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David Butler: From Soccer Star to International Sports Marketer

January 24, 2019 Tags: Athletics

David ButlerSaint Francis soccer alum David Butler ('12) always dreamed of a professional career in soccer. Butler, a native of Baltimore, Md., starred for the Saint Francis men's soccer program from 2008 – 11, appearing in 70 matches and recording seven goals and nine assists.

A graduate of the Shields School of Business, Butler put a career in marketing on hold upon graduation to try his luck as a professional soccer player. He trialed with the Harrisburg City Islanders ( now Penn FC) of the USL League One and the Baltimore Blast of the Major Arena Soccer League (Top Professional Indoor League) before moving to Australia for a trial with Brisbane City FC of the National Premier League. He would eventually catch on with the Rochedale Rovers, playing two seasons for the club from 2013-15.

With the fire still burning, Butler moved to Amsterdam and took one final stab with the club JOS Watergraafsmeer.  "I always imagined myself as a professional soccer player so it was a humbling experience when my playing career started to wind down and I realized I wouldn't be able to make a living playing the game I love," said Butler. "It was a tough transition for me and the thought of what was next was daunting."

Butler decided to tap into his marketing roots and use his Saint Francis degree to find a way to stay connected to the game he has adored since childhood. "I came across a job listing for an online marketer and editor for the Amsterdam-based media agency, 433," said Butler. "At the time, 433 was just a few Dutch social media accounts but it was looking to add structure and organization to monetize the business. It was looking to expand its reach and wanted someone who was a native English speaker to help reach a larger audience. I was fortunate to be that guy."

Butler was hired and has spent the last two years as a Managing Editor for the Full-Service Media Agency. At the time of his hire, he was one of the company's first full-time employees. He now manages a team of 22 editors. "The goal of 433 is to provide light content that positively reflects the game of soccer," explained Butler. "Futbol is the global game that connects and brings happiness to people all over the world. The media has a tendency to focus on negative news. When we feature professional athletes, we avoid talks of contracts, or relationships with managers or any hard-pressing issues and focus on light content that showcases their personalities away from the pitch."

In return, professional athletes have taken a liking to 433 and its mission. The organization's Instagram page is followed by over 15,000 of the top professionals in the game and frequently engages with them on 433's posts and direct messaging.

Butler has transitioned his role to serve as the face of the organization. Last year, he was asked to step in and interview Italian striker and International superstar Mario Balotelli after the agency's host left the company a day before the interview.

The segment consisted of Butler and Balotelli racing mini dirt bikes (Mario-Kart Style in honor of Balotelli's name) and playing soccer on a soaped-up slip-and-slide. Butler and Balotelli hit it off with Butler's infectious personality providing comfort to the former Inter Milan, Manchester City, AC Milan and Liverpool star. The segment has over 140,000 views on Youtube and thousands more on Instagram. 433 shares the majority of its content on Instagram and Instagram TV, which results in millions of views.

Since Butler began working for the company two years ago, 433 has grown into the largest social media agency in the world for soccer with over 30 million followers. Its largest outlet is its Instagram page with 19.1 million followers.

Butler is at the center of all of its content, serving as the on-camera host and managing editor. He has grown close to some of the most famous athletes on the globe and lists Marcelo (Brazilian left back and member of Real Madrid), Balotelli, and Paulo Dybala (Argentinian midfielder and member of Juventus) as his favorite interviews.

This past summer, Butler was sent to Russia to report on the 2018 World Cup. Adidas provided him with free tickets to every match and Nike invited him to its sneak peak reveal of its new cleat, the Neymar Jr. "Meu Jogo" Mercurial Vapor 360s.  During the tournament, 433 contributed a daily vlog (video blog) that allowed its fans to get inside, behind-the-scenes access to the atmosphere of a World Cup.

Butler recently returned to the United States with the Dutch Club Ajax, as part of its US Tour, staying and traveling with the club during its two-game tour in Florida. It was his first time returning to the United States in over two years but says he is excited to return to the Netherlands, where he sees himself staying for a long time.

"When I first moved to Holland, I had to deal with some culture shock," admitted Butler. The Dutch are very direct and honest; they tell it like it is and I had to get used to that sort of personality. But I love the Dutch people and I love living in Amsterdam. The city is in the middle of Europe so you have easy access to the entire continent. It really is a beautiful city and I can get anywhere I need to go on my bike."

As 433 continues to expand into a global phenomenon, Butler continues to seek ways to help the company in its upward trajectory. "Our next step is to delve into the countries that are football crazy but don't get the same media coverage as the clubs and athletes in Europe. I want to expand our coverage to South America, Asia and Africa."

In the meantime, Butler will continue to live out his dream.  "I may not have made it as a professional footballer but this is the next best thing," beamed Butler. "I have a permanent contract, which is the ultimate job security in Holland. This is a dream job to be able to work with clubs and athletes that I admired growing up in a country as beautiful and obsessed with soccer as Holland."

You can follow Butler's work on Instagram via the 433 account  or via his personal account

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