Canelo Crossover: Time Is Right

What: Canelo Alvarez's win over Rocky Fielding at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night gave him an ever greater visibility boost to a wider U.S. audience.
Why it matters: The Guadalajara, Mexico, native can use this as a springboard to even greater marketing possibilities here moving forward.

The last few weeks if you watched any big sporting event on TV in North America you saw the commercial—in English: Michael Buffer (@Michael_Bufferand Canelo Alvarez (@Caneloin the ring in a lighthearted promotion to try the growing internet streaming service DAZN (@DAZN_USA(pronounced Da ZONE for those who don’t know) tied to his fight this past Saturday against Rocky Fielding (@Rocky87Fielding). It showed a side of the Mexican boxer that many casual fans may not have known, but with his win over Fielding at Madison Square Garden (@TheGardenin New York on Saturday night, making him champion in now three weight classes.

The fight was the kickoff to a partnership between DAZN, which is banking big on boxing’s resurgence, and Alvarez that was signed in the fall, five-year, 11-fight deal that will pay the boxer at least $365 million, making it one of the most lucrative single athlete media partnerships ever.

"By bringing Canelo's fights to DAZN, we will turn his pay-per-view success into a growth engine for subscribers — a truly transformational moment for our business and for the entire industry," John Skipper, the executive chairman of DAZN said at the time of the announcement, and Alvarez’s crossover brand power may just prove the investment to be a cost effective one, especially as major companies fight not just for brand recognition and subscribers, but for ancillary disruptive marketing power as well.

Those who have seen his value are already seeing an uptick, and as the next calendar year goes on I’m sure we will see more form him and the companies around him.

Canelo Alvarez/Everlast

Alvarez, once a low key stalwart in the ring, has undergone a brand transformation in the past year, bouncing back from a pre-fight drug test for the use of the banned substance clenbuterol last spring that put off a much anticipated fight against Gennady Golovkin (@GGGBoxingto grab more and more of the limelight in a sport popular with Latinos and growing in popularity with action craving millennials. That’s to say nothing about the millions who will tune in or follow the casual big fight, something that the sport had been lacking in recent years and is now finding a niche once again.

Alvarez is now boxing's biggest pay-per-view star this side of the still inactive Floyd Mayweather, with recent fights against Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Golovkin generating more than one million pay-per-view buys. His midyear place of 62 on the Forbes list of celebrities and athletes will rise to the top ten as the year ends, and his interest, and ability to connect with fans and brands in a multicultural environment will certainly make him move to the watch list of companies looking to continue to step up engagement as 2019 begins.

Canelo’s sponsor list is already growing, and includes deals with Under Armour (@UnderArmour), Tecate (@tecate), Hennessy (@HennessyUSand Everlast (@Everlast_), bringing in more than seven figures outside his boxing and media deals. That should continue to rise as the affluent Latino market tied to sports again grows with the turning of the calendar, and an increased focus in all things Mexican sports business continues to draw attention.

Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019 at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing's preeminent topics. Felix Palau, VP Marketing, Heineken will discuss "How to measure ROI and transfer best practices between sports marketing platforms". Other speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: "Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?"Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada's meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

Gareb Shamus

“We all love great fights, it’s what everyone looks to and we can all identify with no matter how much we sometimes don’t like to admit it,” said Gareb Shamus (@gareba pop culture expert who once ran the fledgling MMA franchise the International Fight League before it was sold to the UFC. “We also love great story arcs with heroes and villains, and Canelo has given fans a little bit of the edginess that can pull from both sides. Most importantly he literally speaks the language of the two most important markets in North America and beyond, English and Spanish, and I think his crossover appeal is great for fight sports, and for business. Those who have seen his value are already seeing an uptick, and as the next calendar year goes on I’m sure we will see more form him and the companies around him.”

There is always risk in tying closely to fight sport athletes. One bad move, one knockout, could kill lots of brand equity. We certainly see that more in MMA, especially in the UFC, where champions can be built and a mismatched opponent, one with a stronger and different discipline, can take out a rising star suddenly. In the carefully crafted world of boxing matchups, the risk is less likely, and the buildup to the big fights gives ample time for brand promotion.

Is Canelo ready to ascend an even higher throne in sport marketing?2019 could be the year for the three belt champion, with boxing on the rise, streaming front and center and the athlete as brand becoming more and more the focus.

It could be a knockout year again for the Mexican star, well beyond his native land.

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Joe Favorito @joefav

Joe Favorito has over 32 years of strategic communications/marketing, business development and public relations expertise in sports, entertainment, brand building, media training, television, athletic administration and business. The Brooklyn, New York native has managed the day-to- day activities in strategic communications for: Two of the world’s hallmark sports and entertainment brands (the New York Knickerbockers and Philadelphia 76ers), the world’s largest professional sport for women (the WTA Tour), the world’s largest sports National Governing Body (the United States Tennis Association) and the world’s largest annual sporting event (the US Open). He also oversaw the strategic planning, investor relations, communications and digital business development of the International Fight League during its two year run as a Mixed Martial Arts venture and a publicly traded company. Favorito serves on the boards of the Weinstein Carnegie Group, New York Sports Venture Capital, the National Sports Marketing Network, the Drexel University Sports Business program, and Columbia University’s Sports Management program (where he is an instructor in Strategic Communications and Director of Industry Relations). Joe also maintains a well trafficked blog on the sports marketing and publicity field, “Sports Marketing and PR Roundup,” on the website joefavorito.com, as well authoring the first- ever text on the sports publicity industry (“Sports Publicity” published in August 2007 by Reed Elsevier and updated in 2012 by Taylor Publishing with a third printing coming in 2018), which is used in over 60 sports management programs in the U.S. He has been a guest speaker on sports marketing, social media and communications at a host of institutions, including Princeton University, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Georgetown University, the University of Florida Law School, New York University, the Stanford University Graduate School of Business and many others. He is also a frequent spokesperson on the industry for publications ranging from Ad Age and The New York Times to NPR and CBS News. A graduate of Fordham University, Joe, his wife and two children reside in River Vale, New Jersey.

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