Loyalty Marketing is key. Roberto Muñoz, Head of Loyalty Travel at Puntos Colombia manages a joint program between Colombia’s largest bank Bancolombia and Latin American retailer Grupo Éxito. Prior to his current role, he was a strategist for Aeroméxico’s loyalty program Club Premier. The brand marketing leader shares key insights about digital channels for loyalty marketing with Portada including how tech and digital channels enable companies to engage and gain new customers and keep them happy coming back.
Interview conducted by Alejandra Velazquez

Roberto Muñoz, Portada, e-mail marketing
Roberto Muñoz, Puntos Colombia @puntoscolombia

Technology plays a crucial role in enabling marketers to do a better job, not least when it comes to loyalty marketing. In fact, 84% of executives surveyed by Accenture agree that companies are using technology to weave themselves seamlessly into how people live today. 

“Technology helps us to segment audiences. It sparks activation” Muñoz says, adding “Technology provides us the data to develop the right targeting strategies. That way, we keep captive users interested and lure in new consumers via their passion points, like travel, fashion and entertainment. The challenge is recruiting customers that actually interact with the brand, not just sign their name on a list.” But nothing matters if the information isn’t properly documented. The challenge is tracking customer data and applying it correctly in order to serve your marketing strategy. A department that manages and filters big data correctly is always a must.

But nothing matters if the information isn’t documented properly. A department that manages and filters big data correctly is always a must.

Digital Channels: E-mail Marketing is Still an Effective Tool

“Digital channels are key to bring new customers into our loyalty marketing programs. You can target specific audiences by sending key messages. 85% of our customers say they read our news through e-mail marketing. I’ve heard many experts talk about the death of e-mail marketing, but our numbers show the contrary,” Muñoz asserts.

Segmenting information via e-mail is the only thing that ensures the client remains active in your program.

According to Muñoz, segmenting information via e-mail is the only thing that ensures the client remains active in your program. Many strategists say “leave your most valuable customers alone, you don’t want them to get bored. I think when you’re really involved with a brand, you don’t mind how often they contact you. You know you’ll get relevant content eventually.”

…Social? Not so much

“Social network strategies are too focused on massive audiences. We address and recruit a very small percentage of users on social networks. Some programs only want users to click here and then to subscribe to a given program and get an immediate benefit. However, out of all users who sign up, a tiny percentage will actually become involved. You invest a lot of money and end up with a handful of users akin to your brand. One time in Aeroméxico we set a goal to sign up one million new customers onto our base. But in the end, less than 5% of those clients were actual travelers. The rest had been “bullied into it” by the hoards of ads we’d purchased on digital.”  However once you have acquired new clients, social media may prove a valuable tool for loyalty marketing.

You invest a lot of money and end up with a handful of users akin to your brand.

Loyalty Marketing: Three Ways to Get Customer Feedback

Reliable customer feedback is also an important piece of Puntos Colombia’s strategy for using digital channels for loyalty marketing. Muñoz has developed three ways to approach customers:  direct meetings, focus groups, and surveys.

“High-profile customers get invited to breakfast or lunch to offer their feedback and opinions about the program. Nothing is as valuable as having customers tell you how they feel in person. We have a very direct style of approaching customers. The director of the program may have a sit down with customers and explain what they can and can’t do about their non-conformities.”

They also have focus groups conducted through third-party researchers. Because when consumers don’t know they’re speaking directly to a brand, it helps them give unbiased feedback. Last but not least, there’s surveys. Many valuable customers take the time to respond and are often rewarded with incentives like additional points. The incentives help ensure they are interested in giving their honest opinion.

Reliable customer feedback is also an important piece of Puntos Colombia’s strategy.

Roberto Muñoz, Head of Loyalty, Travel at Puntos Colombia, will be one of the dozens of brand marketing innovators participating at at the exclusive knowledge-sharing and networking event Portada Live on Sept. 22.

Daniel Galvan Duque, Marketing Director for Flavored CSD’s at Gepp PepsiCo Mexico tells Portada about their Consumer Engagement Cycle for reaching audiences through meaningful experiences, heartfelt stories and open conversations. You may know everything about your consumers nowadays – what they wear, where they go, what they eat, and even what they need and when they need it. Perhaps your brand has been paying close attention for years. But have your brand’s consumers been paying attention to you? Read on to see how Gepp PepsiCo Engages the Mexican Consumer.


Interview conducted by Alejandra Velazquez

Daniel Galvan Duque, Portada, Brand Marketing
Daniel Galvan Duque, Gepp PepsiCo Mexico @gepp

The Power of Storytelling

PepsiCo has been mastering the Consumer Engagement Cycle for decades. Their beverage portfolio is relatable, and their strongest brands have been household names for the fashion, music, and sports industries for decades. This isn’t just about what people like, it’s about how people live. Melding into consumers memories of meaningful events gives brands a backstage pass into people’s experiences. And once they’ve shared an experience, it’s how the story gets told.

El Peluches: Creating Engagement Through Passion

When people don’t immediately skip your ad, you know you’ve hit a home-run. “Truth is, in an era populated with so many brands, communication, and content, the challenge is grabbing people’s attention,” says Daniel Galvan Duque, the man behind PepsiCo’s marketing strategy. In August 2016, Gatorade partnered with Alejandro “El Peluches” Ruiz, a man who runs marathons wearing a vest covered entirely in plush toys. Why? Because his unique passion encourages others and brightens their day. Gatorade was clever enough to notice and share the story to connect with their Mexican audience.

Truth is, in an era populated with so many brands, communication, and content, the challenge is grabbing people’s attention.

The “El Peluches” ad was an unconventional format with a story worth telling. “You have to constantly challenge yourself to produce things that create proximity. The digital world demands you to keep your pre-rolls under five seconds long and all your content under 20, and here was this 2’30’’ narrative with a 70% view rate” reminisces Galvan Duque.

5v5 Montemorelos: Rooting for the Underdogs 

The Gatorade 5v5 soccer tournament in partnership with the UEFA Champions League has gained plenty of momentum in its four-year run (check out our interview with Jill Leccia, Senior Marketing Director – Gatorade Latin America). In 2017, a team from the small rural town of Montemorelos made it to the playoffs but lost in the semifinals. “They asked us if there was a chance they could try again at the second playoffs, and we gave them permission. This time they won, and that gave us a chance to tell a great story. They ended up losing at the finals and didn’t get to travel to Barcelona for the first prize, but we still made the story fit perfectly with the brand’s message: sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you never quit trying” says Galvan Duque.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, but you never quit trying.

The outcome was a brief 3’34’’ documentary in which the narrator says “At the end you might win. You might not win. You might have all the odds against you. But one thing is true: in Montemorelos and anywhere else, if you keep sweating, nothing can stop you”. The message matched the brand messaging and reached over seven million views.

Fido Dido Parade: Nostalgia and Influence  

Relatable characters, a touch of nostalgia and partnerships with influencers can keep brand awareness alive. Fido Dido was 7UP’s beloved hand-sketched character in the nineties who was “ageless, thoughtful, chill, and compassionate towards one and all” according to one of its creators Joanna Ferrone. Reviving an ambassador like Fido Dido, highly nostalgic and relatable, does wonders for sparking all kinds of conversations, activations, experiences, and stories – the cogs that keep the Consumer Engagement Cycle alive and spinning.

We wanted each to have a different personality, imprinted by the person creating them. So we found an influencer pool that made sense with the brand.

He recently made a comeback in a series of ads and parades held across Mexico where the brand invited different artists to decorate blank forms of the beloved character. “We wanted each to have a different personality, imprinted by the person creating them. So we found an influencer pool that made sense with the brand. First thing to consider is whether they believe in your message and what you’re doing” reveals Galvan Duque. The right strategy goes a long way for how Gepp PepsiCo engages the Mexican consumer.

Daniel Galvan Duque, Marketing Director for Flavored CSD’s at Gepp, PepsiCo Mexico, will be one of the dozens of brand marketing innovators present at Portada Miami on June 4, 2020. If you are interested in participating in Portada Miami and/or in Portada’s networking and knowledge-sharing platform with brand marketers please contact us here.

E-Commerce trends in Mexico and Peru. Here’s your summary of the most relevant consumer insight research in Latin American markets. If you’re trying to keep up with the latest happenings, this is your one-stop shop. Check out the previous Latam Consumer Insights Roundup here


in-Store Media has revealed that Mexicans prefer to buy wine at warehouse stores, according to 37% of survey participants. The most important factor to select the product is the brand, followed by the grape variety and price of the bottle. Over half (55%) of surveyed consumers already know which wine they’re getting before visiting the store. even so, 34% said they have changed their mind about the brand, and 86% said they’re willing to choose a new product if they find appealing information at the store.


Since November 2018, Amazon has launched five Alexa devices in Mexico, among which the Echo Dot is the most popular. Amazon has revealed the list of topics Mexicans ask the most about: animals; movies, TV shows and celebrities; trivia; songs; superheroes; Mexican History; sports; jokes; and alarms. Among the most frequently heard phrases Mexicans tell to their devices are: “Good morning, Alexa”, “Alexa, I love you”, “What’s up, Alexa?”, and “Alexa, I’m home”.


According to Linio, millennials are driving e-commerce more than any other generation in Peru. Peruvian millennials spend four minutes, 27 seconds in average looking for and purchasing products. Most of them research prices on mobile devices and make the transaction on a PC or laptop. Generation Z spends more time researching products, but are not yet spending as much as millennials.

A survey by Tiendeo.mx found that nine out of ten Mexicans said they planned to make purchases during the Buen Fin, on 15-18 November, and spend an average MX $4,518. More than two-thirds of respondents (70%) said they’d make their transactions in physical stores, as opposed to the 30% that claimed they’d use their phone, PC or tablet.



Experts in Influencer Marketing campaigns discuss best practices. Vivian Baron, Founder and Creative Chairwoman at Band of Insiders, presented the panelists: Best Buy Mexico’s E-commerce Subdirector José Camargo, Grupo Bimbo’s Global Consumer Engagement Lead Giustina Trevisi, Band of Insiders’ Influencer Marketing Manager Leonardo Vargas, and Pepsico/Drinkfinity’s Director of Business Innovation & Marketing Yamile Elias.

How powerful can influencer marketing campaigns be? Is it for everyone? During the last years, the trend of using influencers as a tool to amplify a campaign or message has grown to a great extent. As Vivian Baron, Founder and Creative Chairwoman of Band of Insiders believes, “It is no longer about the relationship with the media, but rather about how we amplify our client’s message correctly. There’s great interest placed on influencer marketing, but there’s also a great lack of knowledge around it.”

In spite of this lack of knowledge, many brands have tried to take advantage of the opportunity that influencer marketing represents. Unfortunately, not everyone has succeeded. “Digital platforms are so strong today that influencer marketing can have a hugely negative effect,” asserted Baron. “It should be taken very seriously.”

Can (or Should) Any Brand Take Advantage of Influencer Marketing Campaigns?

With the buzz around this type of marketing, every brand wonders if influencers can boost their ROI. While this can and does happen, it isn’t as simple as some could believe, and influencers can help a great deal in things that are not necessarily direct sales. “Influencer marketing is key in any brand, not only to create awareness but for many other things,” said Yamile Elias, Director of Business Innovation & Marketing, Drinkfinity/Pepsico. “At Drinkfinity we’re using it for insights, to ask the consumer certain things. When we have a problem they can help us solve it, but only if it’s a good fit.”

For Giustina Trevisi, Global Consumer Engagement Lead at Grupo Bimbo, brands are already surrounded by influencer marketing, and it would benefit them to adopt a position towards it. “Influencers are something we can’t ignore. It’s a ‘can’t hide’ matter, where the question is ‘how to leverage‘,” asserted Trevisi. Influencers are a great tool in any ecosystem, but it doesn’t work on its own. You’re not supposed to have an Influencer Marketing strategy on its own, but rather include it in your overall communication strategy.” Moreover, she agreed with Yamile Elias that this tool helps in diverse areas, such as crisis management, campaign support, and PR and perception. While these don’t have a direct impact on your ROI, “they obviously expand reach,” she said.

What matters now is the content, sales should only be the consequence.

What Are the Keys to Crafting Successful Influencer Marketing Campaigns?

Giustina Trevisi summarized the essential elements when sharing one of Bimbo’s stories of success: 1. Objective, 2. Target, 3. Creative. “The first step is knowing the objective and whom we intend to reach. We held onto a current event, something that was happening at the moment (Peru qualified for the World Cup), and we focused on getting the formats, times, and platforms correctly,” she told. “You need to choose the correct target and influencers according to your objective and budget. If you show the idea to management and they don’t like it, that is a good sign, as it’s not for them.”

A Matter of Strategy

You need to choose the correct target and influencers according to your objective and budget. If you show the idea to management and they don’t like it, that is a good sign, as it’s not for them.

“Influencer marketing should be carried out in very strategic ways,” added José Camargo. “For Best Buy, something that has worked really well is these people we call ‘insiders’ that don’t even know they are influencers. These kids can get 3-4 thousand people in 20 minutes for an opening.” What matters the most, he emphasized, is a good fit between the influencers’ values and those of the company: “The brand and the influencer should have similar values. Only when the influencer is convinced by the brand are the publications really natural: the brand’s ideals rub off on his or her posts and comments.”

How to Select an Influencer?

As we have seen so far, having a clear objective matters, but so does selecting an influencer that matches that objective. The first thing, then, is knowing what each type of influencer can achieve.”There’s an influence pyramid that we can divide into mega, macro, and micro. Each one of these has different results,” explained Leonardo Vargas. “However, the new trend is ‘hidden influencers’, people who have an impact both online and offline. We need to look at their profile and their basic social circle in order to provoke a more direct impact on sales.”

Having an expert to deal with them helps with the flow and builds long-term relationships.

For Better Results, Employ an Expert

The next thing would be the actual process of selection. For Giustina Trevisi, this is much easier with the help of a specialist. “I would recommend others to work with influencer agencies, to work with experts,” she stated. “It’s important to have someone who knows how to handle them, have a good communication with them. We work with several specialized agencies who take our brief, give it back, then we do a second brief, they give it to the influencer and then they present a creative proposal. If I do the regulation part, I lose the emotional component. Having an expert to deal with them helps with the flow and builds long-term relationships.”

Can Technology Make the Process Easier?

“We have to automatize processes through platforms, technology, data, correlations… We need to use what’s available, but the decision has to ultimately go through a human filter who knows the target and can make sense of everything,” said Giustina Trevisi. “A tool can give you a diagnosis, but a human being has to make de decision. A machine uses algorithms, but the context has to be human.”

“I’m in favor of digitalization and automatization, but the human part is inescapable,” agreed Leonardo Vargas. “Instagram stories, for example, can give you very complete information, but only when you have a team of experts constantly looking at what’s going on on social media. Every day there are more platforms; with just one click you can execute a campaign, but we need to go back to the brief. Everything needs to be taken care of.”


What Can We Expect for Future Influencer Marketing Campaigns?

It’s easy to see where we’re going if we take a quick look at where we’ve recently been. As Yamile Elias commented, “If we analyze the number of times people search the word ‘influencer’, we find that the number has grown 200% since 2016, and it grew 60% in the first quarter of this year alone. Estimations show the budget for influencer marketing in the U.S. to go up to 5-10 billion dollars.”

 Facebook, Twitter, etc. have become just another showcase for brands, and consumers don’t want to see that anymore.

According to Leonardo Vargas, there are already a couple of trends that we can expect to see in the near future. “One: strategies linked to SEO and automatized keywords, which are different to Google’s ad words because they get placed on social media,” he explained. “Two: audience marketing for influencers; a type of audience analysis that helps you know what works, not what looks well. A new trend that will be very important, and it’s a great time to be pioneers, is the rise of new social media. Facebook, Twitter, and the others have become just another showcase for brands, and consumers don’t want to see that anymore. There are new social media that are going back to what Facebook and Twitter were about originally, like Mastodon, in which users are in control and it’s free of ads.”

In Conclusion…

In short, we should try to go deep into the influencer marketing campaigns tool instead of staying at a superficial level. Influencers are for every brand only if the strategy is very clear. Objectives, channels and the influencers themselves should fit, not only to minimize crisis risk but to ensure good results overall. It’s very important to analyze the data, be aware of the results you’re aiming at. We shouldn’t underestimate Influencer marketing, it isn’t easy, but it can really bring you success. It should be a part of your whole marketing strategy, not as an isolated campaign but as a long-term program. If we do it well, it’s a great bet. Otherwise, it can really hurt you. That’s why you should partner with experts.


What: Retailers scramble behind Amazon and MercadoLibre to capture their share of expanding e-commerce in Latin America. This happens despite difficult payment and delivery challenges.
Why it matters: Experts predict e-commerce trends will grow by 19% in the next five years. They see it rising well above the global average of 11%. The lack of brick-and-mortar retail outlets in Latin America actually plays into the hand of e-commerce retailers. That’s because it allows them to offer products to consumers outside of major cities who don’t have many shopping options.

E-Commerce Trends Heating Up

E-commerce trends in Latin America provide no place for the timid. The challenges are well-known. Experts say they include lack of infrastructure, consumers without credit cards or bank accounts, high rates of online payment fraud, and obstacles to delivering product—to name just a few.

But the barriers to success don’t stop leading players. For example, MercadoLibre is diving into the e-commerce market and thriving.

One expert remarks the challenges are “daunting.” But competitors like Linio are finding ways to outperform. They chase what Linio’s General Director Olivier Sieuzac says is a “massive opportunity” in expected e-commerce growth in the region.

Linio has learned it had to expand its online business model. That means beyond just selling product. The strategy now includes things like creating its own delivery fleet. Linio also sells its hard-earned expertise to brands like Aeromexico who create their own online retailing presence.

To succeed in Mexico, Linio built partnerships with VISA to prevent credit card fraud. Consequently, it also joined arms with third-party payment channels. They include the convenience store chain Oxxo. Linio aims to provide the unbanked with cash-payment options.

Mexico, according to Sieuzac, offers the “worst of both worlds.” Mexico suffers high levels of online payment fraud and a low level of cooperation from banks.

As a result, Linio developed a proprietary algorithm with VISA as a response to reduce credit card fraud. Consequently, Linio also now offers its own credit card with a loyalty program. The loyalty program awards cash back on purchases.

Linio also created its own fleet in Mexico to handle the delivery of over-sized items like refrigerators and other home appliances.

Infrastructure, payment obstacles

Lack of infrastructure in Latin America makes delivering product a particularly difficult part of the e-commerce business.

Logistics and related issues amount to 15 percent of the cost of what’s sold online—well above other regions, according to Miriam Dowd, Marketing Manager at FOCUSECONOMICS.

Merchants experience the impact of “limited” access to credit card-based payment methods. Banks often don’t allow debit cards to be used for online payments.

E-commerce in Latin America faces many challenges, the most daunting of which are logistics, traffic, and infrastructure. Regulations and rules vary among countries. Merchants have and limited access to secure, credit-card based payment methods,” Dowd explains.

Online sales are expected to grow by 19% in the next five years. As a result, that is well above the global average of 11%. They are foreseen to double in value to $118 billion in 2021.

But on the positive side of the ledger, experts say market penetration is low compared to other regions. As a result, that represents lots of opportunity. Consequently, the market also offers higher growth rates.

“Online sales are expected to grow 19% in the next five years – well above the global average of 11%. As a result, they will double in value to $118 billion in 2021. Consequently, two of the three fastest-growing eCommerce markets in the world are in Latin America. They are Colombia and Argentina,” Dowd said in an email to Portada.

E-commerce trends forecaster eMarketer found even with this expected high growth rate, nearly 75 percent of the market of 650 million consumers expected to shop online is untapped.

E-commerce trends working for e-retailers

MercadoLibre boasts status as the undisputed leader in Latin America. Its huge geographic footprint and logistics expertise “have helped it to hold the lead,” Dowd said.

Amazon leverages its international recognition to become a leading player in Latin America.

And for Linio, expanding its business model and offering consumers a trusted, predictable and “formal” online shopping experience proves critical to its success, according to General Director Sieuzac.

Linio seeks to set itself apart from other online retailers by rigorously vetting its product providers to make sure what they offer Linio’s customers meets certain standards.

Linio offers free returns in its strategy of building customers’ confidence.

“We’re not leaving customers alone in a face-to-face situation with the seller,” Sieuzac said.

Linio’s strategy provides its online expertise to brands. They then create their own online shopping sites, a key component of Linio’s competitiveness.

As a result, Linio entered into a partnership to build and operate Aeromexico’s Club Premier online shopping experience.

Mexico offers the worst of both worlds: high levels of online payment fraud and a low level of cooperation from banks.

Linio also partnered with the micro-financing company ConCredito. ConCredito provides a huge presence in rural zones not necessarily within Linio’s geographic footprint.

Linio publishes its catalog of products on ConCredito’s website “Creditienda.” Linio spokesperson Paulina Maza said the company supports the ConCredito e-commerce site with specific promotion campaigns. They include digital marketing, logistics, fast delivery of products, and returns.

What lies ahead

The lack of brick and mortar retail outlets in Latin America actually plays into the hand of e-commerce retailers. That’s because they can offer products to consumers outside of major cities where consumers don’t have many shopping options. Sieuzac told Portada, “It’s a massive opportunity. You have people that simply don’t have access to products, even from a normal shop.”

A “key component” of e-commerce growth in Latin America proves to be shopping online with a mobile phone. As a result, a report by yStats.coMobile commerce reveals experts expect it to increase at a faster rate than e-commerce.

Brazil offers the largest consumer e-commerce market in Latin America. The report found experts predict Colombia to show a 20 percent growth rate through 2021.

A summary of the report reveals experts predict: “Rising internet and smartphone penetration rates, greater online payment security and development of MCommerce to contribute to the growth of online retail sales.”

What: WeWork’s Ana Rivadeneyra reveals to Portada how WeWork “humanizes” its outreach to potential customers in order to grow its market in Mexico and Latin America.
Why it matters: WeWork is leveraging the power of its own members’ experiences as told by them on social and other digital media to fuel its rapid growth in Latin America. 

“Our community is our most valuable marketing tool.” That’s how Ana Rivadeneyra, Marketing Manager México at WeWork, describes WeWork’s strategy for continuing its rapid growth in Mexico and Latin America.

WeWork first entered the Latin America market in 2016 starting in Mexico City and has since grown its presence in the region to 50 locations and 11 cities in six countries, including Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Bogota, Río de Janeiro, Lima, Monterrey, Santiago de Chile, Medellin, Guadalajara and Belo Horizonte.

“This region is of utmost importance globally for WeWork since it is the fastest-growing region, taking into account that we have only spent a little more than two years in this territory,” Rivadeneyra tells Portada.

Today, WeWork has 32,000 members in Mexico, and 450,000 members worldwide.

Portada: How does WeWork see itself operating worldwide and in Mexico? Is it a real estate, services, or software company?

AR: Our growth in Latin America—and the world—is on all of those fronts. We provide a 360-degree solution that simplifies space installation and maintenance. We are a single point of contact for an architect, designer, construction professional, landlord, and attorney. Here, workers and companies have the space, technology, services and experience to help them focus on what’s most important to them. Beyond just the physical space, our network of members and our application create a worldwide community of professionals and businesses.

WeWork has 32,000 members in Mexico, and 450,000 members worldwide.

Portada: What are the traditional marketing tools WeWork is using to grow its market in Mexico and Latin America?

 AR: Our community of members is our most important marketing tool. For that reason, we have developed our “member stories” which are case studies of success that tell how WeWork has contributed with its growth, expansion and connections. To distribute these messages and to amplify their content, we use multiple channels such as social media, print, radio, videos and events. By the same token, we place a lot of importance on our referral program where our employees and members are awarded for recommending someone who is interested in a work space.

Our most valuable marketing tool is our own community. There is no one better than our members to explain what WeWork is and how we can help.

Portada: What are some of the newer marketing tools that WeWork is using to grow in Mexico and the region?

 AR: At WeWork we are constantly looking to innovate in all areas, and our marketing is no exception. Our strategy is highly focused on digital (Social Media, Google Ads, Search, Website, Email Marketing, etc.), but without losing the real experiences and the value of real connections with people. Therefore, we like to define our strategy as “humanized marketing.” Another one of our very valuable tools is our WeWork application. With it we have managed to materialize loyalty tactics like discount benefits for members, direct communications, push notifications, a referral program, etc.

Portada: Among the new digital marketing tools that WeWork is using, which ones are proving to be the most important?

 AR: Organic content on the Facebook and Instagram platforms works well for us in order to promote our mission and generate awareness of what we offer. We add to that strategic segmentation on the same social networks that allows us to talk about our products to a new market and grow the community. We also use tools like LinkedIn that work to connect with a specific target in a more direct way.

Portada: What is an example of a tool or technology that is making a big difference in your Latin America marketing?

 AR: We use the “WeWork experience” that our members have when working in our spaces, including events and experiences that can be posted on Instagram. This has proven to be one of the 360-degree tools where people can learn more about trends, well-being, and different themes that interest them. For this reason, we focus many of our efforts and actions to invite more people to enter our buildings and experience and live the spaces within.

What: Global professional services firm Aon has tabbed Mexican-American LPGA pro Lizette Salas as its ambassador for the new, multitour Aon Risk Reward Challenge.Why it matters: Aon is the latest in a series of partners such as Ping, Antigua Apparel, Pure Silk and others who have latched on to the personable pro who connects with the Latina audience in particular.

Lizette Salas (credit: Wojciech Migda)
Growing up in Azusa, California, the daughter of two Mexican immigrants, with Spanish as her first language and no other girls playing golf in any competitive sense anywhere nearby, the odds were long that young Lizette Salas (@LizetteSalas5would one day be an NCAA student-athlete, let alone an LPGA (@LPGAchampion. But she fell in love with the game, knew about Nancy Lopez‘s success and used Mexican Lorena Ochoa‘s (@LorenaOchoaRtop standing in the game as a beacon; a few years later the 29-year-old is an established LPGA performer and—after a win at the Kingsmill event in Williamsburg, Va., in 2014—a champion. And, increasingly, marketers are latching on to the personable pro.“I didn’t grow up in a golf family or community,” Salas told Portada at an event in New York last week promoting her partnership with professional services firm Aon (@Aon_plc), which was attended by LPGA Commissioner Michael Whan (@LPGACommish). “I played basketball and other team sports and enjoyed them, but when I found golf, I found it so rewarding, to get better ever day, see the results, and since there were no girls I played on the boys team and got extra satisfaction from beating them.”Her parents worked extra jobs to pay for Lizette’s golf lessons, and eventually, Salas earned a scholarship to play at nearby USC, where she was a four-time All-American and from which she graduated in 2011 and immediately turned pro, earning LPGA Tour status a year later.
The selection of Salas to front the Challenge for the LPGA is a strong indicator that her abilities—and marketability—are getting noticed on a larger scale.
Salas’s marketability and pride in her Hispanic background have caught the attention of companies like Ping (@PingTour), Antigua Apparel (@AntiguaWear), Pure Silk (@PureSilkShave), MLC & Associates and, now, Aon, which named her as ambassador for its new “Aon Risk Reward Challenge” series as part of its partnership with the LPGA and PGA TOUR (@PGATOUR). Salas thinks her connection with Aon is a perfect fit.“When they approached me to be part of this program and to serve as ambassador, I studied what Aon was about and I found a lot to like,” she explained. “I see a company that stands for equality and inclusion and with my Latina background that’s important to me. I like their vision and I’m glad to be a part of the Aon Risk Reward Challenge and this company and I’m happy that I have the opportunity to share my story through them.”The Aon program, which designates certain holes at specific events as the most strategically challenging and rewards players for their performance over the course of the year, carries a $1 million prize and fancy trophy, a high-profile partnership with both organizations. The selection of Salas to front the Challenge for the LPGA is a strong indicator that her abilities—and marketability—are getting noticed on a larger scale in her ninth year as a pro.“Lizette and our group of Aon Ambassadors reflect the global nature of our business and the importance of diversity and inclusion to our firm,” said Andy Weitz, Chief Marketing Officer, Aon. “Much like our clients, each of these players has a unique background and particular set of skills that informs their strategic approach. We look forward to tracking their progress throughout the Aon Risk Reward Challenge and using their experiences to illustrate how we create value for our clients.”

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. Felix Palau, VP Marketing, Heineken will discuss “How to measure ROI and transfer best practices between sports marketing platforms”. Other speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: “Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?”Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

Salas’s desire to be a role model for young Latinas comes both from her parents’ example and that of World Golf Hall of Famer Ochoa, who she met at an event in Southern California around age 15. Ochoa was “so warm and engaging and gave so much of herself,” according to Salas, that she wants to project that same openness in connecting with fans, particularly those who may see themselves in her.Once again ranked in the top 30 in the world coming into the 2019 season, Salas has three times represented the U.S. in the biennial international Solheim Cup. Proud of her heritage and her status as one of the top American golfers, with a few more high-profile results, she may find more companies looking to tap into her unique set of attributes to connect with Hispanic golf fans, particularly females.

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Cover Image Salas flanked by LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan (l) and AON CMO Andy Weitz: credit John Mooney

What: The NBA’s Mexico series last weekend is another step forward in the league’s strong presence south of the border.
Why it matters: Priming the pump for Mexican growth is not just smart for fan engagement, it could open a whole new geographic region for NBA action.

The idea of “honoring Latino culture” in professional sports has come a long way from slapping Los on a jersey and bringing in a Mariachi band. While many teams still struggle to figure out exactly how to engage and bring in brands, or as one executive said, identify what exactly “Hispanic” or “Latino” means and how is that audience, the continued value-add in engagement grows exponentially with each passing year. As that fast-growing demo becomes more engaged, more affluent, and more on the radar of professional sports, the opportunity to capture and cultivate a fan base rises on the priority list.

Case in point is the NBA (@NBAand Mexico, which again entered the conversation with this past week’s regular season games in Mexico City. While China, India, and even Europe remain a big priority for brand engagement and fan development, is Mexico the real next stop for expansion?

This weekend again showed the value, and the passion, that the Mexican market can bring.

Now, of course, the NBA isn’t the only league now looking more steadily to the neighbors to the south. The NFL (@NFL), even with its recent field issues in Mexico, has targeted the country (@nflmxas a growth opportunity. Major League Baseball (@MLBhas the most natural connection through the culture of sport and the Latino community, and soccer, especially with the business relationship that exists with the Mexican National Team and Soccer United Marketing and the growing relationship with MLS (@MLSand Liga MX (@LIGABancomerMXstill the most viewed professional soccer matches in all of the Americas on a weekly basis) are all making inroads into the casual, and affluent fan base of Mexico. Heck even hockey, as pointed out in our recent piece on the L.A. Kings grassroots efforts to the south, is trying to find a niche. But will the NBA, always seeming to be a public step ahead of the others in business development, make the biggest and most successful next step?

There are certainly a lot of reasons to see if that’s where the race will lead. The first steps according to NBA commissioner Adam Silver in the growth of professional basketball not just in Mexico but in the rest of Latin America, are coming. Step one could be as early as next winter, when the NBA will put a G League team in Mexico City. Another step would be the building and fitting of more NBA quality facilities for both in cities throughout the rest of Mexico and Latin America. That obviously will take time.

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. Felix Palau, VP Marketing, Heineken will discuss “How to measure ROI and transfer best practices between sports marketing platforms”. Other speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: “Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?”Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

“I believe we can be the No. 1 sport in the world,” Silver said recently. “When I look at the trajectory of growth, the fact that young people, boys and girls, continue to love this sport, are playing this sport, are engaged in the sport of basketball on social media or with online games, I don’t know what the limit is.”

One seemingly limitless next step is the continued push by teams to market to a growing fan base. This weekend again showed the value, and the passion, that the Mexican market can bring, and none of that was lost on the clubs like the Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagicwho participated this weekend. The other team that continues to grow in popularity in the country? The Chicago Bulls (@chicagobulls).

A study commissioned by the NBA in July found that the Bulls were the favorite team of 18 percent of fans in Mexico, behind only the Los Angeles Lakers (20 percent) and well ahead of the defending champion Golden State Warriors (@warriors) (10 percent). The Bulls were also a top-three favorite of 42 percent of fans polled, second again to the Lakers (@Lakers) (45 percent).

“To have a team so well-followed and loved like the Bulls in the country, it’s a very important step for us,” added Raul Zarraga, managing director of NBA Mexico in a conversation with AP last week.

Since the league’s formal return to Mexico in 2014 as part of the NBA’s Global Games initiative, six regular-season games have been played in the country, including a record four in 2017.

With expansion not that close, but certainly starting to be rumored in cities like Seattle for some time in the next decade, 2025 or so, and with the Olympics coming back to North America in 2026, priming the pump for Mexican growth is not just smart for fan engagement, it could open a whole new geographic region for NBA action, an area which may make more sense than the once fertile vision of franchise growth abroad.

Whether Mexico becomes a home for the NBA is anyone’s guess. One is more of a sure thing is that the powers that be see the opportunity, both with existing franchises trying to capitalize on engagement with Latino fans, and for the league as a whole looking to identify and grow in new markets with both brands and fans from the grassroots up.

The times of yelling “Olé” and checking the Latino marketing box around basketball are long gone; business expansion has really arrived.

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What: The Los Angeles Kings have ramped up outreach to the Latino community with ESPN Deportes Spanish broadcasts and a Mexico City clinic.
Why it matters: While most L.A. teams have added Spanish broadcasts, only a handful of NHL teams have followed their lead; the success of the team’s commitment may sway others to follow suit.

Francisco X. Rivera and Nano Cortés

We have seen the success that the Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnightshave had with Spanish language hockey broadcasts in the desert, and their increased awareness around embracing all things Latino. Can their Southern California rivals be next into the mix?

This season the Los Angeles Kings (@LAKingsare looking to try the wayback machine, albeit for 10 games to start, by bringing Spanish language NHL broadcasts back into the fold for the first time in 20 years. So far, so good.

How unusual is it to hear hockey—NHL hockey anyway—in Spanish? Other than Vegas’ success, only Chicago (@NHLBlackhawks), Florida (@FlaPanthers) and San Jose (@SanJoseSharkshave pushed Spanish language broadcasts. Still, for the 3.3 million people who both have an affinity for sports and speak Spanish first in L.A. County, let alone the 50 % of the residents who identify as Hispanic or Latino, the idea isn’t that crazy.

…[T]he Kings efforts show an affinity to identify and cultivate a niche that has been left undeveloped.

Hockey is still being introduced to the Hispanic community in some ways after all these years. With all we have going, this guarantees we can penetrate into the Hispanic market on this platform.” Mike Altieri,  (@MichaelAAltieri), the team’s head of communications and broadcasting, told the LA Times last month, and the results have been pretty solid, especially on social media.

There is certainly a market for Spanish language sports in L.A., with the Dodgers having has Spanish language games since Walter O’Malley brought the team west (Fernandomania didn’t hurt, either!). The Lakers (@Lakers), Rams (@RamsNFL), Clippers (@LAClippers), Angels (@Angelsand Galaxy (@LAGalaxy), as well as LAFC (@LAFCand Chargers (@Chargers), all have Spanish language broadcasts, with only the Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucksnot trying to make the mighty connection to the tech savvy and increasingly affluent demo.

There is also a strong affinity to try and connect fans of soccer with hockey vs. American football given some of the ebbs and flows of the sport, but it’s an experiment worth noting, with very little risk and potential reward. The reward? New fans for one, casual interest in the game number two, and brands who may see the crossover as valuable to their ever-expanding and sometimes challenged outreach to the Latino community in finding extra value around sports.

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. Felix Palau, VP Marketing, Heineken will discuss “How to measure ROI and transfer best practices between sports marketing platforms”. Other speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: “Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?”Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

Luc Robitaille

That added value is also seen in the community, where the Kings went far south to host a three day camp in Mexico City last month. The camp was held at the La Pista Interlomas ice rink and hosted over 100 youth ice hockey players ranging from 10-18 years old. The state-sponsored Sports Diplomacy program is focused on youth empowerment and coach development for ice hockey in Mexico.

“We were thrilled with the opportunity to teach our great game to the youth of Mexico. The fundamentals of hockey are important skills for both physical and mental development and we were excited by the attendance and greatly encouraged by the level of talent that exists within Mexico’s youth hockey community,” said Kings President, Luc Robitaille. “We are already planning our next visit and the chance to expose even more kids to the game of hockey.”

Now is suddenly hockey going to surpass the Latino interests tied to baseball, soccer or even the NBA (@NBAand NFL (@NFLquickly? No. However the Kings efforts show an affinity to identify and cultivate a niche that has been left undeveloped, one that continues to grow and has solid crossover potential down the line, especially with no other NHL franchises entering the space to the far south, or for that matter east or even north to the Bay Area.

If you are going to own a market, own it all, and that’s what “Los Reyes” may be doing, on air and in community.

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Cover Image: Kings/NHL.com

What: E-commerce grew 50% in Mexico during this year’s weekend of specials and discounts, known as “the Buen Fin”. However, marketers still need to find out how to promote the use of e-payment methods as Mexicans still prefer cash and credit cards.
Why it matters: Mexico is still lagging in the area of e-commerce and payment technologies, but events such as the Buen Fin are a good opportunity to catch up with the latest trends.

On the eighth edition of the Buen Fin, thousands of Mexicans rushed to the physical and digital stores of the more than 70,000 participant brands to profit from the most expected special offers of the year. Malls, supermarkets, and department stores were visibly packed, with videos of people fighting each other over electronics and apparel all over social media, as it happens every year. But what about users who preferred the comfort of their own homes to do their shopping?

Concanaco Servytur’s information shows that this year, e-commerce grew a staggering 50% thanks to young people who prefer to keep away from the bustle and hustle of long lines and large crowds. It’s an impressive number, no doubt; but as big as it sounds, the real news is that there’s still enormous room for growth; evidence of an untapped potential that Mexico might not yet be ready to tackle. The fact is only 20% of Buen Fin customers shopped online, while in the US online spending on Black Friday increased 33% from 2017; record levels according to estimations by Global Data. On the first 9 hours of the shopping day, Amazon had already sold 1 million toys and 700,000 fashion items. In the US, foot traffic at actual brick-and-mortar stores dropped between 5% and 9%, while Mexicans cluttered the myriad of new malls built this year.

But perhaps the most blatant proof of Mexico’s lag in innovative shopping habits was evidenced by users’ blind loyalty to traditional payment methods. As surprising as it sounds, contravening experts who have long predicted the imminent fall of paper currency, in Mexico cold hard cash accounted for 51% of total Buen Fin payments, credit cards 30%, debit 18%, and only an incredible 1% used other methods, much to the disappointment of e-payment companies and enthusiasts who were optimistic in predicting a boom in PayPal usage. Adding “insult to injury”, so to speak, only 23% of consumers spent more than 250 dollars, approximately, the bare minimum for consumers in the US. The challenge remains the same: how can e-marketers implement new payment and e-commerce technologies in a society so used to hand-picking both their produce and electronic goods?

On the bright side, not every aspect eluded the world of digital technologies. The Federal Consumer Prosecution Office (PROFECO) used digital media to review and settle hundreds of complaints regarding false advertising or failure to comply with the stated pricing of a given item. For example, in Cancun 26 consumers were immediately able to purchase a screen at $8.6 pesos each (about forty cents of a dollar) thanks to a timely online complaint. So not everything was lost for technology, the country might be taking baby steps, but at least it’s moving forward.

Information by Marketing E-Commerce MX

What: The Mexico Grand Prix Formula 1 race is set for Friday through Sunday at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City.
Why it matters: With uncertain prospects beyond next year’s contract, despite many signs pointing to its economic benefits, this weekend’s race is critical to its future viability.

Credit: Antonio Zurita

As elite sports properties like MLB (@MLB), the NFL (@NFLand the NBA (@NBAeye a bigger consistent presence in Mexico, one of the country’s most successful sporting events, Formula 1 (@F1), will take to the streets this weekend at Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez in Mexico City amidst a track record of financial success but a questionable future.

Since its return in 2015, reports this week indicated that the Mexican Grand Prix (@mexicogphas brought in in excess of 18.9B Mexican pesos ($980M) in economic impact, while taking home industry accolades like F1’s “Event of the Year.”

Yet, President elect Andrés Manuel López Obrador this week questioned the race’s permanence when the contract runs out after 2019, without even more favorable terms being brought back to the Mexican economy. The issue is not a new one, where government looks for events that enhance the greater good vs. the elite, and the money is spent building and promoting F1 to an upscale audience may never trickle down to the general populous.

Is the risk and expenditure on infrastructure worth the reward in tourism dollars?
Maron F1 team car (Flickr/ProtoplasmaKid)

Still, the tourism dollars (@WeVisitMexicothat flow in from elite sports, be they World Baseball Classic (@WBCBaseballor the NFL, cannot be denied in a country like Mexico, where foreign money is a key piece of a growing economy in Mexico City. Those dollars, along with brand activations, will be coming from a global audience, including 22% from the United States, according to data released from StubHub. That is a year over year of 14.9% from last year. However the worry for Mexican politicos is local, as the study also said that the percentage of Mexican fans at the event will decrease to 71% of the total number of attendees from 79% last year, for this the 20th edition of a race first held in Mexico in 1962, with various starts and stops since.

From a media perspective, the millions of fans who will follow one of the final F1 races of the year can also shed positive light on Mexico as a destination year round, and the development of local stars, like Sergio Pérez, a 28-year-old Guadalajara native who drives for the Force India team, and is currently in eighth place, can help advance national pride and storytelling as Mexico looks to continue to climb up the global sports business landscape.

The Portada Los Angeles Summit in 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.

Is the risk and expenditure on infrastructure worth the reward in tourism dollars? Is the proclamation by the President-elect just posturing? At a time when other elite road circuits like Indy Car and NASCAR are looking to engage more Latino, especially Mexican fans, F1’s next step will literally come at a crossroads.

The winners, in addition to the brands and high net worth fans, can still be all those who benefit from a boost of tourism in a season where Mexico is a little off the map in the fall. Sometimes the political game trumps the one on the court, or in this case the track. As F1 under the leadership of Chase Carey makes a bigger run for North American dollars, here’s hoping one of Mexico’s biggest events finds a home that benefits all, we will watch and see if the race for political positioning matches the one on the course.

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Cover Image: Mexico Grand Prix 2015 (Christian Ramiro González Verón)

What: The Angels have opted out of their lease at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, Calif., opening up the possibility that the franchise could move after the 2019 season.
Why it matters: Mexico, primarily Monterrey or Mexico City, could be a destination, if MLB wants to expand south; Mexican-American Angels owner Arte Moreno could be the one to open the market to the league and partners.

Angel Stadium of Anaheim (Wikimedia/Redlegsfan)

Last week news broke that the Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) (née “…of Anaheim,” née “California Angels,” née “Anaheim Angels”) have opted out of their Angel Stadium of Anaheim lease, effective following the 2019 season. It’s a high-stakes call, with political ramifications in Southern California—and perhaps beyond.

So what does this mean for the future of the franchise? Could Mexican-American entrepreneur Arte Moreno take his team south to Mexico? Are Mexico City (two hours plus by air from Houston, the closest MLB city) or Monterrey (about 600 miles closer to the U.S. border), which has hosted the MLB Mexico Series, viable options? There may be some logistical hurdles, but Adrian Burgos (@adburgosjr), Editor in Chief of La Vida Baseball (@LaVidaBaseball), historian and expert on Latino baseball, thinks that Moreno’s ownership could be the difference in making it happen.

Who better to market to a Spanish-speaking community of over 21 million in Mexico City than Moreno whose business was advertising?
Arte Moreno (Wikimedia Commons/jemmill)

“Moreno’s business savvy as much as his Mexican-American background will prompt him to thoroughly consider moving the Angels to Mexico City,” said Burgos, who is also a professor of history at the University of Illinois. “Who better to market to a Spanish-speaking community of over 21 million in Mexico City than Moreno whose business was advertising?”

The aforementioned MLB Mexico Series (@MLB_Mexico), held for the third time this past May in Monterrey, featured a three-game set between the Dodgers and Padres. The Mexican League has a long, storied history in the sport, and current standouts like Joakim Soria, Yovani Gallardo and Jorge De La Rosa dot major league rosters.

The opt out from “The Big A,” which the Angels have called home since 1966 (the team played as the “Los Angeles Angels” as an expansion franchise at the “other” Wrigley Field in 1961 then at Dodger Stadium for the next four years) doesn’t preclude the team from remaining in Orange County, or even in Anaheim. The city will be electing a new mayor next month, with stadium subsidy a hot-button issue. Sites in Irvine and elsewhere have been discussed, but can this be baseball’s chance to set up an established franchise south of the border?

The Portada Brands-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.

Adrian Burgos Jr., LVB editor

“MLB sees opportunity in the huge demographic market in Mexico City, over 21 million people,” added Burgos. “The three MLB Mexico Series, however, have been played in Monterrey, which is a very different market. So, I’m not sure the series working in Monterrey has much bearing on Mexico City. But that is a challenge that Arte Moreno is arguably best suited to address.”

The opt-out is described by Angels officials as a one-time option that needed to be exercised now or in 2028, according to reporting by the L.A. Times’ Bill Shaikin. Will the new mayor (incumbent Tom Tait is not running for reelection) work with Moreno and the team on renovations that would keep the team in its 52-year old home? if not, Burgos thinks Moreno would be the one to make it work in Mexico, with marketing a key element.

“No other team owner in MLB would be as culturally aware and knowledgeable business-wise on how to make a MLB team commercially successful in Mexico City than Moreno,” he noted. “Add to all this the fact the president-elect of Mexico Andrés Manuel López Obrador is a baseball fan surely will give Moreno a big boost.”

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Cover Image: Estadio de Beisbol in Montererey (Wikimedia Commons/Pzurita)

What: Women’s sports in Mexico got a big boost with espnW’s expansion into Mexico.
Why it matters: The move gives brands a new opportunity to capture the growing Latina market, one which has likely been underserved to date.

Claudia Trejos

Jessica Mendoza (@jessmendozajust completed her third season in the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball booth. Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPNcovered the New York Yankees (@Yankeesbeat from 2012-16 and remains one of the most respected Latina sports reporters in baseball. Maria Guardado (@mi_guardado) (MLB.com) and Maria Torres (@maria_torres3) (L.A. Timesare beginning to make their marks on the Los Angeles Angels beat. Mary Joe Fernandez, Antonietta Collins, Claudia Trejos, Julia Morales and others have been delivering the news and getting scoops in various sports, some for years, making important inroads for Hispanic women in the space.

In what can be seen as the next major step for Latina reporters, ESPN on Sunday launched its espnW brand in Mexico. The site, which has featured journalism from the best in the business, reporting on sports from the female perspective, makes its bow in conjunction with Semana de la Mujer, ESPN’s breast cancer awareness week, running through October 19.

The Portada Brands-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.

“For generations, women in Mexico have been breaking barriers in the world of sports — on and off the field,” said Gerardo Casanova, vice president and general manager, ESPN Latin America North, Mexico and Central America, in a statement. “The launch of espnW in Mexico is a significant milestone for the ESPN brand and re-enforces our commitment to better serve an increasingly powerful segment of our audience.”

The power and influence sports have – and can have – for girls and women across the world is well-documented.
Cristina Alexander

Some of the statistics that ESPN cites at the launch of espnW (@espnWMexico include a 23% female audience on digital; 1:40 hours per day that women spend on the ESPN platform; and a monthly reach of 937,000 women at ESPN.com. Semana de la Mujer content powered by espnW will include work by such notable latinas as Cristina Alexander, Katia Castorena, Kary Correa, Paulina García, Vanessa Huppenkothen, Marisa Lara, Rebeca Landa, Miroslava Montemayor, Carolina Padrón, Elizabeth Patiño, Nelly Simón, Claudia Trejos, Carolina Guillén, Carolina de las Salas and Pilar Perez on various platforms from Bristol, Miami, Los Angeles and Mexico.

“The success of ESPN in Mexico made it the next logical destination for the espnW brand,” said Laura Gentile, senior vice president, marketing, ESPN. “The power and influence sports have – and can have – for girls and women across the world is well-documented. We look forward to highlighting amazing storytelling for women and female athletes from all over Mexico.”

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The talent drain at ESPN in the past couple of years has hit the sports media world hard; amazing multimedia journalists like Jane McManus, Melissa Isaacson and Johnette Howard were among those axed. The hope with the expansion of the espnW brand into Mexico is that great journalists can tell great stories about Latina women in sports in the region as well as cover events and athletes who so far have eluded mainstream attention.

This can also be a boon for marketers, with brands like Toyota (@Toyota), Wells Fargo (@WellsFargo), Gatorade (@Gatorade), Olay (@OlaySkin), Always (@Always), and other that have supported espnW having the opportunity to extend their reach south. It will be interesting to see which ones choose to do so, and which new partners may emerge targeting the female Mexican consumer. The timing to boost espnW may be just right; with 2019 Women’s World Cup looming, the U.S. and Canada having punched their tickets on Sunday with Concacaf (@ConcacafWomen’s Championship semifinal wins and Panama and Jamaica vying for the third automatic spots. While Mexico narrowly missed out on a spot in the semifinals, interest in the sport remains high, with Liga MX Femenil (@LIGABancomerMXcurrently in its second year of operation as the professional women’s league there.

Cover Image: courtesy FIBA

What: Barcelona open up their 45th academy in Puebla, Mexico.
Why it matters: Barcelona expand their football influence in the Americas and continue their global initiative to grow their brand of football.

Barcelona Goes in For Mexico

It has certainly been a busy few weeks for  Barcelona FC (@FCBarcelona). Earlier this week La Liga announced that the elite club would play Girona in Miami in January, making the first time two European clubs would play a regular season match in the United States , which followed last week’s announcement of  the opening of their new academy in Puebla, Mexico. The newest Barcelona academy is the 45th football school for the La Liga leaders and the 23rd academy on an American continent. Between North and South America, Barcelona has eight academies in the United States, six in Canada, three in Colombia, two in Brazil and one each in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic. The Puebla Academy’s inauguration was oversaw by the director of Barça’s Academy Project, Carles Martin.

The Barça Academy has been the club’s model for youth soccer development with the main goal not to find the next “Messi” or “Iniesta” but rather, “to grow the Barça brand and transmit the work ethic and values of the Club around the world.”

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More Than A Club

The academies under Barcelona have recently undergone a makeover. Earlier this year, the academies changed their names from “FCBEscola to “Barça Academy” (https://bit.ly/2LQBhdp).

Barcelona FC President, Josep Maria Bartomeu

Escola is Catalan for school, a nod to the Club’s roots and region, but the rebranding was done in an attempt to boost the club’s presence and improve marketability in North America. The newest academy keeps the Club on par with Barcelona FC’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu’s vision to make Barcelona the most prominent sports entity in the world by 2021.

Speaking to NBC Latino last year on Barcelona’s global strategy to expand its own brand and grow the sport in the Americas, the former Business Development Director for Barcelona’s New York office, Arturo de la Fuente said “We are proud to say that we are a Catalan club, but més que un club is the mentality of the club; we develop human beings, we are socially responsible.”

The famous club motto has always symbolized regional Catalan pride. But Bartomeu’s global strategy has demonstrated that the club’s philosophy is not geographically bound to any country, nation, or city.

Barcelona players and Latino superstars, Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez

The Barça Academy has been the club’s model for youth soccer development with the main goal not to find the next “Messi” or “Iniesta” but rather, “to grow the Barça brand and transmit the work ethic and values of the Club around the world.” Such work ethic and values include the idea of playing beautiful football for one’s community and not only for money or glory. It is this trademark of Barcelona that resonates with US parents who want their children to take a holistic approach to the game. Hispanic communities are and have always been an integral part of the club’s overall strategy given the cultural ties and the amount of Latino players that have played and currently play for Barcelona. Players such as Argentina’s Lionel Messi, Uruguay’s Luis Suarez, and Brazil’s Coutinho. This new academy in Puebla, Mexico reaffirms how important these communities are as Barcelona FC continue to push its global initiative. Perhaps even more importantly, both moves show Barça’s two pronged approach to North American growth, expose the club directly into the marketplace with a historic match, while building a future generation with elite grassroots efforts.

Now that’s smart soccer business.

A summary of the most exciting news in multicultural sports marketing. If you’re trying to keep up, consider this your one-stop shop.

  • NBA MÉXICOThe NBA Mexico City Games 2018 will feature the Orlando Magic playing regular-season games against the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 13, and against the Utah Jazz on Dec. 15 at the Arena Ciudad de Mexico in Mexico City. This will be the third consecutive season the NBA plays two regular-season games in Mexico City, with coverage on ESPN. The NBA Mexico City Games 2018 will be supported by a full roster of marketing partners, including Nike, SAP, Gatorade and Tissot with additional partners to be announced in the coming months.


  • United Entertainment Group is launching its first-ever offering in Asia where industry veteran Toru Fumihara has been hired as the Managing Director of UEG’s new office in Tokyo, which will serve as a hub for the Asian marketplace. This marks the third international office the agency has opened in the span of one year, starting with London in 2017 and Hamburg, Germany earlier in 2018.


  • As the official beer of the NFL, Bud Light is introducing new designs for cans that feature a team logo, as well as a customized color stripe down the side. In total, each of Bud Light’s 28 team partners will be featured in the new designs, along with an NFL Shield edition to round out the collection. The new cans hit shelves this week.

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  • David Higdon
    David Higdon, head of communications, esports at Riot Games.

    Former NASCAR executive David Higdon has a new lane to oversee, joining Riot Games in the newly created position of global head of communications, esports. Higdon previously served as VP of integrated marketing communications for NASCAR and as CCO for the LPGA.


  • DAZN announced the sublicensing deals for its NFL coverage in Canada after experiencing streaming issues last season. Streaming and satellite providers including BCE Inc., Rogers Communications, Shaw Communications and SaskTel will distribute NFL Sunday Ticket for the upcoming season.


  • The NFL won’t be playing in London’s new Tottenham Hotspur stadium as it was planned. Developers announced delays in opening the venue due to safety concerns so this year’s NFL game that was set for the location will now take place at Wembley Stadium on Oct. 14. The game will feature the Seahawks vs Raiders.

What: ESPN has built and dedicated a multifunctional sports space in Xochimilco, Mexico.
Why it matters: This home to programs that teach young people employability skills through sports is an example of how sports and soccer can change the world, with the help of corporate partners.

via ESPN

Sports in general, and soccer in particular, as a catalyst for good across the globe is not a new concept. For years, organizations like Laureus (@LaureusSport), openingboundaries (@OB_0fficialand many others have found ways to use sport to benefit youth in tangible ways. Sometimes it’s as simple as having equipment and safe places to play that can change lives.

In that spirit, ESPN (@espn), which has a strong presence in Latin America (@ESPNmxand among Spanish speakers in the U.S., teamed with community leaders in Xochimilco, Mexico City, earlier this month to launch the construction of a new sports court as part of its global project, which includes six such multifunctional units across Latin America and one in India.

The Xochimilco safe space is an opportunity for young people to use sport to find their way in life and also to provide training for future employment.
courtesy Beyond Sport

The goal, per community leaders and ESPN personnel, is to help youngsters by using the refurbished court to hold job skills and other programs via A Ganar (@A_Ganar), a Latin American and Caribbean based organization which has targeted 16-24 year olds in fighting the problems of youth unemployment in nearly 20 countries for more than a decade.

“At ESPN we believe that sport has the ability to transform lives, and we are committed to providing resources to enable kids in Mexico City to play sports,” said Russell Wolff, executive vice president and managing director, ESPN International, in a statement. “This is our second safe space in Mexico City and we are pleased to collaborate with love.fútbol, A Ganar, Beyond Sport, and Street Soccer Mexico once again to build this court in a community where there is a need, as it can truly make a difference.”

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“As with our first build together in Chimalhuacán, our goal is to improve the quality of life of marginalized youth and vulnerable communities in Mexico. The Xochimilco safe space is an opportunity for young people to use sport to find their way in life and also to provide training for future employment,” added Daniel Copto, CEO and President, Street Soccer México.

Programs like this are vital, especially on a continuing basis. Empowering local residents to continue the push is key. The Xochimilco launch event, hosted by ESPN broadcasters Miroslava Montemayor and Sergio Dipp, brought the community together for a celebration, with the Santiaguito location chosen based largely on need, in conjunction with community facility specialist love.fútbol.

ESPN had previously announced a similar space in Bogota, Colombia, in April , following previous ESPN safe space initiatives in Mexico City, Mexico; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, Brazil.

Cover Image via beyondsport.org

What: New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW) aired its third show in the United States, as the company attempts to catch WWE in the business of professional wrestling.
Why it matters: NJPW has a solid long-time relationship with Mexico’s Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL), that could be used to help the company catch up to the WWE.

New Japan Pro Wrestling (@njpwglobal) continued its expansion into the North American wrestling market last weekend, as the G1 Special in San Francisco show aired live on AXS TV in the United States and the NJPWWorld (@njpwworld) digital platform around the world.

IWGP Heavyweight champion Kenny Omega (@KennyOmegamanX) headlined NJPW’s third U.S. Event, defeating “The American Nightmare” Cody (@CodyRhodes) — son of wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes, Saturday night, selling out the Cow Palace in Daly City, California, a crowd of over 10,000 wrestling fans.

The G1 Special in San Francisco show is just one of the steps Harold Meij, NJPW’s new president is taking to globally expand the company’s brand. The former vice president of Coca-Cola Japan and Japanese toy company Takara Tomy (@Tomy_Toy) has faith in his product, which he describes as “real-life Dragon Ball Z characters,” that it can appeal across various demographics and compete in the international market.

Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (CMLL) World Lightweight Champion, Dragon Lee, one of the Mexican stars competing in New Japan Pro Wrestling (NJPW), battled IWGP Junior Heavyweight Champion Hiromu Takahashi at Saturday’s G1 Special in San Francisco.
Strongly promoted and marketed Hispanic talent could definitely help NJPW compete with WWE.

“My thinking hasn’t changed since my time at Takara Tomy. I want to expand the fanbase regardless of age, gender or nationality,” said Meij recently in an interview with Japanese publication The Mainichi (@themainichi). “New Japan has fantastic content, so it has the possibility of picking up popularity overseas. At the moment, there are some 100,000 registered members on our video streaming service ‘New Japan Pro-Wrestling World,’ and 40,000 of them live outside Japan. I would like to aim for the international market with things like videos in English or events for foreign tourists.”

One business relationship that NJPW could turn to for help is their partnership with Mexico’s Consejo Mundial de Lucha Libre (@CMLL_OFICIAL), one of the oldest professional wrestling promotion in the industry. The relationship goes as far back as 2008, trading talent between the two companies, including the two co-promoting the Fantastica Mania Japan tours that launched in 2011. By 2016, the relationship had blossomed to the point where NJPW agreed to air CMLL’s Friday night show Viernes Espectacular de Arena México on their NJPWWorld OTT platform.

CMLL does exist for NJPW as a place where the Japanese wrestlers can work on character changes away from the eyes of their usual fans,” said N. Khan, founder of LuchaBlog,com (@luchablog); a blog dedicated to Mexican lucha libre-style of wrestling. “[Tetsuya] Naito’s (@s_d_naito) adoption of ‘Los Ingobernable’ style was a good example of this, as was Hiromu Takahashi’s (@TIMEBOMB1105) transition towards his ‘Time Bomb’ persona, and Shinsuke Nakamura (@ShinsukeN) debuting his ‘King of Strong Style’ personality in Mexico before bringing it back to Japan.”

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NJPW’s current rise coincides with the growing popularity of the Bullet Club (@BulletClubNJPW ‏). NJPW has managed to flex the beloved branding of the Bullet Club stable; a group of foreign wrestlers founded by Prince Devitt (known to WWE fans as Finn Balor (@FinnBalor)), later led by current WWE champion A.J. Styles (@AJStylesOrg), currently helmed by the charismatic Omega; and the clique’s storyline intents on “taking over” the company.

Tetsuya Naito’s “Ingobernables de Japon” gimmick he adopted in Mexico has gained popularity among wrestling fans both in the U.S. and Japan.

NJPW also found lightning-in-a-bottle with Naito’s “Ingobernables de Japon” brand, bringing Mexican swagger to Japanese wrestling, after teaming with CMLL superstar La Sombra (currently competing in the WWE as Andrade “Cien” Almas (@AndradeCienWWE)), back in 2015.

Hot Topic (@HotTopic) began peddling Bullet Club / NJPW merchandise after company executives asked the WWE officials if they could market and sell the Bullet Club shirts they saw all over Orlando, during Wrestlemania 33 weekend, not realizing the logo rights belonged to a competitor.

“Hot Topic said we need those shirts, they’re everywhere,” said Dave Meltzer (@davemeltzerWON), founder of Wrestling Observer, back in September of 2017. “(WWE) had to tell them they didn’t have them, so they had to hunt down who did. They got them and shocked everyone with the sales, they couldn’t keep them in stock.”

Former WWE champions, Rey Mysterio Jr., has competed for NJPW in 2018.

NJPW has taken further steps to take advantage of their current popularity, enhancing the talent on their roster by adding established veterans, well known to the North American market, such as former WWE champions Chris Jericho (@IAmJericho) (who recently defeated Naito for the IWGP Intercontinental Championship at the Dominion show in June) and Rey Mysterio Jr. (@reymysterio), on a part-time basis, to introduce the company to newer audiences who grew up strictly on a WWE wrestling diet.

NJPW credits Jericho for helping the company add as many as 25,000 new NJPWWorld subscribers when he co-headlined the Wrestle Kingdom 12 show, the company’s equivalent to the WWE’s Wrestlemania annual event.

Considering the immense contributions Hispanic wrestlers have made to the wrestling industry — from the likes of Mysterio, the Guerrero Family (including WWE Hall of Famer Eddie Guerrero) of Mexico and The Colons in Puerto Rico (including WWE Hall of Famer Carlos Colon) — NJPW may be wise to further tap into this talent pool, as they continue their quest to catch the WWE and takeover of the wrestling world. NJPW seems to be taking steps in that direction, featuring current CMLL World Lightweight Champion, Dragon Lee (@dragon_leecmll) at the G1 in San Francisco show, but has a long way to go.

Andrade “Cien” Alamas (R), known as La Sombra while competing for CMLL and NJPW, is currently signed with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).

“Strongly promoted and marketed Hispanic talent could definitely help NJPW compete with WWE. The lack of Hispanic wrestling stars is an obvious weakness in the entire North American market. It’s why Rey Mysterio Jr. is wrestling on NJPW shows and being promoted as a special star in WWE’s upcoming [@WWEgames] video game at the same time,” said Khan. “Naito & Almas bridged the gap between Mexico & Japan, but Almas is illustrative of the problem NJPW would have, to attack the US Hispanic market. Almas was a star in Mexico, a star in Japan, and could have been successfully marketed as a star in the US by either CMLL or NJPW, but WWE is desperate for their own Hispanic star for the US and scooped him up.”

As NJPW and WWE grapple for the hearts and minds of wrestling “marks,” the winners in this corporate wrestling feud are the fans.

“A decade ago, US fans had no legal access to NJPW and only saw a few CMLL matches a week if they were lucky enough to have some specialty cable channels,” said Khan. “Every important NJPW match is now available for a reasonable fee on their site, and most CMLL matches are streamed live and are free to watch on their official YouTube channel. There’s still a bit of barrier to entry, to understand what’s going on and where to find it, but it’s a closer playing field to WWE. Before, if people wanted to watch wrestling, WWE was really the only easy solution. Now there’s a lot that’s just a click away.”

Cover Image: courtesy NJPW

With the election of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) as Mexico’s new president, Mexican society, politics and economy are entering into a new age. President-elect Lopez Obrador is estimated to have received over 53% of the vote, more than double the total of Ricardo Anaya, his closest rival, according to the country’s electoral commission. It is likely that AMLO’s coalition will also win the majority in the Mexican legislative. How will marketing and media evolve in Mexico, Latin America’s second-largest advertising market, under its new leader? 5 Things you need to know.

1. How Large is the Mexican Advertising Market? What is Its Growth Potential?

Mexico has a population of 128 million consumers who are targeted by the second largest advertising market in Latin America after Brazil. On average, depending on the source, the Mexican ad market has a size of approximately US $5 billion.  Telecommunications, CPG, food and other categories are very important, so are the luxury goods and service providers who cater to the Mexican upper classes; because income inequality is so high in Mexico and the economic upper and middle classes only amount to two fifth’s of the total population, the ad market has still great potential to grow.

Millions of Mexicans could enter the middle class, therefore substantially increasing the size of the Mexican consumer market.
Photo by Cuartoscuro

During his electoral campaign, AMLO said he wants to increase social spending. A major increase in marketing and ad spend would likely happen in the mid-term, if AMLO’s policies substantially increase opportunities (jobs and income) for the more than 70 million Mexicans who belong to the lower social economic classes. This would be a game changer. If successful, millions of Mexicans could enter the middle class, therefore substantially increasing the size of the Mexican consumer market and of the marketing communications sector targeting them.

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2. Will Mexican 2018 Marketing and Ad Spend Finally Pick up?

Mexican Advertising and Marketing Expenditures so far in 2018 have been at an almost stand still.
With the obvious exception of political marketing and advertising involving the soccer World Cup, most categories’ (CPG, telcos, QSR and others) ad spend year-to-date lies substantially below 2017 levels. One sub-category that seems to be poised for sustained growth is online video service (including OTT).  For instance, Amazon is launching its “prime video” service later this year in Mexico adding even more competition among OTT service providers targeting Mexican consumers (Netflix has made substantial inroads).  In addition to the Mexican expansion, could Amazon use its Mexican headquarters to grow in other markets of Spanish-speaking Latin America?

3. The Challenge of Reducing the Underground or Shadow Sector of the Economy

At least 50% of the Mexican economy (GDP) is underground or shadow. In other words, it is not controlled or taxed by the government. It will be interesting to see how AMLO tackles this challenge. Putting a larger part of the economy under government rule could be detrimental for some sectors of the economy (e.g. construction and to a certain extent retail), but a boon to others including financial services and, particularly, credit card issuers.

4. Mexico’s Future as a Panregional Marketing Hub

Over the last decade Mexico, mostly Mexico City, has become a hub for panregional marketing. In other words, Mexico has become a location from which many major companies decide and implement their Latin American marketing and media strategy. This is the case for CPG companies like Unilever and automaker General Motors as well as for many other Fortune 500 companies. In fact, Mexico, as well as other Latin American countries including Panama (out where P&G manages most of its Latin American marketing) and Brazil, has taken market share as panregional marketing centers from Miami over the last decade.

Historically, South Florida has been the main (Latin American) panregional marketing hub.
However, as Latin American local markets have grown, more marketing decisions have been made at the local – country level. A trend that has been accelerated by the depreciation of most Latin American currencies. If the election of AMLO,  brings in more institutional instability, Miami may recover somewhat its position as the main Latin American panregional decision center.

On the other hand, and due to uncertainty around the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Mexican peso is currently trading at approximately 20 pesos per dollar or 15% below the 17 pesos per dollar the Mexican currency was trading at this time last year. The substantial depreciation makes Mexico more attractive for foreign companies due to cheaper labor costs in dollar terms.

5. U.S. Hispanic Market: Stability for U.S. Consumers

As it is well known, 70% of the almost 60 million Hispanics living in the U.S. are of Mexican origin. These Mexican-Americans are not only an important part of the U.S. economy, but also provide a substantial amount of foreign currency reserves to the Mexican government through remittances to their families in Mexico. In his speech to supporters, the President-elect said he would forge a new relationship with the U.S. “rooted in mutual respect and in defense of our migrant countrymen who work and live honestly in that country.” On his Twitter account, president Trump greeted congratulated AMLO as well.

However, during the campaign AMLO has taken hits at President Donald Trump, and analysts say he could ratchet up tensions between the U.S and Mexico. It is important to point out that the recent announcement that the joint bid by the U.S., Canada and Mexico has won the right to host 2026 FIFA World Cup reflects that cooperation between Mexico, Canada and the U.S. can be very fruitful. A stable Mexico-U.S. relationship framework regarding immigration, trade and capital movements is in the interest of both the U.S. Hispanic consumer as well as Mexico.

What: The MLBPA has announced the donation of more than a quarter million dollars through its Trust to Project C.U.R.E. in Mexico.
Why it matters: In conjunction with the highly successful MLB Mexico Series, and Latinos among MLBPA membership at an all-time high, connecting to the fan and player base through charity is critical.

The excitement of the MLB Mexico Series this weekend between the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers in Monterrey, which players like Guadalajara native Christian Villanueva (@Villa_at_3B ‏) of the Padres have described as “a dream come true,” in much the same way as Puerto Rican superstars Francisco Lindor (@Lindor12BCof Cleveland and José Berríos (@JOLaMaKina ‏) described their experience at MLB Puerto Rico last month, has had another tangible effect on the league and its players. The MLB Players Association (MLBPA), through its Players Trust (@MLBPlayersTrust), on Saturday announced a collective donation of US $229,000 to Project C.U.R.E. and its partners in Mexico, to benefit two hospitals badly damaged in earthquakes last year.

With MLB’s player rosters adding more of a Latin flavor every year, projects like these benefit the local regions but also solidify the ties between the association and its members.

The player’s group’s initiative, known as “Returning Home,” has had natural connections in the two series that MLB has played in the two Latin American locales this year. With MLB’s player rosters adding more of a Latin flavor every year, projects like these benefit the local regions but also solidify the ties between the association and its members, many of whom have families and friends affected by the kinds of disasters that these funds benefit.

“Project C.U.R.E. has the honor of working with MLBPA, representing its players, and our partner, Fundación Curando México, to provide health and hope to Mexico,” said Dr. Douglas Jackson, President and CEO of Project CURE, in a translated statement. “We understand the difficulties underway in health centers throughout Mexico and we hope to bring medical supplies. and much needed equipment to these medical providers so that they can provide good care to their patients.”

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The Players Trust is an important initiative of MLBPA (@MLB_PLAYERS), combining monetary donations with contributions of players’ time and celebrity to benefit important causes like these. With baseball a global game more than ever (extending to games in London next year, as recently announced), having the association and the league involved in places where fans and players thrive is critical.

What: The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres will play three games in the “MLB Mexico Series” this weekend in Monterrey.
Why it matters: Much like the Puerto Rico Series in April, the Mexico games represent an embracing of the Latino influence on baseball and a signal to marketers that the sport is thriving across Latin America.

Fans of a certain age will remember a time, more than 35 years ago, when “Fernandomania” ruled the land. Like a comet out of Navojoa, Mexico, Fernando Valenzuela burst onto the Major League Baseball (@MLB) scene in 1981, a thousand or so miles north but a million miles away in the sports world, to Los Angeles, where he promptly won a World Series, the hearts of Dodgers (@Dodgers) fans, and a place in baseball lore forever.

It was, for some, the first taste of baseball, South of the Border style. But for legions of Mexicans and others of Hispanic heritage living in Southern California, Fernandomania was the entry point to really feeling like this team, transplanted just over two decades earlier from Brooklyn, was really theirs.

Partners like Toyota, Telcel, Claro, Marriott, Purina and others are on board, with the league hoping to match the atmosphere, excitement and success they experienced in San Juan.

Things move slowly in the baseball world, but MLB finally came around to hosting games in Mexico some years later (1996). And this weekend, for the first time in nearly two decades (the Padres hosted the Rockies there in 1999 in the only other series there), the Padres and Dodgers will head south to Monterrey for a three-game set in what the league has dubbed the “MLB Mexico Series,” Friday through Sunday at Estadio de Beisbol. The weekend will include Fan Fest in Macroplaza, a series of youth and community initiatives, special kids ‘Play Ball’ event and Little League games, in an effort to involve everyone. And Valenzuela will throw out the first pitch in Friday’s game.

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Fernando Valenzuela (image: Wikimedia Commons/Jim Accordino)

This, like the Puerto Rico Series last month, is an opportunity to highlight the strong Latino connection to the game. Partners like Toyota, Telcel, Claro, Marriott, Purina and others are on board, with the league hoping to match the atmosphere, excitement and success they experienced in San Juan, when Puerto Rican stars José Berríos of the Twins and Francisco Lindor of the Indians stole the show, each leading his team to a win in the two-game series.

While a second series outside the contiguous U.S. states and Canada in one season may not signal the dawn of full-time baseball in either market, it’s a clear recognition by MLB that embracing its Latino player and fan bases is good for business.

It’s something Fernando and his outsized Dodger fandom could have told you more than a generation ago.

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