MLS’s marketing arm SUM has bought a sponsored article in Ad Age to promote the Mexico national team.

The fact that MLS’ marketing division Soccer United Marketing (SUM) is responsible for marketing and profiting from the national team of Mexico is surreal. For instance, imagine if the English FA (or Premier League) was marketing the national football teams of Germany or Scotland. It would never happen.

Regardless, SUM’s advertorial features the logos of MLS and SUM in the article that’s titled Why brands shouldn’t wait until 2026 to invest in the Mexican Men’s National Team.

Paid stories such as this one are meant to look like any article that’s published in a magazine or website. However, there’s a big difference. The content is approved and paid for by the client (in this case, SUM) before publication. This way, SUM has complete editorial control to position themselves exactly how they want.

It looks and feels like a real story, but it isn’t. These sort of deals are usually conducted between the client (SUM) and Ad Age’s sales department.

MLS and Ad Age: The bizarro world of US soccer

It’s another bizarre story about MLS during the same week when an Inter Miami player criticized the league for trading players without their consent — a practice that only happens in Major League Soccer.

While it may appear odd that MLS would promote the Mexico national team, considering that teams in the league are only in the US and Canada, SUM holds exclusive commercial and marketing rights to the Mexican national team here in the States.

New York-based MLS and SUM working with the Mexican soccer federation creates a strange situation. For instance, when the US failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but Mexico did, SUM hired former US soccer players such as Landon Donovan and Alexi Lalas to cheer for Mexico.

How SUM tries to sell Mexico to US brands

SUM’s vice president of properties Pablo Zarate is quoted in the article, where he says “The Mexican National Team is the premier Hispanic property in sports across North America.

“Their matches are one of the most-watched, most-attended soccer events among any national team in the world. There is nothing like the interest and passion these fans have for their team.

“Many first-generation Mexican Americans follow the team largely, as well as an avid second- and third-generation group of young bicultural, tech-savvy digital natives.”

MLS, the top-flight US soccer league, is hoping to advance the Mexico national team well before the 2026 World Cup. MLS and Ad Age have had a long partnership together, and this paid article is a follow-up to a piece from last year where MLS paid for Nielsen to publish a research report about fan loyalty.

Mexican national team has loyal and passionate fan base

In the paid article, Ad Age shares data regarding the Mexico national team. According to the outlet, 89% of the team’s fan base “take pride” in supporting El Tri. Passionate supporters tend to follow the team closely, which is obviously extremely important in marketing.

This is clearly evident in a previous poll of Mexican fans around the time of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. A poll suggested that 68% of the Mexican national team supporters also supported a partner brand of El Tri.

This would be music to the ears of companies looking to form a potential alliance with the team and MLS / SUM.

Guide to Major League Soccer

Here are some resources to help you get the most out of MLS Season Pass!
TV Schedule: All the info on where and when to watch every game
Season Pass FAQ: We answer your questions about MLS Season Pass
Sign up: Learn how to subscribe to MLS Season Pass
Commentators: Check out who's calling the action for the MLS season
Android users Tips for fans Android users on how to watch MLS Season Pass