Ready for Some Futbol?

Soccer fever is revving up in advance of this summer’s FIFA World Cup. And brands are already capitalizing on the sport’s popularity among U.S. Hispanics to launch campaigns tied to music.

Verizon Wireless is promoting its on-demand streams of Univision’s World Cup broadcasts with a marketing campaign featuring regional Mexican act Los Tigres del Norte. Under a partnership with the group brokered last year by Tribal Brands, the carrier released an exclusive Los Tigres mobile EP and sponsored the group’s 2009 U.S. tour.

For the World Cup campaign, Verizon will set up an area at Los Tigres concerts it is sponsoring where fans can pose in front of a green-screen to shoot a videoclip that makes it appear as though they’re playing soccer with the group. They can then have the video sent to their phones. Verizon will also fly 32 fans selected in a sweepstakes drawing to Houston to watch the June 11 match between Mexico and South Africa and to see a private performance by Los Tigres.

Meanwhile, official World Cup sponsor Budweiser is sponsoring a six-on-six amateur soccer tournament in California that will culminate in a May 23 championship match at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. The event will feature performances by a variety of Latin music acts, says Elena Sotomayor, event marketing VP of Cardenas Marketing Network, which is organizing the tournament with sports marketing company Primetime Group.

“We definitely want some regional Mexican talent, maybe some rock as well,” Sotomayor says.

While Budweiser owns the six-on-six tournament, “they’re open to other sponsors coming onboard,” Sotomayor says, particularly for the big matchup in May, for which she’s pursuing fast food and wireless companies. Other brands that aren’t putting in big bucks for international World Cup sponsorship “love it because they can ride the coattails of such a big property for a lot less money,” she says.

As part of a more modest campaign, Hispanic marketing and advertising firm Lanza Group is looking to sell a sponsorship for a soccer videogame tournament at Fiesta Atlanta, the Cinco de Mayo celebration it puts on every year. “You’ll find a lot of the major sponsors that are World Cup sponsors will be incorporating the World Cup within their activations,” Lanza Group CEO Ralph Herrera says, adding that Bud Light, Coca-Cola and McDonald’s are likely to hand out soccer-associated items as giveaways.

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