Advertisers look to score goals, hit home-runs, and land punches

As advertisers take stock of the ever-growing purchasing power of Latinos living in the USA, they are seeking ever more ways to reach them – and their pocketbooks. Hence it is no surprise that many are turning to sports marketing as a good way to get their message out to this increasingly influential market sector. Hispanics are traditionally passionate about sports, with soccer – or “el fútbol” – reigning supreme. However other sports such as baseball, boxing, and American foot-ball are also increasingly popular among US-Hispanics.

The sports...

Though Hispanic marketing does not seem to have really taken off yet in baseball, there has been some activity. One interesting example is a 5-year joint initiative launched by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY and the Citgo Petroleum Company to commemorate the influence that Latino’s have had on the game. The campaign consists of two nationally-touring exhibits that will let visitors view artifacts and listen to various broadcasts relating notable moments involving Latino players. Anthony Eros, President of event-marketing firm Latino Sports Marketing, says, “This is an interesting campaign because it is a grassroots effort that gains exposure on a national level. It resonates with the audience more than simply buying airspace on TV or radio, because it is an experience that people will remember in a fundamental way. Still, I think, in general, that baseball is the most under-utilized sport in terms of capturing Hispanic marketing dollars. MLB will tell you that they have a Hispanic marketing platform, but they really don’t. Not yet anyway.”

In Spain and Central / South America it is “el fútbol” (soccer) that is by far the most popular among sports. And Latinos living in the US look to soccer as a way to stay connected with their homelands. As a result, many advertisers see this as an ideal way to reach out to the Hispanic community, particularly in the lead-up to the Soccer World Cup this June.

Beck’s Beer also launched a multi-faceted campaign, including print advertising and soccer viewing parties, as well as giving away four trips to Germany, where the World Cup is being held this year.

The advantage of soccer

“The great thing about soccer from an advertiser’s standpoint is that so often it is one country against another,” says Eros. “If you want to go after the Mexican consumer, you advertise with Team Mexico. One program can reach 75- 80% of the market. With baseball you might need to execute ten programs to capture the same market-share.”

Seeking to capitalize on the soccer fervor stirred up by this year's World Cup, Heineken's grassroots marketing initiative, Copa Tecate, a network of adult Hispanic amateur soccer leagues, is an advertiser in Hispanic print media. Ad agency Grupo Gallegos undertakes local print advertising initiatives to promote the event and drive people to come and participate in it. Efforts are particularly important in markets where Copa Tecate will be appearing this year, including the Sacramento, Chicago, and Dallas/Houston markets. Last year, Copa Tecate ran more than 300 placements on print, radio, online and television in both English and Spanish-language media for the 2005 Copa Tecate.

Last year's Copa saw more than 45,000 players participating in 22 cities across the country. It was witnessed by more than two million people who attended the games and were exposed to the product. In 2006, there will be 64,000 players competing across the country.

Event marketing firm Latino Sports Marketing is heading up publicity efforts and is including appearances by famed soccer players such as Manuel Negrete, Aldolfo Rios, and Claudio Suarez, among others. Fans have the opportunity to witness the competition as local qualifying matches begin in February and continue through early June, with the top 20 teams entering a round robin that will advance to the 2006 national championships held in Dallas in August.

Dark cloud over boxing

Boxing is a sport that is immensely popular among Hispanics, owing in part to the strong Latino presence in the sport. However, it seems that scandal (E.g. Tyson/Holyfield fiasco) and a general perception of the sport as exceedingly violent has kept advertisers from investing heavily in the sport. As Mario Flores, Partner and Managing Director of Sportivo PR firm puts it, “There is truly a dark cloud hanging over the sport from a marketing perspective that keeps advertisers from wanting anything to do with it.”

Football and basketball are sports that are beginning to garner interest among advertisers looking to reach more acculturated Hispanics, mainly English-dominant males between 18-26 years of age.

The mediums...

Hispanic Sports Marketing efforts have been and remain heavily weighted in television.

However, as Gordon Borrell, president of Borrell Associates, a media research firm, told Portada® in 2003 a sports publication targeted to Hispanics “might hit a sweet spot.” Borrell added that in a “typical, daily newspaper CPMs run in the $18-$30 range. A targeted print publication, such as a Hispanic sports publication, might get as much as 50% more.” (See “Sports magazines and newspapers, Will sports publishers shout goooooool?”, page 8, Portada® No. 2, March-April 2003.)

Publishers seem to agree with Borrell. There has been an increase in the number of sports publications in the last 3 years.

As Publishing Director Rich Russey of Sports Illustrated Latino put it, “Until very recently, there weren’t many other options available to advertisers.” SI Latino itself launched just last April with a controlled circulation of 500,000 copies. The advertising approaches contained within range from sports-oriented advertising from sportsoriented brands such as Gatorade, to unrelated ads that are merely looking to target the young Hispanic male demographic.

The landscape is changing, with more Spanish-language publications and online outlets launching every day. One such publication is the Spanish-language magazine Fútbol Mundial, published by Sensación Creative LLC. With a circulation of - 1,000,000 copies, through rack, special events and subscriptions, it is one of the largest Spanish-language soccer titles in the USA. It is distributed through many of the largest Hispanic newspapers, including La Opinión, Hora Hispana, La Raza and Al Día (Dallas). Its typical reader profile is a Hispanic male between 18-49 years old. Its host of premier advertisers, including Coca-Cola, DirecTV and the US Army, shows that the nation’s top advertisers regard sports marketing as an effective vehicle to reach the Hispanic market.

Sensación Marketing Creatives is also publishing Béisbol Mundial (bimonthly, Spanish, circ. 1,000,000) and recently launched Fútbol Mundial USA, an English-language publication, which will be inserted in 220,000 copies of USA Today’s Sports Weekly.

USA Today's Sports Weekly, published by Gannett, will carry Fútbol Mundial USA on an exclusive basis starting with the 2006 World Cup. 60% USA Today's Sports Weekly's circulation comes from the newsstand. It is available at over 50,000 newsstands across the country. “What we are doing here has never been done before in the US print space,” says Publisher and Founder Félix Sención. He tells Portada® that Fútbol Mundial USA's advertisers will be mostly general market advertisers but some advertising will be cross sold from Fútbol Mundial and Béisbol Mundial. “We're taking a national Spanish language magazine and crossing it over to the general market. The decision to do so is completely market driven and research based. English speaking soccer fans and English dominant Hispanics are starved for Soccer coverage from different perspectives, especially the Latino perspective,” Sención adds.

More sports magazines

Fox Sports en Español is another major Spanish-language sports publication with a monthly circulation of 750,000. It is distributed nationally as an insert in many Spanish-language newspapers, including Hoy (L.A., NYC, Chicago), La Voz (Houston), and Al Día (Dallas-Ft. Worth), among others.
ESPN Deportes La Revista is another popular Spanish-language sports magazine. It is published by Disney and Editorial Televisa and has a monthly circulation of 55,000 (mostly newsstand sales).

Major League Baseball en español is a bilingual insert that comes out three times a year with a circulation of 1.1 million. It is inserted into the New York Daily News and 7 major Hispanic markets. Its main advertisers are in the automotive and beverage categories.

While Fútbol Mundial, Major League Baseball en español and Fox Sports en español, are mostly published as inserts in Hispanic newspapers, Gol USA Deportivo is one of the few independently distributed sports newspapers. Gol USA Deportivo is a 100% Hispanic owned company based in Woodside NY. Launched in 1993, Gol is published in tabloid format every Monday and has a circulation of 73,900 copies, more than 50% of which are sold in New York City and the rest in suburbs of New York and other states in the Northeast. It has a small distribution of 4,000 in Florida. Its main content is soccer (particularly the Latin American premiere leagues) and it is read primarily by Hispanics (primarily men 18-54 years old) of Colombian and Mexican origin.

According to GOL USA Deportivo, there are nearly 20 million people living in the New York Metropolitan Area, making it the largest market in the country. “Out of that total it is estimated that there are more than 4 million people with an emotional connection to the sport of soccer - through their own participation, a family member's participation or their affiliation with a country rich in soccer culture.

Online opportunities

Another important outlet for advertisers looking to reach Hispanic sports fans is online. One reason why is because many sites offer creative advertising products such as sponsorship of certain content, or giveaways.

ESPNdeportes.com has a number of such programs in place. Texaco, for instance has a fixed banner on the website which shows the play of the week. Heineken has an ad on the site offering a trip to Paris for the UEFA Soccer Champions League Final.

“I think one of the reasons why sports marketers are looking online more and more is because the data is so specific regarding the audience. All of their activity is traceable, so we know what is generating interest among how many people, etc. These are invaluable insights for marketers as it allows them to reach their target demographics in ways they never could before,” says Carlos Cabán, Editor of ESPNdeportes.com. And business is brisk: Cabán estimates that the website- ’s traffic has increased by 900% in the past three years.

ESPNdeportes.com stands as the largest online destination for Hispanics seeking Sports coverage, posting 3.5 million unique visitors a month, and a yearly total of about 5 million unique visitors. Typical CPM rates on ESPNdeportes.com range between US $10-20, based on whether the ad is sport specific or run-of-site, the latter being a cheaper option.

Websites for Spanish-speaking audiences are expanding

SportsYA, a producer and distributor of Spanish sports content, recently signed an agreement with Hispanic Media, Inc. (HMI), a result of the merger between Planeta Networks and Batanga.com, to become its official sports channel. Through this agreement, 2.5 million monthly unique users of HMI will have access to the most extensive sports coverage produced by SportsYA.

For Daniel Canel, President and CEO of SportsYA, “the alliance makes us all strong; it allows sportsYA to continue expanding it sports coverage and become a stronger supplier of content for different media outlets, from internet to television, from radio to mobile. This is one more vote of confidence that supports the high quality journalistic content of SportsYA.”

“Our focus on passion-driven online content for U.S. Hispanics led us to SportsYA as a natural partner in the sports arena. Furthermore, this alliance is another step in consolidating Batanga.com as the premier online destination for US Hispanics” said Rafael Urbina, founder and CEO of HMI.

Who’s advertising?

The short answer is: Everybody. Automotive advertising is huge in Hispanic sports advertising. The top two advertisers with SPNdeportes.com are both car companies: Dodge and Toyota followed shortly thereafter by Hyundai and Volkswagen. Ford Motors has a rather bold print campaign for its Ford Mustang.

Beer companies are also competing in this arena, sponsoring trips and giveaways (Becks/Heineken), and hiring sultry models for full-page ads (Budweiser).

Wireless is very present on the scene with Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and Cingular all presenting Spanish-language print campaigns.

Insurance companies are not being left out either, with State Farm being a top advertiser with ESPNDeportes.com and Allstate conducting a print campaign, albeit not a particularly creative or Hispanic-oriented one, owing to the fact that it is more or less a translation of its general market initiatives, reading: Allstate. “Usted está en buenas manos.”


Trends: event focused

In examining the overall sports marketing picture for Hispanic audiences, it is important to take a step back and see what trends are emerging. One general trend that ESPN Deportes’ Carlos Cabán points to is that advertisers are not focusing their efforts so much on particular sports as they are on particular sporting events: “Instead of sport-specific marketing, it’s eventspecific,” says Cabán. (for more information see “Hispanic Media bet on events to drive revenues”, page 3, Portada® No. 20, March-April 2006).

Tangential to this trend is another one that Sportivo´s Mario Flores sees emerging: that of unofficial sponsors capitalizing on high-profile sporting events to gain market exposure, while not investing such large sums. For instance, Verizon Wireless has partnered with Univision to offer highlights from this year’s World Cup on all V-CAP enabled phones, even though it is not an official sponsor of the event.

Catch-up potential

Despite all of the growth that the Hispanic sports marketing has seen, advertisers are not spending proportionately to the market’s size and potential, or as Rich Russey of SI Latino put it, “The dollars have still not caught up with the demographics.” However, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) is starting a campaign targeting Hispanics this year. Print media buying has an important role in USTA's advertising strategy. It will advertise in ESPN Deportes and Sports Illustrated Latino. Miami-based Abece is USTA's Hispanic advertising agency.

Alex Andrews


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