Why Danone and FC Barcelona Are Partnering to Reach Soccer Fans in the US

The food company is leveraging the sport's momentum in the states

Adweek's Doug Zanger moderates a session featuring executives from Danone and FC Barcelona. Adweek
Headshot of Minda Smiley

Danone North America, which owns brands including Activia, Dannon, Oikos and Silk, has a clear mission: bring health through food to as many people as possible.

Speaking at the virtual Brandweek Sports Marketing Summit today, Danone USA’s svp and chief marketing officer of brand marketing yogurt Manos Spanos, said partnering with athletes helps it bring this message to life.

“For us, there’s no better way to get people engaged in that mission than the power of sports,” he said. “They share our commitment to health and wellness.”

Silk recently tapped Olympians Aly Raisman and Michael Phelps to serve as the faces of it soymilk line. In April, Oikos Triple Zero, the “Official Yogurt of the NFL,” celebrated the league’s draft with a humorous ad featuring several players.

During today’s summit, Danone unveiled its latest sports-oriented partnership: a three-year tie-up with FC Barcelona that will exclusively cater to Americans. Spanos said that, at least to his knowledge, it marks the first time an American brand and European soccer club are teaming up to explicitly reach the U.S. market.

The partnership comes as soccer continues to gain momentum in the US. According to Nielsen research, cities that received their first Major League Soccer team between 2015 and 2018 saw interest in the sport grow 29% on average compared to 2012.

In addition to Major League Soccer expansion in the states, Nielsen points to the diversification of the American population and the success of the US women’s national soccer team as reasons why the sport is seeing its fandom grow in the country.

This is largely why FC Barcelona established an office in New York in 2016. At the time, the club said the office would help it “focus on the development of new partnerships and strategic collaborations” and help grow the sport among the U.S. fan base.

“Soccer is so popular,” Xavier O’Callaghan, managing director of FC Barcelona’s New York office, said. “It’s next big sport in the U.S. for sure, and we want to be here to capture the attention.”

FC Barcelona has already had pre-season games in the US and established youth academies in cities including Austin, Chicago and Nashville. Its relationship with Danone will involve digital and social content, promotions and activations around major games, academies and summer tours.

“For us, it’s a no-brainer to become involved,” Kieran Foley, head of partnerships at Danone USA, said. “We’re listening to our consumers and we’re trying to engage them.”


@Minda_Smiley minda.smiley@adweek.com Minda Smiley is an agencies reporter at Adweek.
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