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Leidos confirms D.C. United sponsorship

Monday - 2/24/2014, 8:01am  ET

Leidos Holdings Inc. confirmed Monday what may be its boldest move yet to make a name for itself: As exclusive jersey sponsor for D.C. United.

The Reston-based company's position as official sponsor of the Major League Soccer team, first reported last week by the Washington Post, is a big deal. It exposes thousands more inside and outside of the Washington area to a largely unfamiliar brand, even if the company itself has been around for 40 years.

The goal, said a Leidos spokeswoman, is to "have a lot of people asking — who is Leidos?"

In that sense, this is a strategic move by Leidos (NYSE: LDOS) — a company that until September was known far and wide as Science Applications International Corp. The decision to hand over that legacy brand to the spinoff meant re-establishing an identity, in a sense, particularly among those outside the industry.

The sponsorship will help do that: The Leidos logo will be prominently featured on the front of the team’s jersey, displayed throughout the stadium and printed on the team’s marketing and media properties, according to the announcement. It will also enable Leidos and D.C. United to engage the community and charitable partners through events, including those tied to Armed Forces Week, among others.

This isn't the first time the company has pushed its name out to the public. Following the separation, Leidos had a month-long campaign at Pentagon Metro, with more than 42 ads. It also has ads in Metro cars on the red, blue and yellow lines. There's been full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal, half-page ads in the Washington Post, radio ads on WTOP during morning commutes, and digital ads running on about 10 national websites. And the company did a paid search campaign on Google, Yahoo and Bing, running from September to November.

Still, this sponsorship might be the most impactful.

"Soccer is a growing, global sport and we are a growing company with our eyes on the future,” said John Jumper, Leidos CEO, in a released statement. “This sponsorship will help enable us to get exposure not only locally, but throughout the country and internationally."

Not really. While it's likely a healthy investment — no financial details were released — Leidos is all but guaranteed to get the exposure its paying for. Contrast that with Lockheed Martin Corp., who's partnership with Under Armour to help design the U.S. Olympic team's high-tech speedskating suit ended in little more than negative publicity.

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