Why global brands are flooding European football leagues

The “big five” European football leagues (called “soccer” in the U.S. and nowhere else) have secured more brand sponsorships than ever before. Combined, the leagues are close to 5,000 sponsorship deals for the upcoming season, a 13% increase year-over-year, according to a new report from sports intelligence platform SponsorUnited.

Why we care. Last year’s men’s World Cup proved the reach the global sport has with U.S. audiences. Streaming services bring the major European leagues to stateside fans, providing CTV ad opportunities, as well as social engagement. The adtech world is also getting better at measuring the exposure of sponsored logos across the digital ecosphere. For all these reasons, it’s no surprise that sponsorships are growing.

Here are some of the top trends across the big five European leagues.

More brands, more deals. The number of brand sponsorship deals rose at a slightly higher rate than the total number of brands (3,560 brands in the report) — 13% versus 10%. This means that brands like what they see and have expanded to more leagues in the last year.

Top brands. Coca-Cola tops all brands with 47 sponsorship deals across the big five leagues: The Premier League (England), Bundesliga (Germany), La Liga (Spain), Serie A (Italy) and Ligue 1 (France).

Six of the 10 most active brands have deals in all of the big five leagues.

Image: SponsorUnited.

Top categories. The top categories aren’t what Americans might associate with a trip to the ballgame. Construction and Industrial is the top category, followed by Technology and Business Services, to round out the top three. Food and beverages (non-alcoholic) come in a distant eighth and ninth.

There is a distinct B2B flavor for the top sponsorship categories. This suggests that among the soccer crowd’s mass audience of 3.5 billion, there are also many business decision-makers.

Image: SponsorUnited.

Construction and Industrial was the only category to add 100 deals last year. Other categories just outside the top 10 include Hotel, Restaurant, Government and Healthcare, according to SponsorUnited.

Premier League in the lead. England’s Premier League averaged nearly 60 sponsorship deals per team last season, up over 30% year-over-year. The top teams with 100 or more partnerships include: Newcastle United, Leeds United, FC Union Berlin, FC Koln and Atalanta B.C.

Top athletes. Former Paris Saint-Germain teammates Neymar Jr. and Lionel Messi were the top two athletes with the most individual sponsorship deals. Here’s a look at the other top footballers.

Image: SponsorUnited.

The biggest news this summer is that Messi joined up with Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami club. U.S. marketers take note. The brand buzz that starts in the European big five leagues could be coming to a stadium near you.

Dig deeper: Will Women’s World Cup bring the prize audience marketers want?

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