The million kids who participate in youth soccer programs through AYSO are about to become walking advertisements for Herbalife supplements with all moms who attend their games as the target audience.


Los Angeles-based Herbalife Ltd. signed a four-year sponsorship agreement last week with L.A.-based national non-profit American Youth Soccer Organization to put the company's logo on the front of youth soccer jerseys. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The move puts the same logo on the chests of the kids as did the five-year $25 million sponsorship to put the company's name on the shirt of Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy star David Beckham.

"Soccer is very powerful with young kids today," said Tom Zimmer, senior vice president for the Americas.

Throughout the soccer world, corporate logos frequently adorn the jerseys of professional teams. In the United States, however, other major professional sports leagues such as the NFL, Major League Baseball and the NBA have been reluctant to turn players into advertising vehicles.

The agreement is the first of its kind for the youth soccer league. It calls for AYSO's approximately 80,000 teams to add the Herbalife name to the front of jerseys when teams order new uniforms. However, teams do not order new uniforms every year, so some teams will still have uniforms without the logo in 2008 and 2009. Zimmer expects all teams to have the updated uniforms within three years, but he thinks demand from the kids will speed up the process.

"We think kids will want it now because Beckham has the Herbalife name on the front of his jersey," Zimmer said. He is encouraging Herbalife's 350,000 distributors in the United States to sponsor local teams and buy them new uniforms with the logo.

Those distributors will also be on the fields talking to parents about good nutrition for both adults and kids.

"If parents don't ask what Herbalife is, we think that kids will ask the question," said Zimmer.

For Herbalife, the youth market is growing. The company added a line of youth supplements in 2006 and hopes to promote the message that nutrition and exercise are important parts of leading a healthy lifestyle for kids, too.

"We're interested in brand recognition and making Herbalife a household name," said Zimmer.

Center Court

Los Angeles-based AVP Inc., the company that operates the Association of Volleyball Professionals pro beach tournament, is looking for a corporate sponsor to purchase the naming rights to the traveling stadium court that is mounted at all 18 tour stops, including its famed Manhattan Beach Open.

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