Alcatel Onetouch is using sponsorship to raise its profile in the uber-competitive North American smart phone market.

The brand, which is owned by Chinese telecommunications company TCL Communication, has expanded its North American marketing budget fivefold in 2015, with sponsorship playing a starring role.

Alcatel Onetouch has signed three new partnerships this year, with more on the way. Ties include the Color Run 5K event series and two Major League Soccer teams: Toronto FC and the LA Galaxy.

The brand is using the ties to engage young millennials, with a focus on Hispanics. Alcatel Onetouch markets low-cost smart phones (under $300), feature phones, tablets and smart watches.

The marketing campaign is designed to build on the brand’s small but growing presence in North America. Alcatel Onetouch owned 3.7 percent of the U.S. smart phone market in year-to-date 2015, up from 1.6 percent in 2013.

Alcatel Onetouch is now the fifth-largest smartphone manufacturer in North America.

The company is using sponsorship to speed up the brand-building process.

“In the early stages of brand building, it’s important that we use resources effectively and efficiently. We could go to stores to talk to our demographic, but the smart way is to partner with properties that provide access to a well-defined demographic,” said Steve Cistulli, Alcatel Onetouch senior vice president and general manager of North America.

The marketing push focuses on two platforms—traditional media (TV and out-of-home) and sponsorship—with the goal of engaging end-users and distribution partners (wireless carriers and national retailers) and promoting direct-to-consumer channels (Alcatelonetouch.us and Alcatelonetouch.ca.).

Alcatel Onetouch activates sponsorship to enhance the consumer experience, with product integration and social engagement playing a key role.

The brand activates the Color Run before, during and after each event. Consumers who register for the run are given the opportunity to rent a smart watch, while race staff check in attendees with Alcatel Onetouch tablets.

Each race participant also receives an RFID wristband that can be linked to their social media accounts. The participants can share photos from the run on Facebook, Twitter and other channels via the “OneTouchOfColor” hashtag

“We start the conversation with each partner by asking how we can make a better fan experience.”

Alcatel Onetouch was drawn to Major League Soccer due to the sport’s strong growth, international appeal and popularity among young millennials.

The brand partnered with the LA Galaxy due in part to the team’s large social media following. The team has 1.3 million Facebook likes, 241,344 Twitter followers and 310,868 Instagram followers, making it the most popular MLS club in social media.  

“Our relationship is heavily weighted on the LA Galaxy’s social engagement and our social engagement. We’ll bring the two together in a unique way,” said Cistullli.

One idea under consideration: an online photo and video series. 

“They promote how their cameras and sound are better than their competitors, so we’ll use their phones and tablets to take photos and videos,” said Robert Vartan, director of partnership sales for the LA Galaxy and AEG global partnerships.

The partnership affords exclusivity in the smartphone and tablet categories and an affiliation with the team’s community outreach program. Alcatel Onetouch also plans to enhance on-field play by providing products to coaches and athletes.  

The partnership took just six weeks to put together, said Vartan, who was introduced to Alcatel Onetouch by Toronto FC execs at a July 4 game at the StubHub Center.

“Teams in some leagues can be competitive, but Major League Soccer clubs are open to outreach. I can call any club and ask for insight on a deal.”

Alcatel Onetouch uses its partnership with Toronto FC to build relations with carrier partners. The brand activates the sponsorship with local billboards that tout the Alcatel Onetouch Idol series smartphone, Bell Canada, Telus and Toronto FC IP.

Top Five Major League Soccer Clubs In Social Media
Top Five Major League Soccer Clubs In Social Media