BBVA Bancomer

By Gabriela Gutiérrez M.

What: We talked to Mauricio Pallares, Director of Marketing and Digital Sales at BBVA Bancomer, about why Liga MX’ sponsorship is so important to the bank.
Why it matters: Out of BBVA Bancomer’s 18 millon clients in Mexico, 80% follow soccer. Which is why to get new clients, the bank is looking to strenghen its connection to soccer.

Mauricio Pallares
Mauricio Pallares, Director of Marketing at Bancomer.

Six out of every 10 Mexicans – approximately 72 million – are soccer fans. And that’s the audience that BBVA has regularly targeted since 2013, when it became the exclusive sponsor of Liga MX, the Mexican first-division soccer league comprising 18 clubs. Since then, Mexico’s main soccer league has been known as Liga Bancomer MX. “By sponsoring soccer, we have [brand presence] coverage in all cities of the [Mexican] Republic,” says Mauricio Pallares, Director of Marketing and Digital Sales at Bancomer.

Eighty percent of BBVA Bancomer’s 18 million Mexico customers are soccer fans, so in addition to attracting new customers, the bank seeks to strengthen its relationship with its existing clients.

BBVA Bancomer’s strategy has never been aimed at sponsoring a soccer star or a particular team. Instead, from the very beginning, the Spanish bank has sought to sponsor all 18 first-division clubs.

“What we are looking for is not to partner with a particular athlete or club, but with the league as a whole. [By sponsoring] the league, we reach the fans of all the clubs, so that every time a goal is scored or a match begins, [our presence] is there regardless of the team playing,” explains Pallares.

What we are looking for is not to partner with a particular athlete or club, but with the league as a whole.

With one exception: the Rayados de Monterrey club. “It’s a highly sought after prize. Citibanamex and the local Monterrey banks especially, already have a strong club presence. It helps us in positioning our brand,” notes Pallares. The fact is that Nuevo León, the team’s hometown, is recognized nationally for its regionalist culture, so for Bancomer to carve out a brand presence there by way of its league sponsorship was a strategic move.

Bancomer seeks to make the most of its sponsorship deal – inked in 2013 for a rumored $25 million per year – by sending special invitations to its customers to attend games, giving them additional benefits when acquiring their tickets and seeking fan engagement.

80% of BBVA Bancomer clients follow soccer.

The Spanish bank also seeks to strengthen its marketing strategy through joint campaigns with other league sponsors such as Voit, with whom it has created soccer balls “for a cause,” to raise awareness on issues such as education, and breast and prostate cancer, says Pallares.

The challenge for any sponsorship, including that of Liga Bancomer MX, explains Pallares, is to make it profitable and keep improving the show so that more people get on board and increase the brand’s impact: “Being a soccer sponsor is not cheap. If you decide to put your logo on a team jersey, there are so many brands already on it that the impact is diluted. You always have to look for a way to make each impact count, in order to get a return on your investment.”

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With that in mind, Bancomer also decided, in 2015, to sponsor the Liga de Ascenso, in hopes of further supporting and developing soccer in Mexico, he explains.

Bancomer’s league sponsorship contract with the Mexican Football Federation runs through 2019.

The favorite and most disliked teams of Liga Bancomer MX

Mexico’s Favorite Liga MX Clubs


4Cruz Azul8.50%8.80%6.80%

Source: Consulta Mitofsky, 2017


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What: Mexican banks like Banamex, BBVA Bancomer and Santander say that sports sponsorships are taking on an increasingly important role in their marketing strategies.
Why it matters: This trend has been observed in other sports as well, like Formula 1 racing and baseball.

Nowadays, staying top-of-mind is vital for many companies, both for reaching out to current clients as much as potential ones. Sports, in this sense, have become a perfect ally for many brands, as they are capable of bringing together a large number of people around a specific activity. Mexican banks are capitalizing on this in hopes that their sports sponsorships will boost their marketing efforts.

Being associated with any sport “helps positioning the bank and generates a link between our clients and their passions,” says Gerardo Serrador, Marketing Executive Director at Banco Santander Mexico.

“In addition to generating passion, sports represent the same values that our brand identifies with: teamwork, excellence and fair play,” adds Mauricio Pallares Coello, Director of Corporate Marketing at BBVA Bancomer. “As a branding strategy, a sports sponsorship is profitable because the massive nature of sports makes the brand more noticeable.” Seeing that soccer is by far the most popular sport in Mexico, it makes perfect sense that banks would want in on the action.

The sports that have more penetration are the most profitable. In Mexico, soccer is undoubtedly the sport with the most followers, and consequently, this is where the media allocates most of its content.

Because BBVA Bancomer is the largest bank in the country with the largest number of branches and ATMs, it went big and decided to sponsor the entire Mexican soccer league. The league covers all cities with football teams, both in the first division and the promotion league. In addition, the bank arranged a local sponsorship of Rayados of Monterrey, to target current and potential clients in the state.

Until 2015, Banamex had invested up to $200 million Mexican pesos in the effort, distributing the money among five teams in the Mexican league. But then the bank withdrew sponsorship last June. “We no longer have our money in club teams, but we remain a sponsor for the Mexican national team,” said David Fierro, Marketing VP at Banamex Citi Group.

Analysts suggested one of the bank’s motivations for dropping the sponsorship was a decrease in revenue caused by the SEC’s current investigation into claims that the bank made fraudulent loans to Mexican oil services company Oceanographic. On the other hand, after its main competitor BBVA Bancomer became the next MX League sponsor, continuing with the sponsorship made absolutely no sense.

Piloto Kimi Raikkonen
Piloto Kimi Raikkonen

But soccer isn’t everything. “Santander is mainly focused on two sports: Soccer and Formula 1. With respect to soccer, the company concentrates on the most important regional competitions like Copa Libertadores and Copa America, which have a direct impact on countries in which the bank has a presence. But, we considered the Scuderia Ferrari (F1) sponsorship in order to have more of a global impact,” said Serrador.

The return of F1 to Mexico made the Scuderia Ferrari’s sponsorship profitable, according to Serrador. “A series of interesting promotions allowed us to position the brand as the most associated with F1 in Mexico.” According to a survey the bank carried out in cities like Mexico, Monterrey and Guadalajara, 53% of people who follow the F1 also mentioned Santander as the top-related brand to the event.

Lorena Ochoa

Banamex also continues supporting other sports. It is the sponsor of former golfer Lorena Ochoa, the goalkeeper Aida Roman, Paralympics athlete Gustavo Sanchez and Mexican baseball team Diablos Rojos. “The main priority is supporting sports figures,” explains Fierro, who says they have more sponsorship in mind for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

We do not consider ourselves an opportunistic entity that takes advantage of athletes only once they have reached the top,” added Fierro. For this reason, the bank plans to grant sport sponsorships to athletes who are just beginning their careers.

Reflecting on the bank’s past sports sponsorship strategies, the Santander executive believes that:

The best have been those in which we learned how to link our services and bank’s products with the benefits of the sponsorships offer, helping customers experience their passion for sports firsthand.

The three executives agree that sports and banks will remain associated through sponsorships, regardless of the sport. It’s a sweet deal: banks grow their brand awareness while athletes and sports team find much-needed financial support.


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