Christian Pulisic is among the young stars who could connect with a younger audience.getty images
With the FIFA World Cup in Qatar less than 100 days away, U.S. Soccer is ramping up its promotional efforts. In addition to super-serving its core fans, the governing body is hyper-focused on fostering fandom among two specific demographic groups: Generation Z and Hispanic Americans.
The national governing body believes it can reach both groups with messaging highlighting the youth and diversity of this year’s U.S. men’s national team.
“If you look at what will ultimately be the 23-man roster, it is unbelievably representative of this country,” said U.S. Soccer CMO David Wright. “That’s a really, really powerful development that you’ll see this campaign and the overarching strategy mirror.”
The federation’s bilingual marketing campaign, “Only Forward/Solo Pa’lante,” has been in effect since the start of World Cup qualifying last year and will serve as a rallying cry ahead of and during the World Cup this fall. Created in partnership with New York-based agency ICNCLST, the campaign aims to highlight the wide variety of backgrounds of the U.S. men’s national team players.
“We have graphics, messaging, videos, you name it, that are both Spanish and English, but more importantly, are touching on themes that are relevant to all of our audience bases: our Hispanic audience, our Gen Z, as well as our mainstream avid fans,” said Kay Bradley, U.S. Soccer vice president of marketing.
One of those themes is highlighting and embracing the divided-household dynamic common among Hispanic Americans.
“The majority of our Hispanic fans are second-generation Hispanics, so the dynamic within their households is that there might be someone who’s a fan of the USA team, but a husband, daughter, wife or mother or father who’s a fan of a team of a different country,” Bradley said. “We’re allowing those fans to express themselves, we’re sharing those stories and we’re celebrating that dual fandom.”
The federation has several milestone announcements planned between now and the World Cup aimed at generating buzz, including the unveiling of the team’s jersey with Nike in mid-September and a roster reveal and send-off event in early November. There are also plans to unveil fashion collaborations with well-known designers prior to the start of the tournament.
During the World Cup, U.S. Soccer will facilitate watch parties across the country and encourage fans to gather to watch the USMNT, which failed to qualify for the event in 2018.
Said Bradley, “Our goal is to provide live look-ins, bring attention during it to continue to hype up those events and let fans who might not be at some of the watch parties see the energy and the excitement and hopefully inspire them to join in as well.”