Jerry Milani @gbpackjerry


What: Jacob “Stitch” Duran is combat sports’ most famous “cutman,” combining a 20-plus year marketing background and years of in-ring experience to create a leading business.
Why it matters: Duran’s success ringside and in the marketing world are an excellent case study for how a business can be built creatively from a unique set of in-demand skills.

Growing up poor in Planada, California, in the state’s San Joaquin Valley, Jacob Duran (@StitchDurandreamed of being a baseball player. In between the peaches, almonds and figs he picked alongside his mother and father in the Central Valley, a region he describes as “the agricultural capital of the world,” young Jacob knew that the hard work instilled by his parents would lead him somewhere. But instead of the scent of the grass of a baseball diamond, it was the somewhat stronger aroma of the boxing gym that reeled him in.

“I went to Merced College (@mercedcollege), near my hometown, and tried to walk on the baseball team,” remembers Duran. “But the school was nine miles from my house, and I didn’t have a car, so I rode to school with friends. But then I stayed for baseball and didn’t have an easy way home, so that ended my baseball career.”

Next thing he knew, in 1974, Duran found himself in the Air Force, shipped off to Thailand, which changed his life.

I took quite a paycut, but I followed my dream and it changed my life.

“I’d never heard of Thailand,” joked the gregarious Duran. “But they had Muay Thai, and I really got into the martial arts. Then I got into boxing to improve my hands. I was hooked.”

Duran didn’t make it as a fighter—though that really never was the goal. Instead, it was here that the seeds were planted for probably the world’s most famous “cutman.”

After a 23-year career in marketing at R.J. Reynolds, Duran took a chance, opening the American School of Kickboxing. “I took quite a paycut, but I followed my dream and it changed my life.”

The legend of “Stitch” was born.

“I remember I went to an event in Redding, California, and I saw what the cutman was doing,” he recalled. “I went up to ask him how he does it and he basically told me to get lost—‘I’m not talking to you, you’ll take my job’ was his attitude. I felt one foot tall, but I decided I’d never be that way. That’s not the way cutmen are today, they share ideas, and are more recognized than ever.”

Over time, Duran, who picked up the now famous “Stitch” moniker for his efficiency at his craft, became the cutman of choice for the most prominent fighters in the most important bouts—Wladimir Klitschko, Andre Ward, Mirko Filipovic, Cain Velasquez, and more.

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.

That fame led to a few movie roles—all as himself—in mainstream Hollywood films like Here Comes the Boom with Kevin James, Salma Hayek and Henry Winkler, Creed starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone and this November’s sequel, Creed II (@creedmovie). Duran (no relation to the famous retired boxer Roberto) believes these appearances have raised the profile of his profession.

“I think it has, yes,” the 67-year old noted. “And who wouldn’t want to be the one to do that? Just being in the company of people like Sly [Stallone], Kevin [James], Henry Winkler, millions of people saw what cutmen do.”

For Duran, who today is also the director of regulatory affairs for Final Fight Championships (@FFCfighting), a Las Vegas based promotion that combines boxing, kick boxing and MMA in weekly events, combat sports remain an important staple for the Latino community, which Duran believes is reflected in the personalities of the participants as well as followers.

“We are known as hard working people, and we have a gladiator mentality,” he explained. “For generations, even as we’ve struggled, Latinos have taken that approach and in watching fighters I think they see a little of themselves, always battling. For Latino fighters, it gives them a vehicle to show what they can do to overcome our situations. I kind of see this in the Russian fighters today, escaping rugged times, and using that as fuel.”

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Though it took him awhile, “Stitch” found ways to marry his marketing background and life as the cutman to the stars. First, he worked with the late TapouT co-founder Charles “Mask” Lewis, who developed a special vest, complete with sponsor logos, that he could wear while tending to fighters in the ring. Then came the “One More Round” brand, inspired by the Rocky line “give me one more round,” which is what a fighter wants from his cutman.

“I really became associated with that,” added Duran, who has also written two books about his life in combat sports. “People would come up to me and say, ‘Hey Stitch, give me one more round.’”

The vest led to Duran’s untimely exit from the UFC (@ufc), MMA’s dominant promotion, when Reebok’s exclusive sponsorship prevented the cutman from profiting from his vest logos. So it was off to other MMA promotions and finally to the development of STITCH Premium (@StitchPremium), a line of products specifically for cutmen.

“There are more Hispanic trainers and cutmen than ever before, so our marketing is naturally going towards Latinos,” said Duran. “But it’s not a general consumer product so there isn’t any special Latino marketing. We do a lot of charity work with the Hispanic community though, we started a boxing program in my hometown of Planada. When Creed came out, we got a bus and brought 40 kids out to see it together, we’ve done some fundraisers. It’s important to give back to the community. Sometimes they say that I inspire them, but really, they inspire me.”

What: Women’s sports in Mexico got a big boost with espnW’s expansion into Mexico.
Why it matters: The move gives brands a new opportunity to capture the growing Latina market, one which has likely been underserved to date.

Claudia Trejos

Jessica Mendoza (@jessmendozajust completed her third season in the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball booth. Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPNcovered the New York Yankees (@Yankeesbeat from 2012-16 and remains one of the most respected Latina sports reporters in baseball. Maria Guardado (@mi_guardado) ( and Maria Torres (@maria_torres3) (L.A. Timesare beginning to make their marks on the Los Angeles Angels beat. Mary Joe Fernandez, Antonietta Collins, Claudia Trejos, Julia Morales and others have been delivering the news and getting scoops in various sports, some for years, making important inroads for Hispanic women in the space.

In what can be seen as the next major step for Latina reporters, ESPN on Sunday launched its espnW brand in Mexico. The site, which has featured journalism from the best in the business, reporting on sports from the female perspective, makes its bow in conjunction with Semana de la Mujer, ESPN’s breast cancer awareness week, running through October 19.

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.

“For generations, women in Mexico have been breaking barriers in the world of sports — on and off the field,” said Gerardo Casanova, vice president and general manager, ESPN Latin America North, Mexico and Central America, in a statement. “The launch of espnW in Mexico is a significant milestone for the ESPN brand and re-enforces our commitment to better serve an increasingly powerful segment of our audience.”

The power and influence sports have – and can have – for girls and women across the world is well-documented.
Cristina Alexander

Some of the statistics that ESPN cites at the launch of espnW (@espnWMexico include a 23% female audience on digital; 1:40 hours per day that women spend on the ESPN platform; and a monthly reach of 937,000 women at Semana de la Mujer content powered by espnW will include work by such notable latinas as Cristina Alexander, Katia Castorena, Kary Correa, Paulina García, Vanessa Huppenkothen, Marisa Lara, Rebeca Landa, Miroslava Montemayor, Carolina Padrón, Elizabeth Patiño, Nelly Simón, Claudia Trejos, Carolina Guillén, Carolina de las Salas and Pilar Perez on various platforms from Bristol, Miami, Los Angeles and Mexico.

“The success of ESPN in Mexico made it the next logical destination for the espnW brand,” said Laura Gentile, senior vice president, marketing, ESPN. “The power and influence sports have – and can have – for girls and women across the world is well-documented. We look forward to highlighting amazing storytelling for women and female athletes from all over Mexico.”

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The talent drain at ESPN in the past couple of years has hit the sports media world hard; amazing multimedia journalists like Jane McManus, Melissa Isaacson and Johnette Howard were among those axed. The hope with the expansion of the espnW brand into Mexico is that great journalists can tell great stories about Latina women in sports in the region as well as cover events and athletes who so far have eluded mainstream attention.

This can also be a boon for marketers, with brands like Toyota (@Toyota), Wells Fargo (@WellsFargo), Gatorade (@Gatorade), Olay (@OlaySkin), Always (@Always), and other that have supported espnW having the opportunity to extend their reach south. It will be interesting to see which ones choose to do so, and which new partners may emerge targeting the female Mexican consumer. The timing to boost espnW may be just right; with 2019 Women’s World Cup looming, the U.S. and Canada having punched their tickets on Sunday with Concacaf (@ConcacafWomen’s Championship semifinal wins and Panama and Jamaica vying for the third automatic spots. While Mexico narrowly missed out on a spot in the semifinals, interest in the sport remains high, with Liga MX Femenil (@LIGABancomerMXcurrently in its second year of operation as the professional women’s league there.

Cover Image: courtesy FIBA

What: FIFA has announced its plans for growing women’s soccer worldwide.
Why it matters: For FIFA, increased participation will mean increased interest in the women’s game, leading to more marketing opportunities for brands as well.

Victory Lap (Wikimedia Commons/Nicki Dugan Pogue)

If for years it has seemed like FIFA (@FIFAcomhas concentrated, say, 99 44/100% of its energies on the men’s game, it’s probably not an illusion. And while the Women’s World Cup (@FIFAWWChas helped the ladies version gain popularity since the U.S. won the inaugural event in 1991, soar after the American victory in 1999, and reach new heights following the 2015 U.S. win over Japan in Canada, the lion’s share of the organizing body’s attention has focused on the men in the 100+ years since its 1904 founding.

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.

With the worldwide opportunities that the women’s game now possesses, FIFA recently unveiled a new global strategy, with a stated goal of doubling women’s participation to 60 million across the globe. With the Women’ World Cup looming next summer in France, now is the time for FIFA and its Confederations to step up, and for marketers to take advantage. In fact, the Concacaf (@Concacafwomen’s championship, which determines the World Cup qualifiers, is going on now through Oct. 17.

Most importantly it will make football more accessible to girls and women and encourage female empowerment.
Sarai Bareman (via Twitter)

In what many followers of the women’s game saw as at least a good first step, two years ago FIFA set up its first Women’s Football Division, run by Chief Women’s Football Officer Sarai Bareman (@SarBareman), a New Zealand native who competed for Samoa, the homeland of her mother. That same year, Fatma Samoura (@fatma_samouraof Senegal was appointed as the first female Secretary General of FIFA. These were two of the first significant moves by Gianni Infantino after replacing Sepp Blatter as FIFA’s president.

“As FIFA’s first female Secretary General I am proud to launch our first-ever global strategy for women’s football,” said Samoura in a statement. “The women’s game is a top priority for FIFA and via our new strategy we will work hand-in-hand with our 211 member associations around the world to increase grassroots participation, enhance the commercial value of the women’s game and strengthen the structures surrounding women’s football to ensure that everything we do is sustainable and has strong results. Most importantly it will make football more accessible to girls and women and encourage female empowerment, a subject of great importance, now more than ever before.”

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(Wikimedia Commons-GoToVan)

In 2015, with the Canada location providing more TV-friendly match times than the previous two Cups in China (2007) and Germany (2011), FIFA broadcast partner Fox attracted brands like Nationwide (@Nationwideand Fiat (@fiatalong with U.S. Soccer’s official sponsors Mondelez, Budweiser, Coca-Cola, Chevrolet and Johnson & Johnson.

Now, pool prize money increases, additional grassroots plans, and commitments to placing women in leadership positions on FIFA committees and in every member association are also part of the initiative. With the U.S. vs. Japan 2015 final attracting nearly 27 million viewers here, the most for any soccer match involving a U.S. team (men or women), interest among sponsors for the 2019 tournament should be at an all-time high.

Cover Image: credit Nicki Dugan Pogue/Wikimedia Commons

What: Allegations against Juventus star Cristiano Ronaldo have made some of his partners take a pause until his legal issues are settled.
Why it matters: How those partners react should the allegations against the world’s highest paid athlete prove true will have a great effect on how brands view off-field transgressions moving forward.

Could pending legal trouble for one of the world’s most marketable personalities damage global brands beyond the field?

That question is going to very much be in play in the coming weeks as the alleged rape charges against Cristiano Ronaldo(@Cristiano) play out both in the courts of law and public opinion.

The new star of Juventus (@juventusfc), one of the world’s biggest and most marketable personalities, has already seen companies not just monitor but start to pull back from existing campaigns. The first has been EA Sports (@EASPORTSwhich deleted his image from the cover picture of FIFA 19 on its website, while others, including Nike (@Nike) and DAZN have expressed “concern” over the accusations made by American woman Kathryn Mayorga in a Las Vegas hotel room in 2009.

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.

Where those [deals] go will be a big issue not just for athlete marketing, but could have implications on the fast-rising Serie A valuations…

Some brands, such as his CR7 underwear line with the Italian fashion brand Yamamay (@Yamamayhave continued business as usual, with a full page ad in La Gazzetta dello Sport last Saturday. The team itself has been careful to point to “presumption of innocence” and monitors the goings on while the Serie A season continues along. However, the BBC reported that Juventus’ shares “dropped sharply on Friday” after criticism of the club’s handling of the allegations, after hitting record highs after his July signing.

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How devastating could the charges be should they play out? “Brands really are taking as hard a look now as ever on the issues of off-field behavior, and in an era of ‘Me Too’ any transgressions that involve women are going to be looked at even harder,” said Chris Lencheski, longtime sports marketing expert and professor at Columbia University. “Here we are talking about legal issues against one of the world’s biggest brand ambassadors and all of those involved are going to very carefully weigh risk and reward as this plays out. It’s going to be a very big story to follow, one of the biggest ever in terms of a global personality in the prime of his career in terms of endorsements.”

The 33-year-old was the highest-paid athlete in the world for the second straight year in 2017 pocketing £70m – including £25m in mega licensing deals. Where those go will be a big issue not just for athlete marketing, but could have implications on the fast-rising Serie A valuations, not to mention the global soccer marketing industry.

While no reason to panic yet, there could be some storm clouds on the endorsement horizon as one of the world’s biggest brands ends up in a limelight that neither he nor his partners have chosen.

cover image: credit Ruben Ortega

What: The NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Awards are the linchpin for activities during the league’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Why it matters: Programs like the HLLA and the “Feel the Orgullo” campaign offer ways for the league and partners like Nationwide to honor leaders in the Hispanic community, an ever-growing fan base segment.

In Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University student Rosana Elena Guernica raised more than a quarter of a million dollars for humanitarian missions to Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria. She spearheaded efforts that delivered 76,500 pounds of aid to the island and led the founding of nonprofit 296+, one of 32 recipients (one per NFL team) of US $2000 in donations through the NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Awards (HHLA) (@NFLEspanol), one of several ways the league is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month.

The eighth annual awards, in partnership with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (@HHFoundation) and Nationwide (@Nationwide), are a way for the league and its teams to make a positive impact on the Latino community, according to Marissa Fernandez, NFL Vice President of Marketing Strategy & Fan Development.

“We wanted the league’s support of Hispanic Heritage Month to go beyond just a marketing campaign,” Fernandez told Portada in an email interview. “We wanted to recognize those leaders who were already making such a positive contribution to their local communities and do something to not only reward them but to enable them to continue. Lastly, we wanted to build something that all 32 clubs can participate in and make their own.”

With Hispanics representing a significant and growing segment of the NFL fan base … Nationwide’s alignment in this cause marketing effort can help introduce its services to this fandom.
Marissa Fernandez

The HHLA makes up a significant part of the NFL’s Hispanic Heritage Month support, providing grants to more than 250 organizations over the past eight years.

Nationwide’s support, for the second straight year, is critical to the program’s success, Fernandez noted. “Nationwide’s support of the Hispanic Heritage Leadership Awards continues to demonstrate the company’s commitment to the Hispanic community and aligns with our shared goal of improving the lives of others and giving back to the community.”

With Hispanics representing a significant and growing segment of the NFL fan base (one in four under age 24 identify as such by some polling estimates), Nationwide’s alignment in this cause marketing effort can help introduce its services to this fandom.

“Nationwide takes pride in providing resources, support and service to Hispanic consumers and business owners across the country,” said Jennifer MacKenzie, Senior Vice-President of Marketing at Nationwide, in a statement. “We look forward to celebrating the charitable efforts of Hispanic leaders in all 32 NFL markets during Hispanic Heritage Month.”

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For the league, in addition to supporting the HHLA winners’ grassroots programs, Fernandez is particularly gratified that individual clubs have become so involved not just in Hispanic Heritage Month and the NFL’s theme of “Feel the Orgullo” (pride), but in honoring the history, heritage and tradition of Latinos in other ways.

“In Indianapolis, the Colts host an annual Hispanic Heritage Month Football Camp,” she noted. “This year’s camp featured Colts cheerleaders, mascot Blue, players Matthew Adams, Matthias Farley, Kenny Moore, Jabaal Sheard and Rigoberto Sanchez, alongside youth from the Indiana Latino Institute. And in Tampa, the Buccaneers will deploy the Glazer Family Foundation’s Vision Mobile on a Hispanic Heritage Month tour. Vision Mobile is a state-of-the-art themed RV that travels to title-1 schools providing crucial eye screenings for children.”

As a partner, Nationwide also has a hand in the NFL Hispanic Leaders Alliance presented by Nationwide, launched in January, which, according to the league, “feature[s] webinars, events, and continued dialogue to help shape the NFL’s engagement and outreach with the Hispanic community.”

These are the kind of programs that, properly executed, boost Latino communities and have the added benefit of recognizing the increasing interest in the sport of young Hispanic fans.

Cover Image: Carolina Panthers present their Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award

What: NYCFC strengthened its ties to its important Latino fan base with Hispanic Heritage Night and a renewed partnership commitment from Goya.
Why it matters: As the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the U.S., Goya’s support leads MLS team efforts to connect with the community.

Ronald Matarrita

September hasn’t been the best for NYCFC (@NYCFCon the pitch, with two losses and two draws stalling the Bronx booters’ Eastern Conference push. And while the largely revamped 2018 squad still has time to right the ship over the next month, the franchise’s commitment to the Hispanic community in one of the most prominent Latino markets in the country continues, with a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Night on Sept. 8 and last week’s expansion of its three-year partnership with Goya Foods (@GoyaFoods), headquartered in nearby Jersey City, N.J.

Players like recent signee Colombian-born Daniel Bedoya, Argentina’s Valentin Castellanos and Maximilano Moralez, Yangel Herrera of Venezuela, Ronald Matarrita () of Costa Rica, Alexander Callens of Peru, Jesus Medina of Paraguay and Spanish star David Villa () make up a solid portion of the club’s roster, making outreach to the city’s Latino base even more critical. Hispanic Heritage Night was a great manifestation of that, with tickets donated to at-risk local kids, music, special t-shirts commemorating the event, flag face painting, and some GOYA-inspired culinary goodness including the “Shakechata” milkshake, GOYA maria cookies and other recipes prepared by GOYA’s Chef Fernando Desa.

In addition to Hispanic Heritage Night, the partnership includes other key elements like additional youth clinics and the digital campaign #MyGoyaDish .

The night was a prelude to the renewal of the team’s multi-year partnership with the largest Hispanic owned food company in the U.S., which was launched wth a youth soccer clinic in the Bronx featuring Matarrita on September 19.

“We look forward to a great multi-year partnership with New York City FC and the thousands of soccer fans who have supported the team from the very beginning,” said Goya Senior Vice President of Goya Foods Joe Perez, in a statement. “Goya has always believed in providing families with healthy food and supporting initiatives that will benefit the overall wellness of our communities. We believe this partnership is an ideal fit to help teach our children healthy habits and to build a foundation for a healthier future.”

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Chef Fernando Desa

In addition to Hispanic Heritage Night, the partnership includes other key elements like additional youth clinics and the digital campaign #MyGoyaDish which gives fans a chance to be part of a cook-off with Desa at the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan.

“We are pleased to extend our partnership with Goya. They have been a terrific Club partner and ambassador for our sport,” said New York City FC President Jon Patricof. “Through our partnership, Goya has helped us to bring unique experiences to our fans and promote healthy lifestyles in the multicultural communities that we are proud to represent by bringing together healthy food and soccer.”

Goya’s ties to the region and status as an authentic brand for Hispanics, as well as its reach to the non-Hispanic community, is a natural for NYCAC and a model for other MLS (@MLSteams in markets with large Latino populations. The Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls), across the Hudson River in Harrison, N.J., includes Avion Tequila on its sponsor list, the L.A. Galaxy (@LAGalaxycounts El Super, Modelo and San Manuel Casino among its partners, while the Houston Dynamo (@HoustonDynamoalso works with Goya along with El Jimador, local law firm Heriberto Ramos and the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Cover Image: courtesy NYCFC

What: Sporting goods FILA recently increased its South American presence with a partnership with the Argentine Tennis Association (AAT) and sponsorship of Buenos Aires native Diego Schwartzman.
Why it matters: FILA hasn’t been as aggressive in Latin America as other sporting goods retailers, but the grassroots elements of the AAT sponsorship signals it may be looking to gain a greater foothold there.

FILA (@FilaTennis), which has a strong presence in the sport of tennis and an increasing one in Latin America, made one of its biggest pushes there last week, announcing a wide-ranging partnership with the Argentine Tennis Association (Asociación Argentina de Tenis/AAT) (@AATenisthat includes outfitting of its Davis Cup and Fed Cup teams as well as junior and developmental programs in the nation.

The announcement, which came right before Argentina, the 2016 Davis Cup champion, defeated Colombia this past weekend, follows the company’s sponsorship of Buenos Aires native Diego Schwartzman (@dieschwartzman), who has risen to No. 14 in the ATP world rankings.

Lauren Mallon, FILA Director of Marketing, Strategic Partnerships, took some time to discuss both of these marketing efforts in an interview with Portada this week.

Portada: Why is South America and the Latin market important for FILA?

Lauren Mallon: These markets are extremely important for FILA, we have a strong international presence both in South America and Mexico. Our sponsorship of numerous tournaments in these regions as the Official Footwear and Apparel provider give us the opportunity to further the reach of our brand and positively influence in the sport of tennis. With high-performing athletes such as Diego Schwartzman, it is important for us to maintain and build on our presence in Latin American communities.

Sponsoring the Argentine Davis Cup team presents is a great opportunity to reach fans in Argentina and strengthens FILA’s position in the entire region.
Diego Schwartzman

Portada: Why did you choose to sponsor the Asociación Argentina de Tenis (AAT) and Diego Schwartzman? And are there other Latin players you are working with?

LM: FILA and the AAT share a common goal of promoting the game of tennis and providing players of all ages the chance to succeed in the sport. The work the AAT is doing to build tennis within Argentina, especially through a focus on youth development in the sport, is something FILA is proud to support.

FILA sponsors both international tennis athletes and tournaments, making this relationship with the AAT a natural one. FILA is currently a sponsor of the Argentina Open, Brasil + Rio Open and the Los Cabos Open in Mexico. In addition to Schwartzman, FILA sponsors Argentine athletes Horacio Zeballos and Máximo González.

Portada: FILA is known as a brand in many ways fashioned by Bjorn Borg in the 70’s and 80’s. How have you seen style change over the last few decades and how do you blend that with the performance needed by athletes today?

LM: We continue to be inspired by our classic FILA designs and silhouettes and aim to reinvent many of the styles that got us our start in the sport by putting modern twists on some of our most successful, iconic pieces.

New technologies have really driven the shift in performance tennis gear over the last few decades. Comfortability, breathability and lightweight gear have become the standard and at FILA. We create our products with this in mind – from our lightweight performance tennis shoe, the Axilus Energized to our moisture wicking shirts, shorts and socks – athlete performance is always at the forefront of our ingenuity.

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FILA/AAT Outfitting

Portada: How will FILA determine the success of its sponsorship of the Argentine Davis Cup team? What are some of the goals?

LM: Sponsoring the Argentine Davis Cup team presents is a great opportunity to reach fans in Argentina and strengthens FILA’s position in the entire region. There is great pride that surrounds the national team, and the sky blue and white colors of the uniforms were designed to honor the country’s flag.

In addition, the collection as a whole is a special performance product, inspired by FILA’s tennis heritage and classic design. Seeing a new wave of interest in tennis in the country is a goal of both the AAT and FILA. Outfitting and supporting the national Davis Cup team, as well as sponsoring outstanding and inspiring Argentine athletes like Diego Schwartzman, is certainly a step in that direction.

Cover Image: Diego Schwartzman, courtesy FILA

What: Family owned, San Antonio based Twang Partners tapped into the Chicago Hispanic market with activations supporting its lines of flavored seasonings.
Why it matters: Flavorful seasonings are a big part of Latino culture, and the Mexican-American Treviño family has expanded its six main brands to 46 states and online, with on-site connections like recent ones at Fire and White Sox games essential to its growth.

While the Goya (@GoyaFoodsbrand may be the first that comes to mind when considering the kinds of full-flavored seasonings so popular with Spanish eating and drinking, San Antonio-based family brand Twang Partners (@twang_officialhas carved out a niche, and with its products now available on shelves in 46 states as well as online, Twang recently made a push north, to Chicago, with activations at Fire (@ChicagoFire) and White Sox (@whitesoxtailgates and games as part of its growth plan. The guerrilla marketing was a hit with fans, according to Edmundo Macias, Director of Marketing at Twang.

“These activations were not endorsed or sponsored by the teams,” explained Macias. “We simply hired a street team that could hand out samples near the stadium including the parking lot to target tailgaters.”

Macias sees sports marketing as an important growth area as the company continues to offer its products to a wider audience, and even teach them the proper way to salt their beer.

With Chicago a new market for Twang, whose brand lines include flavored salts, sugars and seasonings with names like Twang-A-Rita, Cafe Zuca and ZAS!, and without the huge budgets of a Goya, Macias noted that the baseball and soccer crowds were the right fit to introduce the products.

“We want to increase our product’s brand awareness and trial where there was a good mix, demographically, with beer drinking adults,” he added. “We also wanted to make sure that there was a fair amount of Latinos as our product was originally inspired by the Mexican tradition of adding salt and lime to beers.”

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The Treviño family, which shook out its first beer salts under the Twang name in 1986 in San Antonio then throughout Texas, has had success with Mexican national soccer team games as well as bar promotions during boxing events featuring Mexican and Mexican-American fighters. But Macias sees sports marketing as an important growth area as the company continues to offer its products to a wider audience.

“We are hoping to also initiate some activations in and around Dodgers and Lakers games who both have a huge Latino fan base,” he noted.

With Twang’s products serving as complements to food and beverages, the company is also looking to partner with liquor and beer companies, particularly with its flagship Beer Salt product and, according to Macias, Twang-A-Rita, meant to rim drinks and cocktails.

“Our beer salts are great compliments to Mexican beers and domestic lagers,” concluded Macias, “so there are lots of possibilities to co-promote our products and give these facilities an opportunity to offer something completely unique to their customers.”

It’s a brand on the rise and one to look out for in the sports marketing space.

What: Three September initiatives reflecting baseball’s growing Hispanic influence are Roberto Clemente Day, a new MLB Latin American trainer’s program and the extension of ‘Play Ball’ to Panama.
Why it matters: The Roberto Clemente Award is considered by many to be the game’s highest honor; highlighting and expanding the Latino influence in the game can be key opportunities from brands looking to connect.

Javier Baez (La Vida Baseball)

September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month (@hispanicteam), a time when the influence of Latinos in the U.S.A. is highlighted. Dedicated time periods that highlight the heritage of African Americans, women and other groups are perfect opportunities for teams, brands and leagues to connect. The U.S. Latino population, now estimated at more than 58 million, continues to have an affinity for baseball.

Major League Baseball (@MLB), among a series of year-round initiatives that reflect its growing Latino player and fan bases, can point to three in particular as the postseason nears.

Each year, the league dedicates a single day in September as “Roberto Clemente Day,” the day teams announce their nominees for the prestigious Roberto Clemente Award, considered by most to be the league’s highest individual honor, greater even than an MVP or Cy Young. The award recognizes the members of all 30 teams who demonstrate the contributions and significance of the late Hall of Famer as a player and humanitarian, dating back nearly two decades. This year, it’s Wednesday, a day following the announcement of the 30 club nominees. Fan voting on the award commenced on Wednesday and continues through Sept. 18.

…[I]nvolving these trainers in an important MLB initiative will place them in position to make connections within the game that can enhance their ability to work in the Minor and eventually Major Leagues.

“I am very proud of the great philanthropic efforts of our players,” said MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred in a statement. “Through wide-ranging work and actions, these 30 nominees honor Roberto Clemente’s legacy of being exemplary community ambassadors. Roberto’s unwavering humanitarian spirit continues to inspire our players and fans and serves as a positive example for future generations.”

Two new efforts that didn’t receive as much attention but arguably can have an equally great impact on the game, long-term, are a partnership with Latin American trainers, beginning with pilot programs in baseball-mad Dominican Republic and Venezuela (which, not coincidentally provide MLB the most and second-most foreign-born players). According to the late August announcement, 46 trainers are already on board, with the goal of improving compliance with MLB performance-enhancing substance policies, long an issue with players from Latin America.

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Besides helping with the drug issue, involving these trainers in an important MLB initiative will place them in position to make connections within the game that can enhance their ability to work in the Minor and eventually Major Leagues.

The other enhances program is “Play Ball,” reaching Panama for the first time, this week. Children attending the sessions in three Panamanian cities (Panama City, hitré, Herrera; and David, Chiriquí) will receive a bat and ball, branded t-shirts and wristbands, with former Major Leaguers and Panama natives Bruce Chen and Olmedo Saenz on hand to support. The goal is to grown the game across North America, with more than 20 previous stops including Monterrey, Mexico; San Juan, Puerto Rico; and numerous U.S. cities with large Hispanic populations from The Bronx and Manhattan, N.Y., to El Paso, Texas; San Diego, Calif.; and Mesa, Ariz.

What: Brazilian all-time great Ronaldo has agreed to purchase La Liga side Real Valladolid for just over US $35 million.
Why it matters: His ownership gives immediate credibility to the squad, though the challenges of ownership are many, even for someone of Ronaldo’s noted business acumen.

Sometimes iconic figures as owner of clubs work out well, but sometimes they can be humbling. Ask Miami Marlins (@Marlinsowner Derek Jeter, whose first year running baseball operations as the main part of his CEO role and minority ownership how quickly cheers can turn to quizzical looks.

La Liga (@LaLigaEN), which has certainly made its share of waves and generated more buzz than usual as the 2018 season starts, did so again this week, when another of the world’s brightest stars assumed a new ownership position that can have global implications.

This week it was announced that Brazilian icon Ronaldo (@Ronaldois set to become the president of La Liga club Valladolid after paying €30 million (a little over US $35 million) to become their leading shareholder.

The move for Ronaldo is seen as a natural progression in the game for one of its biggest stars…

The deal will bring an end to months of negotiations between Valladolid (@realvalladolidand Ronaldo and will mean the former striker has beaten back Mexican businessman Ernesto Tinajero to take control of the club.

Valladolid, one of the clubs which can gain great value by aggressively pushing its brand around the world in the coming year, was promoted to La Liga this season and started by drawing with Girona and losing 1-0 to Barcelona.

The move for Ronaldo is seen as a natural progression in the game for one of its biggest stars, who previously had a stake in the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the NASL before the league folded, and has expressed a desire to run a club in Spain or England before becoming involved in the Brazilian Football Federation. Having star power associated with a club not named Real Madrid or Barcelona will be a boon for LaLiga as it looks to grow its overall brand globally outside of those two elite clubs.

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The casual fan awareness of a club like Valladolid will only go up with Ronaldo in the boardroom, spending time on the business side vs. the pitch. It also can’t hurt the current push for La Liga to expand its window of matches beyond its borders, and is the exact type of club brand recognition that the league will need to attract larger media contracts and more global brand partners, especially in growth areas like the United States and China, into the future.

Now, of course, having Ronaldo at the helm is not the only answer for a club that is still in a mix of relegation going forward for the short term. A star player now off the field can only do so much, and the political football of signing and developing players is one of culture and overall business expertise for the long term.

However for a league looking to grow its footprint, having elite stars involved in club operations more widely certainly doesn’t hurt, especially as the push for new markets and new business opportunities becomes a much larger focus. Ronaldo the player was always one to watch; now Ronaldo the businessman is in the spotlight as well.

What: Entravision has renewed its NFL agreement for three more years, and will be the official NFL Spanish language radio broadcaster for Sunday Night Football through the 2020 season.
Why it matters: Spanish language radio can be a more cost-effective way for marketers to reach the Hispanic football fan audience.

Ramik Wilson (credit: Keith Allison)

The NFL (@NFL), like other leagues, is well aware of the growth of the Hispanic/Latino population in the U.S., estimated to have swelled to more than 58 million and about 17% of all Americans. While those numbers aren’t reflected in player makeup as they are in baseball, the league has courted the Hispanic fan base here and Latin America, notably through NFL Mexico (@nflmx), which last year saw more than 76,000 fans attend the New England Patriots’ win over the Oakland Raiders at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City and will hope for similar results on Nov. 19 when the Kansas City Chiefs battle the Los Angeles Rams in the nation’s capital in the fourth annual contest in a series that has its roots in earlier attempts at spreading the game south of the border.

Now comes a development closer to home for Spanish-speaking fans in the States, as Entravision renewed its NFL agreement for three more years, taking its radio broadcasts of 17 Sunday Night Football games (plus the Kickoff and Thanksgiving Day Thursday game and five AFC playoff games) through 2020. The agreement adds Super Bowl LIV in 2020 and LV in 2021 to the package.

Radio broadcasts can be a lower-cost but still very effective means of reaching those Spanish-speaking fans whose consumption of games is more easily attained via radio.

Entravision’s (@EVCMedia) NFL coverage is heard in 20 markets, including cities as large as New York (1010 WEPN-AM) and Los Angeles (103.1 KDLD, KDLE-FM), many concentrated in traditional Hispanic markets like Florida, California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas and Colorado.

“Hispanics are truly NFLeros and actively engage with their teams during both the pre and regular-season,” said Jeffery Liberman, Entravision’s President and Chief Operating Officer, in a statement. “We’re excited to be part of the football excitement and to connect with the Latino community by partnering with the NFL to provide Spanish-language radio broadcasts for the next three seasons.”

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Ricardo Celis (Wikimedia: Rcarillo67)

The Sunday Night airings begin with a pre-game show called Pase Completo, hosted by former Mexican quarterback Ricardo Celis (@CelisDeportesand Tony Nuñez. Many of the elements that English-speaking fans enjoy, such as Fantasy updates, guest interviews, predictions and strategy are part of Pase Completo.

“Our NFL coverage provides advertisers with new opportunities to tap into our growing and loyal fanbase and their enthusiasm for the NFL,” added Entravision’s CRO Mario M. Carrera. “This multi-year agreement, combined with our Sunday pregame show Pase Completo, provides our stations with unique content that further differentiates their presence in the market with both listeners and advertisers.”

Radio broadcasts can be a lower-cost but still very effective means of reaching those Spanish-speaking fans whose consumption of games is more easily attained via radio. Courting that base is a priority for many teams and leagues, the NFL included. It was one thing for Entravision to go heavy on World Cup and its built-in audience. While the NFL partnership, first set in 2015 before this week’s renewal, reflected the growth of the engagement of Latino fans in the years immediately preceding, it was far from a sure thing. The renewal seems to indicate it has worked out well for both league and broadcaster.

What: Concacaf General Secretary Philippe Moggio took some time to discuss the federation’s initiatives coming out of World Cup and looking towards France 2019, Qatar 2022 and beyond.
Why it matters: Changing the culture of the federation across the entire region has been the hallmark of Moggio’s two years at the helm, and a stronger and more unified Concacaf benefits marketers looking to connect.

Philippe Moggio

Concacaf (@Concacaf ‏), one of the six global FIFA (@FIFAcom) federations, administering soccer in 41 nations in North America, Central America, and the Caribbean, continues its stated vision, “For the Love of Our Game,” under the administration of General Secretary Philippe Moggio (@PMoggio). The Colombian former NBA Senior VP and managing director of Latin America and the Caribbean has instituted sweeping changes in how the federation operates in his two-plus years at the helm, notably a sizable increase in competitions throughout its footprint and updated branding.

Moggio discussed his achievements, vision and his NBA experience in a wide-ranging, exclusive interview with Portada this month.

Portada: What do you consider to be the most significant achievement at Concacaf since your appointment two years ago?

Phillipe Moggio: We have made tremendous progress over the last two years. And for us, our biggest accomplishment as we continue changing the culture of our organization is that the discussion across our 41 member nations is, for the first ever, purely about football.

We have made substantial strides in rebuilding Concacaf into a credible, transparent, well-governed organization. We have been heavily focused on reform and good governance while upholding the values of transparency and accountability. In addition, with the aim of providing more access to football for more Member Associations, players and fans, we have also expanded our national teams’ competitions, including Gold Cup and most recently, the Concacaf Nations League, and our club tournaments, including the Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League, the Scotiabank Concacaf League, and the Caribbean Club Championships.

As a result of these important changes, I think Concacaf is today well positioned for strong, long-term growth and success.

Portada: What are some of the programs or initiatives at Concacaf that were most influenced by your work at the NBA?

P.M.: The NBA is an incredible organization, where I had the opportunity to learn from some of the best leaders in sports, including current Commissioner Adam Silver and former Commissioner, David Stern. From them, I learned that the integrity of the game is a top priority, and that this integrity needs to be preserved through the implementation of strong governance and transparent practices. I also learned at the NBA that to grow a sport you need to ensure you work hand in hand with the right strategic partners and that to continue engaging current and new fans and staying relevant, you need to continuously innovate and push the envelope from a content development and distribution perspective.

Similarly, at Concacaf, we have established good governance processes to ensure the integrity and transparency of our organization and the preservation of our game, supported by a new organizational structure. We have also implemented efficient business processes to improve operational performance and designed a new corporate identity. And to support the growth of our game and our business, we have been very focused on the expansion of our national and club competitions as well as on putting in place the right football development initiatives across professional football, youth development, coaching education and refereeing.

…[W]e have established good governance processes to ensure the integrity and transparency of our organization and the preservation of our game, supported by a new organizational structure

Portada: What are the goals of the new branding of Concacaf?

P.M.: We proudly launched the renewal of our brand in March to better represent the collective best of the individual cultures of our 41 member nations and the “Love for Our Game” that we all share. Brought together by the vision and power of working as one, this new brand represents four core pillars we have identified as central to all Concacaf efforts, which include Unity – we are One Concacaf family, representing the best of our 41 individual and beautiful cultures; Football – the game always comes first; Quality – we are here to raise our game every day, making football better for every team, every time; and Access – in our game, everyone gets to play and everyone in our family should feel connected and respected.

These key pillars, represented in our new logo through the four sides of a diamond, with 41 diamonds coming together in a circle, guide our decision making across all areas of the organization. It is a way of telling ourselves that what we are doing is consistent with who we are as a brand. Unity, Football, Quality, Access. If it doesn’t have these qualities, it isn’t Concacaf. And it isn’t our game. This is what our brand is all about and what our slogan “Love for Our Game” represents.

Portada: Which competitions will be taking place under the Concacaf umbrella that fans can look forward to? Where will those take place?

P.M.: We are very focused on making football more accessible to more teams, players and fans across our region while raising the quality of our competitions. This second half of the year, our fans can look forward to a number of exciting competitions as we are hosting, and fully producing for media distribution, over 260 matches across men’s and women’s national team tournaments and youth competitions.

First, we are incredibly excited for the debut of our Concacaf Nations League Qualifying phase in September. The Concacaf Nations League (@CNationsLeagueis a new national team competition focused on improving the quality and standing of national team soccer within the Concacaf region. The development of this new competition, has been anchored on the principles of providing more meaningful games to our 41 Member Associations’ senior men’s national teams during a full FIFA World Cup qualifying cycle to increase competitiveness and spurring development of the sport on and off the field. The sixty-eight-match qualifying phase of this tournament will take place during the four FIFA match windows of September, October and November 2018 and March 2019.

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Our 2018 Concacaf Women’s Championship is scheduled to be played on October 4-17, in Cary, NC, Edinburg, Texas, and Frisco, Texas. The two finalists and winner of the third and fourth place match will automatically qualify to the FIFA Women’s World Cup next year in France and the fourth place team will play a home and away playoff against Argentina in November.

We also have the new Scotiabank Concacaf League. This 16 team professional club competition is currently underway throughout Central America and the Caribbean. The 2018 Scotiabank Concacaf League champion will earn a ticket to the 2019 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League to be played in the spring, joining clubs that have qualified from across the region, including top teams from MLS in the U.S. and Canada and from Liga MX in Mexico.

In addition, we are preparing for the largest ever Concacaf Under-20 tournament which will be played at the IMG Academy campus in Bradenton, Florida, on November 1-21, 2018. Thirty-four teams from our region will compete in this men’s youth championship to earn one of four spots in the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland.

And looking forward to next summer, 15 venues across 13 U.S. metropolitan cities will welcome the 2019 edition of the expanded Concacaf Gold Cup, which includes a pan-regional footprint with the upcoming selection of additional venues in the Caribbean and Central America.

Portada: What can Concacaf take from the 2018 FIFA World Cup results of member nations, heading into the 2022?

P.M.: We are very proud to have been represented by Costa Rica, Mexico and Panama at this year’s FIFA World Cup in Russia and to have had one of our members, Panama, qualify to a FIFA World Cup for the first time ever. Together with our 41 members, we are working very hard on raising the competitive level across our region, and we believe that the expansion of our Concacaf Gold Cup and the creation of Concacaf Nations League, will give our national teams the opportunity to compete more and on a more consistent basis, we will see an improvement in Concacaf’s teams performance in Qatar 2022.

What: La Liga’s Real Betis club’s partnership with esports company Esportia is the latest example of a soccer organization delving into the gaming world.
Why it matters: Following the NBA model to a degree, these clubs can use esports as a low-entry barrier to gain new fans and marketing opportunities.

While in the States much is being made about professional teams investing in esports franchises, or the creative advances the NBA (@NBAis making with the NBA 2K League (@NBA2Kwhich concludes this weekend, the work global soccer brands have made, and are still making in the space is still evolving and showing ROI.

This week some of those clubs and partners took another step forward, with La Liga’s Real Betis (@RealBetis_ensigning a partnership deal with esports company Esportia (@esportiato expand the soccer club’s presence in the gaming industry. Real Betis join a number of top-flight Spanish clubs in signing recent partnerships with Esportia; both Getafe and Villarreal are among the company’s recently acquired other clients.

Then came the news of EA Sports’ (@EASPORTScontinued expansion with FIFA, bringing in the video game license for Serie A champions Juventus. The deal means that EA Sports not only holds the license for four out of the top five European leagues –Konami holds the license for France’s Ligue 1 – as well as the rights to the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League in April.

Cultivating those young fans in a manner they are accustomed to, on a small screen, can lead to longer-term engagement with brand partners, players, [and fans]…

“We are very happy to come back in a famous and popular game like FIFA 19,” Serie A’s Gaetano Micciche said in a statement. “The agreement signed with an internationally renowned partner such as EA Sports testifies to the worldwide recognition that our championship has.”

The growth of FIFA on a global scale, not just as a fan engagement tool but for some clubs as a training tool, is the model professional leagues can look to, and what the NBA is trying to do with NBA 2K as esports and gaming take more of a market in the coming years. While it is doubtful NBA teams will suddenly be using 2K in lieu of practice for their elite players, the strategy skills in advanced FIFA have come in very handy for clubs looking to better improve the thought process of their younger players who are used to being immersed in video games when they are away from the pitch.

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The barrier to entry for fans around the world to build their affiliation with a club through playing FIFA is also very low, giving global soccer clubs an interesting leg up in fan engagement strategy in emerging football markets like the US and even China. Cultivating those young fans in a manner they are accustomed to, on a small screen, can lead to longer-term engagement with brand partners, players and even with such things as purchasing kits and attending events down the line. It is that type of engagement that the NBA is seeking with NBA 2K, and that MLS and the NHL seek with their video game investments in the coming years. Not as much for enabling esports aficionados to make a cross to traditional sports, but to enhance those gamers who love traditional sports to enhance their engagement and then translate that engagement into a fan for life with the game, and the team, and the athletes themselves.

So while the buzz remains hot around traditional competitive esports like World of Warcraft, DITA, League of Legends and others, the real engagement window for traditional sports is through the enhanced games now being grown in partnerships with leagues. FIFA and EA have set the standard, and it continues to grow.

Cover Image: Esportia

What: The Puerto Rico Little League team made some waves out of the Caribbean region, continuing the sport’s legacy on the island.
Why it matters: Through the dollars brands can spend through cause marketing, dollars which done right, can be amplified well beyond a traditional marketplace.

Last weekend the birthday of one of Puerto Rico’s most revered figures, Roberto Clemente, was celebrated across Latin America. This week his lasting legacy has provided its latest example of the vibrancy of baseball in his native country, as the Radames Lopez Little League team, representing Guayama, continued its positive play as the surprising Caribbean entrant in the Little League World Series (@LittleLeague).

Now it’s not that unusual for Puerto Rico to break through to Williamsport; what is unusual is the storytelling that went on as this team, post Hurricane Maria, often trying to assemble with little supplies or even electricity, several of whom had lost their homes and gone without some essential supplies for months, made it undefeated through its regional and on to the grandest brand stage, not just Williamsport but ESPN (@espnas well.

These kids from Puerto Rico have an amazing story and have succeeded in cutting through the clutter with the eyes of the baseball world on them.

The team, many members with their hair dyed blonde like the stars of last year’s World Baseball Classic Puerto Rico team, have quickly become a shining light on how the power of sport can inspire and engage those casual fans who may think the issues from the massive storms last year are a distant and completed memory.

Yes, it’s a feel-good story, but how does that translate into business? Through the dollars brands can spend through cause marketing, dollars which done right, can be amplified well beyond a traditional marketplace. We have seen the scores of brands that have sought to activate through the platforms of ESPN during the Little League World Series, and while many watching across the country may be casual fans tuning in to watch some elite kids, tying some of those brands to cause, one which is still playing out throughout the Island Nation with some fresh goodwill ambassadors now telling their stories, is a great opportunity.

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Harrie Bakst

While we may think of companies looking to jump on the bandwagon and the buzz, especially traditional baseball brands like Nike (@Nikeor Franklin (@FranklinSportsor Under Armour (@UnderArmour), the ability for cause-related brands to amplify their message surrounding these young, telegenic faces and stories can go much wider. Telecommunications companies like Verizon, who have both big philanthropic and sports marketing budgets, can find a great tie to help continue to give back to the efforts in Puerto Rico by leveraging the cause celebre among the islands newest stars, so long as the mix is one of aid and assistance.

“We see brands all the time tied to causes that are ongoing, and they are able to leverage and inflection point to drive awareness and dollars when the spotlight is turned on,” said Harrie Bakst co-founder of WCPG (@wcpgco), a company whose mission is to pair brands, athletes and causes together for a great collective spend. “These kids from Puerto Rico have an amazing story and have succeeded in cutting through the clutter with the eyes of the baseball world on them, even if they advance no further. If there are savvy brands who see Puerto Rico as a key market, and now better understand the efforts there are not yet complete, the time would be right to work with their group. It could be a win well beyond some games in Williamsport for all.”

An effort Clemente would be proud of, in the land he loved and in the game that delivered so much for him, now with a new generation taking the next step.

What: Recent reports peg the per-Instagram post fee for Cristiano Ronaldo at US $750,000, tops among all global athletes and third for all “influencers.”
Why it matters: Brands are increasingly utilizing direct social media networking outlets as viable marketing opportunities, reflected in the fees celebrities charge for this access.

There are many ways to define “celebrity” these days. “Q-Score,” for a personality, brand or company, is one measure. Social media “likes,” “retweets” and such are a form of currency. And then, there’s cold, hard cash.

A report last week in SportsBusiness Daily, via New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME) noted that soccer star Ronaldo (@Cristianois near the upper echelon of celebrities in another category: fee for sponsored Instagram post, at a cool $750,000 per “SEND.” For fans who might have thought the Juventus forward just loved his good night’s sleep and body scent and new line of kicks, well, there’s a shroud in Turin we’d like to sell you, too.

Some of the brands associating themselves  with Ronaldo … are SleepScore, Nike, Sixpad and EA Sports

With noted “famous for being famous” celebs like Kylie Jenner (@KylieJenner) reportedly pulling down $1 million per post, it shouldn’t be a surprise that someone of the global popularity and interest—and even outsized accomplishment—as the Portuguese star would command a significant figure for spreading sponsors’ word through social media. Still, Ronaldo is less than a household name in mainstream America, which shows that companies looking for global reach have identified him as a leading influencer. Per the same NZME item, the fee is almost twice the 2017 rate; the British Website Hooper estimates that it may double by next year. The outlet also estimates that only singer Selena Gomez has a higher per-post fee than Ronaldo.

Some of the brands associating themselves with Ronaldo—and his 139 million followers on the photo- and video-based social media outlet—are SleepScore (@SleepScore), Nike (@nikefootball), Sixpad (@SIXPAD_officialand EA Sports (@EASPORTSas well has his own offshoot brand, Cristiano Ronaldo Fragrances.

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Other sports stars identified as high earners via their Instagram feeds include soccer players Neymar, Lionel Messi and David Beckham amidst a celebrity influencer top-10 that also includes UFC’s Conor McGregor and NBA superstar Stephen Curry.

While the true “influence” of such posts is not always known (how many posts of Ronaldo stretching or practicing or signing for fans should fit in between Nike football ads?), there’s no doubt that marketers have bought in to the hype—literally.

What: ESPN has built and dedicated a multifunctional sports space in Xochimilco, Mexico.
Why it matters: This home to programs that teach young people employability skills through sports is an example of how sports and soccer can change the world, with the help of corporate partners.

via ESPN

Sports in general, and soccer in particular, as a catalyst for good across the globe is not a new concept. For years, organizations like Laureus (@LaureusSport), openingboundaries (@OB_0fficialand many others have found ways to use sport to benefit youth in tangible ways. Sometimes it’s as simple as having equipment and safe places to play that can change lives.

In that spirit, ESPN (@espn), which has a strong presence in Latin America (@ESPNmxand among Spanish speakers in the U.S., teamed with community leaders in Xochimilco, Mexico City, earlier this month to launch the construction of a new sports court as part of its global project, which includes six such multifunctional units across Latin America and one in India.

The Xochimilco safe space is an opportunity for young people to use sport to find their way in life and also to provide training for future employment.
courtesy Beyond Sport

The goal, per community leaders and ESPN personnel, is to help youngsters by using the refurbished court to hold job skills and other programs via A Ganar (@A_Ganar), a Latin American and Caribbean based organization which has targeted 16-24 year olds in fighting the problems of youth unemployment in nearly 20 countries for more than a decade.

“At ESPN we believe that sport has the ability to transform lives, and we are committed to providing resources to enable kids in Mexico City to play sports,” said Russell Wolff, executive vice president and managing director, ESPN International, in a statement. “This is our second safe space in Mexico City and we are pleased to collaborate with love.fútbol, A Ganar, Beyond Sport, and Street Soccer Mexico once again to build this court in a community where there is a need, as it can truly make a difference.”

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“As with our first build together in Chimalhuacán, our goal is to improve the quality of life of marginalized youth and vulnerable communities in Mexico. The Xochimilco safe space is an opportunity for young people to use sport to find their way in life and also to provide training for future employment,” added Daniel Copto, CEO and President, Street Soccer México.

Programs like this are vital, especially on a continuing basis. Empowering local residents to continue the push is key. The Xochimilco launch event, hosted by ESPN broadcasters Miroslava Montemayor and Sergio Dipp, brought the community together for a celebration, with the Santiaguito location chosen based largely on need, in conjunction with community facility specialist love.fútbol.

ESPN had previously announced a similar space in Bogota, Colombia, in April , following previous ESPN safe space initiatives in Mexico City, Mexico; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil.

Cover Image via

What: The Orlando Magic will play the Chicago Bulls (Dec. 13) and Utah Jazz (Dec. 15) in the third straight iteration of the NBA Mexico City Series.
Why it matters: The NBA continues to be at the front of extending its brand beyond the U.S. and Canada.

When the Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagicbattle the Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls) on Thursday, Dec. 13, and Utah Jazz (@utahjazzon Dec. 15 in Mexico City, this will become the third straight year that NBA (@NBAmatchups will be held in the nation’s capital. In partnership with Zignia Live (@Zignia_Live), an entertainment company that produces shows throughout Mexico, the Association will also hold games there for the next few years.

The Association will broadcast the game via ESPN (@espnand NBA League Pass International.

The Arena Ciudad de México is the ideal setting to enjoy the magic of basketball as a family, and we are sure that the games will be an unforgettable and memorable experience for all.

Why the Magic? Their 25-57 record last year might not inspire confidence, but the ties go a bit deeper. Zignia Live is connected to Amway (@AmwayUS), the company owned by the family of Rich DeVos, owner of the Magic. The team’s CEO Alex Martins told the Orlando Sentinel on Tuesday, “…[T]he ongoing ties played a role in the Magic’s decision to play in Mexico City. It certainly helps in relation to the promotion of our ownership’s interests in Amway.”

The extension of the NBA brand into international markets has traditionally been much broader than that of other U.S.-based leagues. The NFL had the World League of American Football (later NFL Europe), baseball has held regular-season games in Mexico and Japan and exhibitions in Cuba, and the NHL has the upcoming Global Series in Sweden (Devils vs. Oilers) and Finland (Jets vs. Panthers) as well as previous preseason games in China.

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“Returning to Mexico City for two regular-season games this season reinforces our commitment to growing basketball in Mexico and Latin America,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver in a statement. “NBA teams have been playing in Mexico for more than 25 years, and the Bulls, Jazz, and Magic organizations are excited to continue the tradition of bringing the live game experience to our passionate Mexican fans.”

Last year, the NBA played four games in Mexico. Per the league’s count, by 2020 there will have been 32 games south of the border since 1992.

“The Arena Ciudad de México is the ideal setting to enjoy the magic of basketball as a family, and we are sure that the games will be an unforgettable and memorable experience for all,” added Zignia Live Director of Business Development & Strategic Partnerships Ignacio Sáenz. “We thank the NBA, the teams and of course, the fans in Mexico for all their support. We continue making history together!”

What does this mean for marketers? The NBA’s partners are all-in, particularly Nike (@Nike), SAP (@SAP), Gatorade (@Gatorade) and Swiss watchmaker Tissot (@TISSOT), who will be involved with the game as well as associated programs like NBA Cares and Jr. NBA.

What: Spectrum Deportes, the first 24-hour Spanish RSN, will cease operations on August 15.
Why it matters: Low viewership of Lakers and Galaxy games also available on the English-language Spectrum SportsNet, combined with other market factors including cord-cutting caused a rethinking of how Spanish-speaking fans will receive content moving forward.

It’s not the best of timing with LeBron James (@KingJamesarriving in L.A., but then again, he doesn’t speak Spanish either.

This week it was announced Charter Communications (@CharterNewsroom ‏) will close the Spanish-language regional sports channel Spectrum Deportes (@spectdeporteson August 15. The company said in a statement, “while we never expected Lakers and Galaxy games to have equal viewership on Spectrum SportsNet and Spectrum Deportes, the [Spanish-language] network averaged less than a few thousand viewers per season since its launch (2012).” The company is expected to offer subscribers an alternative Spanish audio feed of live Lakers (@Lakersand Galaxy (@LAGalaxy) games and will replace the channel’s sports content with hyper-local all-news programming; Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSNwill continue to operate unchanged.

They can watch on any device, and the idea of a large cost, 24/7 local network is slowly becoming a thing of the past.

While it is rare to have a regional Spanish-first sports network, the closing of the L.A. based channel speaks to some other changing viewing and consumption habits. Spanish language alternative broadcast is available so widely now that having a dedicated channel only to regional Spanish-first is not cost effective, especially given the fact that Spanish speaking fans tend to watch American leagues on U.S. outlets. The most popular non American leagues, LaLiga, Liga MX, even wrestling, would draw a Spanish-first audience on other networks, not on a regional one, so content for a full schedule is a challenge when on a pay service.

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While it is the first time in almost 30 years that the Lakers will not have a Spanish first service, numbers show that the English language broadcast, which will not provide SAP, drew twelve times the number of Spanish speaking Lakers fans that Deportes did during last season.

Will there be plenty of bilingual and Spanish language content available to fans? Yes. Is the market still evolving? Yes, especially in key geographic areas. Most importantly, this speaks to cost and mode of consumption. Highlights and news are universal for the fan. They can watch on any device, and the idea of a large cost, 24/7 local network is slowly becoming a thing of the past unless the content is rich, deep and exclusive.

What: MLS has been a huge success in the Pacific Northwest, spurring the grassroots Cuervos FC there.
Why it matters: The emergence of teams like Cuervos offers young Latino players more options and can be a boon to the savvy marketer moving forward.

The amazing success of Major League Soccer (@MLS ‏) in cities like Portland (@TimbersFCand Seattle (@SoundersFChas set a very high bar for other clubs around the United States. From youth programs to elite clubs, all experts point to the Pacific Northwest as the fertile ground for growing the game on the professional level. Those seeds have been moved forward with new success in places like Atlanta, Orlando and now Los Angeles with both the LA Galaxy (@LAGalaxyand LAFC (@LAFC), but many will look towards the Sounders and Timbers for where it got going.

Now it seems that same area is helping grow and educate young Latino fans, and players, not just in the game, but in healthy lifestyle.

Cuervos FC (@CuervosCCMhas found a strong niche at the grassroots in the Pacific Northwest, where their coaches and administrators teach not only soccer, but healthy lifestyles to scores of kids, many immigrants or new to the area. Their goal: education and immersion, not just on the field but off.

If you find a way to engage and support with this demo, the fastest rising in the U.S. and one that is very soccer savvy, you can develop support for life.

According to a recent story in the Portland Tribune, Cuervos is a new organization with a new outlook in urban soccer, even in this hotbed for the sport. Club president Jose Alberto Vasquez recruited Fragoso, a former professional player in Mexico, to rally Latino athletes from unranked clubs, casually organized games between Latino kids in what’s known as the “Barrio Leagues” or “Mexican Leagues” to compete against the highest-ranked teams in Oregon. Other clubs have Latinos on their rosters, but Cuervos is now the club to be part of.

The Barrio League matches, complete with food trucks and mariachi soundtracks, provide a cultural experience and some very good soccer. “I grew up playing in the Mexican leagues,” said Marco Farfan, left back defender for the Portland Timbers told the Tribune. “Taco trucks, music, I loved it.” Farfan, who was selected for Major League Soccer’s Homegrown Game in Atlanta this week, says the emergence of teams like Cuervos offers young Latino players more options. “I think it’s great,” Farfan says. “Even though I came from Eastside Timbers, I root for teams like Cuervo,” he added.

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One of the big draws for Cuervos is not just coaching and culture but strict attention to detail and education in areas like concussion protocol. Since Cuervos is part of the Oregon Youth Soccer Association, the opportunity to help further the livelihood of youth players is much greater than other unregulated leagues.

But what could this mean from a brand perspective? Lots. “There is no doubt that regional club programs and the communities they serve have great value to brands looking to engage not with young players, but with their families as well,” said longtime sports marketing executive Chris Lencheski. “This is probably even truer in the Latino community, where authenticity and word of mouth is very strong. If you find a way to engage and support with this demo, the fastest rising in the U.S. and one that is very soccer savvy, you can develop support for life. Take into consideration the deep soccer culture in the Pacific Northwest, and a club like this, that can continue to grow, could be one to watch if I was looking for an engagement point.”

Now the club and youth sports world is still a tricky one to navigate, and it has to be done correctly. However correctly is what it seems Cuervo is doing, and opening those communal doors for sports business may pay some great dividends for the savvy sponsor down the line.

What: LaLiga World Challenge continues its fourth year with RCD Espanyol De Barcelona’s friendly with the MLS Richmond Kickers, associated community activities in Richmond and a subsequent game against FC Cincinnati.
Why it matters: Consistent programs like LaLiga World Challenge can help boost the presence of international clubs in the U.S. and Latin America, in particular with the Hispanic fan base.

With more opportunities for U.S. and Latin American fans to tune in to matches and connect with their favorite clubs and leagues, European soccer is more popular on this side of the Atlantic than ever before. Looking to enhance that, and grab as much of that fandom as well as build new followings, those organizations have implemented various initiatives. Programs like Chelsea FC’s Premier League victory tour through New York last November and ongoing partnership with FC Harlem (@FCHARLEM), the International Champions Cup (@IntChampionsCupand various other friendlies are among the most visible.

Consistency in these programs—returning year over year or maintaining a presence in the market like Chelsea (@ChelseaFChas—is vital. One excellent example is the LaLiga World Challenge, now in its fourth year of raising awareness of the top Spanish league across the globe, with Richmond, Va., its most recent stop in July. Supported by the Spanish government, The World Challenge includes friendlies in every city, but, according to organizers, connecting with fans, particularly youth, is the biggest goal.

“Teams like RCD Espanyol De Barcelona participate in a variety of local activities to meet the fans where they’re at; in their stadiums, with their local leagues and alongside their local athletes,” said Nico García, LaLiga’s (@LaLigaEN) Institutional Spokesperson for International Development. “The most important aspect for the teams is really getting close to the fan and therefore having an impact on the community where they’re present. They truly give the community something special- the availability of every single Espanyol player giving their time to Richmond’s kids is a perfect example.”

We want to grow our fanbase in the U.S. and part of that is being accessible to those who support us.

More than 7,000 fans came out to Richmond for RCD Espanyol’s (@RCDEspanyolfriendly with the MLS Richmond Kickers (@RichmondKickerson July 25, a 4-2 victory for the Spaniards but an even bigger win for the kids who participated in pre-event clinics and for those in the region that, save a trip up I-95 to D.C. for the International Champions Cup or a Team USA friendly, may not have had an opportunity to see a top international squad in action.

“It allowed RCD Espanyol de Barcelona to make a lasting impact on Richmond’s youngest fans,” added Garcia, “when the entirety of the RCD Espanyol team coached a clinic alongside several bilingual Richmond Kickers players in their home stadium.”

And while Premier League, Serie A and Bundesliga can make an impact in these visits, LaLiga has the commonality of the Spanish language that can make connections with Hispanic fans even greater.

“A huge amount of U.S. cities have Hispanic populations, and LaLiga has amazing fans from those populations-Spanish being a natural connection,” noted Garcia. “However, fans of all types come out for LaLiga World activations in both the U.S. and Latin America. As the league has grown in popularity, because of its entertaining style of play and atmosphere, more and more fans are well-versed in our clubs and players and can’t wait to meet them in person.”

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Nico Garcia (L) and Toni Alegre (R) with Fox19 Richmond’s Alison Montoya (via Twitter)

For Espanyol Director of Marketing Antoni Alegre, the team’s participation is a natural fit, even as the 2018-19 league season looms.

“Pre-season is important, but using our summer time to visit other parts of the world is also important,” said Alegre. “We are nothing without our fans, and our international fans also deserve our full attention. We want to grow our fanbase in the U.S. and part of that is being accessible to those who support us.”

Alegre adds that it’s one the players look forward to as well.

“Some of our players had never been to the U.S. before—to go to a country where they’ve never been and hear a fan yelling out their name after a match is something special,” he explained. “Our club is grateful that LaLiga World challenge gives us what we need to expand our brand internationally, letting us maintain and grow fans.

As with any program like this, it’s what is left behind and the next steps for both LaLiga and Espanyol that are critical. For Garcia, the unique experience, for both fans and players, is key.

“LaLiga clubs have left behind once-in-a-lifetime experiences for the fans they’ve touched,” he said. “We feel confident that every child who’s gotten a chance to play, chat, get an autograph and get to know LaLiga players will go on to be lifetime fans of the club. Every single one of these new fans, more than 7,000 in the stadium in Richmond and more than 16,000 in Cincinnati, is essential. Clubs like RCD Espanyol de Barcelona also look for synergies with local clubs to help develop knowledge-sharing agreements; sharing knowledge about things like youth development and academies in Spain. The clubs often hope to develop further long-term sports projects with the local clubs with whom they collaborate.

cover image: via Richmond Kickers (Facebook)
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