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Jerry Milani @gbpackjerry

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What: Gloria Nevarez is the first Latina commissioner of a Division I collegiate athletic conference, the West Coast Conference.
Why it matters: Nevarez’s rise in the industry underscores the importance of representation in an industry still dominated by white males, and provides an important voice in determining how best to reach Hispanics within the league’s vast footprint.

The highest levels of collegiate athletics have been traditionally dominated by males. And until April 2018, when Gloria Nevarez (@GloNevarezwas appointed as the commissioner of the West Coast Conference (@WCCsports), no Latina had ever held that position at a Division I league. With a distinguished career in the industry which included stops at the Pac-12 Conference, University of California, University of Oklahoma, San Jose State, University of San Francisco and the Hanson Bridgett law firm, Nevarez took over the helm of the 10-team league which stretches across Washington, Oregon, Utah and both Northern and Southern California. Several of these regions have significant Hispanic communities and potential fan bases.

At UMass (@UMassAmherst), where she lettered for four years in basketball, graduating in 1993, Nevarez, who grew up not speaking Spanish at home and self-describes as “half Mexican, a fourth Filipino and a fourth Irish,” noticed that nearly all of the non-athletes were white. “That’s when I began to identify more as a person of color,” she notes. “If you were brown, you were part of that tribe.”

…[O]ur membership re-affirmed that diversity and inclusion is a priority and that the Conference should take a leadership role in this area.

Her ascendance to the WCC’s top position is important as inspiration to young Latinas, but also provides a fresh look at the Hispanic populations within the league’s footprint.

“It’s helpful for young women of color to see examples of people who look like themselves, achieving in ways that they may not have imagined yet,” she says. “And I do like the idea of inspiring. I hope that there are up and coming Latinos that aspire to be leaders in college athletics and that if we cross paths I hope that I can help them on their journey. I encourage them to reach out to myself and others to continue to build our collegiate community.”

To that end, Nevarez has instituted a study of the 67-year-old league’s diversity with the goal of marketing to this important demographic, both within the student populations and the local communities.

“We are currently in the process of conducting a league-wide audit of the various programs and initiatives at our institutions,” notes Nevarez. “I think there is tremendous opportunity to create an athletics specific initiative under the league umbrellas. At our most recent Council meetings our membership re-affirmed that diversity and inclusion is a priority and that the Conference should take a leadership role in this area. The audit is our first step and will help inform how the league can participate in these most important initiatives.”

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. Sara Toussaint, Vice President, Sponsorships, Wells Fargo will discuss: The promise of women’s soccer: How brands should use it for activations.”. 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!

credit: Kyle Terada/WCC

But Nevarez, who brought her distinct background to important work on NCAA (@NCAAcommittees like Diversity and Leadership Strategic Planning and Gender and Diversity, knows there is a lot of work to be done in this area before a concerted, united marketing effort can take place.

“I believe there is tremendous support in college athletics for greater diversity and inclusion, however we’ve still not achieved breakthrough in the highest levels of leadership especially at the power five schools and leagues,” she explains. “I think we’re heading in the right direction and I hope to see more diversity in candidate pools and eventually leadership positions across the association. I hope we can find a way for the WCC to be a pipeline for diverse talent in the administrative and coaching ranks.”

And while the WCC continues its growth, Nevarez knows that success is a common trait that attracts all fans, regardless of demographics.

“All fans, regardless of backgrounds are attracted to success and excellence,” she adds. “I believe the WCC embodies that ethic across many different programs and teams and we seek to promote the league in a manner that appeals to all audiences. Our family of schools attracts many international students and student-athletes. I believe what we offer fans and prospective students is appealing based on like-minded schools that have a strong foundation in purpose and excellence.”

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Cover Image: credit Kyle Terada/WCC

What: Global professional services firm Aon has tabbed Mexican-American LPGA pro Lizette Salas as its ambassador for the new, multitour Aon Risk Reward Challenge.
Why it matters: Aon is the latest in a series of partners such as Ping, Antigua Apparel, Pure Silk and others who have latched on to the personable pro who connects with the Latina audience in particular.

Lizette Salas (credit: Wojciech Migda)

Growing up in Azusa, California, the daughter of two Mexican immigrants, with Spanish as her first language and no other girls playing golf in any competitive sense anywhere nearby, the odds were long that young Lizette Salas (@LizetteSalas5would one day be an NCAA student-athlete, let alone an LPGA (@LPGAchampion. But she fell in love with the game, knew about Nancy Lopez‘s success and used Mexican Lorena Ochoa‘s (@LorenaOchoaRtop standing in the game as a beacon; a few years later the 29-year-old is an established LPGA performer and—after a win at the Kingsmill event in Williamsburg, Va., in 2014—a champion. And, increasingly, marketers are latching on to the personable pro.

“I didn’t grow up in a golf family or community,” Salas told Portada at an event in New York last week promoting her partnership with professional services firm Aon (@Aon_plc), which was attended by LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan (@LPGACommish). “I played basketball and other team sports and enjoyed them, but when I found golf, I found it so rewarding, to get better ever day, see the results, and since there were no girls I played on the boys team and got extra satisfaction from beating them.”

Her parents worked extra jobs to pay for Lizette’s golf lessons, and eventually, Salas earned a scholarship to play at nearby USC, where she was a four-time All-American and from which she graduated in 2011 and immediately turned pro, earning LPGA Tour status a year later.

The selection of Salas to front the Challenge for the LPGA is a strong indicator that her abilities—and marketability—are getting noticed on a larger scale.

Salas’s marketability and pride in her Hispanic background have caught the attention of companies like Ping (@PingTour), Antigua Apparel (@AntiguaWear), Pure Silk (@PureSilkShave), MLC & Associates and, now, Aon, which named her as ambassador for its new “Aon Risk Reward Challenge” series as part of its partnership with the LPGA and PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR). Salas thinks her connection with Aon is a perfect fit.

“When they approached me to be part of this program and to serve as ambassador, I studied what Aon was about and I found a lot to like,” she explained. “I see a company that stands for equality and inclusion and with my Latina background that’s important to me. I like their vision and I’m glad to be a part of the Aon Risk Reward Challenge and this company and I’m happy that I have the opportunity to share my story through them.”

The Aon program, which designates certain holes at specific events as the most strategically challenging and rewards players for their performance over the course of the year, carries a $1 million prize and fancy trophy, a high-profile partnership with both organizations. The selection of Salas to front the Challenge for the LPGA is a strong indicator that her abilities—and marketability—are getting noticed on a larger scale in her ninth year as a pro.

“Lizette and our group of Aon Ambassadors reflect the global nature of our business and the importance of diversity and inclusion to our firm,” said Andy Weitz, Chief Marketing Officer, Aon. “Much like our clients, each of these players has a unique background and particular set of skills that informs their strategic approach. We look forward to tracking their progress throughout the Aon Risk Reward Challenge and using their experiences to illustrate how we create value for our clients.”

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!

Salas’s desire to be a role model for young Latinas comes both from her parents’ example and that of World Golf Hall of Famer Ochoa, who she met at an event in Southern California around age 15. Ochoa was “so warm and engaging and gave so much of herself,” according to Salas, that she wants to project that same openness in connecting with fans, particularly those who may see themselves in her.

Once again ranked in the top 30 in the world coming into the 2019 season, Salas has three times represented the U.S. in the biennial international Solheim Cup. Proud of her heritage and her status as one of the top American golfers, with a few more high-profile results, she may find more companies looking to tap into her unique set of attributes to connect with Hispanic golf fans, particularly females.

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Cover Image Salas flanked by LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan (l) and AON CMO Andy Weitz: credit John Mooney

What: Several Latino stars have the potential to be strong marketing faces of baseball.
Why it matters: As brands look to grab the Hispanic audience via baseball, a young crop of players is ready to make big splashes into the 2020’s.

Credit Keith Allison

Baseball takes its beginning of winter siesta for the next few weeks, as the period from the just-completed Winter Meetings (@WinterMeetingsto the annual awards presentations in mid-January becomes a good time for respite, with the exception of winter ball in the Caribbean, reflection and a look ahead.

A lot of the buzz in Las Vegas this past week was around the marketable new faces in MLB (@MLB), many of whom are Latino, and several, like free agent Manny Machado, still to find a home

With a look forward in mind, we talked to the folks at La Vida Baseball (@LaVidaBaseballto get a feel for who the marketable Latino stars are that brands should, and will have an eye on as pitchers and catchers report and companies look for the big splash of marketable names.

All one needs to do is look at the increasing number of Latino players getting All-Star Game votes and selling jerseys to see there is value off the field as well.

Here’s a look at five to watch:

  • Javier Báez, Chicago Cubs (Puerto Rico)
  • Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians (Puerto Rico)
  • Machado, team TBD (Dominican-American)
  • Ronald Acuña, Jr., Atlanta Braves (Venezuela)
  • Carlos Correa, Houston Astros (Puerto Rico)

While there are a lot of variables that play into making a list in mid-December the list shows the great depth of where brands can be looking in select markets. Machado, for example, is still a free agent. If he signs the largest contract in baseball history with the New York Yankees (@Yankeeshe is immediately number one on any list, even with the character questions that were raised in the postseason.

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!

The two hottest rising names on this list are Báez and Acuña.

Báez has become must-see TV in Chicago with a young Cubs team that has been in the postseason in four consecutive years. His dynamic play, electric smile and overwhelming charisma on the field make him a target for brands almost as much as he is for the lens of a camera.

Ronald Acuña, Jr. Credit: Flickr/Thomson200

Acuña didn’t make his major league debut until the end of April but was named the National League Rookie of the year. He jumped into the top 20 jersey sales in 2018 in spite of the late start to the MLB season and doesn’t turn 21 until Dec. 18. Being in a major market with a team that appears to be beginning what could be another extended run of success could make him one of the faces of baseball in the future.

Two Cuban players who just missed the top five are Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and White Sox second baseman Yoán Moncada. Puig has been in the middle of some significant trade rumors lately; his ultimate destination could impact his market appeal. On the other end of that same conversation, Moncada could benefit from the White Sox appearing poised to spend big money on significant free agents. If Bryce Harper or Machado signs with Chicago’s south side franchise, Moncada’s profile could jump in 2019.

“The on-field game being played at the major league level is young, exciting and dynamic. And many of the players emerging in the new generation of superstars are Latino,” said Tab Bamford, managing Director, La Vida Baseball. “All one needs to do is look at the increasing number of Latino players getting All-Star Game votes and selling jerseys to see there is value off the field as well.”

From sneaker companies to beverage brands to traditional packaged goods, the push for multicultural around three key sports: soccer, basketball, and baseball, has never been stronger. If you are looking to hitch a ride on a star train in baseball, here’s the list to start with. MLB’s Hot Stove may be dialed down a bit, but the business side never shuts off.

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Cover Image: credit Keith Allison

What: Combate Americas continues its ascent in the mixed martial arts world with new deals, programming increased audience.
Why it matters: The Latino MMA franchise and media company has mixed reality TV programming, live events and mobile content to find bigger numbers in the second half of 2018 than ever before.

The fighting space has never seen more engagement, or more buzz, than in the past year. From traditional networks like FOX (@FOXTVand NBC (@nbcupping their interest with promotions like Pro Fight League (@ProFightLeague), to ESPN’s UFC (@ufcpartnership to the continued work Bellator (@BellatorMMAis doing with Paramount Network (@paramountnet) (and now DAZN) to streaming and pay per view, those getting in the ring and the cage are certainly finding new and engaged audiences.

One that continues to fight through the choices, especially with a Latino audience, is Combate Americas (@combateamericas). The Latino MMA franchise and media company has mixed reality TV programming, live events and mobile content to find bigger numbers in the second half of 2018 than ever before.

On our platform, you have the opportunity to see some of the sport’s best, new athletes proudly representing their respective countries against each other.

Case in point was their recent Copa Combate show, which averaged 451,000 total viewers on Univision (@Univisionand Univision Deportes Network (@UnivisionSports) at 12 am ET on Friday, December 7.  Viewership was up over 60 percent from last year’s Copa Combate viewership of 280,000 on Telemundo in the same time slot and beat Telemundo’s boxing program on the same night, in the same time slot (start time was 11:35 pm ET) by over 50,000 viewers.

When comparing these figures to general market sports programming ratings in the same time slot on the same night, Copa Combate was second to only ESPN, beating FOX Sports 1, NFL Network and others. Viewership beat that of Bellator 209 on Paramount on Nov. 17 by 70,000 as well, giving Combate a nice leg up and a solid “one to watch” as 2019 rolls around.

How have things been on the upswing? We asked Campbell McLaren, CEO of Combate Americas.

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!

Portada: How has Combate grown audience…what is the difference maker?

Campbell McLaren

Campbell McLaren: Combate Americas uses a soccer model – country versus country, like World Cup and the most classic soccer rivalries – as a major point of difference.  On our platform, you have the opportunity to see some of the sport’s best, new athletes proudly representing their respective countries against each other.

Our “Copa Combate” one-night tournament is essentially our World Cup competition, filled with national pride and excitement, and has been extremely effective attracting superfanaticos to our brand.  We went a step further at this year’s tournament, unveiling a 5-foot tall, gold ‘Copa,’ the largest winner’s trophy in sports.

We also expanded our TV programming dramatically in 2018, with a new, multi-platform deal with Univision that included premium-level shows airing live on both Univision and Univision Deportes Network (UDN), and weekly programming on UDN.

Combate Americas also opened its own multi-media studio, La Jaula Studios, which has been responsible for producing original, digital and linear content geared towards educating our target audience about our brand, live events and athletes and giving a reason for both new fans and avid fans to care about our talent and our shows.

Portada: What brands have migrated to the shows?

CM: This year, we secured national partnerships with AT&T Cricket Wireless (@Cricketnation), Monster Energy Drink (@MonsterEnergy), Warner Bros Studios (Aquaman @aquamanmovie) and Acronym (@anotheracronym), on behalf of the digital agency’s “Knock The Vote” campaign to drive voter participation from Hispanic millennials in the U.S.

Portada: How has Combate found a way to reach the Latino audience and what can be done to grow that audience in 2019? 

CM: We have created a product that is authentically Hispanic, and embraces key elements of Hispanic culture, beginning with a country versus country format in our events that is easily recognizable and has long been embraced by fans of soccer, the number one sport with Hispanic fans.

Our live events mix MMA competition with other, popular forms of Hispanic entertainment, including live music, such as mariachi band performances and ROC Nation Mexican recording artist Victoria La Mala (@lamalasinging the U.S. national anthem; our “La Jaula dancers;” and appearances by some of the biggest Lucha Libre stars, all of which enhance the fan experience beyond a typical live sporting event.

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What: Minor League Baseball has named the ‘Mariachis de Nuevo México (a.k.a. the Albuquerque Isotopes) as its Copa de la Diversión champion for 2018.
Why it matters: With the number of participating clubs more than doubling to 72 this coming year, Albuquerque and the other finalists can serve as examples of how teams can engage the Hispanic communities in their respective markets.

When Minor League Baseball (@MiLBrolled out its Hispanic-driven initiative Copa de la Diversión this past year, 33 teams jumped on board. This past season, to varying degrees of commitment. And as 2019 will see participation double across the country, with 72 clubs engaged, including every one of the initial 33, the new teams will have numerous examples of success stories to draw from.

This week, MiLB selected the Albuquerque Isotopes (@ABQTopes(a.k.a. the Mariachis de Nuevo México (@MariachisNM)) as the winner of its first Copa de la Diversión™ (Fun Cup™) event series winner. MiLB’s new Latinx Advisory Committee selected the Isotopes for numerous initiatives that took the Copa experience to the next level, to outdistance the following clubs who were finalists: Monarcas de Eugene (Eugene Emeralds @EugeneEmeralds), Cucuys de San Bernardino (Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino @66ersBaseball), Cielo Azul de Oklahoma City (Oklahoma City Dodgers @okc_dodgers) and the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio (San Antonio Missions @missionsmilb).

The expansion of this program, even into some non-traditionally Hispanic regions … shows that teams have identified that Latinos in their markets may still be largely untapped

“All 33 participating teams fully embraced the Copa de la Diversión initiative, authentically engaging their local Latinx communities in a transformative, relevant and fun new way,” said Kurt Hunzeker, MiLB Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Research, in a statement. “Having to select a single winner from a list of worthy candidates was a difficult task for our Advisory Committee, but it was impossible to ignore how much the Albuquerque community embraced the Mariachis’ mission and ballpark experience all season long.”

Some of the elements of the Mariachis/Isotopes full-dive into the Copa series included an investment of significant marketing money into the program, which led to a single-game attendance record in Albuquerque in their May 5 Copa game and highest average attendance in themed games across the country. The team also worked closely with groups like the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce (@AHCNMto maximize the community connection and benefit, helping them net the largest revenue from licensed “Mariachis” merchandise and commercial partnership revenues dedicated to Copa events.

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!

The expansion of this program, even into some non-traditionally Hispanic regions like Tulsa, Winston-Salem, Salt Lake and Durham, shows that teams have identified that Latinos in their markets may still be largely untapped. It will be interesting to see how many of the 40 or so new teams follow the examples of the Albuquerque, San Antonio and others that were all-in on Copa and how it may one day be an MLB initiative as well.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

What: PSG star Neymar Jr has signed on with global banking firm QNB as Brand Ambassador and is a key member of the soccer-centric OTRO digital fan club.
Why it matters: Neymar Jr’s international appeal has never been stronger and is still growing, as the 26-year-old Brazilian star continues his ascent up the Forbes top sports earners list.

Flickr/Antoine Dellenbach

Paris Saint-Germain (@PSG_insidestar Neymar Jr (@neymarjrhas never been bigger. The Brazilian standout has helped PSG to a sizable lead in the French Ligue 1 (@Ligue1_ENGstandings to date with 11 goals, and his off-field success may be even greater. At 26, his estimated income this year is $90 million USD, with Forbes ranking him 13th among sports figures worldwide. A growing portion of that is via sponsorship, with Gillette (@Gillette), McDonalds (@McDonalds), Nike (@Nikeand, more recently, GaGà Milano (@GaGaMilanoWorldand Café Pilão (@cafe_pilaoshowing the breadth of his appeal.

The São Paulo native added two notable partners recently, one on the endorsement side and another in digital communication. This month, Middle East/African financial giant QNB Group (@QNBGroupnamed him as Global Brand Ambassador (expect to see plenty of Neymar Jr-themed QNB marketing soon among soccer circles). This comes following soccer-focused digital platform OTRO (@OTRO) having announced that he is among several international stars signing on to the Players’ Tribune-type site.

Neymar Jr’s social media footprint is enormous: more than 200 million followers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram alone. This connection with young fans across many lines worldwide makes him attractive to brands like QNB.

In his playing prime and with a five-year contract with PSG in hand, expect to see Neymar Jr’s name even higher on next year’s Forbes rankings.

“We are delighted to welcome Neymar to the QNB family; a man who shares many of the same values with our brand and who is always looking for opportunities to reach greatness,” said Yousef Darwish, General Manager of QNB Group Communications, in a statement. Named one of the 100 most influential people in the world, Neymar Jr is a true sport icon who inspires fans worldwide to strive to reach the ultimate standards of excellence.”

The ambassadorship expands upon QNB’s partnership with Paris Saint-Germain, which includes a sleeve logo on the team kit as well as other financial connections to the club.

 

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!

(Flickr-alegermino)

And his connection with OTRO affords Neymar Jr another opportunity to present these and other partners and causes. Lionel Messi, David Beckham, James Rodriguez and Luis Suarez are among the others on board with OTRO, a “freemium”-model site which last week announced a new round of investment.

In his playing prime and with a five-year contract with PSG in hand, expect to see Neymar Jr’s name even higher on next year’s Forbes rankings as the Brazilian national team star continues his ascent into the top echelon of sports figures worldwide.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

Cover Image: credit Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil

What: Chattanooga, Tenn., has made strong connections with its growing Hispanic community; the latest move is re-signing popular Spanish star Juan Hernandez Mendizabal for 2019.
Why it matters: The early commitment to Mendizabal helps CFC in its efforts to build community in the city which is projected to have increased its Hispanic population by 500% to 15% of the population by the end of the decade.

When one thinks of geographic growth in soccer with Latinos, Chattanooga, Tennessee may not be top of mind. However last week, Chattanooga Football Club (@ChattanoogaFC), which is a growing member of the NPSL (@NPSLSoccer), the National Premier Soccer League, announced that Juan Hernandez Mendizabal was the first player to commit for the club’s 2019 season, where they will compete with other elite clubs for the NPSL’s first-ever Founders Cup, we wanted to find out more.

Hernandez first played with Chattanooga FC in 2015, where he helped guide the team to the NPSL National Championship match against NY Cosmos (@NYCosmos), which set a NPSL attendance record (18,227). Hernandez, from Spain, also is a signal that the club, sees the value of the growing Latino/Hispanic marketplace, so we decided to find out more on the club’s plans. What we found was a growing engagement opportunity in a rising market that many professional leagues should be looking towards: understanding the marketplace and engaging authentically with multicultural fans at the grassroots.

We have been diligently working on building bridges into the Latino population from the very first day. These relationships are authentic and deep.
Sheldon Grizzle

We asked Sheldon Grizzle, GM for Chattanooga FC to tell us more.

Portada: Most people would not think of Chattanooga as Hispanic-centric, what is the market like for soccer and Hispanic engagement there? How does a player with Hispanic roots help lift the clubs work?

Sheldon Grizzle: Chattanooga’s Spanish speaking population is one of the fastest growing in the country. It is projected they will make up 15% of the population by 2020, which is a 500% increase since 2000.

Chattanooga Football Club’s purpose from the beginning has been to build community in the city using the world’s game. This means that we do a lot of work in the community. For example, we have over 1,000 kids playing soccer and being mentored through our programs in the Chattanooga FC Foundation. Almost all of those kids are on free or reduced lunch programs and 35% of them are Latino.

We also run a futsal complex, Highland Park Commons, in one of our most diverse neighborhoods in the city. Between 60 and 70% of the people that come there on a weekly basis are Latino.

Having Spanish speaking players means that we can engage with these kids and parents on a more personal level.

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!

Portada: Are there programs the club will do to target Latino fans directly, either in the past or now going forward?

SG: Over the years, we have hosted many teams from Mexico for friendlies including Club America, Pachuca, Tigres, Monterrey, and FC Atlas. We’ve also brought in some youth national teams from Mexico and Colombia for exhibition games. This is something that we will continue to do moving forward.

The Chattanooga Football Club Foundation has three different areas of work that engage intentionally and deeply with the Latino community: Operation Get Active, Chattanooga Sports Ministries, and Highland Park Commons.

Portada: From a brand side, how do you think offering up a Latino spin to what is being done in Chattanooga can help bring in new partners? Are there companies you can target?

SG: We have been diligently working on building bridges into the Latino population from the very first day. These relationships are authentic and deep. Because of this, we have developed some great partnerships in the schools, with the nonprofit community, local and national foundations, and small business owners in the Mexican and Guatemalan communities.

A couple of examples: the US Soccer Foundation (@ussoccerfndncontributed a grant to the Highland Park Commons so that the fields would have lighting. Those parks were built mainly as a tool to build bridges with the Latino community.

On the small business side, there’s a local family that owns close to a dozen carnicerias. Our relationship with this family has blossomed over the last few years so now they are one of our ticketing locations.

We will always remain interested in developing these types of relationships and partnerships.

Portada: Lastly, the relationship between Latinos and soccer is very deep. Are there teams, clubs etc you have looked at that you can try to emulate their best practices?

SG: We have been working very closely with Wolfsburg (@VfLWolfsburg_ENfrom the Bundesliga in Germany for several years due to our mutual ties to Volkswagen (@Volkswagen). They have a world-class youth development system so we hope to learn from their best practices. As an example, they have sent coaches over to Chattanooga to help train some of our coaches. We have to do more of this so that we can continue to learn how to use soccer as a tool to improve the lives of Chattanoogans regardless of ethnicity.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

Cover Image: Juan Hernandez Mendizabal, via Chattanooga FC

What: The Los Angeles Kings have ramped up outreach to the Latino community with ESPN Deportes Spanish broadcasts and a Mexico City clinic.
Why it matters: While most L.A. teams have added Spanish broadcasts, only a handful of NHL teams have followed their lead; the success of the team’s commitment may sway others to follow suit.

Francisco X. Rivera and Nano Cortés

We have seen the success that the Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnightshave had with Spanish language hockey broadcasts in the desert, and their increased awareness around embracing all things Latino. Can their Southern California rivals be next into the mix?

This season the Los Angeles Kings (@LAKingsare looking to try the wayback machine, albeit for 10 games to start, by bringing Spanish language NHL broadcasts back into the fold for the first time in 20 years. So far, so good.

How unusual is it to hear hockey—NHL hockey anyway—in Spanish? Other than Vegas’ success, only Chicago (@NHLBlackhawks), Florida (@FlaPanthers) and San Jose (@SanJoseSharkshave pushed Spanish language broadcasts. Still, for the 3.3 million people who both have an affinity for sports and speak Spanish first in L.A. County, let alone the 50 % of the residents who identify as Hispanic or Latino, the idea isn’t that crazy.

…[T]he Kings efforts show an affinity to identify and cultivate a niche that has been left undeveloped.

Hockey is still being introduced to the Hispanic community in some ways after all these years. With all we have going, this guarantees we can penetrate into the Hispanic market on this platform.” Mike Altieri,  (@MichaelAAltieri), the team’s head of communications and broadcasting, told the LA Times last month, and the results have been pretty solid, especially on social media.

There is certainly a market for Spanish language sports in L.A., with the Dodgers having has Spanish language games since Walter O’Malley brought the team west (Fernandomania didn’t hurt, either!). The Lakers (@Lakers), Rams (@RamsNFL), Clippers (@LAClippers), Angels (@Angelsand Galaxy (@LAGalaxy), as well as LAFC (@LAFCand Chargers (@Chargers), all have Spanish language broadcasts, with only the Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucksnot trying to make the mighty connection to the tech savvy and increasingly affluent demo.

There is also a strong affinity to try and connect fans of soccer with hockey vs. American football given some of the ebbs and flows of the sport, but it’s an experiment worth noting, with very little risk and potential reward. The reward? New fans for one, casual interest in the game number two, and brands who may see the crossover as valuable to their ever-expanding and sometimes challenged outreach to the Latino community in finding extra value around sports.

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!

Luc Robitaille

That added value is also seen in the community, where the Kings went far south to host a three day camp in Mexico City last month. The camp was held at the La Pista Interlomas ice rink and hosted over 100 youth ice hockey players ranging from 10-18 years old. The state-sponsored Sports Diplomacy program is focused on youth empowerment and coach development for ice hockey in Mexico.

“We were thrilled with the opportunity to teach our great game to the youth of Mexico. The fundamentals of hockey are important skills for both physical and mental development and we were excited by the attendance and greatly encouraged by the level of talent that exists within Mexico’s youth hockey community,” said Kings President, Luc Robitaille. “We are already planning our next visit and the chance to expose even more kids to the game of hockey.”

Now is suddenly hockey going to surpass the Latino interests tied to baseball, soccer or even the NBA (@NBAand NFL (@NFLquickly? No. However the Kings efforts show an affinity to identify and cultivate a niche that has been left undeveloped, one that continues to grow and has solid crossover potential down the line, especially with no other NHL franchises entering the space to the far south, or for that matter east or even north to the Bay Area.

If you are going to own a market, own it all, and that’s what “Los Reyes” may be doing, on air and in community.

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Cover Image: Kings/NHL.com

What: Minor League Baseball and ECHO Inc. have built a partnership via MiLB’s Copa de la Diversión program.
Why it matters: As the first corporate sponsor of Copa, ECHO can serve as a blueprint for how companies can best hit the large geographic area that this demographic encompasses throughout 160 MiLB cities.

Copa de la Diversión, the successful and growing Hispanic outreach program introduces last year by Minor League Baseball (@MiLB), has its first dedicated corporate sponsor in ECHO (@ECHO_USA). The agreement, announced last week, makes the Chicago company (via Japan) the “Official Outdoor Power Tool of MiLB” and of the Copa program.

ECHO will activate its sponsorship with programs in many of the MiLB cities participating in Copa in 2019. Pregame events targeting professionals will highlight ECHO products, and teams will have their use for field and park maintenance.

“We are proud to have ECHO Incorporated as the first official outdoor power tool of Minor League Baseball, and to integrate them into our rapidly-growing Copa de la Diversión platform,” said David Wright, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer for Minor League Baseball.

For a company like ECHO, it’s a wide-ranging sponsorship, targeting professionals who use such equipment, distributors, dealers, and general consumers.

ECHO will also gain social and digital media presence on the consumer side through MiLB.com, the MiLB mobile app and team social outlets. Community initiatives, use of MiLB and team logos and partnerships in this month’s winter meetings and trade show are also part of the agreement, which ECHO notes is “specifically designed to embrace the culture and values that resonate most with participating teams’ local U.S. Hispanic/Latino communities by bolstering their marketing and customer service efforts to create a culturally-relevant gameday experience.”

“We are excited about this new partnership because it provides us a good grassroots approach to reaching our customers,” added Wayne Thomsen, ECHO Vice President of Marketing and Product Management. “What better way to help people make a connection with our brand and products than joining efforts with Minor League Baseball. The fact that teams will use ECHO products for field and ballpark maintenance further reinforces the connection.”

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!

MiLB hopes this is the first in a series of similar partnerships, after having established Copa de la Diversión and more than doubled team participation for 2019. For a company like ECHO, it’s a wide-ranging sponsorship, targeting professionals who use such equipment, distributors, dealers, and general consumers, and can serve as a blueprint for how companies can best hit the large geographic area that this demographic encompasses throughout 160 MiLB cities.

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What: The San Antonio hockey team Rampage held the first two of five Hispanic-themed nights in which it re-named itself Los Chimuelos de San Antonio.
Why it matters: Connecting with the large Latino population in San Antonio is essential for a team whose sport isn’t traditionally connected with this group.

San Antonio Hockey teamIn reality, hockey and Latino culture have a long way to go and connecting with latin culture may be the NHL’s (@NHL) biggest challenge for growth in North America. As a result, select teams like the Las Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights ) have found ways to embrace and thrive with the Latino community. But even in large areas like New York, with three NHL teams, the growth in the Latino community has not been robust.

Leave it to a minor league team with a large Latino population to find a way to cut through the clutter.

The AHL’s (@TheAHLSan Antonio Hockey team Rampage (@sarampageused the Día de Los Muertos celebration to rename itself Los Chimuelos de San Antonio. The team applied the name during games held Oct. 23rd and 26th in 2018. Pronounced chee-mueh-lohs, the nickname is Spanish for a toothless man, and consequently was a nod to the many hockey players who flash incomplete smiles. The team will take on the name and theme for three additional games this year. Each game was played on the last Friday of the month in December, January and March.

That’s who we are, so it’s vital that we represent who our city is and the cultural values that we represent.

Chimuelos’ first game

latino hockeyThe inaugural Chimuelos contest event began with a celebration and a mariachi band. Fans in attendance enjoyed Folklorico dancers, face painters, photo-ops and even a Día de Los Muertos altar. They brought photos in memory of their loved ones, too. In each of the Chimuelos contests, players wore special jerseys. They painted the goalies’ masks like traditional skulls made out of sugar.

The team’s social media got into the act as well with the Chimuelos theme included in team updates and game recaps. Feedback from fans has been tremendous—some even preferred the name over “Rampage.”

san antonio hockeyOutside of the arena, there were Mexican and Latin American food trucks. But perhaps most notably, at the first game, renowned Mexican-American chef and San Antonian Johnny Hernandez served signature tacos and quesadillas inside the arena from his restaurant La Gloria. There was even a line of Chimuelos-themed merchandise available at the team store and online.

“It was a lot of brainstorming, combined with focus groups and bringing in a lot of people, internally and externally, from the Hispanic and Latino community in San Antonio,” said Team Business Operations Ryan Snider.

“Nearly 64-percent of the population here identifies itself as Hispanic. So from a business standpoint, it’s obviously important. But really it’s about connecting culturally with our city,” said Snider. “That’s who we are. So it’s vital that we represent who our city is and the cultural values that we represent.

Great effort by the AHL club. NHL take notice.

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What: The Canadian Football League and Mexico’s LFA announced a partnership that will encompass player development, marketing and other connections between the leagues.
Why it matters: The opportunity to expand its footprint south is a potential growth area for the CFL, in a market the NFL has connected with to some degree but which may be open to the Canadian style of the game.

Is a country that loves fútbol getting closer to more football? The recent relocation issue with the Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) (vs. Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) game from Mexico City back to L.A. due to poor field conditions aside, there is no doubt that American football continues to eye the Latino audience from the grassroots to elite development, as a prime area for brand expansion. Recent stories in media outlets like the New York Times have examined the growth of play among young Latinos at the high school level, and USA Football (@usafootballhas targeted inner-city Latinos as key cultivation points for added focus, as the population continues to shift and the newer immigrant looks to assimilate more to game that may have been foreign upon arrival.

From a brand perspective, the NFL has continued to look south for its large engagement growth, with added access to Mexican and South American fans, as well as youth programs and regular season games continuing to grow focus.

So it should not come as a huge surprise that the Canadian Football League (@CFL), looking to identify new fans and branding opportunities, announced a partnership this past weekend with Mexico’s Liga de Fútbol Americano Profesional (LFA) to work together on everything from player development to expansion of both brands to each other’s demo. That new partnership according to both CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie and LFA Commissioner Oscar Perez will also include a regular season CFL game south of the U.S. border as soon as 2020.

A CFL partnership on firm ground can certainly lift the game, bring more awareness in Mexico, and even add revenue and cultivate talent at the grassroots.

“There are so many possibilities, including possible Spanish language CFL broadcasts in Mexico, a Spanish version of the CFL’s popular Football Frenzy video game and merchandise agreements,” said Ambrosie at this past weekend’s Grey Cup Championship game, adding that the plan would include a CFL scouting combine in Mexico City this winter for LFA players.

“How great would it be if we could send young men from Canada to another country where they can get a world-class experience playing football somewhere and come back to Canada bigger and stronger and ready to be stars in the CFL?” said Ambrosie, who is looking to more global partners to grow the CFL brand, and has targeted Mexico as the natural first step.

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!

For Mexican tourism (@VisitMexlooking to attract Canadian visitors during a season that runs from late summer to mid fall, the move could be a very smart one. Also the CFL has brand partners like Nissan (@nissancanadaand Tim Horton’s (@TimHortonswho could also enjoy the added ROI by adding a Mexican marketing presence and added visibility to fans with an affinity for American—or Canadian—football as well as the potential to expand brand presence to new fans.

Now this isn’t the first time the CFL has looked beyond borders. In the ‘90’s the CFL placed teams in five cities, including Baltimore (in the years between the Colts and the Ravens in that city), Birmingham, Ala., and Memphis to moderate success. Their recent partnership with ESPN has expanded the CFL broadcast window, and a push even further south, Ambrosie believes, could be an even more diverse boon for the league without any thought of expansion.

All of this talk is certainly good news for all aspects of traditional football in a country dominated by fútbol, and will certainly make fans hopefully forget the snafu that the NFL endured last month in Mexico City.

A CFL partnership on firm ground can certainly lift the game, bring more awareness in Mexico, and even add revenue and cultivate talent at the grassroots, something that should score with all, be they Canadian, American or Mexican, all fans of football.

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Cover Image: CFL.ca

What: Mariano Rivera of Panama and Edgar Martinez of Puerto Rico are among the Latinos on the 2019 National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot released this week.
Why it matters: Hall of Fame selection can boost the national and international profiles of these great stars outside of baseball, making them more attractive to business partners.

Reflecting the growth of Hispanic players on MLB (@MLBand Minor League Baseball (@MiLBrosters throughout the game over the past few decades, the 2019 National Baseball Hall of Fame (@baseballhallballot, released this week, includes numerous players born in Latin American countries, both newcomers and returners among the potential selections for Baseball Writers’ Association of America (@officialBBWAAvoting members to ponder. The election results will be announced on Jan. 22.

The top name, and most likely honoree, is Mariano Rivera (@MarianoRivera), who would be the second native of Panama elected (Rod Carew, chosen in 1991 on his first ballot attempt with 91% of the vote, was the first). Some are saying Rivera, the game’s all-time saves leader with 652, five World Series titles and a minuscule 0.70 ERA in 141 post-season innings, may be the first unanimous selection, as his off-field demeanor, charity work and universal respect among peers and fans make him one of the best candidates ever to possibly reach that threshold (Ken Griffey Jr.‘s 99.3% in 2016 and Tom Seaver‘s 98.8% in 1992 are the closest anyone has come).

As this segment of the population continues to be more impactful in the business of sports, these are the guys who can make the biggest difference.

Rivera made nearly $170 million in salary in his 19-year career, all with the Yankees (@Yankees). And while his more reserved personality may not have led to flashy spokesman opportunities, astute businesses like Bank of America (@BankofAmerica), The Hartford (@TheHartfordinsurance and insole provider OrthoLite (@OrthoLitehave partnered with the all-time great, who turns 49 on November 29.

The other Latino who stands a strong chance of election is Edgar Martínez, in his 10th and final year on the BBWAA ballot. Born in New York but raised in Dorado, Puerto Rico, the 18-year member of the Seattle Mariners has steadily risen up the Hall of Fame voting, reaching 70.4% last year, a far cry from the 36.2% he received on his first ballot in 2010 and the low of 25.2% in 2014. Also known as a solid citizen and exemplary role model, the designated hitter/third baseman has been less in demand by national sponsors, something that could change with his Hall selection. Though he did do a fine job in this local Seattle hardware spot:

“The list of players who have impacted not just teams and the sport, but communities is really amazing this year,” said Ray Negron, longtime New York Yankees advisor who works with dozens of Latino athletes and celebrities. “As this segment of the population continues to be more impactful in the business of sports, these are the guys who can make the biggest difference, especially when you add on ‘Hall of Fame’ to their resume.”

The Portada Brand-Sports Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

Omar Vizquel of Venezuela (second year on the ballot), Sammy Sosa (seventh) and Manny Ramirez (third) of the Dominican Republic are the others born in Latin America returning to the ballot. While all considered to be long shots this time around (and with Sosa and Ramirez having the additional burden of past PED use on their respective resumes), business prospects for the three are not particularly strong.

Among the first-timers on the ballot, besides Rivera, are Freddy Garcia (Venezuela), Miguel Tejada and Placido Polanco (Dominican Republic), who all had solid careers but who will likely struggle to achieve the 5% of votes needed to remain on the ballot next year.

Several Latin Americans have earned selection in recent years, increasing their profiles. Vladimir Guerrero (2018), Ivan Rodriguez (2017) and Pedro Martínez (2015) all took their spots in Cooperstown to great acclaim. None have had landmark business partnerships though Martínez has remained highly visible in his analyst role on MLB Network, for which he has earned high marks.

Would enshrinement mean more partnership opportunities for Rivera and Edgar? Both are well-known within baseball, and Rivera’s New York connection and World Series success have given him a wider audience outside the game. But Martínez possesses a lot of the same traits, and the attention that Hall selection would afford could push brands to take a second look at this potential marketing standout.

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Cover image: credit Keith Allison

What: MLS and Liga Bancomer MX have reportedly discussed the possibility of a superleague, encompassing clubs in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.
Why it matters: The opportunities for partners in such a superleague would be enticing, with more than 50 combined markets across North America.

credit: Flickr/Paul Bailey

When The United Bid (@united2026), submitted together by the U.S., Canada and Mexico soccer federations, to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCupproved successful, speculation grew that the partnership between the North American nations could be expanded into other areas to further grow the game on the continent. Now fans are wondering what a combined Major League Soccer (@MLSand Liga Bancomer MX (@LIGABancomerMXmight look like, as reports out of last month’s Leaders Summit in the UK quote Liga MX President Enrique Bonilla as being open to further discussion.

“It’s a possibility, a North American league,” he said to reporters there. “We have to determine how and see the pros and cons, but I think that’s a way to grow and to compete again. “If we can make a World Cup then we can make a North American league or a North American cup. The main idea is that we have to grow together to compete. If not, there is only going to be the rich guys in Europe and the rest of the world.”

…[T]he combined North American entity for World Cup, the MLS-Liga MX superleague would represent a huge opportunity for multinational companies like Adidas and AT&T…

The Campeones Cup (@CampeonesCup), held in September between Toronto FC of MLS and Tigres UANL of Liga MX, can be seen as a direct manifestation of the same spirit of partnership that made The United Bid possible. Tigres won by a 301 count in Toronto, and while the building was half-full, the blueprint for future on-field matches of consequence was set.

“We think this opportunity with the World Cup in 2026 opens the door for us to make a lot of things different and better,” added Bonilla.

“We have been discussing with Liga MX additional ways we can collaborate on and off the field,” said MLS executive Dan Courtemanche at the same event. “We are excited about the future opportunities that exist between our two leagues.”

The Portada Brand-Sports Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

So what would a combined North American professional soccer organization look like, beyond the Campeones Cup? Liga MX, which has been in existence for more than seven decades, is currently comprised of 18 teams across Mexico, and MLS, which began competition in 1996, comprises 20 U.S. and 3 Canadian sides. 41 clubs would seem to be an unwieldy number, but fans who follow college sports here know that “Power 5” schools, the largest NCAA programs, total more than 60 schools, each with huge fan bases over a diverse combined footprint.

For marketers, there may be some initial negotiation to be done with exclusive sponsors, at least until current deals expire, on both the MLS and Liga MX ends. But in the same way that partners will be working with CONCACAF (@Concacafand the combined North American entity for World Cup, the MLS-Liga MX superleague would represent a huge opportunity for multinational companies like Adidas (@adidasand AT&T (@ATT), which have official partnerships with both leagues, and any of a dozen beverages, airlines and banks that could gain a foothold across the continent in one fell swoop. Not to mention what a Fox Sports, ESPN or NBC/Telemundo could do to attract broadcast advertisers for such a wide-ranging organization.

Some U.S. fans, their own squad not qualifying for World Cup, took to rooting for Mexico last summer. It would be in that spirit: a bold move, one which would have dozens of moving parts and would require concessions and copious amounts of cooperation and faith from both ends to make a reality. But sometimes the sum of the parts is greater than the whole; getting huge organizations, with layers of politics and red tape to fight through, to subscribe to that concept might be too big an obstacle to overcome. But fans of the superleague can always dream.

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What: Boxing has experienced a rebirth of sorts in the American sports landscape, in part driven by Latinos’ continued affinity for the sport.
Why it matters: Brands, not just those most associated with fight sports, are more invested in boxing than ever, evidenced by mainstream marketers’ connection with network bouts and boxing-based TV shows and films.

“People have been saying boxing is dead for years, it’s an easy target. Yet every time there is a big fight where do the eyes and the dollars go? If it were dying, why would media companies and networks now doing streaming like ESPN and the others be spending and showing more? It’s because it is good content, and it’s not going anywhere.”

Those words by the retired undefeated champion, now commentator and entrepreneur, Andre Ward on “The Rich Eisen Show” (@RichEisenShowlast week are ringing truer than an opening round bell these days, as boxing more than any other fight sport, is really taking center stage again.

… [E]veryone likes a good fight, and if the platforms showing boxing can tell stories and build those fighters into larger than life heroes with a following, that’s great news for all.

In recent weeks we have continued to see a flood of big networks, from NBC (@nbcto FOX (@FOXTVto ESPN (@espn), up the ante in the fight game on the content side, both for traditional broadcast on the streaming side. Then you have the massive input of DAZN (@DAZN_USA) and its boxing-first entry into the market which is already leading to other sports rights relevance, along with the ever-present push of Showtime (@ShowtimeBoxing) and any series of both English and Spanish language niche platforms dedicated to both boxing and all sorts of fight sports, and the craze for growth seems pretty solid. The only hiccups are a longstanding boxing stalwart, HBO (@HBO), exiting the fight game at year end, and the real question of who the audience is. Also let’s not forget another nice boost for boxing comes next week with the release of CREED II (@creedmovie), right on the heels of EPIX relaunching “The Contender” (@TheContenderwith a live finale a week ago Friday.

Speaking of CREED II, the film, which had its premiere last week in New York, certainly won’t be lost in the mix to engage both the boxing and Latino audience, and help lift the sport and the brands looking to engage. Nike (@Nikeand ironically Jersey Mike’s (@jerseymikeshave a heavy presence in the film, and the marketing team went into the field to have not just college and professional teams like the New York Knicks (@nyknicksand Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakersand Rams (@RamsNFL) get a first look, they also worked with some elite boxers like the team at Brooklyn Boxing (@Brooklyn_Boxingand rising star and former super middleweight champion Caleb Truax to host screenings with inner-city kids as well.

The Portada Los Angeles Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

“The audience for this film is very wide, but there is no doubt that it will resonate with young Latinos, not just because of the fight scenes and the stars but because of the personal life struggles that the characters go through,” said director Steven Caple Jr. (@stevencapleJR), whose family has Mexican roots as well. “I learned a lot about boxing and the power the sport has in the Latino community today still, and we think this can really help the sport keep growing.”

On the brand side, those looking to engage in the marketplace, be it stalwarts like Modelo (@ModeloUSAand Tecate (@tecateshould get another boost from the resonance of the ring and all the places bouts big and small will be shown on every device in the coming months, but it also represents a lower cost and high impact opportunity for brands to toe dip into the marriage of Latinos and sports, a trip inside that is only matched or sometimes eclipsed by soccer with that audience.

Promising young Latino boxers like Mexicans Alex Saucedo, whose bout against WBO junior welterweight champion Maurice Hooker in Oklahoma City was live on ESPN last Friday, and Eduardo Hernandez from Mexico and Mario Barrios from San Antonio among a strong crop of up-and-comers keep interest high in the Hispanic community.

“Boxing’s big fights will always draw a crowd, we know that,” added veteran marketer and Columbia professor Chris Lencheski. “However what we are seeing is great content that plays to every screen and appeals to a very strong niche audience, both younger and older Latinos, that is readily available and very shareable. Maybe we missed that aspect of boxing content and thought it was old school. However one thing is clear, everyone likes a good fight, and if the platforms showing boxing can tell stories and build those fighters into larger than life heroes with a following, that’s great news for all.”

And great news even more importantly, for those involved in the fight game, be it the fictional kind on the big screen or real life on a smaller one streamed to millions.

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Cover Image: Brooklyn Boxing

What: MiLB’s successful ‘Copa de la Diversión’ initiative will more than double to 72 teams in 2019.
Why it matters: Programs that celebrate the Latino influence in baseball and connect to the community are positive for the teams and their fans, and a potential touch point for marketers.

As the Latino composition of professional baseball rosters—in both the majors and minors—grows, it makes sense for leagues and teams to celebrate the diversity in their players and fan bases. And as Minor League Baseball (@MiLBcontinues to experience growth on the field and on financial ledgers, initiatives like Copa de la Diversión help everyone embrace the culture and values that these communities represent.

With that, MiLB is following up last year’s successful Copa, which saw 33 teams participate and, according to the organization, generated a combined US $3.7 million in revenue and 12.5% attendance increases, by announcing that more than double that number, 72, will take part, across 29 different states in the upcoming season. In 2018, teams took to the field as the Durham Toros, Omaha Cazadores de Tormentas and Charlotte Caballeros (similar to NBA and MLB alternate identities) in select games.

100 new employees have been hired by the 72 participating teams, helping club staffs begin to more closely reflect the composition of the on-field talent and fan base.

As with other programs in this space, authenticity is the key: it can’t be seen as just a publicity stunt or to market additional apparel. The phrase “Copa de la Diversión” translates to “Fun Cup,” and included other facets of the fan experience, including food and music. And some teams made some internal changes to promote the program, including hiring bilingual employees in ticket sales and attracting more diverse internship applicants, according to La Vida Baseball (@LaVidaBaseball), a baseball news site that celebrates the past, present and future of Latino baseball.

The 40 or so new teams will try to tap into success stories like that of the Albuquerque Isotopes, Class AAA PCL affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. As “The Mariachis” that night, the club’s May 5 Copa celebration set a single-game attendance record of nearly 17,000 and, according to BallParkDigest.com (@ballparkdigest), set franchise records for merchandise sales.

The #PortadaLA summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

With that success, MiLB is all-in on the initiative. “For some teams, it was looking yourself in the mirror and being like, ‘Man we don’t have enough people on our staff that looks like our community’,” said Kurt Hunzeker, Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Research at MiLB “I think that was a huge benefit.”

Hunzeker also noted, per La Vida Baseball, that 100 new employees have been hired by the 72 participating teams, helping club staffs begin to more closely reflect the composition of the on-field talent and fan base. This diversity can also help teams make decisions that will affect those fans, as having voices “in the room” with firsthand knowledge of the particular characteristics of the Latino fandom can prove fruitful.

So what is next for Copa? Hunzeker has indicated that at least 13 more organizations will get on board in 2020. Perhaps this can lead to a program of this type on the MLB level, or other sports may use it as a blueprint to help connect with Latino or other ethnic groups. In any case, it’s been a huge positive for teams and communities.

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What: A new grassroots campaign, #BringUSTheGame, was launched last week by La Liga North America in support of the January 29 regular season club matchup between FC Barcelona and Girona FC.
Why it matters: La Liga and its U.S. partner Relevent Sports face opposition from some entities, including FIFA and the Spanish federation RFEF and are looking to push public opinion in its favor for the scheduled match.

Continuing its push to bring an actual league match between FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelonaand Girona FC (@GironaFCto Miami on Jan. 29, LaLiga (@LaLigaENNorth America last week announced a grassroots campaign in support of the game, which has faced some opposition from other soccer entities. Under the theme “It’s good for the fans. It’s good for the game.” the #BringUSTheGame promotion includes a mobile alerts signup, online petition and extensive online presence for the contest at Hard Rock Stadium.

“Fans across the country are excited for the chance to see their heroes play here at home. We know that the love for soccer has been growing by leaps and bounds over the years in the United States. Having the best league in the world play this game in Miami will continue to energize the millions of fans in America and accelerate the growth of the US soccer fan base,” said Boris Gartner, CEO of LaLiga North America in a statement. “This game has the chance to be something special, with real points on the line, and it is our hope that American soccer fans will get to experience the game in person played at its highest level.”

#BringUSTheGame is the league’s attempt to win in another venue: the court of public opinion.
Luis Suárez (Wikimedia/Lluís)

The top Spanish league has been one of the most proactive in extending their brand, and those of its clubs, in the U.S. and Latin America, with a variety of recent initiatives. The effort to bring this match, the first European club regular season to be held on U.S. soil, to Florida has been challenged by FIFA (@FIFAcomand the Spanish Football Federation (@rfef), whose president, Luis Rubiales, feels “disrespected” in working with groups other than RFEF to organize. The main issue is that as a league match and not a friendly, RFEF believes it should have been consulted. (Or perhaps been “cut in” on the deal?)

So where to next? Clearly, there is a market for European football in the U.S., and La Liga in particular: when Real Madrid played FC Barcelona as part of the International Champions Cup in Miami last year, over 1.7 million viewers tuned in on ESPN. Relevent Sports, La Liga’s New York-based partner in plans to bringing a game to the U.S. in each of the next 15 years, wants to avoid the characterization of the effort as an “Astroturf” campaign.

The Portada Brand-Sports Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

“As American sports clamor for exposure abroad and the major soccer clubs themselves look to grow their brands with marketing dollars here, this seems really counterintuitive,” said Harrie Bakst, a longtime sports marketer who has worked with elite teams and leagues in and out of soccer.  “This seems more like a power play internally for dollars than a real disruption in the course of business for the clubs involved. if it doesn’t happen it says a lot about the short term growth issues clubs see vs. the bigger long term picture. My bet is that there is soccer in Miami in January, the first of what will be seen as a regular occurrence in the years to come.”

It could end up in the courts, as La Liga has indicated that it would take the case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport should FIFA try to prevent the match from occurring. #BringUSTheGame is the league’s attempt to win in another venue: the court of public opinion. Stay tuned.

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What: The Vegas Golden Knights, the newest NHL franchise, is making inroads with the Latino community in the region.
Why it matters: Team engagement with street hockey clinics, merchandise sales, community school events and even Spanish-language promotions will be a win for all.

T-Mobile Arena

Hockey and Latino outreach may seem like a bit of an outlier, but not if you are the Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights). One of the most successful sports business startups of all-time, the Golden Knights have broken so many boundaries that it’s hard to count, with a new focus and success on the Latino market in and around The Strip.

Now the idea of marketing to Latinos in Vegas is not that foreign, no pun intended. The USL Las Vegas Lights FC (@lvlightsfchave successfully made Latino inclusion a big part of their marketing, with resounding success, and fight sports like MMA (@ufcand boxing, have seen resounding opportunities in the market as well. But hockey?

The Golden Knights have seen the light.

I’m seeing more and more people of a Hispanic heritage following the team. I see them at the games. We’re seeing it in our metrics digitally and socially.

According to ESPN.com, Las Vegas’ proactive and strategic approach on the grassroots side has led them to local Latino audiences, both Spanish and English speaking, that have embraced the team, and the sport they have found like never before.

The leader of the push is Kerry Bubolz (@KerryBubolz), Golden Knights President, who has seen the impact that introducing sports like hockey at the grassroots level can have in a growing and underserved community like Las Vegas.

Last February, during the inaugural season which saw the Golden Knights advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, the team announced that in partnership with sponsors, the NHL (@NHLand the NHLPA (@NHLPA), they were donating full floor-hockey equipment packs to middle schools in Clark County. For each school, that included 60 sticks, multiple nets, border controls to create a rink in a gymnasium and, training for school staff to better understand the rules of the game. Given that more than half the school district has Hispanic and Latino origins, the assimilation and introduction was pretty generic.

The Portada Brands-Sports Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

Kerry Bubolz

“They’re growing in size and economically in this market,” said Bubolz in the article. “I’m seeing more and more people of a Hispanic heritage following the team. I see them at the games. We’re seeing it in our metrics digitally and socially. So what are other ways that we’re reaching out in an authentic way?”

This led to another emerging idea in the NHL, one that has taken hold in NFL, MLB and the NBA for years: Spanish language broadcasts. ESPN Deportes 1460 AM in Las Vegas, came on board, now delivering games in native language as well. The move made the Knights one of six NHL teams now to offer games in Spanish, with AT&T SportsNet (@ATTSportsNetRM), which carries the Golden Knights, now providing an SAP option as well.

The result is a growing grassroots push for, yes, hockey in the Latino community in the desert.

What has been seen in a more native sport for the community, soccer, with Las Vegas Lights is not just fan support but brand activation joining forces with the team, which is a huge boost for the bottom line. For hockey, with Golden Knights games still at a premium, heading to T-Mobile Arena (@TMobileArenamight be a stretch for many young Latino families, but engagement with the team with street hockey clinics, merchandise sales, community school events and even Spanish language promotions will win for all. What also makes this a smart play for the team is that it seeds a new audience, one which may love the breakneck speed of the sport and the glamour of the NHL but had never been exposed before. That audience will take time to mature, but the Golden Knights have the luxury of time and buzz on their side.

Latino hockey fans: a new phenomenon sprouting seeds in the sands of Nevada.

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Cover Image: Flickr/Michael Miller

What: Off-road racing events like the Norra Mexican 1000 and teams like Vildósola Racing have earned the attention of mainstream partners in Mexico and beyond.
Why it matters: The fun, renegade atmosphere at rallies and loyal fan base can be attractive to brands, not just those with direct automotive ties.

Caballo del Diablo (NORRA)

Off-road motorsports have a tradition of camaraderie, partying and fun. Events or rallies like the Norra Mexican 1000 bring together thousands of enthusiasts and fans and dozens of drivers for week-long celebrations of the sport. And while the sport maintains a grass-roots feel and renegade roots, international brands are taking notice, scooping up drivers and creating their own events and organizations, fueled in many cases by social media.

One such example is Hoonigan (@TheHoonigans), a community whose slogan “We’re about this life: Cars. Fun. And Debauchery” maybe isn’t meant to be taken 100% literally. But almost. For the past two years, FIAT (@fiathas teamed with Hoonigan in a search for its latest brand ambassador, this month announcing that up-and-comer Micah Diaz of Corona, Calif., has earned the honor. The Hoonigans Wanted Challenge selected Diaz after a 10-driver challenge in four California locations, whittled down from hundreds of entries worldwide.

…[B]rands are connecting with this community, many of them Latinos.
Thierry Neuville Rall Mexico (McKlein-Hyundai Motorsport)

“Congratulations to Micah Diaz for winning the Hoonigan’s Wanted search,” said Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Car Brands – Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and Fiat, FCA – North America. “And special thanks to all of the passionate enthusiasts who took the time to showcase their abilities.”

While the Hoonigans are tearing it up—and preserving it all, from the build breakdowns posted on YouTubeother brands are connecting with this community, many of them Latinos. Yokohama (@YokohamaTCis the title sponsor of the Mexican 1000, with automotive companies like Savvy Off Road, Steel-It, Walker-Evans and Rigid among the event’s partners. Known as “The Happiest Race on Earth,” what started with 68 entries in Baja in 1967, has grown into an industry all its own. The 2019 National Off Road Racing (NORRA) event will be held from April 25 (tech and registration) through May 3 (Awards at San Jose del Cabo).

The Portada Brand-Sports Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

Tavo Vildósola (Vildósola Racing)

“The challenge was intense, but competing in the Fiat 124 Spider Abarth was an awesome experience and really pushed me as a driver. Also, the other competitors brought their A-game, which made this event even more rewarding,” said Diaz in a statement.

One of the sport’s premier organizations is Vildosola Racing (@VildosolaRacing), named for Gustavo Vildósola and sons Javi and Tavo, a Red Bull-sponsored athlete from Mexicali, Baja, Mexico, who was one of the celebrity drivers who helped select Diaz in the Hoonigans Wanted competition. With a set of sponsors which includes national Mexican brands like Mexlog (logistics), BraNix (@branixtech) (technology/consultants), Inter Protección (@interproteccion) (insurance brokerage), Vildosola has found more than a niche within racing; it has attractred partners in mainstream industries that want to tap into its fervent fan base across Mexico and into the U.S.

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Cover Image: Micah Diaz/FIAT

What: The Mexico Grand Prix Formula 1 race is set for Friday through Sunday at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City.
Why it matters: With uncertain prospects beyond next year’s contract, despite many signs pointing to its economic benefits, this weekend’s race is critical to its future viability.

Credit: Antonio Zurita

As elite sports properties like MLB (@MLB), the NFL (@NFLand the NBA (@NBAeye a bigger consistent presence in Mexico, one of the country’s most successful sporting events, Formula 1 (@F1), will take to the streets this weekend at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City amidst a track record of financial success but a questionable future.

Since its return in 2015, reports this week indicated that the Mexican Grand Prix (@mexicogphas brought in in excess of 18.9B Mexican pesos ($980M) in economic impact, while taking home industry accolades like F1’s “Event of the Year.”

Yet, President elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador this week questioned the race’s permanence when the contract runs out after 2019, without even more favorable terms being brought back to the Mexican economy. The issue is not a new one, where government looks for events that enhance the greater good vs. the elite, and the money is spent building and promoting F1 to an upscale audience may never trickle down to the general populous.

Is the risk and expenditure on infrastructure worth the reward in tourism dollars?
Maron F1 team car (Flickr/ProtoplasmaKid)

Still, the tourism dollars (@WeVisitMexicothat flow in from elite sports, be they World Baseball Classic (@WBCBaseballor the NFL, cannot be denied in a country like Mexico, where foreign money is a key piece of a growing economy in Mexico City. Those dollars, along with brand activations, will be coming from a global audience, including 22% from the United States, according to data released from StubHub. That is a year over year of 14.9% from last year. However the worry for Mexican politicos is local, as the study also said that the percentage of Mexican fans at the event will decrease to 71% of the total number of attendees from 79% last year, for this the 20th edition of a race first held in Mexico in 1962, with various starts and stops since.

From a media perspective, the millions of fans who will follow one of the final F1 races of the year can also shed positive light on Mexico as a destination year round, and the development of local stars, like Sergio Pérez, a 28-year-old Guadalajara native who drives for the Force India team, and is currently in eighth place, can help advance national pride and storytelling as Mexico looks to continue to climb up the global sports business landscape.

The Portada Los Angeles Summit in on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

Is the risk and expenditure on infrastructure worth the reward in tourism dollars? Is the proclamation by the President-elect just posturing? At a time when other elite road circuits like Indy Car and NASCAR are looking to engage more Latino, especially Mexican fans, F1’s next step will literally come at a crossroads.

The winners, in addition to the brands and high net worth fans, can still be all those who benefit from a boost of tourism in a season where Mexico is a little off the map in the fall. Sometimes the political game trumps the one on the court, or in this case the track. As F1 under the leadership of Chase Carey makes a bigger run for North American dollars, here’s hoping one of Mexico’s biggest events finds a home that benefits all, we will watch and see if the race for political positioning matches the one on the course.

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Cover Image: Mexico Grand Prix 2015 (Christian Ramiro González Verón)

What: The Angels have opted out of their lease at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., opening up the possibility that the franchise could move after the 2019 season.
Why it matters: Mexico, primarily Monterrey or Mexico City, could be a destination, if MLB wants to expand south; Mexican-American Angels owner Arte Moreno could be the one to open the market to the league and partners.

Angel Stadium of Anaheim (Wikimedia/Redlegsfan)

Last week news broke that the Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) (née “…of Anaheim,” née “California Angels,” née “Anaheim Angels”) have opted out of their Angel Stadium of Anaheim lease, effective following the 2019 season. It’s a high-stakes call, with political ramifications in Southern California—and perhaps beyond.

So what does this mean for the future of the franchise? Could Mexican-American entrepreneur Arte Moreno take his team south to Mexico? Are Mexico City (two hours plus by air from Houston, the closest MLB city) or Monterrey (about 600 miles closer to the U.S. border), which has hosted the MLB Mexico Series, viable options? There may be some logistical hurdles, but Adrian Burgos (@adburgosjr), Editor in Chief of La Vida Baseball (@LaVidaBaseball), historian and expert on Latino baseball, thinks that Moreno’s ownership could be the difference in making it happen.

Who better to market to a Spanish-speaking community of over 21 million in Mexico City than Moreno whose business was advertising?
Arte Moreno (Wikimedia Commons/jemmill)

“Moreno’s business savvy as much as his Mexican-American background will prompt him to thoroughly consider moving the Angels to Mexico City,” said Burgos, who is also a professor of history at the University of Illinois. “Who better to market to a Spanish-speaking community of over 21 million in Mexico City than Moreno whose business was advertising?”

The aforementioned MLB Mexico Series (@MLB_Mexico), held for the third time this past May in Monterrey, featured a three-game set between the Dodgers and Padres. The Mexican League has a long, storied history in the sport, and current standouts like Joakim Soria, Yovani Gallardo and Jorge De La Rosa dot major league rosters.

The opt out from “The Big A,” which the Angels have called home since 1966 (the team played as the “Los Angeles Angels” as an expansion franchise at the “other” Wrigley Field in 1961 then at Dodger Stadium for the next four years) doesn’t preclude the team from remaining in Orange County, or even in Anaheim. The city will be electing a new mayor next month, with stadium subsidy a hot-button issue. Sites in Irvine and elsewhere have been discussed, but can this be baseball’s chance to set up an established franchise south of the border?

The Portada Brands-Sports Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

Adrian Burgos Jr., LVB editor

“MLB sees opportunity in the huge demographic market in Mexico City, over 21 million people,” added Burgos. “The three MLB Mexico Series, however, have been played in Monterrey, which is a very different market. So, I’m not sure the series working in Monterrey has much bearing on Mexico City. But that is a challenge that Arte Moreno is arguably best suited to address.”

The opt-out is described by Angels officials as a one-time option that needed to be exercised now or in 2028, according to reporting by the L.A. Times’ Bill Shaikin. Will the new mayor (incumbent Tom Tait is not running for reelection) work with Moreno and the team on renovations that would keep the team in its 52-year old home? if not, Burgos thinks Moreno would be the one to make it work in Mexico, with marketing a key element.

“No other team owner in MLB would be as culturally aware and knowledgeable business-wise on how to make a MLB team commercially successful in Mexico City than Moreno,” he noted. “Add to all this the fact the president-elect of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador is a baseball fan surely will give Moreno a big boost.”

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Cover Image: Estadio de Beisbol in Montererey (Wikimedia Commons/Pzurita)
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