Activating the Power of User Generated Content

MLS and New Kind team up to catalyze a passionate soccer community during the MLS Cup Playoffs


Major League Soccer is the pinnacle of professional soccer in the United States and Canada. Over the course of its 20-year history, MLS has grown in support and acclaim—average attendance  at soccer matches now exceeds that of the NBA and NHL. At the end of the regular season, 12 teams qualify for the MLS Cup Playoffs, which culminates in the MLS Cup championship. The tournament is action-packed and emotional as each team faces a win-or-go-home scenario.

We worked with the MLS Digital team and several other agencies on a campaign to translate the excitement of the in-stadium experience through MLS’ social media channels. By promoting content creation from fans experiencing the action in real time, MLS aimed to drive tune-in, engage fans as brand ambassadors, and fill stadiums.

Seeing Possibilities

The Pregame: Preparing the Campaign Tools

The campaign hinged on a social media contest that gave fans incentive for sharing: the best piece of user generated content would win one lucky fan a trip to MLS Cup.

We wanted to make it as easy as possible for MLS fans, partners, and influencers to join the #MLSPlayoffs conversation. We began by creating guides for clubs and partners that defined goals of the campaign, clarified the messaging architecture (including hashtags and the call to action to share with fans), and gave examples of creative. We also spelled out a detailed timeline to ensure alignment across all stakeholders.

The guides gave clubs and partners an outline to build up the campaign among their communities and showcase passion for their local teams. 

Bringing the Story to Life

Crowdsourcing and Showcasing Fan Content

When the playoffs began, it was time to let the fans write their own MLS Cup Playoffs story. Both MLS and the Clubs encouraged fans to share their photos and videos on Instagram, Twitter and Vine using #MLSPlayoffs.

The experiences fans shared from the stadium were full of action, drama, and emotion. We helped repackage the best photos and videos, allowing this user generated content to guide the arc of each piece of post-game content. Alongside the MLS team, we created 40+ images and videos from fan submissions, each showing the emotion of the stadium experience.  MLS shared the content across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Snapchat, Tumblr and Google+

What We Learned


As the campaign highlighted fans who created content, MLS saw playoff-wide conversations explode across social media channels. The more user generated content that MLS shared, the more we received in return. The MLS digital team reviewed 15K contest entries from fans to win a trip to MLS Cup, and picked one lucky fan as the winner.

The MLS team has been recognized for the way that they engage with fans, the way they tell stories, and their work to re-create the excitement of their in-stadium experience in other venues. MLS is willing to take creative risks and they put the fans first — the hallmark of a brand that understands that dedicated supporters can help you reach new heights. It was a delight to work with them.

“New Kind helped us showcase the incredible atmosphere of a MLS match day experience across our social channels. Their forward-thinking, dynamic approach helped us put a spotlight on the league's passionate and expressive fan culture. They were the perfect partner to help us bring #MLSPlayoffs to life.'” Amanda Vandervort
Senior Director of Social Media at Major League Soccer



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