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Thierry Henry and MLS: Branded for Failure?

Posted by: Patrick Kerns on October 11, 2010

If you’re a sports fan (and probably even if you’re not), you’ll certainly remember the night in early July when LeBron James announced his decision to take his talents to South Beach and play for the Miami Heat. You also might recall the study we released at the time that determined that Miami actually offered LeBron the least opportunity to maximize his lifetime earnings and brand value.

Now, in our latest article, "MLS should look to the future for its stars, not the past," (which appears in Sports Business Journal), we argue that Major League Soccer’s current strategy of signing big name international stars at the end of their careers is leading MLS nowhere as a league or as a brand. While the strategy has provided some short-term bumps in attendance and interest, the positive effects of these signings have so far proven unsustainable, and the league is not positioning itself to succeed in the long run.

The main issue is this: The MLS sells its image to sponsors and fans as the up-and-coming American pro sports league, but directly contradicts its brand promise by signing players like Henry and David Beckham – old, well-known players who are past their prime. We argue that the league should instead develop a strategy that is more consistent with its brand. It needs to practice what it preaches by targeting younger, faster, more exciting players and positioning the league as one of the future.

Read the full Sports Business Journal article here.

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