Brand sponsorship requires some very complex matchmaking. Each side ties its public image to that of the other organization, over which the other organization has no control. It’s easy to think of big failures: In 2001, the Houston Astros had to tear the Enron name off their stadium when the company folded. The Miami Heat had to do the same thing earlier this year when naming rights owner FTX filed for bankruptcy.
Success depends on both parties sharing the brand and organizational values. Julia Uhrman, co-founder and president of the National Women’s Soccer League’s Angel City Football Club (ACFC), said that’s why HubSpot was the right partner for them.
“When you look at HubSpot’s current values, they say it’s good for the bottom line, it’s good for their customers — they say they’re going to succeed with soul,” Ullman said. “This resonates a lot with the City of Angeles because our values are about setting higher expectations on and off the field and investing in our community, our product, our players and the sport so that we can truly Bringing real fairness to women.”
Create a new model team
These values drove the founding of the Los Angeles team. It all started when famous actress Natalie Portman heard football legend Abby Wambach give a speech. Wambach points out that when female soccer players end their careers, they have no retirement plan and few sources of income—the exact opposite of what happens to male soccer players.
“A lot of[Wambach’s]speeches inspired us to create a different model,” Portman said in an interview with The Guardian. She discussed the problem with venture capital executive Kara Notman, who in turn asked Ullman, a technology executive, to help them create a new kind of team.
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The idea caught on like wildfire among other big names: Wambach and Alexis Ohanian (Reddit co-founder and husband of Serena Williams) were the first of many celebrity investors batch. The group includes actors Jennifer Garner, Uzo Aduba and Jessica Chastain, singer Christina Aguilera and famous athletes Mia Hamm, Billie Jean King, Dwayne Wade and Julia Foudy. ACFC has more than 100 co-owners, two-thirds of whom are women. This star power gives the club a very high level of publicity before any players are hired.
“When we built Angel City, we wanted to build an organization where mission and capital could coexist,” Ullman said. “It’s important that we practice what we preach. So we developed the Angel City sponsorship model, where 10% of sponsorship dollars are returned to the community through our equity element and education’s social impact platform.”
This makes the club a perfect fit for HubSpot. “We partnered with ACFC because we share a similar passion: creating opportunity for the next generation of entrepreneurs,” said Sunil Desai, Vice President of Brand at HubSpot.
HubSpot has been named a “founding partner” and exclusive customer platform by the club, with funding going towards the Player 22 Fund. It provides resources and financing opportunities for female and non-binary former football players as they embark on their entrepreneurial journey. People who receive funding from the fund will also have access to the HubSpot platform, allowing them to better connect with their communities. In addition, the two organizations are creating a content series that will be featured on LinkedIn, a “Women Selling” event and a thought leadership dinner.
“We launched the Player 22 Fund last year,” Ullman said. “It helps former NWSL players from any team train to find a job in the sports world after their careers are over, which could be anything from management to team marketing and coaching positions, becoming referees or commentators .”
Uhrman said the team intends to leverage HubSpot in all the ways it can help the organization, especially in CRM and marketing.
Learn from HubSpot
“We’ve been focused on building our community from day one, and we can do that one-on-one at games, but we only have 12 home games a year,” she said. “So, with HubSpot, we were able to not only leverage their CRM program but also create personalized messages for each of our fans that directly impacted them. We could use that to determine if they were a fan who lived in Los Angeles or outside of Los Angeles.
“We know we have a global fan base today. Our merchandise has been sold to all 50 states and 51 countries. So it helps us understand how we create products. How do we increase engagement with fans who don’t live in Los Angeles? “
This isn’t the first CRM sports sponsorship — Salesforce has worked with the Olympics and Formula 1 — but it’s HubSpot’s first. The company found a special partner in ACFC. It might be difficult to find another person whose values align so well.
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