A subsidiary of Heineken International BV, White Plains-N.Y.-based Heineken USA’s Heineken Premium Lager is pairing up with UEFA Champions League (UCL) and Major League Soccer (MLS) beginning March 1 for Heineken’s fully integrated, 360-degree retail and on-premise Soccer is Here program. The program encourages legal-drinking-age fans to choose Heineken for all of their soccer viewing activities, the company says. National TV, digital partnerships, social support, account activation and a consumer sweepstakes rewarding shoppers for every minute of every UCL and MLS match, will drive consumer engagement and increase consideration and sales of Heineken throughout the program, it adds.

“Watching soccer is a game of stamina and planning. Whether at home, at the bar or in the stadium, fans must be prepared for a full 45-minute half with no time-outs from the action,” said Jonathan Simpson, director of trade marketing at Heineken USA, in a statement. “Our partnership with UCL and MLS builds on the excitement of the starting whistle and encourages fans to never miss a minute by reminding them to be prepared with food and drinks before the kick-off while offering them the chance to win prizes during every minute of every match.”

To drive awareness of the campaign, Heineken is activating strategic digital ad placements with mobile, tablet, desktop and place-based media to keep its product top-of-mind while targeting consumers seeking soccer relevant content, it says. The company also is partnering with on-demand beer delivery service, Drizly, to reach consumers who are ready to instantly order.

To keep fans engaged throughout the season, the company created an interactive, digital desktop-, tablet- and mobile-compatible soccer hub that will provide information on both soccer leagues and matches, including play schedules, countdown to match-days and a product locator, it says. In addition, the hub will provide live score updates, the latest world soccer news and special offers. It also includes a portal to share photos and content and allow fans to buy tickets and enter the sweepstakes during matches. Regional and national accounts also are encouraged to visit the hub to customize the Heineken experience for their retail and on-premise locations and create individual contest elements and activations to drive consumers in-store to increase purchase of Heineken and other relevant viewing items, the company adds.

Bold visual displays and point-of-sale (POS) materials, including pole toppers, five- and 10-case stackers, price cards, cooler decals, posters, table tents and coasters will generate program awareness, the company says. At retail, cross-merchandising offers and mail-in rebates (where legal) on the purchase of Heineken products and game day snacks also will generate higher basket rings, it adds.

Simpson noted: “Soccer is one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. with a fan base of 110 million that is projected to significantly increase in the coming years. Heineken is the No. 1 selling European beer among U.S. soccer fans, the most popular brand among both UCL and MSL fans and the brand fans most associate with soccer sponsorship. The brand is uniquely positioned within the category to expand on our existing role with soccer, offering retailers and on-premise operators new opportunities to increase their Heineken sales and profits as the sport continues to grow in the U.S.”