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What: Engagement with an increasingly diverse audience is critical for brands.
Why it matters: Winning off or on the field, be it team or brand, comes down to doing the homework. The chemistry, the timing, and the ethos have to align.

Jay Sharman

While there is still a great deal of hand-wringing over the future of media consumption, especially around sports in a younger and more ethnically diverse landscape, the fact remains that effective engagement and correct partnering, no matter what the medium or the device, is still key.

A look back at 2018 shows that the most eyeballs—88 of the top 100 shows—were live and, other than the Academy Awards, were all sporting events in English. In Spanish, the numbers were very much the same. The question now continues to be on the brand side: how, and with whom do you align to get the return on investment that you are looking for? The result remains very fluid.

“I believe the best consumer engagement campaigns are far beyond heart-tugging or inspirational messages on TV and social media,” said Jay Sharman (@_JaySharman), veteran sports media expert. “The gold standard initiatives literally bring together the community where they can heighten their connectivity around a common passion – on site.”

So what are some of those platforms—and also the brands—that have found the niche in the very crowded landscape? Some of the answers might surprise you.

Minor League Baseball

Long thought to be a hyper-local, almost mom-and-pop offering to brands, MILB (@MiLB) has consolidated its offerings into a national effort and has created some very unique branding and engagement platforms that have made the unified property both cost-effective and impactful.

The best example of a new and impressive offering is Copa de la Diversion. In three years, CMO David Wright and his savvy marketing team have created a blueprint for engaging the U.S. Latino population with a season-long Latino-specific tournament, Copa de la Diversion. This year 72 MiLB teams have created Latino alter-ego brands–logos, uniforms, traditions–and are competing for bragging rights for a league-wide sub-brand. The authenticity of this campaign is what sets it apart. It’s a true collaboration with each community to sensibly reflect the Latino passion for baseball and it’s transforming MiLB’s business.

When driver Carl Edwards took home a NASCAR race in the spring at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the brand used a fertilizer on the hood of his car. When they got to September, the brand message had switched to a winterizer.

Atlanta United

Many thought that Major League Soccer’s (@MLS) startup successes in the Pacific Northwest with the Seattle Sounders (@SoundersFC) and Portland Timbers (@TimbersFC) could not be topped, but Arthur Blank’s Atlanta United (@ATLUTD) re-created the startup launch and have been a massive win not just for the thousands of fans who support the club, but for brands who have gotten in on the engagement side.

“Atlanta United’s creativity connecting authentically with the community has been a series of smart, marketing moves and tactics,” Sharman added. “Pregame traditions like “the Spike” can many times feel contrived, but at almost every step of the way – from naming the team to picking the right partners and then showing them how to seamlessly integrate with the club supporters has been nothing but impressive and successful.”

Whether it was Wisconsin-based American Family Insurance (@amfam) signing on as the club’s kit sponsor, or New York-based luxury men’s wear line Knot Standard (@KnotStandard) coming aboard as the club’s men’s wear partner, companies have gone to Atlanta United with the expectation that a business partnership will resonate well beyond the field, and will match their quality messaging with a quality brand experience.

The Changing Measurement Landscape

Chris Lencheski

“The days of just slapping a logo on a sponsorship and picking up some tickets at the game or the race are long gone,” added Chris Lencheski, a veteran sports marketer who has created some of the most effective brand activation platforms in sports ranging from Formula One (@F1) and NASCAR (@NASCAR) to Major League Baseball (@MLB) and the NHL (@NHL). “Now, you as a brand make your selections after taking analytics and living and breathing the DNA of the property, team or league over time to see how you can marry your objectives with theirs. It has to be both emotional and executional to work.”

Some of those examples of brands that have won on both sides, according to Lencheski (who now also teaches sports marketing at Columbia University), are deals that he has done with brands like Scotts for NASCAR, a partnership which also spread to MLB in recent years. When driver Carl Edwards took home a NASCAR race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the brand used a fertilizer on the hood of his car. When they got to September, the brand message had switched to a winterizer. “It’s smart,” Lencheski added. “It’s the first day of spring and you’re supposed to fertilize. They ran that car at the first, second and third stages of spring. Then you adapt to make sure it works. That’s what we’re talking about— making sure our market is right. That does not happen if you are not in the room and listening to what makes the most sense for the brand. It is not ‘one size fits all.’”

That changing message also works well for Scotts (@ScottsLawnCare) with its relatively new partnership with MLB. Grass, yes, is a natural fit (no pun intended) for America’s national pastime. But making sure that the products are matched to the season is key in integration and messaging, so that the result of sales and affinity is tied to the right offering at the right time of year. You sell more seed in the spring, so match the message to the season. Timing, something often missed in brand partnerships, is also key to success.

Emotional Equity

While the hard sell timing is very important today, so are emotional ties. The ability for brands to deliver an emotive message tied to sports immediately around a social campaign is also key. A recent case in point, two actually, are Budweiser (@budweiserusa) and Nike (@Nike).

Budweiser made not one but two very emotive statements in recent weeks, one tied to a yearlong campaign around the Centennial of Jackie Robinson’s birth (@JRFoundation) and the other one to the retirement of Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade. The Robinson example is a detailed multimedia campaign with unique consumer packaging, while the Wade tribute was a fairly long but very emotional video with the future Hall of Famer being surprised by several people whom he had impacted in his life well beyond the court. That play was huge on the social connection because of its length and did not have the direct consumer sales impact that a Robinson display in a store would have, but they both pulled at the heartstrings to get fans of varied ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds to align with Bud over their other beer of choice.

“We sometimes forget that certain groups, especially millennials, are driven by emotion first in their brand choices,” added Harrie Bakst, the cofounder of WCPG, a firm that partners, athletes, celebrities and brands with philanthropic campaigns. “The emotional connection may not always be a direct call to buy, like we see with Bud and the Jackie Robinson campaign, but its subtle messaging as we see with Dwyane Wade, can have even more of a long tail effect, and that return, if crafted correctly, can be even more valuable as a whisper to the consumer than a direct shout.”

Now the packaging of the message, whether bold or subtle, has to be correct. Even in the Wade campaign, which had zero in terms of people drinking beer, the “Bud” branding was front and center. In the print campaign around Jackie Robinson, you can’t miss the Budweiser logo, so little is left to chance. “The return on those two campaigns really bookend how you can deliver correctly to consumers,” Bakst added. “One is direct and overt, one is a subtle build, but both emote positive feelings and messages which resonate with the consumer for the short and long term.”

Then there is Nike. The apparel brand has had its peaks and valleys in recent years, and as the landscape continues to be more and more competitive, the swoosh keeps adjusting. Case in point in recent weeks was the riding of the wave that brought Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) back to the top of the golf world at The Masters. Nike’s response in the social space after Woods’ win at Augusta was emotional, multigenerational, and left nothing to chance, especially as it was delivered on a massive social platform before it ever made it to the traditional platforms of print and broadcast. That sent a message to the athletic world that the brand supports the success of the human condition as seen through the eyes of one of the world’s most legendary athletes.

https://twitter.com/Nike/status/1117497381832933376

“Nike has never been a brand looking at the short term,” Lencheski added. “Their investments, especially in elite athletes, teams, and leagues, go through as deep an evaluation and brand match process as anything in the consumer space. The result is an ethos that works for all, and that message, and to return, has a huge payoff when something like Tiger Woods’ comeback reaches the point it did a few weeks ago.”

Finding the White Space

Anna Gasser (Mirja Geh/Red Bull Content Pool)

The other careful match that brands have to take into consideration is that window of opportunity that others are not realizing. For companies big on disruption and ones that can move quickly, the “lightning in a bottle,” or the speaking to a niche audience, can have a pretty unique return. Case in point is Red Bull (@redbull), and its plays away from the mainstream into the worlds of extreme sports.

“Red Bull has found that the white space of entertainment aligns with their brand, and they create content and experiences that connect their community in unique and memorable ways,” Sharman said. “By treating themselves like a sponsor that supports this approach they’ve built tremendous brand equity in themselves.”

While mass consumer sales is the goal, the unconventional approach, being short form video, event activation and athlete supported as the first step, not the traditional second, has given Red Bull a leg up in the competitive beverage category that few saw coming years ago, and has made it the brand to measure against and challenge among that thrill seeking demo.

Winning With Latinos

As 2019 unfolds, this brand activation space in sports continues to be one of the more elusive ones. We have written on the brand success stories seen by companies that have gone all in on consumer ROI targeted to the demo, from Tecate (@tecate) to Wells Fargo (@WellsFargo). However the overall engagement in “Latino” or “Hispanic” is still evolving.

“Whether you are the NBA or MLB, the brand identification in this space still means many things to many people; a product that plays well with Liga MX and a Mexican fan base may not work with the Brooklyn Nets who are trying to tie in with a Dominican supporter and so on,” Elisa Padilla, the senior VP of marketing & community relations for the Miami Marlins (@Marlins) told us last fall. “We see it here in Miami as well. You really have to know the segments of your fan base and understand what they are asking and what you can deliver for them. It is certainly not a one size fits all opportunity, especially in terms of expectations or return. It is a challenge, but an interesting one that is a great opportunity for those who can manage and figure out the mix.”

In the end the marrying of brands to the sports space is still a slippery slope for some, especially given the fluidity of budgets, and frankly, the various and sundry ways that content, live or packaged, can be delivered today to audiences big or small.

“You have to have a clear understanding of the market segment you want to reach, and be well versed in all forms of message delivery, today more than ever,” Lencheski added. “The message for a brand needs to be sincere and compelling, and those brands also have to understand that the famous John Wannamaker line: ‘I know half my advertising works, trouble is I never know what half’ may be adapted but can still be true today. Your social strategy has to align with broadcast and if you have a cause that too has to speak to the audience correctly, otherwise you lose the message effectiveness. Picking the right team, league or personality is a challenge, but it all comes down to homework. Just like in school, if you put in the work, you get the grades.”

Winning off or on the field, be it team or brand, comes down to doing the homework. The chemistry, the timing, and the ethos have to align. Without putting the work in, the results may be costly.

Cover Image: Carl Edwards (credit: Maverick Helicopters, Tom Donoghue)

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

  • #PFLmmaESPN and ESPN+ inked a multi-year deal with the Professional Fighters League (PFL), to become the home of the PFL in the US. All ten PFL events will air live across ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ESPN+, with up to three hours of exclusive action live on ESPN+ and up to two exclusive hours live on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. Three PFL Playoff events will take place in October.

 

  • Major League Baseball will be back in Japan for its first games of the 2019 regular season. The league, in partnership with the MLB Players Association, will see MGM Resorts serve as the title sponsor for the 2019 MGM MLB Opening Series, with games played in the Tokyo Dome over the course of five days in March pitting the A’s/Mariners.

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

  • The Minor League Baseball locked a membership in the Association of National Advertisers’ Alliance for Inclusive & Multicultural Marketing (AIMM). MiLB is the first sports property to join 75 member companies currently participating in the multicultural marketing initiative.

 

  • Disney will sell its Fox Sports channels in Brazil and Mexico to move closer to completing its US$71.3 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets, according to Bloomberg.

Subscribe to Portada weekly Sports Marketing Updates!

  • Combate AmericasCombate Americas reached 610,000 viewers on Univision and UDN during its first live televised Mixed Martial Arts event of 2019 – ‘Mexico vs. USA,’ despite its midnight start time on Feb. 22.

 

  • The NBA is celebrating its 13th annual Latin nights program, Noches Éne•Bé•A, to commemorate fans and players across Latin American and US Hispanic communities throughout the month of March. The program includes celebratory warmup shirts and merchandise as well as 15 games with in-arena festivities.

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

  • ONE Championship will have its first ever media tour to the United States from Feb. 25-28. The MMA heavyweight tour will pass through Seattle (Feb. 25), Los Angeles (Feb. 26) and Las Vegas (Feb. 28) with the LA and Vegas events open to the public. As part of the media tour, Johnson, Alvarez, and Northcutt will be hosting open-mat demonstrations in Los Angeles at Clube LA and at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas.

Subscribe to Portada’s weekly Sports Marketing Updates!

  • DrLupoState Farm locked its first-ever sponsorship of an individual professional esports athlete, signing a deal with Benjamin “DrLupo” Lupo. The captain of Rogue’s Fortnite team boasts 2.9 million followers on Twitch and 7 million followers across all social platforms. Terms of the sponsorship include State Farm support of DrLupo’s livestreams through branded replays, live in-stream stunts and product integrations, event-based remote streams, sponsored giveaways, and social content. “Being given the opportunity to work with State Farm is, without a doubt, huge,” DrLupo stated. “I couldn’t imagine a better company to work with, and I’m excited to see what we can do together in the future.”
  • UFC confirmed an extension of its partnership with Volkswagen do Brazil, in which Amarok will continue to serve as the “Official Car Partner” of UFC in Brazil until 2020. As part of the new deal, Amarok will have logo placement inside UFC’s Octagon at events in the country. According to a Washington Post poll, 38% of mixed martial arts fans are African-American, and 31% are Hispanics.

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

  • According to Forbes, ESPN is reportedly in talks with the MLB to extend its media rights for live games, for seven more years. Baseball content is “an enormous part of ESPN’s strategy”, ESPN spokesman Ben Cafardo told the business magazine and explained that Baseball Tonight would continue as part of MLB’s premier-tier events. 31% of MLB players are Latino, according to ESPN.

What: After examining last year’s happenings throughout the vast realm of sports. Portada has identified the top Latino stars, poised to hit it big on the marketing side in 2019.
Why it matters: Standouts in various sports, at different stages of their careers, are attractive options for brands moving forward.

As we enter the deep freeze of winter, who are the Latino athletes plying their trade in the U.S. who brand marketers should be keeping an eye on? Here are six to watch:

1. Canelo Alvarez (@Canelo):
Canelo Alvarez

His sponsor list is growing, and includes deals with Under Armour (@UnderArmour), Tecate (@tecate), Hennessy (@HennessyUS) and Everlast (@Everlast_), bringing in more than seven figures outside his boxing and media deals. His exclusive deal with DAZN (@DAZN_USAhas put the streaming service’s marketing dollars behind him as well, and boxing, not just for the Latino community, remains smoking hot. His star keeps rising in the ring.

 

2. Henry Cejudo (@HenryCejudo):

Henry Cejudo

The Olympic wrestling and now UFC (@ufcflyweight champion took less money but scored big ratings growth for ESPN (@espnon Saturday night, when he defended his title with a TKO over T.J. Dillashaw (@TJDillashawat Barclays Center. The son of undocumented immigrants, Cejudo is the American Latino success story. With Modelo (@ModeloUSA) now on board as the “Official Beer,” and 7- Eleven (@7eleven) as “Official Convenience Store,” the UFC’s growth to attract casual fight fans through partnerships is in a great place, and Cejudo can help seed that market as a mature, bilingual and very relatable champion in MMA.

 

 

 

3. Sofia Huerta (@schuerta):

Sofia Huerta (Jamie Smed)

This is going to be a big year for women’s soccer, so one to watch is the 26 year old Mexican-American currently playing for Houston Dash (@HoustonDashof the National Women’s Soccer League (@NWSL), and on loan to Australian club Sydney FC for the 2018–19 W-League season. Huerta played for the Mexican National team but is now on the rise with the U.S. Women’s National team and is in contention for World Cup eligibility later this year. Her style and background make her worth a follow.

 

…[W]herever [Machado] ends up he will take a massive Jordan Brand deal with him and his permanent home after his time in L.A. at the end of last year will make him very desirable for years to come.

4. Josef Martinez (@JosefMartinez17):

Josef Martinez (credit: Atlanta United)

MLS will be heading to training camp soon, and all signs are that their 25 year old MVP, who led Atlanta United (@ATLUTDto a record year, will be back in the fold for now. Personable, telegenic and the perfect face of a bilingual soccer culture, Martinez is tied to Adidas (@adidas), but should he stay in Atlanta, should be on pace for some marketing gold as the cleats go back on this spring.

 

 

 

 

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. 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!

 

Manny Machado (Keith Allison)

5. Manny Machado:

Where will the All Star end up before spring training? The jury is still out, but wherever he ends up he will take a massive Jordan Brand deal with him and his permanent home after his time in L.A. at the end of last year will make him very desirable for years to come. Baseball brands like Rawlings, which markets a Machado model glove, will also be in the mix moving forward.

 

 

 

Mariano Rivera

6. Mariano Rivera:

Even in retirement, the iconic closer will become more valuable this week as “Hall of Fame” goes on his résumé. He earned $170 million in salary over 19 years, all with the Yankees, and has partnered with businesses like Bank of America (@BankofAmerica), The Hartford (@TheHartford) insurance and insole provider OrthoLite (@OrthoLite).

Subscribe to Portada’s weekly Sports Marketing Updates!

 

 

 

Cover Image: Sofia Huerta (credit: Jamie Smed)

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

  • Major League Baseball will now include content in the Discovery Education’s Science Techbooks, thanks to a new multiyear partnership with Discovery Education. Educators will help students connect the world of baseball to key science and STEM concepts through real-world data and gameday experiences that fuel deeper engagement.

 

  • PUMAPuma has become the official partner of League of Legends Championship Series (LCS) team and will have its logo on the chest of the team’s jersey. The partnership also designates Puma as the official gameday pants and shoes provider of Cloud9 and includes uniforms for team management. “This deal gives us ability to be a part of more things our kids love, and that’s how our brand moves the culture forward,” said Matt Shaw, head of digital marketing for Puma, to the Esports Observer. “Cloud9 is really uniquely posed to help us do that.”
    The deal will initially cover the 2019 spring LCS season, with the possibility to expand their collaboration.

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

  • UFC has signed a new integrated marketing partnership with Motel 6, that makes the chain UFC’s first-ever “Official Economy Lodging Partner,” creating a new sponsorship category for the MMA promotion. Motel 6 will have a branded presence inside UFC’s Octagon for select UFC events. Also, the deal includes in-venue commercials, branded integrations in select UFC Pay-Per-Views and collaborations on digital and social media campaigns.

Subscribe to Portada weekly Sports Marketing Updates!

  • PGATOURLAPGA TOUR Latinoamerica announced that Volvo Car Latin America, Hilton, and Go Vacaciones! will join as category-exclusive partners of the PGA TOUR’s international tour, beginning this month. The three brands will be integrated into the messaging of PGA TOUR Latinoamerica and will also receive brand-official designations.

 

  • Multiplayer online battle arena Arena of Valor’s started the third season of the Valor Series with 18 top teams from Europe, Latin America, and North America competing for a $200,000 prize pool. The tournament will kick off on Feb. 2 from noon-7:30p on its Facebook page. Each region will sport its own open qualifier phase where six teams will qualify for that region’s eight-week regular season.

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

  • Los Angeles LakersLos Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets will star in this year’s NBA edition of its China Games. The two teams will play in a pre-season double-header on 10th October in Shanghai and 12th October in Shenzhen. To leverage the games, the NBA will run a variety of fan activities, as well as a series of community outreach activities in the two cities hosting the games. This year will mark the 13th edition of the NBA’s China Games.

 

  • According to a new study led by Opendorse, the NBA leads North America’s social media with over 721 million followers. NBA players comfortably lead all leagues in total athlete audience size. NFL players come in second place, ahead of the up-and-coming MLS. While the NHL comes fourth, its fans are passionate, and present the highest collective engagement rate at just over 10 percent.

Subscribe to Portada daily Sports Marketing Updates!

  • Riot Games locked in a deal with Kia Motors to serve as the LEC’s automotive sponsor for the 2019 season, as the European League of Legends organization preps for its new season. Through this deal, Kia will become the presenting sponsor of the ‘Player of the Game’ segment. Kia will also be making appearances at LEC “roadshows and offline events.”

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

  • https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/800840075311333376/515GX-Cc_400x400.jpgOracle has signed a deal with the MLB to rename the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park. Worth more than US$200 million for the naming rights, the ballpark will become the Oracle Park once officially announced, according to a Bloomberg report. The Oracle partnership brings to an end a 23-year association with US telco AT&T and its prior associated businesses.

 

  • Rakuten has signed Stephen Curry as a brand ambassador in a multi-year agreement. The Golden State Warriors player will become the face of the Japanese company’s marketing strategy in the US, while making Rakuten the title sponsor of his new basketball camps. Rakuten is an official partner of the NBA and is also the Golden State Warriors’ official jersey-badge sponsor.

What: Puerto Rico’s Alex Cora, the Boston Red Sox’s first minority manager in their nearly 120-year history, has emerged as a brand to be recognized and embraced in The Hub.
Why it matters: The team’s fourth World Series title since 2004 and nearly universal praise for his managing raises Cora’s profile even higher, making him an even more attractive entity for brands.

Many times in the transient world of sports, the “face” of the franchise can become diluted. Players come and go, owners like to seize the stage, even logos and mascots can move in and out. However for the successful franchises, the head coach, or in the case of baseball, the manager, can be that rock that connects generations, fans, brands, and media. It’s not an easy choice and often that face prefers to stick to the business of sport, but for the right mix in the right market, that skipper can pay great dividends.

Such is the case in Boston, a city that has seen its share of bright and sometimes reluctant leaders on the field in recent years. Brad Stevens has become a quiet guiding and impactful force for the Boston Celtics (@celtics), while Bill Belichick is a successful albeit reticent frontman for the ultra-successful Patriots (@Patriots). Then you have the 2018 World Series Champion Red Sox (@RedSox) and Alex Cora.

His community awareness, media savvy, social activism…and baseball success can make Alex Cora a really interesting face of baseball reaching its core, Latino consumers both in English and Spanish.
Tab Bamford

As Boston closed out its record-setting year in MLB (108 regular season wins, victories over two 100-win teams in the playoffs and a five-game World Series win over the Dodgers), Cora, just the second Latino manager to bring home a World Series title, has steadily emerged as a brand to be noticed and embraced, especially for a baseball audience around the country that has a solid Latino base and is craving vibrant leaders. What makes Cora even more interesting is his relatively young age and his passion for cause marketing, especially when it comes to his native Puerto Rico, where he has been a driving and vocal force in the efforts still going on around Hurricane Maria’s cleanup. Cora is also the first minority manager in the storied history of the Red Sox, a team which has had its share of Latino stars and is poised to build on that legacy even more.

“Cora is one of the youngest managers in MLB (@MLB) (just turned 43 on Oct. 18 – the Red Sox won twice on his birthday thanks to an after-midnight ET finish). Any time a manager leads a team to the best record in MLB, much less a championship, there’s value in association. In a major market like Boston, Chicago, New York, etc. there’s even more regional/national value (see Joe Maddon in Chicago),” said Tab Bamford (@The1Tab), Managing Director at La Vida Baseball (). “What makes Cora a unique individual for brands is not only his age, but he’s a hybrid of the old school and new school. He’s incredibly eloquent in both languages, is socially active and – most importantly in my opinion – he’s sharp, frank and open with the media; he doesn’t simply provide the cliché sound bites that we all learned from Bull Durham.”

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

(YouTube/NESN)

That combination can make the Red Sox skipper prime for multicultural brands looking for an even bigger play not just in New England, but throughout the country. His community awareness, media savvy, social activism…and baseball success can make Alex Cora a really interesting face of baseball reaching its core, Latino consumers both in English and Spanish language, for years to come as his career plays out on the bench and in the marketplace.

What type of brands would make sense? Just look around The Hub to see the deep devotion to Red Sox nation. Financial services companies like John Hancock (@johnhancockusa), consumer brands like Dunkin (@dunkindonuts), even tech companies like Raytheon (@Raytheonand others love being around all things Boston sports, and Cora has a great message and a great storyline that can also be multigenerational because of his style, and his age. Also, don’t discount his community involvement as a unique intangible for helping baseball reach a younger demo; when you tie cause to something, millennials notice more, and given that his work has been tied to Puerto Rico, you also pull in a younger Latino audience that can make great sense.

Is it easy to do? No. Do players hitting homers or shooting threes make for a sexier sell? Sometimes. However as a young, engaged and multicultural face, Alex Cora is certainly an intriguing one to watch, not just this fall but for years to come.

Subscribe to Portada’s daily Sports Marketing Updates!

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

  • According to the NFL, the consumption of games on digital platforms has jumped 65% from 2017 through week four of the new season, with an average minute audience of 326,000 viewers per game window across different platforms. The biggest growth has come from fans streaming games on their phones, where the average audience is up 147%. TV ratings are also up on last season. NFL viewership among Hispanics has increased by 28% in the past five years alone, according to a 2016 Nielsen report.

 

  • AT&T Mexico has announced an agreement to become the official sponsor of Mexican Pacific League baseball team Tomateros de Culiacan. The current 2017-18 champion has close to half a million followers on social networks. The deal includes AT&T’s logo to be added to the front of the official Tomateros jersey and the team’s players will take part in a number of AT&T events.

  • Google has expanded its partnership with MLB. The deal will see Google Assistant, a virtual assistant powered by artificial intelligence, become the presenting sponsor of the American League and National League Championship Series. The tech company already has similar deals with YouTube TV and the MLB World Series. 31% of MLB players are Latino, according to ESPN.

 

  • Sugarlands Distilling Company is teaming up with NASCAR and Talladega Superspeedway, as the “Official Moonshine of NASCAR”. As a part of the five-year agreement, Sugarlands will gain rights to promote its moonshine at retail, on packaging and will host key customers and distributors at-track. According to 2011 data, 20% of NASCAR’s followers are multicultural fans, 9% were Hispanic and 8% African-American.

Subscribe to Portada daily Sports Marketing Updates!

  • Under Armour locked a five-year deal with NBA player Joel Embiid. ESPN reports that the deal will make him the highest-paid center for this type of partnership, and will see Embiid and Under Armour partner on branded footwear and apparel in addition to charitable initiatives in and around Philadelphia and in Cameroon.

  • ESPN is planning on launching espnW in Mexico. espnW Mexico will serve as the brand umbrella and power content initiatives to engage and inspire women across ESPN’s linear, digital and social platforms.

 

  • The Houston Rockets locked in a partnership with Bilibili, the leading online entertainment platform for younger audiences in China. The Rockets are looking to expand their presence in esports, with Bilibili’s esports team, Bilibili Gaming and the Rockets’ esports squad Clutch Gaming taking part in a friendly game and Bilibili will become the official partner of CG.

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

  • Doosan Equipment EUDoosan will be the presenting sponsor of the 2018 National League Division Series (NLDS). This is the brand’s second year MLB Postseason involvement, after sponsoring the American League Division Series (ALDS) last year. The brand will receive significant exposure across national broadcast and MLB-owned channels along with in-stadium brand integration throughout the series. “We are honored to be an official partner of MLB. Our partnership is nearly a year old, and we’ve seen those efforts help to build additional brand awareness and business opportunities for Doosan in the U.S.,” said Edward Song, Head of Doosan Infracore North America.

 

  • The NFL might be canceling its Sunday Ticket deal with AT&T-owned DirecTV. According to Pro Football Talk, the league is willing to cancel the US$1.5 billion extension deal it signed with the out-of-market broadcast provider back in 2014 to take the contract through 2022. The league has the power to cancel the arrangement as early as the conclusion of the 2019 regular season. NFL viewership among Hispanics has increased by 28% in the past five years alone, according to a 2016 Nielsen report.

 

  • The Phoenix Suns signed a jersey patch deal with PayPal. With this agreement, PayPal becomes the official payment partner of the Suns, the WNBA Phoenix Mercury and Real Club Deportivo Mallorca, a second-division Spanish soccer team controlled by Suns Owner Robert Sarver. In addition, the Suns will make PayPal Credit available for season-ticket purchases. 31% of MLB players are Latino, according to ESPN.

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  • San Francisco 49ersTechnology company Copia is pushing its partnership with the San Francisco 49ers by helping reduce food waste at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, by delivering excess food to non-profit organizations and shelters. The technology company has redistributed over 26,000 pounds worth of quality food to the local community.

 

  • NASCAR presented a new augmented reality experience available via the NASCAR Mobile app, for fans to experience the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Fans will be able to walk through virtual portals to experience the Playoffs’ most memorable moments in 360-degree AR. According to 2011 data, 20% of NASCAR’s followers are multicultural fans, 9% were Hispanic and 8% African-American.

 

  • Mediapro is preparing to launch a Spanish-speaking OTT streaming service dedicated to esports. Similar to Twitch the new platform is expected to go live before the end of this year. The channel will house live competitive gaming events and tournaments, along with a host of exclusive in-house content. According to hispanicgamers.com Hispanics expressed more interest in watching others play video games compared to Non-Hispanics.

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

  • Matchroom BoxingDAZN a new eight-year deal with sports events promotion company Matchroom Boxing to broadcast 16 live fight nights. The programming will be exclusively available to DAZN users in Canada. The first fight to be streamed as part of the deal will be the Jessie Vargas v. Thomas Dulorme bout on Oct. 6 in Chicago.

 

  • The Houston Rockets has named AntPool, a Chinese bitcoin company, as the official sponsor for the 2018/19 season. AntPool claims to be the second-largest bitcoin mining operation in the world and is a subsidiary of Beijing-based Bitmain Technologies.

 

  • UFC has announced a new multi-year licensing agreement with jeweler brand Bixler. The partnership gives Bixler the rights to manufacture and distribute UFC and MMA athlete-inspired jewelry in the United States and Canada, as well as globally via UFC Store.com. According to a Washington Post poll, 38% of mixed martial arts fans are African-American, and 31% are Hispanics.

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  • ABB Formula EFormula E has announced a five-year extension of its broadcast partnership with Mediaset. The agreement will see the Italian free-to-air broadcaster continue to show coverage of the global electric racing series through to season nine. “The results Mediaset has shown – along with their extensive programming of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship – is a testament to their ongoing commitment and we look forward to bringing all the action live to fans across Italy for a further five seasons,” stated Ali Russell, media and business development officer at Formula E.

 

  • Headphones brand AfterShokz has signed NASCAR drivers Bubba Wallace and Chase Elliott as endorsers in a deal that includes social media promotions and personal appearances. According to 2011 data, 20% of NASCAR’s followers are multicultural fans, 9% were Hispanic and 8% African-American.

 

  • The MLB Players Association announced a partnership with UMG Media Corp. to launch the first-ever esports series of competitions for Major League Baseball players. Both active and retired players will compete against each other in esports play. According to hispanicgamers.com Hispanics expressed more interest in watching others play video games compared to Non-Hispanics.

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

  • https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/1022907060948627456/FN6y9l8B_400x400.jpgUS Open ladies’ champion Naomi Osaka is set to sign Adidas’ biggest clothing deal with a female athlete. According to The Times, the deal is worth an estimated $8.5 million annually.

 

  • The MLB will continue to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month with a slate of events and efforts designed to spotlight the contributions to baseball by Hispanic and Latino players throughout the month of September. Initiatives include special MLB Network vignettes highlighting Latino stars, social and digital content across MLB’s bilingual platforms, and in-park Club celebrations around the league. MLB also presented new media platforms designed to provide real-time, quality content to the Spanish-speaking Hispanic and Latino audience.

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  • Baloncesto Suprerior NacionalPuerto Rico’s premiere professional basketball league, locked a partnership with WSC Sports, the leader in AI powered sports video content, for automated creation and distribution of video highlights. WSC’s machine learning technology enables BSN to automatically create video highlights and share them across digital and social platforms. This is a small way for WSC to give back to Puerto Rico, following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017.

 

  • DoritosTwitchCon 2018 will see Doritos in the trenches, with the announcement of the Doritos Bowl on Oct. 27 in San Jose. The event will have top gamers competing in Call of Duty: Black Ops 4’s new battle royale mode, Blackout, anchored by Ninja, Shroud, CouRage, and DrLupo. On average, Hispanics play video games more often than Non-Hispanics (12 hours per week vs. 9 hours for Non-Hispanics), according to a 2014 Think Now Research study.

 

  • JBL is expanding its presence among NBA players and teams. In addition to welcoming back champion Stephen Curry, NBA All Star Andre Drummond and Kristaps Porzingis, JBL is adding Giannis Antetokounmpo as an ambassador. The brand also announced a partnerships with the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat starting during the 2018-2019 season.

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

  • ESPN is bringing back ESPN8. “The Ocho” will take the place of ESPN2 on Aug. 8, offering 24 hours of off-beat programming. KFC will sponsor all 24 hours of programming in a series of vignettes that will run throughout the day. Within the lineup will be the 2018 Dodgeball World Cup, the US Open Ultimate Championships, the Spikeball East Tour Series, Major League Eating, the Cornhole: ACL Pro Invitational, and the World Championship of Ping Pong.

 

  • Van HeusenVan Heusen has become UFC’s first-ever “Official Men’s Dress Furnishings Provider,” with UFC bantamweight champion TJ Dillashaw and UFC welterweight contender Stephen Thompson starring in a new commercial highlighting the Van Heusen Flex collection of men’s shirts and pants. The commercial and campaign creative will be placed across national and local cable television, and display ads on select retailer sites. According to a Washington Post poll, 38% of mixed martial arts fans are African-American, and 31% are Hispanics.

 

  • OTT DAZN is planning on creating original lifestyle content including documentaries, talk shows and podcasts as part of its international expansion. “In a market like the US where we’re very strong in combat sports rights but don’t have much else, we need original content,” said DAZN chief executive James Rushton, to Digiday. “Part of our challenge is, we have to turn these boxers back into superstars.” The platform is set to launch in September with only boxing and martial arts rights and will be supplementing that coverage with an original daily news show offering an inside look at what fighters get up to outside the ring.

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  • Top Rank BoxingBoxing promotion company Top Rank signed a new seven-year partnership with ESPN. As part of the deal, ESPN will provide live coverage of 54 boxing events per year, as well as delivering previews and post-fight analysis programmes, archive and studio content and new shows.

 

  • UFC confirmed its first-ever event in Beijing, China, taking place at the Cadillac Arena on Nov. 24. “China is the next frontier for the growth of UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts, and this market is paramount to our success internationally,” UFC Vice President of Asia-Pacific Kevin Chang said. UFC will be working together with Endeavor China to deliver the live event.

 

  • Clemson University locked in a 10-year contract extension with Nike, that will run through the 2027-28 academic year and grant the athletic department more than $58 million in apparel allowances, direct cash payouts, and royalties. “Nike is one of the premier brands in the world and we’re excited to build upon our relationship,” said Dan Radakovich, Director of Athletics, Clemson University.

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  • FedExFedEx expanded its partnership with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies to become the franchise’s first-ever jersey sponsor. The FedEx logo will be integrated into the team’s newly designed Nike uniforms for the 2018/19 season.

 

  • Major League Baseball and ESPN announced that the 2018 MLB Postseason will begin exclusively on ESPN on Oct. 2. The National League Wild Card Game presented by Hankook will also be available on ESPN Radio, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio and the ESPN App. 31% of MLB players are Latino, according to ESPN.

 

  • UFC signed a multi-year marketing partnership with meal delivery service Trifecta Nutrition. The agreement represents a brand-new sponsorship category for UFC. In return, Trifecta will have a branded presence at the UFC Performance Institute and an activation presence at UFC’s live events. Trifecta will use UFC branding to create custom delivery boxes and to promote national sweepstakes for UFC events.

What: After the World Cup, it’s baseball’s Latino stars’ turn to show off in the All-Star Game and associated activities.
Why it matters: Baseball’s Latino numbers are higher than ever. Companies are figuring out the best ways to transfer that star power to marketing strength.

The best news coming out of the World Cup for sports business in the United States was the aggregate power of Latino activation. It played out across broadcast numbers, social engagement and brand activation. The ROI from all who looked to the Latino demo, from millennials and Spanish-first speakers to families and women, was a landmark. It should pave the way for a less adverse media audience to find better ways to engage across all sports.

So what about baseball? This week’s All-Star events in Washington, from the Futures Game to The Mid-Summer Classic, had more star power with Latino ties than ever before. The brand power of these stars, from established veterans like Manny Machado and Jose Altuve (@JoseAltuve27), to rising names like Jesús Luzardo (@Baby_Jesus9) are not just the names and faces of baseball. They can be its marketing life blood.

Baseball has committed stars who understand their legacy and want to continue to give back to the game that has brought them so much.

Baseball Brand

Last Friday at the American History Museum in Washington, La Vida Baseball (@LaVidaBaseballhosted a panel called “Giving and the Game.” The packed event showcased the history and the opportunities that Latinos have to grow the baseball brand. We can attribute this to the way the game is so deeply rooted in culture, from Cuba and Venezuela to Mexico and Panama and beyond. The event was hosted by baseball historian and La Vida Editor In Chief Adrian Burgos Jr. And the discussion covered a wide variety of topics. Presenters were Mets Special Assistant General Manager Omar Minaya, and José Antonio Tijerino of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (@HHFoundation ‏).

“When you look at the business of baseball, you cannot overlook that 32 percent of the players today in the Major League alone are Latino. That number continues to rise,” Tijerino said. “The game is ingrained in the culture across Latin America. That’s a really powerful message that can help grow the sport that needs to continue to get out there. Baseball has committed stars. They understand their legacy, as well as wanting to continue to give back to the game that has brought them so much.”

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baseball
Manny Machado (Wikimedia Commons/Keith Allison)

Minaya was also ebullient about the power of Latinos. As a result, he talked about the commitment of players young and old. He talked about storytelling and making sure that the traditions learned continue on. That’s a message that brands need to hear more of as they pick the areas where they will spend their dollars.

Latinos’ Responsibility

“Leadership is all about responsibility. Therefore, we as Latinos, from the front office to players of all ages, have to grow the game of baseball. We have to grow it and not just on the field but in the community,” he said. “Our athletes today have the ability, especially with social media, to help transform society. That’s because they are revered, and not just in the countries where they come from, but in the cities they play in today or have played in in the past.  They understand that responsibility and as a result how that can translate into helping baseball continue to grow as a sport and a business.”

Still, even with All-Star rosters dominated by Latino surnames, 25 in total, the opportunity for business growth lies ahead. MLB has made big strides in recent years to better develop and assimilate young Latino stars into the business and branding side. Therefore, teams like the Diamondbacks, the Mets, the Yankees, and the Astros have put a premium on marketing their stars to a Latino fan base. They use very targeted programs. Meanwhile, Madison Avenue is still trying to figure out the multicultural mix that shows a return. It remains a challenge. It is one that seems to move more and more to the forefront. That’s because Latino spending increases and millennials are finding their niche in sports engagement.

Partners

This year we have seen companies like New Era (@NewEraCap), Pepsi (@pepsiand 5-Hour Energy (@5hourenergystart to incorporate young Latino stars into crossover promotions. But the growth has been slow, although now more steady.

“Brands need to recognize that ‘Latino’ is a multicultural reality. And for many Latinos in the United States soccer is not the number one sport. Baseball is as young, exciting and profitable as it has been in generations. And the on-field product is becoming increasingly Latino,” added La Vida Baseball’s Managing Director Tab Bamford. “There are tremendous individual ambassadors in the game, and brands don’t see the untapped potential in baseball.”

Baseball can learn a great deal from the success of the World Cup with Latino engagement and activation. Its multilingual stars are more front and center and transcendent in numbers than ever before. Now it’s time to put those personalities on center stage for partners. Specially for those reticent about interacting with players whose background wasn’t always All-American. “All Americas” is becoming in vogue.

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

  • UFCUFC and Parimatch have locked in a new, multi-year partnership that makes Parimatch the “Official Betting and Wagering Partner of UFC” across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, excluding the United Kingdom and Ireland. Parimatch will be UFC’s first-ever marketing partner from the Commonwealth of Independent States region.

 

  • The annual esports Evolution Championship Series (EVO), which will take place in Las Vegas from Aug. 3-5, locked in a sponsorship deal with Nissin Cup Noodles. Hispanics expressed more interest in watching others play video games compared to Non-Hispanics, According to a 2014 Think Now Research study.

 

  • FS1 and NASCAR Productions launched the fourth season of the documentary series Beyond the Wheel on NASCAR Race Hub. According to 2011 data, 20% of NASCAR’s followers are multicultural fans, 9% were Hispanic and 8% African-American.

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  • Charlotte Motor SpeedwayCharlotte Motor Speedway locked in its race name and distance for its NASCAR playoff race weekend (the first ever) for the Sept. 28-30 Bank of America ROVAL 400 race weekend. “This is history in the making, and it marks the next chapter in our legacy of providing innovative, show-stopping entertainment that’s never been seen before,” said Marcus Smith, the president and CEO of Speedway Motorsports, Inc.

 

  • Minor League Baseball signed a long-term agreement with data company ISM Connect, to improve MiLB teams’ connection with, partners and fans across the country. ISM Connect will provide some MiLB stadiums with innovative technology and data capabilities.

 

  • MLB and other organizations are ending their partnership, at least temporarily, with Papa John’s, after company founder John Schnatter admitted that he used the n-word. Teams severing ties include the Nationals, Yankees, Marlins, Royals, Mariners, and, Orioles. Schnatter announced his resignation as the company’s chairman late Wednesday night.

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

  • Monster Energy announced a deal which extends its entitlement sponsorship of NASCAR’s
    premier series running through 2019. The brand will also continue as the Official Energy Drink of NASCAR. “NASCAR and Monster Energy enjoyed a productive first year and both parties have benefited significantly from the partnership,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR Chief Operating Officer. According to 2011 data, 20% of NASCAR’s followers are multicultural fans, 9% were Hispanic and 8% African-American.
  • Nighthawk Pro GamingNETGEAR Nighthawk Pro Gaming and NRG esports signed a partnership to leverage Nighthawk Pro Gaming products into the team’s training regimen, including its training facility and Boot Camps at the NETGEAR headquarters in the new Nighthawk Pro Gaming lounge. “We are pleased to be working with NETGEAR, the leading provider of networking equipment for the home, gamers and small business,” said Andy Miller, owner, and CEO of NRG and the San Francisco Shock. Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to buy and wear video game branded apparel.
  • The interactive football league Fan-Controlled Football League (FCFL), a new football league that lets fans call the shots on game plays, announced a multiyear streaming deal with Twitch. The deal makes Twitch the exclusive broadcaster of the FCFL through the 2019 and 2020 seasons. This is the second year the FCFL has partnered with Twitch. It first began using the service near the end of its inaugural season in 2017.

Check out the stars of Portada’s Sports Marketing Board, who will meet at Portada Miami on April 18-19 to discuss various topics related to the future of marketing and innovation in sports. Register now!

  • Formula 1ESPN will expand its coverage for next weekend’s Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix, by adding more on-track content. Viewers will be able to watch content from the first two F1 practice sessions of the weekend on ESPNU, from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The third Spanish Grand Prix practice session, qualifying, and the race will air on ESPN2.
  • https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DcMitikW0AMr_Bg.jpg:largeUtz snacks inked a new multi-faceted sponsorship deal with Major League Baseball that makes Utz the Official Salty Snack of MLB, across television, digital media, and retail locations. Utz plans to promote its full assortment of snack products with integrated branding across MLB’s broadcast and digital platforms such as MLB Network and MLB.com. In addition, Utz will begin selling products that feature MLB branding at retail locations across the US. This is the brand’s first professional sports league partnership. 31% of MLB players are Latino, according to ESPN.
  • T-Mobile and the Houston Outlaws have started an official partnership. This is the esports league first sponsorship agreement. As part of it, the brand will now become the Official Wireless Partner of the Houston Outlaws. T-Mobile and the Outlaws will also generate new content to deliver fans an inside look at the team’s players and their experiences in the Overwatch League. “T-Mobile is not only America’s fastest network but the fastest to embrace esports,” said Ryan Musselman, Senior Vice President of Infinite Esports and Entertainment.

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.

What: Former Golden State Warriors president and current Miami Marlins president of business operations Chip Bowers discussed the team’s challenges with Scout Sports managing partner Michael Neuman at Portada Miami last week.
Why it matters: The Marlins are facing a huge rebuild, and have decided to look outside of baseball for a blueprint.

The acquisition of impact the new-look Miami Marlins (@Marlinsmight not only be coming through the trades of All-Stars like Marcell Osuna and Giancarlo Stanton, it may be coming through of all places, the World Champion… Golden State Warriors (@warriors)?

That might sound strange to baseball fans and the Marlins faithful, but from a business perspective the leadership team, starting with Derek Jeter, went outside the organization, and outside of baseball, to bring in former Warriors president Chip Bowers to turn the fortunes of the business side of the team around, and most importantly, get a club that had lost touch not just with the South Florida community but with the baseball-loving and growing Latino community, back in the fold.

Bowers believes that best practices he has experienced at Golden State and other places, combined with a fresh start for the Marlins brand and a unified sense of communication strategy, will lead to brighter days ahead

Bowers, just a few months into the job, made one of his first public appearances this past week at Portada Miami, when he sat down with and Portada Sports board member and Executive Vice President, Managing Partner, Scout Sports and Entertainment (a division of Horizon Media) Michael Neuman to talk about the challenges and the opportunities that lie ahead for their franchise and for baseball in general in South Florida.

Marlins Park (Flickr/Roberto Coquis)

“Our goals are pretty clear,” Bowers said before a packed ballroom of brand marketers and agency heads at the East Hotel Thursday morning. “We need to build trust, align with right partners, make bold promises, and deliver on what we say.” A good part of that trust, he added, will have to come in the Latino community not just in South Florida but across the Americas, a community that has become disillusioned with the former ownership group, and has also raised a few eyebrows as the current group has started their reorganization that included trading away of some of the teams veteran Latino stars.

Still with all that in mind, Bowers believes that best practices he has experienced at Golden State and other places, combined with a fresh start for the Marlins brand and a unified sense of communication strategy, will lead to brighter days ahead, and those days, at least from a marketing standpoint, are already underway as the first part of the MLB (@MLB) season gets cranking.

“We have such a diverse fan base here in South Florida that the possibilities to engage and grow our presence at all levels are very strong,” he added. “However coming with that opportunity is the reality that we have to market to a Puerto Rican audience differently in some ways than a Cuban audience, or a Dominican audience a little differently than a Mexican audience. The commonality is the baseball experience. That’s what we need to exploit.”

Bowers pointed out that the outreach in Miami and the surrounding communities isn’t much different than what the Warriors did with ethnic groups in the Bay Area, even before the team rose to the on-court heights it is experiencing now. “We saw from our data, and from our community work, that we had great numbers of Latinos, Chinese, Mexicans, Koreans, who were fans of not just basketball but of the Warriors themselves, and we had to find ways to market to those communities. It took time but we found programs and brand partners that made sense, and the result was a brand impact not just at our games, but back in the communities abroad where those fans resided originally. They communicated that affinity to friends and relatives in countries around the world, and as a result, we (The Warriors) built a global fan base that has come along with the team for years, and continues to grow and present new opportunities for all those associated with the team.

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Like at Golden State, Bowers sees the same opportunity for the Marlins, especially given the proximity to so many Latino countries who love baseball, and the brands associated with the sport. “If we deliver we can become Latin Americas team, he said. “We can bring an all-encompassing multicultural multiplatform experience that will expand baseball’s reach beyond what it is today.”

That effort of course starts in South Florida, and involves rebuilding the trust with disenfranchised fans and businesses. The bad news is apathy was high the last few years. The good news is there is only one way to go; up. With that upward rise are great opportunities to create low cost, high impact partnerships and ticketing programs that will have casual fans embracing the Marlins as a lifestyle brand off the field as the transformation on the field takes shape in the coming years. It may be a bit slow and bumpy across the summer of 2018, but the long term outlook, Bowers added, can be very bright.

“We have a unified vision and an aggressive stance that is telling everyone we are open for business and want to find ways big and small to work with you,” he concluded. “Now we have to make sure we stay focused, aggressive and deliver on what we can control, and what we say we are going to do. I’m as excited for this chance as any I have had in my career, and the turnaround here is already underway.”

The turnaround, and the track record of the new Marlins President is good news not just for South Florida baseball fans, but for MLB and its legions of brand marketers that are looking to embrace the sport either again or for the first time, not just in Miami but throughout Latin America.

While the All-Stars on the field develop, the Marlins business side will look to be scoring on their own, and with a new vision and an aligned mission, wins in business should be in the offing.

What: The Minnesota Twins and Cleveland Indians battle in a two-game series at San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium in this week’s Puerto Rico Series.
Why it matters: Talk of MLB’s first expansion since 1998 has been growing, and a strong showing this week can put Puerto Rico in the mix, which would be a huge boon to Puerto Rican companies and other international marketers.

In 2003 and 2004, Puerto Rico got its first extended taste of Major League Baseball on the island when the Montreal Expos, playing out their final seasons before moving to Washington, D.C., called Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan for 22 of their home games. Though efforts to make the city the permanent home for the troubled franchise didn’t prove fruitful, MLB has returned intermittently to the venerable 55-year-old facility, hosting World Baseball Classic games in 2006, 2009, and 2013 and a three-game regular season set between the Florida Marlins and New York Mets in 2010.

This week, the sport returns to Puerto Rico as the Central Division rivals Cleveland Indians (@Indians) and Minnesota Twins (@Twins ‏) square off in a two-game set at the historic venue on Tuesday and Wednesday. Puerto Rico Tourism (@SeePuertoRico) is banking on the enthusiasm of fans of those teams, whose home games so far have featured cold, damp weather, as well as baseball fans in general to add to what has been a strong recent showing for the island in hosting major sporting events.

Puerto Rico continues to produce top-level Major League talent, which will be on display in the two games. Francisco Lindor of the Indians and Jose Berrios and Eddie Rosario of the Twins are among the most recent crop of stars, with Houston’s Carlos Correa and the Chicago Cubs’ Javier Baez leading the roster of young Puerto Ricans on the rise. Four P.R. natives are in the Hall of Fame, with a few other likely candidates in the next few years.

Now the question is, what’s next? MLB executives have talked about the league’s potential first expansion since 1998. Would San Juan be a candidate?

But it’s not just about baseball there. In addition to the Indians-Twins series, Puerto Rico has been the site of the Divas Half Marathon and 5K and IRONMAN 70.3 this year and is set for two more years as the PGA TOUR’s Puerto Rico Open host in 2019 and 2020.

“Hosting the Major League Baseball organization, its executives and players for two series games is important for Puerto Rico,” said Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rosselló Nevares in a statement. “We thank the MLB organization for their continued commitment to host this highly regarded event on our Island that is bringing thousands of fans to our historic ballpark where many MLB players of Puerto Rican descent started their very own professional sports careers.”

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The influx couldn’t come at a better time for Puerto Rico, which is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Maria in September. The series had been announced before the hurricane arrived, and was an easy sellout in the 18,000-seat stadium, which took on some damage to the dugouts, bullpens, playing field, lights and more during the storm. The two games are the first played under the new lights at Hiram Bithorn.

Brands have taken notice as well, as Anheuser-Busch, JetBlue and T-Mobile among the international partners joining Rum Puerto Rico, Ashley Furniture Berríos and other locals.

Now the question is, what’s next? MLB executives have talked about the league’s potential first expansion since 1998. Would San Juan be a candidate? Two games in April aren’t going to be the deciding factors, but a strong showing this week can go a long way towards making it a viable option, which would change the face of the island for not just the sporting public, but local companies and international brands with Puerto Rican ties.

Check out the stars of Portada’s Sports Marketing Board, who will meet at Portada Miami on April 18-19 to discuss various topics related to the future of marketing and innovation in sports. Register now!

cover image: Hiram Bithorn Stadium, credit: Flickr/Bryce Edwards

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

  • NBA2KLeagueDell and Intel have announced multi-year partnerships with new esports league NBA 2K League. This makes Dell’s Alienware gaming PCs powered by Intel processors the exclusive hardware to be used at league tournaments. According to a 2014 Think Now Research study, on average, Hispanics play video games more often than Non-Hispanics (12 hours per week vs. 9 hours for Non-Hispanics).
  • BIG3 and Adidas announced a three-year partnership. Adidas will serve as the official outfitter of the esports league, starting at the 2018 BIG3 Combine on April 11 in LA. Adidas will be the official BIG3 jersey provider, outfitting all players in addition to developing new lines of licensed products for fans. Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to buy and wear video game branded apparel, according to hispanicgamers.com.
  • Steve Phelps
    Steve Phelps, NASCAR COO

    NASCAR announced that Steve Phelps has become Chief Operating Officer. Phelps will oversee all NASCAR commercial and media operations. “Steve has worked passionately over the years to lead the sport and it’s clear his impact is felt in all corners of the industry,” said NASCAR President Brent Dewar. According to 2011 data, 20% of NASCAR’s followers are multicultural fans, 9% were Hispanic and 8% African-American.

  • MLB and Twitter launched the Twitter game of the week last Thursday, with out-of-market live streaming of the Rangers and Athletics. MLB will also make real-time game highlights from @MLB on Twitter during the season. 31% of MLB players are Latino, according to ESPN.

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  • Chicago CubsThe Chicago Cubs signed a multi-year Legacy Partnership with global insurance brokerage Gallagher. The company will become the official insurance brokerage, benefits and risk management services partner of the team. In addition, the entertainment plaza will now be named Gallagher Way.
  • Logitech G announced its official partnership of Super League Gaming. The deal will include sponsorship of SLG’s Minecraft City Champs, League of Legends City Champs, and after-school programs across the country. “We’ve been so impressed with Super League’s work to create respectful gaming environments,” said Ujesh Desai, VP, and GM of Logitech Gaming. According to a 2014 Think Now Research study Hispanic gamers buy and rent video games more often than Non-Hispanics.
  • Univision Deportes Network reported record-breaking ratings and double-digit growth this first quarter for its sports content across media platforms. UDN finished the first quarter as the No. 3 sports network, regardless of language, during primetime among Adults 18-49, led by Liga MX, which averaged 326,000 Total Viewers P2+ and 191,000 Adults 18-49.

Check out the stars of Portada’s Sports Marketing Board, who will meet at Portada Miami on April 18-19 to discuss various topics related to the future of marketing and innovation in sports. Register now!

  • Twitch partnered with Nexon and Stunlock Studios to launch the inaugural season of Battlerite Pro League. Season 1 competition starts on April 12.
  • Pure Michigan will stop sponsoring the August NASCAR Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway. It’s been 7 years since the Travel Michigan campaign and arm of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation paid the sponsorship.