Pancho Villa’s Army Takes On The U.S. In Support Of The Mexican National Team

What: Mexican National Soccer Team supporter fan group “Pancho Villa’s Army” (PVA) has expanded its base and developed strong relationships with U.S. marketers in advance of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
Why It Matters: Passionate organizations like the U.S.-based PVA are ideal for many companies looking to reach the important Hispanic fan base.

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This year’s international soccer calendar is filled with important tournaments around the world, but the most anticipated competition for aficionados, casual fans, and marketers is the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. Official partners and sponsors like Coca-Cola, Hyundai, and Adidas will leverage their massive sponsorship deals to connect with consumers before and during the month-long competition.

One of the most desired groups in the U.S. for brands is the Latino soccer fan, specifically the Mexican fan who will passionately follow El Tri throughout the squad’s run to the championship match. According to a 2017 Univision-commissioned study conducted by Nielsen, “Los Fanaticos: Passion and Power”, 80% of Hispanic sports fans say that sports are their favorite thing to talk about (11% more than non-Hispanic fans). This is witnessed yearly when the Mexican national soccer team plays a number of friendly matches as part of its almost-now-required tour of the U.S., selling out venues to the delight of the brands who pay hefty sums to sponsor it.

Enter Pancho Villa’s Army (@VillasArmy), the U.S.-based fan group supporting the Mexican national soccer team founded in 2013 by Mexican-American Sergio Tristan, who was looking to connect with like-minded fans to cheer on El Tri. The group has now 30 chapters with more than 3,000 members and 47,000 followers on Facebook, and they attend en masse just about every game Mexico plays in the U.S. They have caught the eye of marketers like beer brand Estrella Jalisco who recently reached an agreement with PVA to partner on a variety of events and promotions for Mexico’s 2018 U.S. tour and through the World Cup. They also have a two-year sponsorship deal with Nissan that started last year; Tristan has even been featured in an ad for the automaker.

The group garnered national and international media coverage when, during a 2015 Confederations Cup playoff match in Los Angeles between Mexico and the U.S., they unfurled a massive, three section wide, Mexican flag inspired banner that read “Sigo Siendo el Rey” (“I’m still the king”). That phrase quickly became a trending topic as #SigoSiendoElRey on Twitter.

Authenticity is a buzz word that is used a lot in marketing circles, but that’s what consumers are looking for: a brand that understands and connects with them through a passion point that gets to the core of who they are culturally. In the case of Estrella Jalisco and Nissan, soccer is the means to reach the Mexican fan in the U.S., and Pancho Villa’s Army is an authentic community partner that makes the connection deeper.

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