Shawn Warmstein|Jun 30, 2014

“The magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.”

That is how Malcolm Gladwell describes the tipping point.

With the United States advancing to the elimination round and the country catching World Cup fever, marketers must ask themselves this question: Is this soccer’s tipping point?

It’s no secret soccer is the world’s most popular sport. Stars such as Neymar, Ronaldo and Messi are more recognizable than LeBron, Peyton and Jeter everywhere but the U.S. However, once the World Cup concludes, will soccer continue its uphill battle to challenge other major sports in the States?

According to Major League Soccer (MLS), the game the world calls futbol ranks second in popularity amongst “young people” in our country behind America’s football. Additionally, as the population continues to diversify, the people who reflect this change bring with them a soccer-friendly culture.

These two factors translate to an engaged and educated fan base, and one that is more willing to engage with brands.

And the aforementioned MLS? The league is not only growing in size, expanding to 24 teams within the next several years, but welcoming names that lend international credibility and buzz, such as future owner David Beckham and players like David Villa and Kaká.

This enhancement of MLS and continued growing popularity of international club soccer will provide companies that have invested in the sport or World Cup previously – from Adidas and Nike to Beats and Band-Aid – a year-round platform. Those that have jumped on the real-time marketing train like Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Snickers might consider future, more permanent campaigns. And for local MLS sponsors, capturing more eyeballs for in-game activations and heart-and-minds for community programs might become easier.

Moving forward, marketing, social media and PR campaigns must tap into the qualities and factors that are driving soccer mania right now: The game is universal, it allows for a unique mix of individuality and collective, community-driven experiences, and is not traditional in the States.

While soccer’s popularity still might not yet be as sure a thing as a penalty kick goal amongst the U.S. general public, the sport’s marketability is no longer playing a man down on Madison Avenue.


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