What: Global engagement is more critical than ever for teams, brands, and leagues.
Why it matters: Here are eight ways for entities to cultivate a wider, more diverse audience.

Sports business has never been more global, and fans and brands more engaged, than they are today. Whether it is Liga MX (@LIGABancomerMXexpanding its footprint more into the United States, MLB (@MLBto Japan or the NBA (@NBAto India, the largest properties in the world are spreading their reach and touching fans in ways like never before. Fandom is still celebrated locally, but the reach and level of fandom are beyond borders.

With that reach can there can be some slippery slopes. A misplayed National Anthem here, a misunderstood custom there, and clubs looking to cultivate a wider audience, especially in their home venues, can easily undo the goodwill, and the brand activations, that they were trying to grow.

With that eye to global engagement, we looked at eight ways to best engage, be it team, brand or league.

Elisa Padilla

Be Authentic. It is becoming more and more cliché, but an authentic engagement into a multicultural space is key. There were times years ago when the NBA would slap “Los” on a jersey and play mariachi music and call it Latino night. Check the box and move on. Those days are gone. “Social media today has given fans the ability to respond pretty quickly to what we are doing, and if something seems contrived, we hear it right away,” said Elisa Padilla, SVP of Marketing and Community Relations for the Miami Marlins (@Marlins) in a conversation last year.  “Everything we do, especially when trying to engage a multicultural Latino audience that may be Cuban, Venezuelan and Puerto Rican, each with their own nuances, has to be sincere. If it’s not the brand can lose great credibility and it is hard to get it back.”

Know The Audience. Also along those lines, knowing who is following, who is engaging and what they are responding to and asking about is also critical to success. Creating promotions and marketing to a community that is not as engaged in your team or your sport, or doesn’t fit culturally, can lead to issues. “The beauty of data collection today is that we know more and more not just who is buying a ticket, but who is coming into the building every night,” said veteran sports marketer Chris Lencheski, currently a professor at Columbia University. “That data now gives us great insight not just into the buying habits but into the physical makeup of who is at an event, and that can help us create programs for audiences that we may not have known a lot about. It also gives us the opportunity to survey that audience and ask them what they would like.” Those types of fan engagement platforms have led to landmark changes in areas like concessions, where teams are now selling more and more ethnic and local foods, or in how a game is presented in terms of language for public address. Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls), for example, make all announcements in both English and Spanish, something which does not happen regularly at an NFL or NBA game. Understanding who is in the seats, by asking and collecting data, gives you a great chance to serve the audience enjoying the event.

Kristaps Porzingis (Wikimedia Commons/Ed)

Build Over Time. Often times teams, or even leagues, will see a trend and rush to adapt and capture a moment, which in the end may come across as both unauthentic and contrived. Recently the New York Knicks (@nyknickscreated “Latvian Heritage Night” to try and make their young star Kristaps Porzingis (@kporzee) more at home. When Porzingis was traded, Latvian Heritage Night was canceled. While the effort to try and tie to the culture of a rising star is understandable, the ability to build and connect with an audience and culture who may be the first time in an arena is now lost. Instead of finding ways to expand a relationship, the effort seemed more contrived and some brand damage is done. Also, especially with Latino marketing in sports, trying small programs that identify with select groups: Cubans in Miami, Puerto Ricans in New York, Mexicans in Houston, and then expanding out from there, and building on success, sometimes works better than just branding “Latinos” and trying to pull from a mass that may be disconnected. “As a Latina with a Puerto Rican background, I may be able to identify with a Venezuelan or even a Dominican cultural event, but it’s doubtful I will be able to connect to more nuanced happenings from say Panama or Brazil,” added Karin Buchholz, former head of community relations for the New York Knicks. “I have Latina pride and loved seeing that pride played out in sports, but if it seemed rushed or contrived just to check the box, it didn’t work. Better to be sure and steady than to rush and try to be everything to everyone.”

Taking the time to listen to the players and the coaches and then building programs around their interests makes the connection so much stronger.

Take It To The Community. In the past, many efforts in multicultural marketing were just tied to an event. Find a sponsor, do a giveaway, check the box and cash the check. These days, initiatives have to transcend the arena or stadium to be effective. ‘We only have a certain amount of people coming into a building, and multicultural marketing needs to be very experiential, especially since many of the people we want to reach may only be able to come to a game once or twice a year,” Padilla added. “Programs need to have arms and legs and go into the market, not just take place at a game. We need to show that we are supporting community initiatives and delivering value in the neighborhood as well. That’s the best way to build trust and affinity.” In addition to food and clothing drives and school initiatives, one of those efforts is an annual program run by DC United (@dcunited) of MLS. Partido de las Estrellas is an all-star match involving old and current Hispanic players as well as local celebrities. The venue is located in Columbia Heights, a part of the city with a notably large Hispanic and Latino population, and aside from the match itself, there’s music, food and other forms of entertainment celebrating the community’s value to the city. It takes the experience beyond a pitch and delivers it in the backyard of the fan.

Get buy-in from those on the field. Sometimes the best programs are those where coaches and players, not just marketers, have input. Listening to the stories of the players; their traditions, the places they spend their time, is also essential. “Often times we would look at a team makeup and ask if they looked like us, like those in the community,” added Buchholz. “Especially in leagues like MLB, MLS and the NBA, the players are coming from such diverse cultural backgrounds that their stories can relate to an audience we may not have thought of. Taking the time to listen to the players and the coaches and then building programs around their interests makes the connection so much stronger, and that becomes an even great win than just trying to randomly force an initiative.”

Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019 at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing’s preeminent topics. Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!


Identify New Partners: The unending quest to find new revenue sometimes can lead teams back to the same safe places again; categories are limited, and especially at the five elite leagues in North America, the prices paid for exclusivity in a category can be exorbitant. However multicultural marketing gives the chance for teams to bring in custom brand categories for programs and events, sometimes at a lower price point, than could be done in a general marketing environment. “We see it more and more, an entrepreneurial salesperson sees an opportunity around a player or a cultural event, and goes and finds brands willing to come in and activate around it that may not have been able to find their way in any other way,” Lencheski added. Case in point was the Philadelphia 76ers and their rising star, Australian Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25). The Sixers created a niche with the Australian Company, Four and Twenty Meat Pies, an Australian favorite, to give them the ability to come in and sample and do an “Australian Heritage Night.” In a traditional environment, Four and Twenty (@FourntwentyUSAmight have been blocked from being in the building by larger vendors and sponsors in a food category. However by creating an Australian flavor (no pun intended), a carve-out for exposure was created, buzz generated, and exposure grew. In many other markets, ethnic brands like Goya Foods (@GoyaFoodshave found Latino or Hispanic culture nights as their way into an arena or venue to start a conversation about partnership and story tell, and often times those brands help take that experience back out to the market in a consumer promotion. By looking deeper, and being smarter, teams and leagues can re-slice and dice a category that was once whole, and everyone involved can win.

Speak the Language: Another sometimes overlooked nuance is being able to not just act in a multicultural environment but to also deliver materials and programs in the language that is not English. The Oakland Raiders in recent years have worked closely with Native American groups who are loyal to the team, and out of that came the ability to broadcast games in Navajo. The Detroit Tigers do all outreach in both English and Spanish, as do a growing number of MLB teams, and built their annual “Fiesta Tigres” event as a way to celebrate Spanish language first fans. “It is essential that we have programs that don’t just address culture, especially Latino culture, but take that culture and deliver every element in Spanish,” Detroit Tigers (@tigersVP of Communications Ron Colangelo said. “We need to make the transition to fandom easy, and sometimes the easiest way to do that is to take the language of sport, be it radio, TV or in print, and literally deliver it to the fan base in a way that they can easily understand. It builds great trust and shows no matter how subtly, that no matter what your language is, we are here for you as a team and as a brand.”

If It Doesn’t Fit, Don’t Do It: We kind of end where we started; with authenticity. In a copycat business world, the rush to do something for the sake of doing it, or because the concept can be sold, is not always the best. There are many teams, despite pressure from a league, do not do all forms of multicultural marketing because at this point, their audience, and their community, is not as diverse as others, or doesn’t have a large makeup as certain other cities. The Houston Rockets (@HoustonRocketsfor example, have a vast program marketing to the Chinese community; it worked very well and has a natural fit in the culture of Houston. A team like the Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewersmay market heavily to a German or Polish fan base because of the traditions in that city. It does not mean that you are culturally closed off; what it means is that you need to take the time to do programs right, keep them authentic and deliver to the community which you are in. trying to do too much every time is tough, and often leads to failure. Listening and being engaged in the community means you have the ability to see, hear and feel trends, especially with emerging ethnic groups. Taking the time to know when to engage, how to engage, and where to engage is not just good business, it’s good human nature.

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Cover image: Partido de las Estrellas/DC United

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.

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For prior Sales Leads editions, click here.

  • Taco Bell

vFkj_MHn_400x400Fast food giant Taco Bell has consolidated its traditional media assignment with Publicis Groupe’s SMG’s Spark after a formal review. Digitas, also part of Publicis Groupe, continues to handle digital media planning and buying. Mec, a unit within WPP’s GroupM, was the incumbent. Spark already handles strategy and planning for Taco Bell since 2012.Read more.


  • Hyatt Regency

mJJJx0AU_400x400Hyatt Regency has released the new multi-million dollar global campaign, “It’s Good Not to Be Home.” The campaign, the largest in Hyatt Regency’s almost 50-year history, began with the insight that people enjoy the freedom of traveling, breaking from routine, making new connections and experiencing new things. It will launch in the U.S. and later in the month in the U.K. and India. China and Japan will get a November launch.Hyatt Regency worked with Pereira & O’Dell on the campaign which includes TV, social, digital, outdoor and print media, in-hotel activations and conference take-overs that will roll out through November. The campaign includes two U.S.-specific partnerships: one with Fast Company and one with Comedy Central. Custom content will be pushed through both Hyatt Regency and Comedy Central’s channels.Hyatt Regency is a Hyatt Gold Passport brand with more than 150 locations in more than 30 countries.


  • GOYA

descarga (1)GOYA has released its new campaign, “Real Life Chefs,” the first created by Dieste focusing on the general market consumer. The campaign, which started running in four different cities in the U.S. – New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Washington, D.C. – highlights GOYA’s cross-cultural appeal and celebrates the diverse lifestyles of its consumers. Each film shows protagonists in real-life situations that occur in their kitchens as they prepare GOYA-inspired meals. The films each have their own theme track inspired by the rhythm and lifestyle of the characters. Dieste also created a fifth film specifically developed for social media. It will be featured, starting in mid-October, on GOYA’s social media channels (YouTube and Facebook), and it is currently running on iHeart Radio properties. The film and concept, according to Ciro Sarmiento, are a special salute to “Real Life Chefs” everywhere.


  • Campbell Soup

Cornerstone_in_white_Square_400x400Campbell Soup’s has released a new effort which carries the new tagline “Made for Real, Real Life,” which aligns with the company’s corporate purpose of “real food that matters for life’s moments.”This will be the first major brand push in five years depicts real families, including a gay couple and their son, along with real weather patterns as the soup giant tries to tap into what’s really going on in people’s lives when it’s time for soup.The company aims to show a diverse mix of American families in the spots. The campaign covers a wide variety of Campbell’s branded products from canned soup to “Star Wars” soups; soup in K-Cups; Soup on the Go cups; and Campbell’s skillet sauces. It does not included non-Campbell-branded products such as Pepperidge Farm cookies or Bolthouse Farms beverages.The BBDO campaign includes several 15-second spots. Two have Spanish versions as well, created with the Bravo Group.The “Your Father” spot, which shows two fathers feeding their son “Star Wars” soup while reciting the famous “I am your father” line from the movie franchise, is a :15 and has a :30 version.Campbell Soup Co. spent US$319.7 million on total U.S. advertising in 2014, down from us$361.3 million a year earlier.


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.


  • Thomas Nelson
    Thomas NelsonThe publisher and producer of Christian books, bibles and Videos is introducing a marketing campaign to promote the Spanish-language book “Francisco, el primer papa Latinoamericano” (by Mario Escobar) on the recently elected pope Francis I. The advertising promotional campaign starting on May 7th in the U.S. and Mexico comprehends:
    -Radio Interviews in key Markets (Miami, Puerto Rico, South Texas, Mexico, Los Angeles)
    – TV product placement (Morning Shows – Mexico, Miami, Puerto Rico, Los Angeles)
    – Online Ads (Adwords)
    – Online Ads (Yahoo, Univision)
    – Online Video Ads (Youtube and Pay per view content outlets)
    – “Francisco” will also be promoted through Thomas Nelson direct mailed catalogs.
    Thomas Nelson is the sixth largest American trade publisher and the world’s largest Christian publisher.


  • J3/Identity  Edwin Camacho is the new Group Media Director Multicultural Division at J3 Identity. The position was previously occupied by Malena Bustelo who left Identity last fall to join Carat as SVP Group Media Director, Multicultural.


  • Open English
    Open EnglishOpen English, the online and off-line English-language school originally founded in Caracas, Venezuela, is going to soon target prospects in the U.S. Hispanic market and Spain. Open English has already done substantial marketing and advertising in Latin America, including in Brazil where it is a top 15 cable Advertisers. Mario Cordon, Open English’s Chief Marketing Officer, will be speaking at Portada’s Latin American Advertising and Media Summit in Miami on June 4-5.


  • Absolut Mexico
    Absolut MexicoAbsolut Vodka is bringing its limited edition bottle design Absolut Mexico to the United States for the first time. The bottle debuted in Mexico last year. The release of Absolut Mexico is the latest limited edition offering from the vodka brand and pays homage to Mexican culture and multicultural heritage. This design was created in partnership with Dr. Lakra, one of Mexico’s most renowned contemporary artists and tattooists from Oaxaca, Mexico.  The work of Dr. Lakra has been featured in exhibitions and museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Hammer Museum and the Walker Art Center.For Absolut Mexico, Dr. Lakra combines three legendary icons from ancient Mayan culture — Hurakan (Hurricane), Kukulkan (Serpent) and Balam (Jaguar) — and brings them to life on the Absolut bottle through a modern artistic lens that represents Mexico today.


  • Del Taco
    Del Taco has opened its first restaurant in Alabama, opening its doors on April 3 in Dothan, the Birmingham Business Journal reports.  The new Dothan Del Taco, located at 4700 W. Main St. in the Publix shopping center, features a 72-seat dining room, Del Taco’s new salsa bar and drive thru that will be open 24-hours.This is the first of 20 Del Taco restaurants planned by Del Taco franchisee and developer/operator Larry Blumberg & Associates which operates 68 hotels in 11 states, representing the Marriott and Hilton brands.  In addition to the first location in Dothan, Larry Blumberg & Associates is planning at least a dozen locations in Alabama including Huntsville, Montgomery, Birmingham and Tuscaloosa. In Florida, the company is planning locations in Tallahassee and Jacksonville. The Del Taco, menu includes Mexican offerings of tacos, burritos, quesadillas and nachos as well as American favorites like hamburgers, crinkle-cut fries and shakes. Del Taco also serves breakfast featuring a full line of breakfast burritos.


  • Goya  Foods and Beech Nut
    Goya Foods and Beech-Nut launch a unique joing line of authentic, nutritious latin-flavored babyfoods made with Hispanic moms in mind. The joint announcement was made by Beech-Nut President Jeff Boutelle and Bob Unanue, President of Goya Foods.“Our research shows that Hispanic moms have been waiting for just such an offering, which combines the authentic, traditional Latin flavors Goya is famous for with Beech-Nut’s nutritious, natural ingredients free of preservatives,” said Mr. Boutelle. “Our products are as close as possible to home-made, and that’s very important to Hispanic families.”“The Beech-Nut/Goya line of baby food offers mom the best of both worlds,” Mr. Unanue said.


  • Novartis
    Swiss drug maker Novartis is taking a sassy new tack to win converts to its oral multiple sclerosis  treatment, Gilenya. Its “Hey MS, Take This!” campaign shows patients sticking out their tongues with Gilenya capsules on them to show their willingness to fight back against the neurological condition. An image from a video ad from the Novartis campaign for its multiple sclerosis drug Gilenya. The campaign, which begun last week,  is aimed at younger people with multiple sclerosis, a chronic autoimmune disease with symptoms like fatigue, difficulty in walking and blurred or double vision. The campaign will be in national print outlets, including a half-dozen national magazines like People, Shape and Self, and on the Web sites of women’s magazine. A television-style online video will also be available on social media outlets.“MS strikes in the prime of life, and many patients use the Web and social media to connect,” said Dagmar Rosa-Bjorkeson, head of Novartis’s multiple sclerosis unit. “Many are now being diagnosed in their 20s and 30s, and early treatment makes the most impact, so we are trying to target those people who are active and digitally savvy.”Novartis is trying to set the Gilenya campaign apart from other pharmaceutical advertising.All such ads must conform to federal regulatory strictures that consumers receive balanced information that not only includes the drug’s effectiveness but also enumerates its risks in consumer-friendly language. “It’s all about attitude,” explained Mike Devlin, creative director of the campaign’s ad agency, Draftfcb, part of the Interpublic Group, which interviewed the multiple sclerosis patients. Tapestry does media buying and planning. Shortly after Gilenya entered the market, Novartis conducted a smaller marketing effort, with ads in magazines aimed at those with multiple sclerosis as well as a limited placement in national magazines.Its new campaign emphasizes empowered young patients, who use phrases like “No needles for me” and “Take this, you bully” to show their defiant attitude as they cope with the disease.


  • Xoom 
    Xoom Corporation, a global online money transfer provider, launched POWR (Pay Only When Received), to Filipino   last month. Today, Xoom announces that the breakthrough initiative is now available to qualifying remitters throughout Latin America and the Caribbean who choose to send with their bank account(https://www.xoom.com/pay-after-received). Xoom claims to be unlike other money transfer companies in that, if the sender pays with a bank account,Xoom will only withdraw the total amount of the money transfer once the money has arrived.”With POWR, we show once again how Xoom is revolutionizing moneytransfers to Latin America and the Caribbean,” says Julian King, Xoom’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Development. “When our customers send money and pay with their bank account, Xoom will not charge them until their loved ones get their money.


  • Unilever and Northgate Gonzalez Partnership
    Hispanic grocery chain, Northgate Gonzalez Market  and Unilever, have  partnered  to launch a shopper marketing promotion that will  reward consumers who purchase Unilever products with an exclusive performance by  multi-platinum Latin artist, Reyli.


  • Esurance
    Esurance has split its media planning and buying responsibilities between Starcom and incumbent Havas Media, following a review, Adweek reports. Starcom will join the brand’s roster in the lead role on strategic media planning for TV, radio, out-of-home, print and digital. Those responsibilities were previously handled in-house. Starcom has also taken on media buying chores for Esurance’s general advertising in TV, radio and out-of-home. Havas, the incumbent on the account, previously handled buying for TV and radio. Out-of-home was handled in-house. Havas Media, formerly MPG, has been on the account since 2005. The agency will retain planning and buying responsibilities for the brand’s direct-response marketing, which includes work in TV, radio and print.Esurance will continue to handle its own digital buying, as well as some tactical digital planning. The other finalists in the review could not be immediately ascertained. Starcom also handles planning and buying for Allstate, which said in May 2011 that it would buy Esurance, a competitor that sells insurance directly to consumers online.


  • HSBC
    Mindshare retained the US $400 million global HSBC Account. GroupM (Mindshare’s holding company) defended against finalist Zenith. The decision on the media account comes only a few weeks after HSBC decided to split its creative business among three different agencies. Two of those agencies, JWT and Grey are, like Mindshare, part of WPP. Reportedly, HSBC asked all the new creative agencies to recommend the best media agency and obviously the two WPP agencies recommended their incumbent sibling.


  • American Airlines
    American Airlines is cancelled  its direct flights Santo Domingo and Santiago to New York as of April 2. “After careful review of our route network, including performance of individual routes within our global network, American has made the difficult decision to cancel service between New York (JFK) and Santo Domingo (SDQ) and Santiago (STI) effective April 2,  2013″, the company announced. It added that ” American Airlines has proudly served the Dominican Republic for over 37 years. We remain committed to the Dominican Republic and will continue to serve the market through our Miami Hub, where we operate four daily flights to Santo Domingo, three daily flights to Punta Cana (PUJ), one daily flight to Santiago (STI) and Puerto Plata (POP) and one seasonal flight to La Romana (LRM). American Eagle also serves La Romana from Miami.”

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