AC&M Group


What: The World Cup kicks off in Russia on June 14, 2018. While Americans won’t be able to cheer for their own national team this time, US soccer fans are more engaged and excited about the tournament than ever.
Why It Matters: We spoke to AC&M Group about how they will be helping their clients make the most of the highly engaged audiences that will be tuning in to watch the fastest growing sport in the US.

Despite the Failed US Bid, 2018 Promises to Deliver Most Engaged American Fans Yet

Soccer’s path into mainstream American society has been unique. Globally — almost without exception — the sport has enjoyed an unparalleled level of popularity and devotion among fans for years, while in the United States, it has struggled to compete with sports with deeper roots in American society like baseball, basketball, and American football. But over the past 20 years, the sport has become one of the most popular among the country’s youth, which has led to increased investment in the US Soccer program and, more recently, surging American interest in international soccer leagues and Major League Soccer alike.

The World Cup provides a solid benchmark for just how much the sport has grown in the United States: According to AC&M Group, in the last World Cup in 2014, over the course of group stage, U.S. FANS spent more time engaged with digital FIFA content than Brazilian, French, German and English fans combined. And during the final between Argentina and Germany, 10.5 million U.S. fans were engaged on Facebook, which is a larger audience than those from the two participating countries combined (Germany: 7 million / Argentina: 5 million).

Anticipating even bigger numbers for 2018, the rates for the rights to the tournament have skyrocketed: ESPN paid $50 million for the English-language rights in 2014, and FOX paid $212.5 million for 2018. For Spanish-language rights, Univision spent $162.5 million in 2014, and Telemundo paid $300 million in for 2018. And while just 10 of the 64 games were broadcasted on the ABC network in 2014, in 2018 FOX is expected to broadcast over 33 on its network.

And Americans are increasingly excited about international stars. Vicente Navarro, partner & VP of New Business at AC&M Group says that what is interesting about American soccer fans is that it is “one of the few sports where American fans grow up idolizing players from foreign leagues and teams,” adding that “with how accessible European soccer has become in the U.S. today, American soccer fans have become increasingly knowledgeable about what happens abroad and often follow teams in multiple countries.”

Today’s Fans ‘Expecting More than Your Basic Pregame Show’

How will TV and digital combine forces to deliver the material that American soccer fans are hungry for during next year’s World Cup? Navarro asserts that due to the rapid development of digital platforms and formats, “in this age of tech, fans have become accustomed to get more than your basic pregame show, game broadcast, and post-game reels.” With fans engaging with the sport around the clock (literally), “it is important for networks to build platforms that attract and sustain these conversations” through different formats like memes and user-generated content, taking advantage of fans’ “FOMO,” or “fear of missing out.”

For 2018, AC&M is working with clients and networks like FOX and Telemundo to deliver digital programs that engage fans and connect them digitally to the networks TV broadcast. When asked about the most significant difference between the digital scenario in 2014 compared to 2018, Navarro points to mobile as one of the most significant developments in terms of how fans engage with sports content. Thanks to smartphones, Navarro says, “it’s possible for American fans to watch full-length games, or highlights, from almost anywhere in the world.” This is a good thing for brands with a strategy, Navarro believes. Thanks to “continued advancement in social media, with features like Facebook Live and Instagram Stories, there is no better time in history to be a sports fan,” he argues.

Marketers Must Reach Diverse Fans

As more Americans get on board with soccer, brands must take advantage of the resources they have to address and connect with more diverse audiences. To Brendan Moylan, COO at Sports Endeavors, Inc. the parent company of SOCCER.COM, “one of the special things about the World Cup is that it is an opportunity for people to celebrate their heritage”. He believes that although it was crushing for the U.S. Men’s National Team not to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, that “we are a country of immigrants, and there is a place in our hearts for the countries where some friend or member of our family immigrated from.”

At AC&M, it is important to “develop campaigns that are relevant for hard-core and casual soccer fans” and adapt their strategies for clients based on objectives and assets. For example, some will have the rights to feature the World Cup as a part of their campaigns, but others “will have to leverage partnerships such as players or federations,” Navarro says. In those cases, the key is to help them leverage increasing interest in the sport during a World Cup year.”

Many of AC&M’s 2018 World Cup strategies will focus on engaging through content created by both brands and fans themselves, says Pacino Mancillas, AC&M’s Director of Brand Integration. As the digital world offers more and more ways for fans to engage with sports, Mancillas argues that fans “demand content that speaks to them and their specific interests.”

Because of this, getting as close as possible to the fans in order to develop an intimate knowledge of the various segments of the soccer fan community is central to AC&M’s mission. Speaking of soccer fans, Mancillas adds: “There are more similarities than differences, but knowing how and why to target each segment provides ‘cred’ and helps us have more success in engagement efforts.”

Exclusive Partnerships with SOCCER.COM and WorldSoccerShop Provide Insight, Global Team of Soccer Experts 

AC&M Group has also teamed up with partners SOCCER.COM and WorldSoccerShop to pool their expertise and offer unmatched access to U.S. soccer consumers. The collaboration brings together three organizations with employees that “eat, sleep and breathe soccer, and when it comes to connecting with soccer fans, their insights are invaluable,” Navarro said. In contrast to other sports agencies, AC&M’s close contact with the soccer world enables them to “identify key passion points” in soccer consumers. With such immense diversity at the agency, employing team members from 14 different countries, there is a stronger and much wider “range of opinions and perspectives on how to connect with various consumer segments.”

As one of the most exciting global sporting events approaches, agencies like AC&M Group are invaluable sources of knowledge for many brands who are unsure of how to reach the growing numbers of passionate American soccer fans. “At AC&M, we have been doing soccer marketing for more than a decade,” Navarro says. “We know what works, what does not, what connects well and delivers results; we have seen it all.”

What?: Mexican soccer teams are being paid millions of dollars for broadcasting rights in the U.S.
Why it matters?: Broadcast channels in the U.S. are spending millions of dollars a year to obtain the rights to transmit Mexican soccer games in an effort to reach the 35 million Hispanics of Mexican descent living in the U.S. (Note: This article is a revised version of an article included in Portada’s 2016 Sports Marketing Guide, to get the full version, DOWNLOAD it here).

12106291_144901869198946_1403484663_n_002In 2013, Chivas, Guadalajara’s main football club, signed a $16 million-dollar deal with Univisión to broadcast their regular season games in the United States until 2018. This contract surpassed the team’s last agreement with Telemundo, who paid them $11 million for the rights from 2008 to 2013. With these numbers, Chivas has positioned itself as the highest-paid team for broadcasting games in the U.S (see table below)., ranked even above the entire Mexican national league, Liga MX, which is paid US$12 million a year by Univisión/ESPN to broadcast its games in English and Spanish.

Chivas is just one example of a Mexican soccer team that has its eye on the U.S. market. El America, Cruz Azul and Pumas are paid $15, $11 and $10 million dollars a year for the U.S. rights, respectively. Broadcast networks like Grupo Azteca are investing substantial amounts of money to shore up their soccer offerings.

“With more than 35 million Hispanics of Mexican descent living in the U.S., it is easy to understand why Mexican soccer teams decided to promote their audience there. The Liga MX even gets the highest audience rate of all games,” says Vicente Navarro, VP of business development at AC&M Group, a Hispanic and soccer marketing agency.

Good Things Happen North of the Border

TeamTV Channel
DealYearly income in
Cruz AzulUnivisión2013-201811,000,000
MoreliaAzteca América/ESPN2013-20165,000,000
PueblaAzteca América/ESPN2013-20162,500,000
QuerétaroAzteca América/ESPN2014-20172,000,000
TijuanaAzteca América/ESPN2013-20163,500,000

Source: Wikipedia and Portada
Note: Mexico’s major soccer teams and their broadcast rights in the U.S.

According to Jorge Villalobos, CEO of Sports Marketing Monterrey, selling broadcast rights to American media channels is a win-win situation for everyone involved. The soccer team obtains more exposure (apart from being paid well), the TV channel gets quality content, the advertising companies have a platform on which to sell their content, and the fans are able to see their teams play.

Jorge Villalobos, CEO at Sports Marketing Monterrey
Jorge Villalobos, CEO at Sports Marketing Monterrey

There are many sports channels in the U.S. and most of them designate a bigger part of their broadcasting time to soccer, not only in Spanish but also in English, says Villalobos. “This is an industry that is evolving, and as the U.S. audience is becoming more sophisticated, it demands better quality.” The evolution of American audiences has to be reflected in the channels’ content, and if an audience is interested in Mexican soccer, the channels will do what it takes to show it.

Some years ago, it was crazy to think that the media would broadcast even 20% of the Mexican season’s friendly soccer games: All of the games that we play in the U.S. are transmitted not only nationally but also in Mexico and 20 other countries,” says Villalobos. What’s more, El Tri, Mexico’s national soccer team, plays more games in the U.S. than in Mexico.

Selling to an American Audience

Only 10 days ago Univision Deportes broadcast the Campeón de Campeones match (Champion of Champions) with Honda as title sponsor. The winners of the two most recent Liga MX seasons played against each other. Tellingly the match was not played in Mexico, but Dominguez Hills-Carson, CA.

“Soccer advertisers keep growing in the U.S.,” says Villalobos. “There are more and more brands that see soccer as their best tool to reach the Hispanic market and connect with it.” For this reason, agencies like Sports Marketing Monterrey are focusing on bringing Mexican soccer and brands closer, not only through advertising but also through other experiences like events and special promotions.

Vicente Navarro, VP of business development at AC&M Group
Vicente Navarro, VP of business development at AC&M Group
“The average income in the U.S. is much higher than in Mexico,” admits Navarro. “This also means that the fans have a higher purchasing power to buy stuff from their favourite teams.”

Still “it is not a secret that the fans have stopped spending their money on ‘things,’ because now, they want experiences,” admits Villalobos. So, when bringing a team to the U.S., the commercial relationship does not end after the game: the brands are sponsoring other events, too, for autograph signing or meet-and-greets with players, for example.

But brands cannot forget that U.S. Hispanics behave differently than Mexicans do in their home country. It is a mistake to think that one can apply the same campaign used during a soccer game in Mexico in the U.S., because “it is a different target and you have to discover how to reach it,” adds Villalobos.

DOWNLOAD Portada’s 2016 Sports Marketing Guide!

According to Navarro, selling broadcast rights to U.S. channels doesn’t represent a risk at all for the teams. “It could be risky for the companies buying the rights, or for the marketing agencies paying for advertising, if the team is having a terrible season,” he adds. “But, in general, the teams can bring in great revenue because they are already a strong global brand.”

A summary for Corporate Marketers, Media Sales Executives and Advertising Agencies to see what clients are moving into the Hispanic market and/or targeting Hispanic consumers right now.

Check out Portada’s Interactive Directory of Corporate Marketers and Agency Executives. 15 NEW LEADS HAVE JUST BEEN UPLOADED. To acquire the database, please call Jennifer Chan at 347-840-1311 or e-mail her at jennifer@portada-online.com SEE A DEMO OF THE DIRECTORY!
For prior Sales Leads editions, click here.

  • Walmart

Portada-Online.com - HomePage - Image - 1200 x 628 - 1.9-1 - NewsPublicis Groupe’s Starcom MediaVest has lost Walmart, one of its largest North American accounts worth an estimated US$900 million a year. “We are taking a different direction and looking for new ways to use media to connect with our customers.”, a Walmart spokesperson said. Walmart recently moved to manage its digital media in-house, creating it’s own exchange called Walmart Exchange. In 2015, MediaVest lost two other major clients: Procter & Gamble and Coca-Cola’s North American accounts.Read more.

  • Bojangles’

Portada-Online.com - HomePage - Image - 1200 x 628 - 1.9-1 - News (10)Bojangles’, a QSR chain, has selected Charlotte-based AC&M Group, as their agency of record for the U.S. Hispanic market. AC&M Group will handle Hispanic-marketing initiatives, including campaign strategy, creative, planning and execution for Bojangles’.Hispanic visit QSRs (Quick Service Restaurant Chains) more often than non-Hispanics. Spanish Language Dominant Hispanics visit QSRs even more often.Kicking-off in the first quarter of 2016, the multimedia campaign will combine traditional and online media to connect the iconic restaurant chainwith Hispanic consumers.

  • Pepsi

Portada-Online.com - HomePage - Image - 1200 x 628 - 1.9-1 - News (22)Pepsi is planning to market specially designed emoji cans and bottles in more than 100 global markets this year, including the U.S,according to Adage. As part of the effort, there will be almost 70 global and locally designed “PepsiMojis” printed on cans, bottles and cups all over the world. The marketer also has plans to extend the emojis beyond packaging as a means to bridge retail marketing with digital marketing(Emojis are mostly confined to the digital world.) In addition, the brand has designed emojis specifically targeted for each market.To celebrate “World Emoji Day” last year on July 17, Pepsi released a “#PepsiMoji Keyboard” that is still available on Apple’s App Store and on Google Play.

  • El Jimador Tequila

Portada-Online.com - HomePage - Image - 1200 x 628 - 1.9-1 - News (23)Margarita season officially kicks off on February 22nd with National Margarita Day!If you are like the 64 percent of millennials who drink margaritas outside of the summer season, according to a survey commissioned by Mexican tequila el Jimador Tequila, then this is the best news since the invention of the blender! To kick off Margarita Season and spread the cheer, el Jimador Tequila will be hosting Margarita Trails around the country. Learn more by visiting elJimador.com and join the conversation on Twitter.com/jimieljimador with #elJimador and #NationalMargaritaDay. Happy National Margarita Day!

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What: Bojangles’, a QSR chain,  has selected Charlotte-based AC&M Group, as their agency of record for the U.S. Hispanic market. AC&M Group will handle Hispanic-marketing initiatives, including campaign strategy, creative, planning and execution for Bojangles’.
Why it matters: Hispanic visit QSRs (Quick Service Restaurant Chains) more often than non-Hispanics. Spanish Language Dominant Hispanics visit QSRs even more often.

descarga (1)Bojangles’, Inc. has selected Charlotte-based AC&M Group, a multicultural marketing agency, as their agency of record for the U.S. Hispanic market.  AC&M Group will lead Hispanic campaign strategy, creative, planning and execution for Bojangles’. Kicking-off in the first quarter of 2016, the multimedia campaign will combine traditional and online media to connect the iconic restaurant chainwith Hispanic consumers.

Also based in Charlotte, Bojangles’ is known for its uniquely-seasoned and marinated bone-in chicken, made-from-scratch buttermilk biscuits, and breakfast served all day, every day. Fans of the brand are attracted to Bojangles’ proprietary menu that offers a flavor profile unlike anything in the Southeast markets it serves, including some of the fastest growing cities for U.S. Hispanics: Charlotte, NC; Raleigh area, NC; Atlanta, GA; and Washington area, D.C. The company has restaurants in 11 states (Alabama, Washington DC, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North & South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia) and the District of Columbia and three restaurants in Roatan Island, Honduras. At various times Bojangles’ has had franchised restaurants in Grand Cayman Island, Jamaica, Mexico, Ireland and China, as well as restaurants on mainland Honduras.

Hispanics account for 20% of the dollars spend in QSRs in the U.S.

AC&M Group has been developing multicultural creative campaigns for more than a decade and has expertise in the food, beverage and retail sectors. The brands that AC&M Group has partnered with include Family Dollar, National Gypsum, Sherwin Williams, Stanley Black & Decker and SOCCER.COM.

Portada talked with Jaime Cardenas,  CEO at AC&M Group | Universal Ideas. Cultural Connections.™
Portada: What are the particularities in marketing to Hispanics when it comes to the QSR sector?
J.C: “This is one of the categories where we do not have to worry about how to bring in more Hispanic consumers, we know that they are already over indexing in most key metrics. Hispanic consumers are a key segment for Quick Service Restaurants, they already account for 20% of the dollars spend in QSR in the U.S. Hispanic also visit QSR more often than non-Hispanics. Spanish Language Dominant Hispanics visit QSR even more often. Most QSR companies are well aware of the opportunity and are targeting Hispanics with advertising campaigns. In my opinion the biggest opportunity we have with Bojangles’ is to make sure that Hispanic consumers are aware of the menu selections that are available for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. Once they visit Bojangles’ you do not have to do a lot of marketing to turn them into loyal customers.”

Charlotte, Raleigh and Atlanta are leading the country in Hispanic population growth and these are key markets for Bojangles’.

Portada: Are there any special features of the Hispanic population in the SouthEast (the area where Bojangles’ has its footprint?
J.C: “It is a well know fact that the Southeast is one the fastest growing areas in the country in terms of Hispanic population. Charlotte, Raleigh and Atlanta are leading the country in Hispanic population growth and these are key markets for Bojangles’. There are a lot of Hispanics that are new to the SouthEast and we have a great opportunity to introduce them to Bojangles’ high-quality, craveable food made from Southern recipes.”

Portada: Was the Bojangles’ pitch competitive? With what other agencies did you have to compete?
J.C: “When we have an opportunity to participate in a pitch to become the Multicultural agency for a brand like Bojangles’ we always assume that we are competing against the best agencies in the country. The entire AC&M team was excited about working with Bojangles’ and everybody did a great job preparing for the opportunity.”


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