The challenge to find unique, promotable, and sometimes profitable brand partners for second division soccer clubs can be daunting sometimes, especially when those above you grab some of the biggest lights, and with it the grandest brands. However here are two unique kit sponsorships…one that worked, one that didn’t that were definitely worth a spot for ingenuity.
F.C. New York plays its games in and around various venues in the New York area, playing in the National Premier Soccer League, a lower level developmental league that has few players of various stages of developing talent to MLS and other clubs around the world. Finding sponsors in the minors of hockey and baseball has its challenges for sure, minor league soccer sponsors in a crowded market for a team that seems to always be moving from place to place, so when a sponsor comes to a club with a unique promo and kit sponsor, the club should listen, right? When the sponsor is a national “brand,” they should listen even more…when that “brand” is running for the Oval Office, the sponsor has the chance to bring the club some national attention as well.
So it was with great excitement that F.C. NEW YORK announced that an anonymous donor had purchased the front of their kit for messaging from Presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The donor was not revealed, but only said in a statement “I love futbol, I love America, I am a proud Latino- American who believes Mitt Romney needs to be our next president.”
The club produced the jerseys with Governor Romney’s “Believe in America” slogan on the front, and were prepared to debut them in a match vs. Red Bull at Long Island’s at the Mitchel Field athletic Complex. It was a very unique platform to draw attention and with it some controversy. After all, teams rarely get involved in public political tussles, so could this be a new trend for donors, and new ground for the political field? Well…not really.
Unfortunately, the club was informed by FIFA that political statements were prohibited from kit sponsorships, so the uniforms were a no go. However it didn’t diminish the creativity for a club struggling to get attention, and maybe the anonymous donor can find other ways to get his message out through a club looking to break through in the marketplace.
Then you have Vitória, a second-division Brazilian football club, who came up with a kit idea that could also be game changing, and life changing for some. The club, which plays with red and black uniforms, announced they will start their new season in black jerseys with horizontal white stripes, a departure for sure for a club that calls themselves the “Red and Blacks.” However the club is not straying from their red color, they are building toward it. In order to promote blood donation in the region, the club will fill in their white stripes with red every match as the season progresses, which would be reflective of the amount of blood donated by club followers. With every goal reached, every stripe will go from white to red until all four stripes are filled.
Now this isn’t a sacrifice most clubs who sell their kits for millions will make, but it is an enterprising one off for some team sports throughout the season, especially teams who are focused on one-off jerseys for special events and promotions. Could there be some sort of pink rise for breast cancer awareness, extra blue that goes up week to week for autism? The opportunities are interesting, especially if the stripe filling produces solid results.
Sometimes the best ideas, or at least the most creative, come from those away from the brightest lights.