Last night I attended the first event in the brand new, monstrous US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis (a bit humorous that the first event is for a soccer match and not a football game, but I digress…). An impressive 65,000 people came out to watch Chelsea versus AC Milan, a clash between two of Europe’s most storied clubs.
(I will say, I did enjoy watching a soccer match indoors on a day when temperatures peaked well into the 90’s with high humidity. On the downside, the hyped, local food vendors were a serious let down. The price gouging was in full force too. Sorry, I digress again…)
What really caught my eye happened before the match even started. Now, it is customary in international soccer for the two teams to enter the pitch (aka field) in two parallel lines, with the three match referees leading the way. Many times, players are accompanied by young kids, often from local clubs, who walk side-by-side with the player, usually holding hands. Once they reach midfield, the referees stand in the middle, with each team flanking to either side, standing shoulder-to-shoulder. The kids will stand in front of the players.
It’s a wonderful photo opportunity. A young, aspiring footballer standing in front of a player they admire, the player’s hand often resting on the youngster’s shoulders.
So, of course, in a stadium where everything is corporate-branded (including the gates), there was this egregious image: these kids were decked out in McDonald’s soccer kits, which they didn’t just wear for the player introductions, but for the entire match as they served as ball boys/girls. (Sorry it’s a little blurry, I couldn’t get a clear shot, so had to settle for the jumbo screens. But you can still easily make out the image.)
Dear McDonald’s: you can’t say you don’t market to kids while at the same time using kids as your personal billboard in a stadium filled with 65,000 people at an international soccer match being watched on television by hundreds of thousands more.