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#Portada16: Marketers Talk About The Challenges of Reaching Soccer Fans

Camilo Durana, VP Property and Commercial at MLS, explained how important it is connecting with their fans and how they do it, during Portada’s Hispanic Sports Marketing Forum.


What: Soccer experts talked about how they are pushing marketing strategies to connect with multicultural fans at Portada’s Hispanic Sports Marketing Forum.
Why it matters: The speakers agreed that soccer is no longer a “Hispanic” sport in the United States, and that they are focusing on reaching soccer fans from all backgrounds and demographics.

Camilo Durana, VP Property and Commercial, MLS

According to a study conducted by Coca Cola, 94% of teens and millennials wouldn’t mind if brands disappeared from soccer, prompting marketers to wonder whether they are failing to engage, or present relevant content to young sports fans.

With this challenge in mind, the MLS has developed an approach to fan engagement through which it sees itself as a person, or “a buddy who accompanies the fan during a soccer game,” explained Camilo Durana, VP, Property and Commercial for the MLS, during #Portada16’s Hispanic Sports Marketing Forum, which was held in New York on September 14.

Durana explained how much the sport’s fanbase has grown in the U.S., and emphasized the size of the Hispanic market: 26% of MLS fans have Hispanic origins. “Ten or 15 years ago there were limited options, today there is much more competition and entry ways. For us it’s really about understanding where fans are consuming and how they are consuming to then add value to their experience, and to enhance it,” said Durana.

To better understand the league’s fans, they segmented their fan base and sent people to live the whole game experience, from pregame until the blow of the whistle, to find a niche where they can really connect with the fans.

“This was a big success,” Durana asserts, as it permitted the league to understand how each team’s fans celebrate their wins and provide them with the exitement you get from a live game through their different platforms.

Edwin Hincapie, Multicultural Marketing Manager, Heineken
Edwin Hincapie, Multicultural Marketing Manager, Heineken

Edwin Hincapie, multicultural manager at Heineken, explained the importance of matching the right brand with the right fan. “Your brand has to fit and make sense to the sports followers.” For example, when sponsoring Mexican soccer team Chivas, Heineken chose to feature its brand Tecate, a Mexican beer, to engage the team’s fans.

Ed Carias, Senior Brand Manager, El Jimador Tequila
Ed Carias, Senior Brand Manager, El Jimador Tequila

“You need to become part of the soccer rituals,” added Ed Carias, senior brand manager of El Jimador, which taps into the passion point of having a drink while watching a game.

These brands have found many ways to connect with soccer fans. But, as these experts agree, fans’ rituals are changing with every generations.

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