hispanic, and the Mexican-American in particular, has been really quite incredible," said Kathy Carter, EVP of MLS' marketing arm, Soccer United Marketing, New York. "We've got a list of companies lined up essentially that want to come to support the Mexican National team and other things that we do."”

Sponsoring Existing Leagues to reach 1 Million Hispanics

Right now, Soccer Marketing, Inc., has relationships with over 200 league presidents in Los Angeles county. We broker sponsorship opportunities, including obtaining booth space and branding your business with banners and flags around the fields. Estimates report that over 500,000 adult male Hispanics play soccer every weekend. Conservatively, one may double that figure as total attendance includes family and friends of players. Contact our Sales Team at 1-866-339-4619 to discuss how we can help you reach your marketing goals with a more attractive cost-benefit ratio than any other Hispanic marketing channel.

Sponsoring a 2010 Tournament to reach 100,000 Hispanics

In 2010, Copa Los Angeles, produced by Soccer Marketing, Inc., of Los Angeles, plans to take advantage of a void in the Los Angeles soccer tournament market. Our Soccer Marketing, Inc., staff has, for over 30-years, built a strong reputation for grassroots unaffiliated amateur tournaments in Los Angeles County.

Up to 7,000 players, family, and fans have turned out on a Saturday for unaffiliated amateur inter-league tournaments organized by our staff. These attendance figures were achieved without any media coverage or PR campaigns. And, they have always been short tournaments, covering a weekend or two, with no prize other than recreational enjoyment. Now, Soccer Marekting, Inc., has decided to organize an unprecedented, county-wide 25-weekend tournament, with sponsors helping to support the extended PR and media coverage.

The only other similar annual event in Los Angeles County is the Verizon Copa Alianza, held on 3 weekends (in August 2009) at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. During those 3 weekends, Alianza generates about 12, 000 to 15,000 in attendance. Alianza also holds tournaments in 9 other cities throughout the US.

Copa Los Angeles will be held over 25 weekends throughout 2010. Copa Los Angeles, with a total of 25 unaffiliated leagues bringing over 1,000 teams to fields around LA County, will generate from 100,000 to 150,000 in attendance.

Considering sponsoring either existing leagues or our 2010 Copa Los Angeles?

Please contact our sales team to learn more about the sponsorship benefits of aligning your brand with the unique position of our leagues and tournaments in the hearts and minds of Hispanic soccer players in Los Angeles.

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