Ridesharing is gaining in popularity, and it is beginning to show in sponsorship
For those of you who don't know, Detroit City FC is a fourth-tier U.S. soccer team located in Hamtramck, Michigan. While they are a minor league team, their fan base and home games match those in the MLS. While most teams in the National Professional Soccer League typically play in front of just hundreds of fans, DCFC routinely plays in front of 5,000-8,000.
They have a die-hard fan based called the Northern Guard and they have taken the sport of soccer by storm. Their games are filled with colored smoke bombs, chanting, singing, and organized chaos. Each year, they seem to gain popularity to the point of drowning other NPSL teams and even rivaling MLS teams. This has recently been shown with the announcement of their new jersey sponsor, Lyft.
Before Lyft, Chevrolet was a long-time jersey sponsor for the club. It was a local team and they had a strong local brand sponsoring their jerseys. However, the club recently displayed their new kits with Lyft as the title sponsor; a brand without local Michigan ties.
From Lyft's perspective, this is their first jersey sponsorship in sports. In essence, they have formally made their efforts to pursue sponsorship in sports. In addition to the jersey sponsor, Lyft will also be the Official Rideshare partner for DCFC and will have special pickup locations at their games.
Additionally, fans who use Lyft to get to the game will get money off concessions and have their own gate to the stadium. Moreover, Lyft and DCFC will pick neighborhoods in Detroit to provide tickets, giveaways, and transportation to games to spread the sport of soccer.
1. The best sponsorships are those that provide solutions to fans. In this instance, there is a lack of parking because the stadium is in a neighborhood so having a rideshare service will help greatly.
2. As far as congruence goes, Detroit City FC prides itself on being community-based and strengthening communities. Meanwhile, Lyft has the same objective and align well with the soccer club.
3. While the audience may be smaller than an MLS team, that does not mean it won't be as beneficial for Lyft. DCFC's fan base may be the most loyal in the United States and Lyft will look to take advantage of that and transfer that loyalty.
4. Lyft also made sure to include some CSR aspects with this partnership by working with local communities. DCFC also does a ton of community outreach so this message should work well.
5. Being able to demonstrate the product will be key here. A lot of people still have never used their service, but will now to avoid parking and enjoy deals at the games.
6. When thinking about sponsoring a team or event, remember you don't have to choose the biggest or most luxurious event. Use Lyft's example of choosing a smaller team, but one with a rabid fan base that is constantly growing to see what local opportunities you have.
Below are some pictures of Detroit City FC games and the new jerseys featuring Lyft.
Written by: James Campbell
James Campbell is currently in his Senior year at the University of Michigan. In May of 2018, he will receive his BA degree in Sport Management. Throughout his time at Michigan, he has worked with Detroit City FC, MiLife Sport & Social Club, and USA Hockey. - @Jimmy10Campbell