#PortadaLat Speaker- Brown Forman’s Ed Carias: “To Fully Leverage a Sport Sponsorship You Need Two Dollars for Every Dollar you Invest in the Sponsorship.”
What: Ed Carias, Sr. Brand Manager at el Jimador Tequila - North American Region, Brown-Forman, and a speaker at our upcoming PortadaLat conference next month speaks to Portada about what he has learned about strategizing and activating sport sponsorships and sports related ad campaigns.
Why it matters: Sports marketing, particularly as it relates to sponsorships is an area that is strongly growing in the overall U.S. marketing landscape.
When you build a sports marketing strategy for your brand, it is very important to first understand what you are trying to accomplish if you want your investment to be successful, explains Ed Carias, Sr. Brand Manager at el Jimador Tequila - North American Region, Brown-Forman.
“To sponsor a sports team or a particular player (celebrity) may not necessarily be the right choice. The decision to sponsor a particular property has to be aligned with the brands overall goals," Carias adds.
The decision to sponsor a particular property has to be aligned with the brands overall goals.
According to Carias, Sports marketing has become a widely used and accepted piece of the marketer's toolbox,” "Of course, this doesn’t mean that because the opportunity is there you have to grab it. The sponsorship needs to make sense within the overall sports marketing framework. If a sports property can help you advance your overall brand or business goals then it becomes a really good opportunity and conversation, whether you are looking for awareness, or to make a connection with your target consumer."
Choosing the Right Sport
Another challenge is to choose the right sport, Carias notes. There are so many sports to choose from, that you have to focus on the one that suits your brand best. A great example is what companies like Red Bull and Monster Energy have done through their association with extreme sports. “Once you decide that a sports partnership can help your overall business goals,” says Carias, “you have to take a look at what you want to accomplish with that, and at what resources you have available in order to leverage the sponsorship.”
Carias, a member of Portada's Sports Marketing Board, notes that throughout his career he has had experiences with partnerships where he has not been able to fully leverage the rights or the name of the team. “We didn’t activate the partnership as well as we could have. That was a big learning for me,” he explains.
If you don’t have a plan that fully leverages the sports partnership then maybe you are better off doing advertisement around the sport."
Through learning by doing it became clear to Carias that “if you don’t have a plan that fully leverages the sports partnership then you might be better off doing advertisement around the sport.”
To know what works best in advance, you have to look at your overall plan and at the resources you have available, and then make a decision. Also, you might have a great marketing plan around a team sponsorship, but if you don’t have the money to invest in activities around the sponsorship, you might be better off doing something else."
Carias has the following rule in order to make sure that a brand has the right level of resources to fund sports marketing efforts: “You need two dollars for every dollar invested in a sponsorship in order to be able to fully leverage it.”
You need two dollars for every dollar associated with a sponsorship in order to be able to fully leverage it.
“In the last ten years, soccer in the U.S. has continued to grow and to get bigger. The difference between soccer and hockey is very small. They have almost the same popularity right now." Carias believes.
“I don’t think soccer is approached just as a way to target multicultural or Hispanic consumers anymore,” Carias emphasizes. In the last decade brands and fans have experienced that in addition to large metropolitan marketers, there is growth in smaller markets. MLS teams such as Seattle and Portland have shown that general market fans are as interested in soccer, “or maybe more interested in soccer,” than they are in other sports.
But soccer brands need to be careful when planning a sponsorship. There are many ways to advertise around soccer, you don’t need a partnership or a main sponsorship. “Billboard advertising as well as stadium signage and other smaller sponsorship elements are also available."
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What brands should be really looking for, is for customizable content that only they can provide to sports fans. The truth is, “soccer fans don’t need our brands to be fans, they already are, and they can find information about their team in one thousand different locations,” explains Carias.
Soccer fans don’t need our brands to be fans, they already are.
The key is to come up with content that really engages a brand's target audience to interact with the brand. “That’s pushing us to do more custom content, and things that are unique.” For example, EL Jimador did a program with Tim Howard, the goalkeeper of the Colorado Rapids and the United States national team. The program provided consumers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shoot a penalty kick against Howard and potentially win one million dollars."
“More brands are getting into these kinds of unique partnerships and custom opportunities versus just having our name on the shirt, or making posters with the team logo for display.”
Carias believes that brands have gotten smarter and savvier on what it takes to leverage sports properties. But part of the challenge is that fans are smarter too. “We have to be more and more creative on how we provide value to the fandom.”
A brand that did a great job, according to Carias, is Heineken and their official sponsorship of MLS rivalry week. “It is a great idea because the rivalry is what fans really get excited about.” Heineken found the way to connect with fans with something that they already want. “They want to celebrate their team and show how their team is better than yours.” (Heineken became the MLS's official beer starting January 2015. The Dutch brand replaced 20-year associate Budweiser, with a $50 million five-year deal.)
...and why El Jimador Chose Soccer: Celebrations
The place where El Jimador fits into soccer is when a celebrations takes place. That is a natural connection where soccer and sports fans are comfortable engaging with an alcohol partner.
Celebrations are natural connections where soccer fans are comfortable engaging with an alcoholic brand.
“Soccer for us feels like the right platform for the strategy that we are carrying out today in the US and in Canada, because we are trying to connect with a multicultural audience. As a platform soccer allows us to speak to a Hispanic audience and the general market in the U.S. It is a very flexible platform.”
Carias notes that soccer is one of the most alcohol friendly sports, "as it is a sport you watch together with friends at a bar, or with a drink in your hand."
Soccer fans are very smart about their fandom, so you have to be as committed to the sport as they are.
El Jimador's biggest challenge, Carias concludes, is to understand the sport and the fans. “We have seen over the last few years that soccer fans are very smart around their fandom, so you have to be as committed to the sport as they are.”
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