Orlando Building a Brazilian Brand

Team's launch of Brazilian YouTube channel sets stage for larger strategy
by Chris Kimball   |   Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Purple Pride – column on Orlando City SC (OCSC) & the Orlando & Central Florida area soccer scene.

It was certainly a busy week in Lion Nation.

On Wednesday Orlando City welcomed another player to the dressing room in the form of Brian "Cobi" Span, on loan from FC Dallas. On Thursday the club hired 2 marquee coaches for their youth development program, Darren Powell and Jeff Negalha. And finally, on Saturday, the Lions won their first match of 2014, defeating the Rochester Rhinos 3-1.

But perhaps the most intriguing news of the week nearly flew under the radar. Late Friday, in a short press release, the club announced that it would begin broadcasting live home games in Portuguese via the team's new Brazilian YouTube channel.

The move, according to the team, makes Orlando City the "first professional sports team in the United States to provide online broadcasts in English and Portuguese."

To provide play-by-play commentary to its Brazilian audience the club hired Marcos Peres, formerly of TV Globo and SportTV.

We always knew Brazil was on the radar. In Feb. 2013, when the team introduced its new principal owner, Brazilian businessman Flavio Augusto da Silva, their intention to exploit da Silva's vast Rolodex was explicitly stated. That was also the moment the "Brazilian Beckham" phrase was first floated, and the Kaka to Orlando rumor took flight.

Since then, however, there has been little visible progress except for the creation of a team Facebook page in Brazil (more on that in minute). To be fair, the front office has been somewhat occupied with the small matter of garnering support for a new soccer stadium and securing its place as an MLS franchise.

Now, with Friday's announcement, one sees the team's first tangible step towards their stated goal of making "Orlando City every Brazilian's second favorite team."

It's a lofty goal, to be sure. But one shouldn't dismiss it out of hand. Consider the following:

- Brazilians constitute the second largest group of overseas travelers to Florida. They also stay longer and spend more. Orlando, of course, is their primary destination.

- Since launching last year, Orlando City's aforementioned Brazilian Facebook page has accumulated a remarkable 709,000 likes, a tally superior to nearly every team in MLS, in far less time.

- At the time of this writing a full 20% of the viewers who have watched Saturday's match on YouTube have chosen the Portuguese version. Not bad for a team with no Brazilian players on its roster ... yet.

- Da Silva's business partner, Alexandre Leitão, is the principle figure in helping shape Orlando City's Brazil strategy. He also happens to be president of Octagon Brazil, a leading sports marketing group with working relationships with Brazilian athletes, clubs, corporate sponsors, and other insiders.

Skeptics should also bear in mind the impeccable track record of this ownership group. Every "lofty" challenge they have previously laid out they have achieved in due time, i.e. championships, stadium, MLS, etc. That counts for something.

It's easy to imagine travel packages which bundle Orlando's attractions with soccer tickets, providing Brazilian vacationers the unique chance to see some of their best homegrown talent mix it up in America.

We should also expect more visits to Orlando by Brazilian clubs for friendly competition. But more important will be for Orlando City to travel to Brazil so the club can display its feathers -with no Internet connection required- in the most passionate soccer nation on Earth.

NEXT UP: April 12  - Orlando City vs. Charleston Battery, ESPN's Wide World of Sports, Kissimmee, Fla. 7:30pm EST. YouTube live stream.

Chris KIMBALL

Nationality:
USA
College:
William & Mary
Club Domestic:
Orlando City
Club Foreign:
Tottenham Hotspur
Christopher is editor of Orlando Soccer Daily, covering the beautiful game for central Florida. A retired music exec turned soccer fanatic, he landed in Florida via Paris & Boston. When not working he's usually chasing after his 2 sons or suffering after
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