Audi of America and Major League Soccer announced this week that their partnership has been renewed as part of a multi-year deal between the luxury important brand and the league. The two first aligned in 2015, making Audi the official automotive partner of MLS.
Since then, including renewals in 2018 and 2020, the relationship has grown and developed to take advantage of new assets, as well as to address issues impacting sports and society.
In this latest agreement, Audi steps up to become the first presenting sponsor of the MLS Cup. The automaker was already, and continues to be, title sponsor of the MLS Cup Playoffs. It also will remain presenting sponsor of the MLS Golden Boot Award honoring the leading scorer each season.
Audi first became widely recognized for championing important causes when it tackled the issue of gender-equitable pay in its 2017 Super Bowl spot “Daughter,” which was among the most popular and well-reviewed ads from that game.
Now it has added a purpose-driven element to its MLS partnership through the Audi Goals Drive Progress Impact Award presented by MLS WORKS, which the league describes as “a new program dedicated to recognizing the individual community work projects of players. A selection committee will consider candidates whose commitment to charitable efforts and social impact work creates sustainable communities, fosters equity and inclusion, and enriches the lives of those in need across the U.S. and Canada.”
The award builds on the four-year-old Audi Goals Drive Progress program, which has provided $4 million to “enhance the experience of young players both on and off the field at MLS academies,” according to the league.
Audi will continue to have a local pro soccer presence through its sponsorships of five MLS clubs—D.C. United, Orlando City SC, San Jose Earthquakes, Sporting Kansas City, and New York Red Bulls. The company also has naming rights to D.C. United’s Audi Field home stadium, which is near its U.S. headquarters.
In addition to MLS, the subsidiary of German automaker Audi AG has used other partnerships in and out of sports over the past two decades to move from a challenger brand in the U.S. to being considers alongside competitors such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW as a leading luxury marque.
With a target audience that skews younger than its counterparts, not to mention a smaller marketing budget, Audi was quick to adopt social media activations, gaining traction there before other automakers. Beyond that, the company has positioned itself as the “most progressive” luxury car brand through film and TV partnerships, most notably with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.