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What: Super Soccer Stars, a growing grassroots program looking to build the game in 24 cities in 13 states, has hired longtime sports marketer Adam Geisler as CEO.
Why it matters: The organization can serve as a blueprint for matching support of youth soccer with marketing opportunities for brands also looking to grow the sport.

There is no doubt that the world’s soccer powers see North America as the next unconquered land in terms of fan and brand engagement and talent development. However much of that engagement starts, as Major League Soccer (@MLShas learned, at the grassroots. Getting young people to engage in the game, understand the game, and be active builds fans for life, and that is key in every community, especially among Latinos who may have a cultural affinity for the game.

One of the key groups that has done that engagement at the youth level really well is Super Soccer Stars (@SuperSoccerNY).

Founded in 2000, Super Soccer Stars is the largest grassroots program in New York City and also features locations in 24 cities in 13 different states reaching 150,000 children. The mission is to focus on a healthy lifestyle and basic athletic skills development while having fun and building self-confidence and teamwork. Soccer Super Stars’ custom coaching and player development modules are designed for players from 12 months up to 8 years of age and various skill levels. They recently also made a key addition on the business side, adding sports marketing veteran Adam Geisler as CEO. Geisler, whose background includes building brands like Everlast (@Everlast_and MISSION (@MissionAthlete), will be charged with figuring out how to harness that grassroots power, as well as the data that exists to grow not just the business, but the grassroots soccer community as one.

Super Soccer Stars … speaks directly to the interests of families and young kids in the Latino demo.

How does all that data, and all that engagement play out with young Latinos? Pretty well: so we asked Super Soccer Stars COO Sarah Natchez, and Dean Simpson, their Chief Programs Officer, to break it down for us.

Sarah Natchez

Portada: There is so much being talked about in terms of soccer growth in this country, how important at the grassroots level is the Latino demo, in terms of families and young kids?

Sarah Natchez: Soccer is often an intrinsic part of the culture at home in Latino communities—it is watched on TV, reinforced in the home, and a soccer ball is the first gift given to a child. Since Super Soccer Stars focuses on early skill development starting as young as 1 year old in an environment that promotes deliberate play, it speaks directly to the interests of families and young kids in the Latino demo.

Portada: Many may think it is easier to engage with young Latinos because of their potential affinity for soccer because of past generations. However, competition is still tough for disposable income and time. How does Super Soccer Stars cut through that clutter?

SN: Simply put: quality programming. With elite coaches and content, we are able to cut through the clutter by focusing on delivering the highest quality instruction. We also have a diverse and geographically broad schedule making our programming easy to access despite families’ hectic schedules and time commitments.

Portada: “Latino” means many things other than Spanish speaking. Does teaching a different type of soccer at the youth level, Mexican vs. Brazilian, really matter?

Dean Simpson: Diversity is key and having coaches who bring a unique patience, energy and creative flair to every session allows plays to take educated risks in an open environment. Having coaches who share two passions: a passion for soccer and a passion for working with children. Within this framework, brings an eclectic mix of talents and backgrounds: Latino coaches have a tenancy to have more of an attacking mindset, but the game is constantly evolving and having coaches who in general want to focus on ball pay, and ball mastery is key to youth development. Focusing on the individual first, evolve to a partner play and then ultimately the team within the unit as the group gets older.

The Portada Brand-Sports Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

Portada: The company is very well embedded in inner cities. How valuable is that marketplace?

SN: It’s important for us to make Super Soccer Stars accessible to all communities. Inner cities often have highly skilled youth who do not have regular access to paid sports activities. We develop local partnerships to ensure that our programming is available to inner-city youth and gives them the opportunity to develop their talents.

Portada: Lastly, there is a great emphasis to develop healthy young people across all cultures. What are the best practices that the company is continuing to build upon in the cities like Miami where their roots are so deep?

SN: Since soccer is the gateway sport, we focus on building a comprehensive curriculum that includes a focus on nutrition, developing gross motor skills, and has a core emphasis on teamwork and building self-confidence. Having this holistic approach enables us to develop healthy young people across all cultures.

We keep our marketing efforts consistent across all demographics; however, we do often translate our collateral into Spanish in Miami and certain New York City communities.

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Just how important is social advertising to running an effective multicultural campaign? We spoke to Rochelle Newman-Carrasco, the Chief Hispanic Marketing Strategist at Walton Isaacson, an agency with a long-running reputation for creating multicultural social advertising campaigns, to learn more.

Social advertising employs the use of networks in creating, targeting and delivering marketing messages. When strategizing to reach key markets within the U.S., big advertising agencies can no longer ignore the significance of Latinos, especially on social media, as they have become the group with the highest rate of early adopters” of new technology among U.S. demographics.

Some big agencies are embracing this, investing heavily in developing social advertising campaigns that connect with Latino audiences and generate long-lasting relationships with this active demographic. What’s more, they take advantage of the fact that activity on social networks allows agencies to gather important data about certain targets in order to better understand their behavior and priorities.

Rochelle Newman-Carrasco has almost 30 years in the field, developing business strategy, traditional and non-traditional campaigns and conducting research and product development for blue-chip clients. She reiterated that when it comes to building an effective social advertising campaign, “social isn’t a question of right and wrong. Everything informs you and brings you opportunities to use knowledge from real time activities to get closer to your consumer.” Social advertising gives brands a unique opportunity to engage with consumers in less traditional ways, see what works and what doesn’t, adjust strategy quickly and segment for different targets.

Pili Montilla at Té Para Tres (Photo via Zimbio.com)
Pili Montilla at Té Para Tres (Photo via Zimbio.com)

“What would be wrong is not getting into the marketplace because of the paralysis of perfection. Social isn’t about perfecting anything, it’s about engaging with consumers and shaping the narrative based upon what’s really being said and done—not what you think might get said and done,” Newman-Carrasco adds.

Social isn’t about perfecting anything, it’s about engaging with consumers and shaping the narrative based upon what’s really being said and done—not what you think might get said and done.

Lexus Partnership

When asked about specific social advertising campaigns that stood out, Newman-Carrasco points to WI’s partnership with Lexus, through which they have “been innovating in the space for a number of years which has been invaluable in staying ahead of this ever-changing and dynamic methodology for truly targeting desirable consumers.”

An example of this is “Verses & Flow,” produced by WI and aired on TV One, which was a “spoken word and musical program supported by several social media programs” from bloggers to celebrities to live events that are documented through social media coverage before, during and after.

WI also conducted Hispanic marketing initiatives through a partnership with Pili Montilla on the production of Té Para Tres, which won an Emmy Award. This was a perfect example of making use of both traditional and non-traditional platforms in reaching key audiences:  “The program itself airs on a traditional media format (aka TV), (and) the eco-system of social advertising is where the consumer engagement takes place – be it the blogosphere, live events with embedded social media journalists and opportunities for on-line consumer interaction and more.”

Why did these campaigns stand out to Newman-Carrasco? Because “they are strategically aligned with the brand’s core values as well as with the consumer’s interests.” Using a strategic foundation, social media can be used to empower the messages delivered on campaigns featured on other platforms while targeting “more precisely,” giving the minds behind the campaign “access to data that is analyzed from a behavioral standpoint, a look alike standpoint, as well as other angles of relevance to driving bottom line sales.”

To Newman-Carrasco, multicultural campaigns and social advertising go hand-in-hand. When asked when social advertising is considered an important element of a multicultural campaign, Newman-Carrasco says: “One word. Always.” Why? To Walton Isaacson, social advertising is “as valuable for branding as it is for conversion,” because social advertising “isn’t one thing. It can take the shape of brand building creative and dissemination tactics as easily as it can be specifically developed to combat competition and convert consumers.” Spoken like an advertising veteran.

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Baseball may be America’s favorite pastime, but Major League Baseball is full of Latin American flavor, as many of the leagues stars and biggest fans are Latino. We spoke to the L.A. Dodgers‘ Spanish-Language Media Sales Manager Jesse Nuñez to discuss their targeted marketing efforts, and how they incorporate the Dodgers into the way that Latinos identify with Los Angeles.

Let’s start with some context: more than a quarter of Major League Baseball players are Latino, something that probably wouldn’t come as a surprise to most baseball fans. But what many may not know is that reaching and engaging Latino audiences is now a priority for the MLB, as they make up almost half of some teams’ fanbases.

In 2015, the League hired two agencies, Anomaly and Latin Works, for a Hispanic-focused marketing effort that resulted in ‘Aqui,’ a campaign of 30 and 60-second spots running on ESPN. At the time, Jacqueline Parks, the chief marketing officer for Major League Baseball, commented: “Looking at 2015, we wanted to do more to reach out to Latino fans in places we haven’t been. We are buying media and forming media partnerships to engage Latinos more proactively.” viva

Teams like the Dodgers are essential to helping the League succeed in this effort: of 3.9 million fans in attendance at Dodgers games last year, 2.1 million were Latino. So it’s fair to say that the Dodgers have been tackling the task of building long-lasting relationships with Latino audiences for far longer than the League has.

“Looking at 2015, we wanted to do more to reach out to Latino fans in places we haven’t been. We are buying media and forming media partnerships to engage Latinos more proactively.”

The Dodgers seek a balance of targeted marketing campaigns, sponsorship deals and community outreach in their campaigns to build lasting relationships with their current and potential Latino fanbase. In terms of traditional outreach through sponsorships, Nuñez says that targeting Hispanics this way is a priority, but that “everyone in the corporate partnerships team is well-versed in the opportunity that exists with the Dodgers’ Latino fanbase.” But to the Dodgers, the surest way to Latinos’ hearts is through their communities.

Reaching Latinos through Strengthening their Communities

Nuñez speaks more about community outreach than traditional marketing methods when discussing their Latino targeting, and the effort that the organization makes is impressive.

“Dodgers have an extensive community outreach program from within the organization directly through the Community Affairs Department, as well as through its Dodgers Foundation.” According to Nuñez, both of those entities are “extensively” involved with the community at-large, which is significantly Latino.

“These initiatives have been a part of the Dodgers outreach many years before the Commissioner viewed youth outreach as a priority to reach Latinos,” says Nuñez.

The Dodgers Foundation, run by Nichol Whitman, has implemented an impressive array of community projects, including the Dodgers Dreamfields, through which over 37 of the 50 youth baseball fields have been completed with a $5 million investment. The Dodgers RBI Program (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) provides youth baseball and softball coaching, education, health resources, uniforms, equipment and grants for 4,000 kids in L.A.

The team also conducts much of its outreach through the Community Affairs department, led by Naomi Rodriguez, which organizes groups like the Kids 4 Dodgers Baseball, presented with Nike to serve low-income youth and their families who have a hard time paying to attend games. These families receive tickets, transportation to and from the stadium, “Dodger Dollars” and a t-shirt. This program helped over 20,000 kids last year alone.

“We want to emphasize all of the magical things that happen in and around the game. We’re trying to capture the idea that Latinos in the U.S. have an opportunity for greatness ‘aqui,’ here, with Major League Baseball.”

Nuñez comments: “The Department also runs and manages the Dodger Alumni and Current Player Programs through which Dodger Greats from past and present serve the community by speaking to youth groups, conducting clinics and visiting hospitals and other care facilities.”

Mi Casa Es Su Casa

The MLB and Dodgers’ focus on Latinos all boils down to making them feel welcomed and at home with baseball. “We want to emphasize all of the magical things that happen in and around the game. We’re trying to capture the idea that Latinos in the U.S. have an opportunity for greatness ‘aqui,’ here, with Major League Baseball,” LatinWorks President & Chief Creative Officer Sergio Alcocer said.

Nuñez highlights that Los Angeles’s Latino community is not only large, but mixed. Some have grown up in Los Angeles, some are more recent transplants. Some have grown up with baseball fever – either in or out of Los Angeles – and some haven’t. The Dodgers wants to embrace them all.

“We are beginning to capture the folks that perhaps didn’t have a strong baseball heritage in their country of origin as they become more acculturated as Latinos in the first, second and third generations,” says Nuñez.

“The affinity to the team is very much a part of the fabric of what it means to be a Latino in Los Angeles, and as families transition from immigrants to residents they become a part of that fabric, and as such, their interest in the Dodgers becomes more and more solidified.”

What: Waleteros.com, a new mobile app that works like a pre-paid debit card with services such as mobile check deposits, direct deposits, peer-to-peer payments, bill payment, cash withdrawal and a platform for online purchases.
Why it Matters: This digital financial solution could be game-changing for Latinos in the United States, who make up a large percentage of the nearly 60 million Americans without a bank account. Waleteros.com is led by Sergio Carrera, former General Manager of Televisa in the United States.

Text written by Gretchen Gardner, member of Portada’s editorial team.

Underbanked: While you may not have heard word before, it’s an all-too-common phenomenon in America. According to the FDIC, an “underbanked” household “holds a bank account, but also relies on alternative financial services providers.” This often means no credit card, and a high reliance on inefficient and costly alternatives like
check-cashing stores. But luckily, digital payment platforms and online banking are transforming the way people access and use money, a trend that stands to benefit underbanked communities enormously. In the United States, Latinos make up a large percentage of the nearly 60 million people without a bank account. So could technology change all of this?

There’s An App for That

To learn more, wwaleterose sat down with Sergio Carrera, former general manager for US operations at Editorial Televisa, to get the scoop on his new mobile app, Waleteros.com, which functions like a pre-paid debit card and is set to provide basic financial services to a huge amount of Hispanic Americans.

Here’s how it works: “Waleteros is a mobile app linked to a prepaid MasterCard that aims to empower the millions of underbanked Latinos in the US by offering financial services such as mobile check deposits, direct deposits, peer-to-peer payments, bill payment, cash withdrawal and a platform for online purchases,” Carrera explained.

Users do have to get a physical card – either at one of their 60 distribution points in South Florida, or through a self-registration process available upon downloading the app that prompts the company to send a card in the mail.

Our conversation with Carrera left it clear that one of the biggest priorities for Waleteros is that it help Latinos live comfortably, save and conduct financial transactions, as he repeatedly made reference to the company as an “ultra-transparent financial solution.” He reminded us that according to the FDIC, 50% of Hispanic Americans are considered “underbanked,” which means that there is huge room for growth in the market.

And the Fees?

And Carrera and his team are adamant about keeping the fees to a minimum. “We don’t charge activation, monthly or inactivity fees like most other pre-paid cards do. Receiving a direct deposit from an employee or benefits provider is completely free of charge and we work with a network of 2400 surcharge-free ATMs.” Users can even use the app to find the nearest ATM.  And even cashing or depositing a check is free, as long as the user is okay with waiting a few days for the money to be deposited. In urgent cases, a small fee is in place to rush the transaction. The only other fee comes out to US $0.75 to send money to other Waleteros users.

Sergio Carrera, Co-CEO of Waleteros.com
Sergio Carrera, Co-CEO of Waleteros.com

Interestingly, Carrera and his team have also found a way to cater to the uniqueness of the Latino market through their B2B strategy of partnering with merchants and businesses that are in close touch with their target audience. “We reach out to different companies that are servicing the Hispanic community and that will benefit from offering our product to their existing client base,” Carrera said. The Waleteros team is even creating agreements with the significant Hispanic Christian community, “offering a personalized, digital product to Christian churches that are looking for a faster, more convenient and cost-effective way to receive donations.”

Positioned for Growth

Planning to close seed-funding in the second quarter of 2015, so far, Waleteros’s lead investor has been AGP, an angel investment network based in Miami. “For our next round, we will be looking for partners with experience investing in the Financial Technology space,” he says, and in a payment industry that “is undergoing tremendous changes,” they should be well-positioned for growth, as Carreras’ co-founders have worked in both the electronic payment and financial sectors, Carreras himself having worked at Merrill Lynch and served as the CFO at a publishing company. Waleteros expects to have 5,000 active users by the end of the year, a goal that doesn’t seem unfeasible considering the potential impact of its services.

jessica.alasJessica Alas is the Media Relations Director of Multicultural Markets and Hispanic PR Wire.

I recently wrote about the three people you need to add to your radio press list now, and today I want to discuss why the Latina journalist with a blog should be included in your media relations campaign.

As marketing and PR practitioners focus on new strategies to reach upscale Latinos via blogger relations, the plethora of mom and lifestyle bloggers can sometimes be overwhelming.  As a result, some have had to rely on blogging networks to do their outreach.  Unfortunately, nothing can take the place of thorough research.  That extra time you dedicate to going through each and every single blog on your list and knowing the topics that blogger is interested in covering will really matter in the long run.

Making sure that blog is written by an actual journalist makes a world of difference.  Pitching will be much easier and cleaner since the Latina journalist by day and blogger by night is well-aware of ethics and deadlines.   She owns her own blog, she knows what it takes to produce quality content, and she may even have extra space to dedicate to your story on her blog that she may not have at her media outlet.

While Latinos continue to acculturate, Latina journalists want new avenues where they can continue to produce quality content.

So while Latinos continue to acculturate, Latina journalists want new avenues where they can continue to produce quality content.

claudia solisBlogging have piqued their interest, as Peruvian-American journalist Claudia Solis can attest.  She explains that she is interested in telling a good story, well written, and above all, produced as she would do for mass media.“The Internet has given journalists an immense opportunity to voice our interests without having to reduce and generalize it, as is normally done in traditional media,” she says.

mary avilesShe says the lack of blogs with quality content in Spanish is one of the reasons she and Venezuelan-American journalist Mary Aviles (photo) launched  MamienTransicion.com completely in Spanish.

 

Paola Hernandez JiaoMeanwhile, Latina journalist Paola Hernández Jiao  says her blog even appeals to non-Latinos.  Many of them follow HappyLifeandStyle.com and appreciate reading about the Latino culture and customs.  “They send me positive feedback. Being bicultural and bilingual, and married to a German, I can share about our multiple cultures, in particular my Latino culture,” she says.

Six tips to keep in mind when pitching

Anything goes:  Don’t worry if your stories do not have a Latino angle.  “Hispanics have the same interests as other women in this country with the added mindfulness that our culture plays an important factor. There is a huge range of topics that appeal to the majority of Latinos,” says Solis.

Food, entertainment and events have no barriers:  Solis explains that “posts on family traditions like food, music, or sports are the glue of Latinos”.   While Hernández Jiao agrees that food a post do well, and adds that some of her most successful content have been about local events.

Fashion and beauty are always hot topics:  Hernández Jiao dedicates quite a bit of her posts to fashion and beauty and has also written about quinceañeras. “As Latinas, we take pride in looking good and tend to spend more money on beauty items, such as make-up, hair products, and perfume, than women in the general market.”

Business, finance and entrepreneurship:  There are numerous studies to support that Latinos still believe in the American Dream of entrepreneurship and home-ownership. Pitches that have to do with saving money, investing, and organizing finances are of prime interest.   “Latinas are launching small businesses like no other group. “They are no longer at home. They are transitioning, taking the lead, and exercising control over their finances”, says Aviles.

Family and human interest stories are given top priority:  Solis says she regularly cites examples of Latinas who inspire her as she discusses lifestyle, work and motherhood. “Our blog is a reflection on motherhood in these days where women want to not only be mothers but also professionals. Our intention is to not to “sell” to women but to present well written stories that reflect elements of their own experience,” says Aviles.

Don’t forget the news:  Latina journalists are well aware of the news value of a particular story, and the story angle that will work for her blog.  “We like to deal with polemic and timely issues but also we like to have the authority to speak, investigate and offer content that inspire,” says Solis.  Hernández Jiao points out that she is not afraid to write stories about immigration, which she feels is a sensitive topic. While Aviles believes that people connect with stories that reflect themselves.

Jessica Alas has over 15 years of experience as a journalist and media relations practitioner, Jessica Alas leads PR Newswire’s multicultural media relations efforts, helping the Hispanic, African American, Asian American and Native American media with tools and services to facilitate their work as journalists and bloggers. She also manages PR Newswire’s multicultural media relationships with websites, trade shows and conferences. Prior to her role at PR Newswire, Ms. Alas was National Entertainment Content Producer for Netmio.com and Head of Miami Operations for LaMusica.com.