USA World Cup Bid Committee taps Donovan for e-mail marketing campaign

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The USA World Cup Bid Committee launched an e-mail marketing push July 1 utilizing the newfound star power of soccer player Landon Donovan. The group's goal is to get consumers to support its effort to have the US named host country for the World Cup in 2018 or 2022.

The organization is working with Blue State Digital, a Washington DC-based Internet strategy and technology firm, on the campaign.

Donovan, who plays for the Los Angeles Galaxy Major League Soccer team and serves as a midfielder for the US National Team, has become better known after the US' performance at the World Cup in South Africa. He scored the winning goal in a game against Algeria that helped the US advance to the World Cup's elimination rounds.

“The strategy in place was to capitalize on the World Cup — and now that Donovan is the most recognized soccer player in the US, it was a good time to work with him on the e-mail marketing push,” said Jurgen Mainka, director of marketing and communications for the Bid Committee.

The group is sending e-mails, which appear to have come directly from Donovan's e-mail account, to consumers who have signed an online petition to bring an upcoming World Cup to the US.

The campaign is a part of a larger digital initiative including Facebook, online video, Twitter and SMS messages, said Mainka. The e-mail marketing component is designed to be a “two-way conversation,” he added, whereby recipients can send messages back. The organization has previously sent other celebrity-focused e-mails to consumers as part of the larger campaign.

The group's “The Game is in Us,” website also collects e-mail addresses of petition signees and invites consumers to upload their photos to the site or share it via Facebook and Twitter. The page also contains an e-commerce shop where consumers can buy campaign-specific clothing and gear in both English and Spanish.

Donovan discusses his experience at the games in the text of the e-mail.

“The winning goal against Algeria was one of the greatest feelings I have ever experienced,” he wrote in the e-mail. “I can only imagine how that goal would have felt if it had happened in the United States.”

The message also emphasizes that FIFA, the world's soccer organizing body, will announce its choice of hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments on December 2. The US hosted the 1994 World Cup.

“That gives us five months to make our case for why FIFA should pick the US,” the e-mail said.

The Bid Committee plans to use celebrities on its board of directors in future e-marketing pushes, though Mainka declined to name specific celebrities who could be a part of the campaign.

The organization's board members include former President Bill Clinton, who is also its honorary chairman; boxer Oscar De La Hoya; actor Brad Pitt; and Bob Iger, president and CEO of Disney.

The Bid Committee has collected more than 793,000 signatures via the web, with a goal to reach one million before the December 2 deadline.

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