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Last Thursday at Portada Los Angeles, select speakers got together to discuss how all marketing is now multicultural marketing. Panels included varied topics ranging from taxes to Hollywood, attendees got a glimpse of what’s next for the Latino market.

Weeks after Portada Miami, top-notch speakers got together again at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel on May 10 to discuss key topics surrounding the Latino community in the U.S. After an introduction by the president of Portada Marcos Baer, Melissa Rodriguez, founder and CEO of Mel Rodriguez & Co, introduced Intuit’s Senior Brand and Latino Marketing Manager John Sandoval, who provided the audience with interesting insights on marketing to Latinos when it comes to taxes. Benjamin Franklin said “Latinos are unfamiliar with the income-taxes category,” said Sandoval. “Even if you speak English, this whole tax language is very challenging to understand.” TurboTax found that in the Latino market the “Do it yourself” portion is very small, while non-Hispanics prefer the DIY approach. This means a gap and a business opportunity that TurboTax is tapping into by helping Latinos to do their taxes themselves.

At 10:30am, Nelson Peña, VP of Latcom U.S., took over the stage to present one of Latcom’s most successful case studies. With thousands of out-of-home advertisements, Latcom’s campaign designed for Fox Entertainment managed to create awareness of Fox’s new OTT app, recently launched in Mexico. When asked about targetting U.S. Hispanics, Peña shared that even though the biggest opportunity for out-of-home is in the entertainment category, campaigns are tailored depending on brands and locations, such as the campaign Latcom did for Nestlé, in which the creatives were specifically designed to target Hispanics in southern Texas, Arizona, and California.

Unless you grow with multicultural audiences, you cannot grow.

A deep discussion about what it takes for brands to communicate with Latino audiences got everyone thinking about the future of multicultural marketing. Moderated by Zach Rosenberg, president of MBMG, the panel gathered decision makers like Mobvious’ CEO Isabel Rafferty, Gallegos United’s Strategic Planning Director Caterina Goncalves and Chief Strategy & Engagement Officer Andrew Delbridge, and Natalia Gutierrez, Category Sales Development Manager, Global Foods at Nestlé. With each panelist bringing their own experience with multicultural marketing over the years to the table, the conversation spurred engagement among the audience. A good example to understand cultural attunement according to Caterina Goncalves is what she called “the Despacito phenomenon”, in which a non-Hispanic singer, Justin Bieber, appropriated the song and embraced the Spanish language. “Not enough brands are doing are doing enough to really be culturally attuned,” commented Andrew Delbridge. “As someone who comes from the general market side, I’ve probably learned more in the last 6 years than I’ve learned in the previous 20 years of my career about what I didn’t know about marketing to Hispanics, or to America, really; unless you grow with multicultural audiences, in most categories, you cannot grow.”

There are more boys walking around in Messi or Ronaldo jerseys than in U.S. soccer jerseys.

At 11:45am, the stage received a selection of brilliant speakers with experience in the soccer business industry. Brendan Hannan, VP of marketing and communications for the LA Galaxy; Jason Howarth, VP of marketing at Panini America; and Steve Pastorino, VP of Corporate Partnership at Las Vegas Lights FC, answered questions posed by Joe Favorito, Portada’s Head of Sports Content, about the great potential marketers can tap on now that Fifa’s World Cup is almost here… and Team U.S.A. is not going. “For a country that is not participating in the World Cup, the U.S. market is fortunate of having a wide demographic of people supporting multiple countries,” asserted Jason Howarth. “On the men’s side there’s always been this default of ‘who else am I going to root for”, there are many more boys walking around in Messi or Ronaldo jerseys than in U.S. soccer jerseys.”

Finally, Portada LA got to a conclusion that was very ad hoc with the setting: in a panel titled Hollywood and Latin Audiences, Pongalo’s CEO Rich Hull talked to Adriana Trautman, VP, Marketing Latin America at 20th Century Fox, about marketing entertainment to Latin Americans. When asked about how traditional brands are using content online, and what works in the entertainment industry, Trautman answered that “Consumer behavior is completely different online; from a Hollywood perspective is probably easier for us than for more traditional brands because people are looking for that content, but more and more it is about interaction, about creating a relationship with characters, actors, and with the talent behind it… It takes a lot of work, but once you do it, it keeps the conversation going.”

As you can see, the room was packed. Where were you?

What: Panini’s Jason Howarth, Las Vegas Lights’ Steve Pastorino and the L.A. Galaxy’s Brendan Hannan weigh in on the importance of the Latino market at World Cup this summer.
Why it matters: Resetting from a U.S.-Canada focus to Latino fandom is critical for brands with World Cup ties.

There were about 48 hours of angst for Panini’s Jason Howarth (@sportsmktgguywhen the U.S. Men’s National team was eliminated for World Cup contention by Trinidad and Tobago.

“Then, we realized we needed to seize all the other opportunities we knew would exist in the U.S.,” he said. “After all when you go around the country and you see all the Messi and Ronaldo jerseys you quickly realize the U.S. team is probably not the focus of most fans anyway.”

That reset, and that opportunity, was echoed not just by Howarth, but also by executives from both the L.A. Galaxy (@LAGalaxyand the Las Vegas Lights (@lvlightsfclast Thursday on a panel about “The Beautiful Game” at Portada LA. at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. The message from all was clear: FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) presents a great business opportunity, especially for brands and teams that have the foresight to embrace all parts of Latino business and culture as the 2018 event quickly approaches.

When the World Cup shock wore off, the opportunity for teams and leagues and brands to creatively find new ways to engage in soccer in a still-growing marketplace is huge.

For the Galaxy, VP of Marketing, Communications and Digital Brendan Hannan (@brendanhannan ‏) was quick to point out that the multicultural approach the club has long taken with their fan experience will be buffeted by World Cup, even with the lack of a U.S. or Canadian National team in the field. The reason? Mexico. With two Mexican players on the roster (Giovani dos Santos and Jonathan dos Santos) who are candidates for the national team, a wide and years-long  community outreach into the Mexican community, and a footprint that extends south to the Mexican border, LA’s longstanding Major League Soccer franchise has more than just a passing chance of business success when play begins in Russia.

“All our communication with the community is bilingual,” said Hannan. “Our community events and staff have a great understanding of what works and resonates in not just the Mexican but the Latino community as well, and above all, we fully embrace and enjoy the fact that the gateway to the Latino fan starts with the grassroots and will be wide open during World Cup. We are excited about the opportunities.”

Like the Galaxy, the Lights, the newest, and perhaps most disruptive, entry into Tier 2 USL ( ), understands the hyperlocal value of the Latino community to soccer as their key to business success and brand engagement.

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“The face of our franchise (Jose Luis Sánchez Solá – “Chelís”) is a legend in Mexico, we have nine players on our roster who are Mexican, and 20 of our 24 players are bilingual, so we fully understand the value that the Latino audience can bring to our business,” said Steve Pastorino (@StevePastorino), VP of Corporate Sponsorship for the Lights. “On Father’s Day at 8am, following a game the night before, where will we be as a team? Watching what will be the biggest first round matchup in World Cup, Mexico and Germany, with our fans and partners.”

Even with the Mexican focus, Pastorino, a longtime sports marketer who helped launch the MLS Chicago Fire (@ChicagoFireas well, pointed to the massive importance of all the soccer-playing Latino nations as a benchmark for brand success for the Lights. “No matter if it’s Argentina, or Peru or Brazil, we will embrace and leverage off the success in World Cup for all our Latino supporters, as soccer is really a great unifier of cultures, and there is no bigger event to unify around than the World Cup.”

That unification has been a massive boost again for Panini, whose sticker books for World Cup have become a global phenomenon. The numbers of books and stickers the company has been producing for World Cup are staggering; 2 million packets a day with over 70 million stickers being distributed in a week in over 100 countries including the U.S. The key concentration, both in the States and elsewhere, is in the Latino market.

Jason Howarth

“No country understands and appreciates the value of our sticker books better than Brazil,” Howarth added. “And the gateway for our business in the United States wasn’t really going to be through the U.S. national team (although the company did sign rising star Christian Pulisic  to a long-term deal); it was going to be through those Central and South American countries that have strong fan bases here in the U.S. The stories of Peru, Mexico, Argentina and the like will grow as the games progress, and with those stories will come even more affinity not just from the millions of followers those nations already have but from casual fans who will start watching World Cup and enjoying this massive stage when they might be doing something else. It is a huge opportunity for us not just now, but for our future business in soccer as well here in the U.S.”

Would it have helped had the U.S. qualified? Of course, all admitted. However, when the World Cup shock wore off, the opportunity for teams and leagues and brands to creatively find new ways to engage in soccer in a still-growing marketplace, and do it directly with the fastest growing demo in the U.S. (Latinos who are upwardly mobile and soccer astute) is huge.

“It’s an opportunity all of us are looking forward to, and we are pretty confident the stories will help us grow beyond what was possible even four years ago,” Pastorino added. “For a community like Las Vegas, it can’t be much more exciting.”

The angst for World Cup is certainly a distant memory.