Earlier this week, the curtains lifted on season number 28 of Major League Soccer, or as it’s popularly known, the MLS.
The United States’ premier football league has been enjoying a period of steady growth, and last year, its development took a massive leap.
MLS signed an unprecedented $2.5b dollar deal with Apple TV, selling off all its global media rights to the tech giants, and becoming the first major American Sports League to do so.
Apple TV’s overall effect on the product remains to be seen, but given their initial claims and the company’s technological mastery, fans will likely receive a better experience than the fragmented broadcast deals of the past.
Their endeavour with Apple isn’t the only major deal MLS has gone all-in on, as the league have also extended their partnership with German Sportswear brand Adidas.
The previous agreement, signed in 2017, saw Adidas become the primary sponsor and supplier of the league, the brand provided MLS with training gear and branded apparel, alongside the kits of all 29 participating clubs.
A week before the 2023 season opener, the two parties announced the renewal of the deal till 2030, with the deal being valued at $830m.
100% sponsorship agreements, such as this one, are unheard of in European Football, but MLS x Adidas has largely been a success.
The task of producing unique kits for no less than 29 teams hasn’t proved to be much trouble for the brand, as the designs fronted by Adidas season after season have been quite creative.
Recently, Adidas even flaunted the privilege of sponsoring an entire league, as their superstore in New York City’s 5th avenue showed off all of this season’s kits in one place.
As seen in these images, the store dedicated an entire wall to the kits, attracting plenty of traffic from MLS fans.
A major takeaway from the display is the fact that the various designs are noticeably different, there is little in terms of rehashed elements and most kits feature creative patterns and eye-catching colour combinations.
A wall’s worth of kits all sponsored by the same brand is a sight that is unlikely to be repeated, at least in any of the major European leagues.
Given this, Adidas’ partnership strategy is commendable, especially when you consider MLS’s growing popularity.
The kit wall was likely created as part of the marketing push ramping up to match week 1 of the league.
The advertising campaign also included a stunning 3D billboard in Times Square, courtesy of Apple.
With the league officially underway, it’ll be interesting to see how viewership figures fare this season.