This July, White Plains, N.Y.-based Heineken USA is bringing soccer fans closer to game.
Heineken will be the presenting sponsor for every International Champions Cup (ICC) match in the United States. Since 2013, the ICC, presented by Heineken, rapidly has become a highlight on the global soccer calendar, and its fifth North American act is promising to be the most ambitious yet, the company says.
Eight of the world’s greatest teams, playing in world-class stadiums across North America, will contest the 2017 tournament July 19-30. With six of the last 10 UEFA Champions League titles between them, the 11-day event stokes some of the most intense rivalries in world soccer. And Heineken aims to elevate the gameday drinking occasion every step of the way, the company says.
“Heineken drinkers are passionate about all things soccer and ICC,” said Rob Ryder, Heineken brand manager, in a statement.
Citing Nielsen Homescan Panel FY2015; HUSA Occasion Profile Shopper Framework, Ryder also noted that Heineken drinkers are 60 percent more inclined to view FIFA soccer championships, 72 percent of drinkers associate beer with soccer and the Heineken target is 66 percent more likely to view Major League Soccer. “Enjoying a cold Heineken on game day enhances the experience and leads to greater consumer engagement,” he added.
Heineken has seen high single-digit uplift in volumes within markets that activated ICC at retail last year, offering strong encouragement for retailers to support the partnership with ICC, Ryder said.
“We will build on this momentum in 2017 with an even bigger program,” he added.
In 2014, more than 109,318 fans showed up to watch Manchester United and Real Madrid meet at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor — the highest-attended soccer game in U.S. history. In 2016, the two most-attended soccer games in the United States were part of the ICC, when 105,826 watched Real Madrid take on Chelsea at Michigan Stadium, and 86,461 watched Real Madrid play Paris Saint-Germain at Ohio Stadium.
“The lineup of teams participating in this year’s tournament is world-class from top to bottom, highlighted by current champions of three top domestic leagues as well as the reigning Champions League titleholder,” said Charlie Stillitano, chairman of tournament founder Relevent Sports, in a statement. “Hosting this caliber of soccer competition in the U.S. is only feasible through the ICC, where these teams can compete in a highly competitive tournament in preparation for their upcoming domestic campaign.”
Heineken is bringing the excitement of ICC game day to retail and to the host stadiums, it says. Consumers can text GOAL to 88500 for a chance to win game tickets, stadium tours and exclusive merchandise. The information is featured on soccer-themed point-of-sales materials to support in-store feature and display activity.
In digital activation, @HeinekenSoccer will promote the program, driving consumers to the Heineken soccer website for ICC and soccer content. On-site, Heineken will promote in-stadium beer gardens at the biggest ICC matches. PR and media will feature influencer events and leverage the Heineken Boot Room for exclusive player interviews, it adds.