What: The Miami Open, one of the five largest tennis tournaments in the world, has a strong roster of Latino partners led by Presenting Sponsor Itaú.
Why it matters: Situated in a strong Hispanic market and moving even deeper into a dense Hispanic population next year, the event is an increasingly valuable property for marketers.

Play has begun in the main draw of the Miami Open (@MiamiOpen), which is completing its last year of competition at its longtime home, the Tennis Center at Crandon Park Key Biscayne, Fla., and moving north to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami next year. While that has occasioned some consternation among tennis traditionalists in South Florida, the increase in acreage, courts and various accompanying sponsor areas could open up more partnership opportunities, including those courting the Latino fan base, for whom the Hard Rock’s adjoining Florida Turnpike may offer easier access than the Rickenbacker Causeway to the Keys has.

Latino companies abound among the roster of sponsors for the event, which has spanned more than three decades with various names, prominently the Lipton Championships and Ericsson, NASDAQ-100 and Sony Ericsson Open. Three years ago, Itaú (@itau), headquartered in Brazil, became the presenting sponsor, and boasting 5,000 branches in Latin America, it is the most visible Latino brand on the Key Biscayne grounds.

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But it’s far from the only one. Latin American telecommunications giant Claró and Juan Valdez coffee (@JuanValdezCafe), the popular brand name of the Colombian Coffee Growers Federation, are at the Host Sponsor level, among such international brands as FedEx, Lacoste, MasterCard and Peugeot. The Brazilian high-end tennis tour agency Faberg (@fabergtour) rounds out the list.

The companies that align themselves with the Miami Open get the best of both worlds, an association with the best players in the world at a time when tennis is just coming into focus in North America this year, and the ability to showcase their brand as best in class across both the Latin American and American tennis audience.

“As a legacy sport that reaches a high net worth audience, tennis, especially an event like Miami that is now being transformed under Steve Ross, is still a prime activation spot for brands,” said Chris

Roger Federer practicing on Wednesday at the Miami Open

Lencheski, longtime sports marketer now at MP & Silva as well as teaching at Columbia University. “The companies that align themselves with the Miami Open get the best of both worlds, an association with the best players in the world at a time when tennis is just coming into focus in North America this year, and the ability to showcase their brand as best in class across both the Latin American and American tennis audience. It’s a smart play on both sides.”

March and August are the two months during which the tennis world focuses on the U.S. Annually following the successful WTA Premier and ATP 1000 event in Indian Wells, Calif., another high-profile, two-week tournament in a region with high Hispanic influence, Miami has often billed itself as the “fifth major.” That status, during a time when the sport gets so much attention here, has made it a good fit for marketers.

Even more so than in Indian Wells, Latino brands have connected to the multicultural fan base in Key Biscayne. The move 25 miles north into the more densely populated Miami Gardens, potentially accessible to tens of thousands more fans, many of Hispanic heritage, gives Miami Open partners a huge advantage in reaching that base.

Check out the stars of Portada’s Sports Marketing Board, who will meet at Portada Miami on April 18-19 to discuss various topics related to the future of marketing and innovation in sports. Register now!

cover image courtesy Miami Open

What: ATP star Rafael Nadal’s recent comments at the Australian Open may have an effect on his marketability moving forward.
Why it matters: The world’s No. 1-ranked player has been a spectacularly successful pitchman for numerous products across various categories, but will his remarks praising Margaret Court and bashing the ATP schedule cause sponsors to rethink their commitments to him?

(Wikimedia Commons/Mikelokok)

His recent exit from the Australian Open and failure to win the year’s first major won’t affect World No. 1 Rafael Nadal’s value whatsoever. The Spaniard’s actions and comments, however, very well could have an impact on his brand partners down the line.

In the span of a few matches, Nadal (@RafaelNadal) managed to potentially hurt his long-term value with two separate but equally unsavory moments. Following his third-round win over Damir Dzumhur, Nadal addressed fans in an on-court interview saying, “It’s very special for me to play in Margaret Court Arena for the first time in a long time.” But considering how Margaret Court —the former Australian tennis star for whom the arena is named after— has drawn widespread criticism for her staunchly anti-gay and anti-transgender views, Nadal’s comments could seem of poor taste to sponsors.

How could this affect some of the long-term partners Rafa has, especially as the tennis legend’s career wanes and brands around the world become warier of engaging with athletes who may stray from the mainstream?

Especially because days before the Australian Open commenced, tennis’ biggest ambassador Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing), who is a gay woman, remarked, “If I were playing today, I would not play on it,” referring to Margaret Court Arena. Days later, Nadal conceded defeat to Marin Cilic after falling behind 2-0 in the fifth set of their quarterfinal match. Opting not to gracefully accept defeat, despite the unfortunate and untimely injury to his right leg, Rafa attacked the ATP Tour, resuming his longtime claim that the intensity of the schedule causes injuries.

“Somebody who is running the tour should think a little bit about what’s going on. Too many people getting injured. I don’t know if they have to think a little bit about the health of the players. Not for now that we are playing, but there is life after tennis. I don’t know if we keep playing on these very, very hard surfaces what’s going to happen in the future with our lives,” he added.

Potential Effect on Partners?

How could this affect some of the long-term partners Rafa has, especially as the tennis legend’s career wanes and brands around the world become warier of engaging with athletes who may stray from the mainstream?

“The value that Rafa Nadal has brought to the sport of tennis, and to his brand partners, is almost immeasurable. He has changed the game and brought millions of new fans to the sport and its partners,” said Columbia University professor and longtime sports marketer now at MP & Silva, Chris Lencheski. “However, like all aspects of our business, public perception and current value play an even bigger role, and the use of athletes as brand ambassadors has never been more in question. Would we like to see elite athletes like Rafa go gracefully? Sure. Sometimes that doesn’t happen the way we would like. Will his recent comments and actions diminish his long-term value for his biggest partners? That remains to be seen.”

For now, Nadal still has the long-term support of one of all of his biggest sponsors, including Kia Motors, who tweeted their support, following his shaky Aussie stunt. Kia vowed that they will be along for Nadal’s journey “together as always.” The rest of his key brand partners include Nike, Babolat, Telefonica, Banco Sabadell, Richard Mille, and Tommy Hilfiger, none of which have expressed any concern about Rafa short-term, and obviously still see the investment for the long-term as his brand matures from player to spokesperson. Nadal has always been a safe bet, and like Roger Federer (@rogerfederer), he has shied away from controversy and has let his racquet do the talking. That is what has made him such a valuable global brand ambassador; a great look, a humble, hardworking approach, and amazing success.

Will that change if controversy keeps coming? Brands will run if the public tide shifts, but for now, they will watch and weigh the benefits of a great champion and ambassador vs what may have been a misstep or two.

Cover photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/Carine06

A recap of news and trends in the Sports Marketing world as compiled by Portada’s Editorial team….

Marc Anthony’s Magnus Media Moves into Sports Marketing

MLB spot stillMAGNUS Media announced the inception of MAGNUS Sports, a fully integrated division dedicated to the worldwide representation of major athletes. MAGNUS Sports has completed its first initiative by forming a joint venture with premier boutique baseball agency Praver Shapiro Sports Management and the signing of Cuban-born, 4-time Major League All-Star pitcher Aroldis Chapman. Founded earlier this year by international music icon Marc Anthony, MAGNUS Media has been building a roster of top-tier entertainers, artists and influencers and brings to the venture its expertise in entertainment, branding, marketing, social media, and content development. Praver Shapiro is widely recognized as a leading Sports Management Agency specialized in representing Hispanic baseball talent, and providing a comprehensive array of services designed to address the unique needs of the professional athlete both on and off the field. Marc Anthony said, “Baseball, like music, is an ingrained cultural passion for many Latinos throughout the world, and there’s no shortage of amazing stars of Hispanic origin. Despite that, until now there hasn’t been an enterprise specifically designed to meet their needs.”

GLR’s 10th Anniversary: Chivas of Guadalajara Partner

Prisa_logo_2010-300x119-280x165Radio network GLR is celebrating its 10th Anniversary in the U.S. GLR Networks was first launched in 2005 by Spanish media company, PRISA Radio, in hopes of tapping into the network radio market and to serve as the content production and distribution arm of PRISA Radio here in the USA. Since their launch, GLR has created and syndicated over 32 shows and has grown their network of affiliates to over 150 radio stations around the country, continuously improving ratings across the board. One of the most successful programs among affiliates has been the exclusive radio rights of Chivas of Guadalajara. According to Benny Herzog of LBI Media Inc., “Houston is passionate for Chivas Soccer. As partners with GLR, Liberman Broadcasting’s Houston Flagship Radio Station of All Soccer in Spanish, KEYH “La Ranchera” 850 AM and 101.7 FM is proud to be able to fulfill the appetite for Chivas Soccer. We feel it is very important to be able to bring the fans of Chivas as much coverage as possible in Houston. Hispanics have one sports passion and it’s soccer.”

Grupo Pegaso Gains Rights for Abierto Mexicano Los Cabos

The ATP announced that Bogota’s ATP World Tour 250 tournament would be transferred to Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico, following acquisition of the event by Grupo Pegaso. The Abierto Mexicano 250 Los Cabos, will have a total financial commitment of nearly US$800,000, ranking as the highest in its category in the Americas Region. The new hard court tournament will take place from August 8 to August 14 in the 2016 season and will become part of North America’s Summer Tour. With this partnership, Grupo Pegaso reaffirms its commitment to Mexico’s development in the sport industry by delivering and organizing high quality events, and further consolidation of men’s professional tennis in México. Grupo Pegaso began operations in 1994 with the purpose of promoting projects with strong social commitment, which over time delivers global importance for Mexico in the most dynamic sectors of the economy.

iHeart Media Ends Relationship with ESPN Deportes for Chicago Radio Station

ESPNDEPORTES_100x100iHeart Media Chicago said it is ending radio station 97.5 FM’s relationship with ESPN Deportes, the Spanish language arm of the sports media company. The station 97.5 FM is one of several in iHeart Media’s stable of Chicago radio outlets. As of Feb. 1, 2016, per a new local marketing agreement with Chicago businessman Pedro Segura, the founder of Prime Dental Manufacturing, 97.5 FM Poder, as the station will be known, plans to air a Mexican Regional format, a blend of music, entertainment and information targeting Hispanic adults.

Nissan steps up College Sports Investment

Nissan_ride_of_life_06Nissan is kicking up its marketing involvement in U.S. college sports with a multi-year campaign to sponsor athletic events and programs at 100 colleges around the country, Automotive News reports. The campaign will put Nissan’s name onto signs at stadiums and arenas in football, basketball, baseball and other sports at 27 colleges and universities by the end of December, and at 100 schools in 2016. Jeremy Tucker, Nissan North America vice president of marketing communications and media, declined to reveal the price tag for the sweeping campaign, but acknowledged that it would be significant. The commitment will extend from permanent sports field signage and sporting event media sponsorship, to athletic scholarships, facility upgrades and academic tutoring for athletes. It will cover sports from huge NCAA college football stadiums down to soccer, swimming, bowling tournaments and golf meets.
This summer, Nissan purchased stadium naming rights for the NFL’s Tennessee Titans. The team is not only located in Nissan’s headquarters city in Nashville, but the team’s name conveniently plays into Nissan’s relaunch into the full-sized pickup segment this winter with a redesigned Titan.

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