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Digging Deeper: What to think about Atlanta United's "top-tier" jersey sponsorship

Background from a former MLS President on the importance of the deal

Atlanta United president, Darren Eales, spoke to MLSSoccer.com’s Payson Schwin and revealed a little more about their kit sponsor partnership with American Family Insurance.

“It’s a top-tier deal, I’ve got to say. A top-tier MLS deal.”

The deal will see American Family Insurance be on the front of the first Atlanta United kits. The exact terms and length of the deal are unknown. MLS jersey sponsorships are said to average between $3M-$3.5M with LA Galaxy inking one of the largest reported deals in 2012 for 10 years and over $44 million.

John Guppy, president and founder of Gilt Edge Soccer Marketing and former president/CEO of the Chicago Fire, told Dirty South Soccer:

“Jersey partnership is the most important individual commercial relationship there is for an MLS Team. This is not simply based on the dollars associated with the agreement, but because it’s a brand that figuratively and literally is woven into the fabric of the Club. Finding the right brand fit is extremely important to ownership as well as to the fans.”

Some local fans were surprised that American Family Insurance, a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Wisconsin, became the inaugural jersey sponsor as opposed to one located in Atlanta. Guppy said:

“Atlanta is a great corporate market and I'm sure most of the major headquartered companies have/are reviewing potential opportunities with the Team. These are well established brands though and likely already have a strong presence in Atlanta. A jersey partnership level commitment might just not have made sense for them.”

With MLS growing rapidly at the moment, both in the number of teams and television deals, its teams are becoming a hot property for national brands. In the past, MLS teams often did deals with local companies. That is starting to change according to Guppy:

“The nationwide and global exposure a jersey partner brand receives via TV and digital from is hugely significant. To justify the financial investment required to enter into these types of partnerships, a brand must see value in these impressions. So, yes, I think national / international brands with a keen local interest are best positioned to capitalize.”

American Family Insurance has been in the Atlanta market since 2008 and became a founding partner of Mercedes Benz Stadium last year. American Family Insurance’s Chief Marketing Officer Telisa Yancy told Schwin:

“Atlanta is critical to us in terms of our growth opportunity. It’s a very diverse town, representing lots of millennials, lots of ethnic diversity and cultural diversity, and we think it’s critical for us as we grow into the future to have a presence in a city like that.”

One hint at both sides’ interests is in the Dream Tryouts that will see events hosted in Charlotte, Birmingham, and Nashville. By working together, both brands will be able to cover more ground in the Southeast.