What: Henry Cejudo last weekend became the first Olympic champion to win a UFC title.
Why it matters: The new flyweight champion is also the only Hispanic Olympic gold medalist, with a huge personality that is an ideal crossover hit for marketers.

He is an Olympic wrestling champion, the only Latino athlete to take home gold for the United States in the Beijing Olympics in any sport. The son of undocumented immigrants who worked hard to give him a better life, Henry Cejudo’s (@HenryCejudonarrative got all that much better last Saturday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, when he defeated Demetrious Johnson for the UFC Flyweight Championship title.

Following the win, Cejudo, who last year narrowly escaped death in one of the Northern California wildfires, jumping out a hotel window to safety, was immediately hailed as the next breakthrough face of the UFC (@ufc). His size, at only 5 foot 4, his personality—there is a book and a play about his life story already—and his seemingly reckless style which has earned him “Match of the Night” during numerous fights, all bode well for the Mexican-American California resident.

With the UFC in a bit of a plateau, and looking to attract a larger audience of first timers from the Latino ranks, could Cejudo’s rise be great for the Endeavor-owned MMA Venture? It seems so. With Modelo (@ModeloUSAnow on board as the “Official Beer,” and 7- Eleven (@7elevenas “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 now as a champion.

His story should be noticed by brands as an authentic opportunity to connect with Latinos. It’s really a no brainer.

And while Cejudo’s story was attractive even without a UFC belt, his success in the Octagon, coupled with some of the new partners who have come along, could really pay some very timely dividends.

“Being a champion or the best at any sport is always an important milestone for an athlete, and can typically lead to new opportunities. We see this across just about any sport. Add UFC’s brand popularity into this mix, especially among young men, Henry has positioned himself for great possibilities,” said Mario Flores, Managing Partner at Sportivo.  “This win for Henry adds to his already incredible journey: from an immigrant to Olympic champion to UFC champ. His story should be noticed by brands as an authentic opportunity to connect with Latinos. It’s really a no brainer.”

While fighters pimping out signage with body art and on shorts in the Octagon is much more uniform and controlled these days, any host of brands who are fight and training sport savvy and looking for the feel good Latino engagement probably doesn’t need to look much further than Cejudo.

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That could include everyone from mobile partners to financial services, along with the regulars looking to engage in the space like health and wellness brands. And although shoes and apparel are rarely high on the list for MMA  athletes, disruptive brands that score high in the Latino demo may find a home with the UFC’s latest Olympian turned champion.

Now of course the challenge to retain a belt in MMA is just as difficult as the rise to be a champion, but that dual Olympic-UFC narrative is certainly rare, and one that can live on for quite a long time. Cejudo has always been sponsor friendly and his narrative is robust for fight sports as well.

Will it translate into not just personal dollars but a solid bump in awareness for the UFC? Time will tell, but a great stage was set this weekend, once that can be a win for all.

What: Roberto Rodriguez of Guaynabo became the first Puerto Rican player to win an AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour event on Sunday at the San Francisco Open.
Why it matters: Rodriguez’s title can be the spark to reinvigorate beach volleyball in Puerto Rico, where the indoor game has reigned supreme for years, as it would be an ideal location for players and partners.

Roberto Rodriguez (L) and Ed Ratledge after winning the AVP San Francisco Open (credit: Mpu Dinani)

When Roberto “Rafú” Rodriguez teamed with veteran Ed Ratledge to win last weekend’s AVP San Francisco Open beach volleyball tournament at the scenic foot of the Bay Bridge, it wasn’t just his (and Ratledge’s) first AVP Tour (@avpbeachwin. It was the first for a native of Puerto Rico on the tour, which might seem odd for a region that has some of the world’s most beautiful beaches.

While the beach game has enjoyed immense popularity in Brazil and has achieved a modicum of success in some other Latin American regions, it’s the indoor game that has thrived in Puerto Rico. It’s something that the Guaynabo native hopes can change, with his win on Sunday an early catalyst.

Especially for the younger kids coming up, they can see a guy that they play with, they can do it if they work hard.

“I think it sets an example,” said Rodriguez following his and Ratledge’s 21-15, 21-18 triumph over No. 5 seeded Chase Budinger, a former NBA player, and two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal. “Anybody can outwork someone and accomplish whatever they want. Especially for the younger kids coming up, they can see a guy that they play with, they can do it if they work hard.”

“Rafú is one of the most kind-hearted people I know,” said Ratledge, who won for the first time in 18 years and 145 previous AVP Tour events. “If you are going to spend as much time around a volleyball partner as you do, you want someone who is that way.”

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Roberto Rodriguez (credit Robert Beck)

But the road is a challenging one. AVP Tour records note that there have been 30 other players in tour history who have hailed from the U.S. territory, notably Raul Papaleo, who competed in 55 events between 1994 an 2006, Jonathan Acosta, a UCLA star who played 40 tournaments in the 2000s and Joaquin Acosta, who played in 22 a decade ago, with a best finish of 7th.

And while the climate, beaches and tourism of Puerto Rico might seem to lead to hosting events there, there hasn’t been a strong push at least by the AVP, with the 1994 “Isla Verde” tournament the only one sanctioned by the main U.S. tour, though the WPVA, the main women’s tour in the 1990s, NORCECA (@NorcecaInfo), a tour which holds events in North, Central America and the Caribbean, have held a few there.

“A lot of young kids are playing there now, but there is no adult national team per se,” added Rodriguez, who lives and trains in Southern California but whose family is mostly in Guaynabo and visits him often. “But there are a lot of good players and good talent coming up.”

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Rodriguez was the first Puerto Rican to reach even an AVP Tour semifinal, and the win was especially satisfying as the tandem won five straight matches at The Embarcadero-Pier 30/32 in just their third event together.

What can this mean for the future of the sport in Puerto Rico? The AVP Tour now has eight solid events on it annual calendar, and not just in the traditional hotbeds of the sport. New York, Chicago, Austin and Seattle are among the other stops, and by holding successful, sponsor-driven tournaments—with free general admission and limited “club” and premium sold seating, most of the revenue comes from sponsors—in such regions, the Tour has shown a willingness to schedule outside of the sport’s comfort zone. If larger partners like Wilson (@WilsonSportingG), Nissan )@NissanUSAand Amazon (which broadcasts the majority of the matches via Prime) as well as highly targeted sponsors like KT Tape (@KTTape), Hydro Flask (@HydroFlask), powercrunch (@PowerCrunchBar) and others can translate in large mainland cities, perhaps the formula can work on the island as well.

Maybe Puerto Rico, once it is more recovered from last year’s devastating hurricane, can be a viable option moving forward. In any case, it has its first champion on the sand, and maybe a champion for its cause.

Cover Image: Robert Beck

What: Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez is keeping in the public eye with some well-placed endorsements.
Why it matters: Hernandez is not just staying relevant during the quadrennial period between Olympic games, she is smartly aligning with brands that maintain her strong All-American image.

Laurie Hernandez (@lzhernandez02), who became one of the darlings of the 2016 Rio Olympics by taking home gold and silver medals in gymnastics at age 16, is in no hurry to get back on the mat. While she sorts her timing options for returning to action—now looking like 2019—the 5-foot pixie is making time to represent some well-selected, key organizations that are within her purvey and maintain her wholesome, All-American image. She even took a further star turn as the Dancing with the Stars (@DancingABC ‏) champion in 2016.

Just in the past couple of weeks, Hernandez has been featured in campaigns for gymnastics and dance gear leader Varsity Brands (@varsitybrands), for its School Spirit Awards, and the American Egg Board, in support of its “You’re Incredible Because…” initiative.

Hernandez, who showed her media chops as she handled press interviews as flawlessly as her gymnastics routines, will serve as host of the Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards, presented by Drillstack, televised on the CBS Sports Network on June 10 at 11 a.m. ET. She will be joined by “Live! With Kelly” co-host, Pennsylvania teacher Richard Curtis on the broadcast.

Looking at the sponsorship deals that Hernandez’s team selected among the dozens proposed following her Rio success, her team has been executing a smart plan.

Varsity brands encompasses BSN Sports, Varsity Spirit and Herff Jones, three businesses supporting the student experience.

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credit: Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil

“Varsity Brands is honored to welcome Laurie Hernandez and Richard Curtis for this year’s School Spirit Awards,” said Jeff Webb, Founder and Chairman of Varsity Brands, in a statement. “Laurie and Richard have embraced school spirit in their lives and work every day to be involved in their communities—and inspire others to do the same.”

In a different but equally family-friendly endorsement, the American Egg Board (@AmEggBoard) scooped up Hernandez to front its contest, which “is looking for kids engaging in social good projects in their schools and communities, excelling in sports or extra-curricular activities, raising money for those in need and more,” according to contest info. By continuing this partnership, Hernandez keeps her name fresh in fans’ minds, something that can be a challenge for Olympic athletes whose big moments come once every years.

“I’m excited to continue my partnership with the American Egg Board for this year’s search for the next incredible kid,” said Hernandez in a statement. “I personally understand how important it is to recognize children for their accomplishments, especially for the seemingly small actions that can lead to a big difference.”

Looking at the sponsorship deals that Hernandez’s team selected among the dozens proposed following her Rio success, her team has been executing a smart plan. From launching Obsess, JCPenney’s body-positive girls clothing brand, to P&G’s “Orgullosa” platform, empowering Latinas, to Florida Dairy Farmers appearances, the central New Jersey native is keeping her brand on the high road as she plans her return to the sport.

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: Courtesy Dave Kotinsky-Getty Images for American Egg Board

What: The WBSC released its updated international baseball rankings, with nine Latin American countries in the top 20.
Why it matters: With its reinstatement into the Olympics in 2020, baseball in Latin America can be an increasingly attractive sport for marketers at a global level.

Latin American nations rejoiced in August 2016 when baseball and softball were reinstated to the Olympics. The upcoming 2020 Games will mark the first time teams will compete in baseball since 2008, after which the IOC removed it from the lineup.

While Korea, Japan and, of course, the United States field strong squads, many Latin American nations were hardest hit by baseball’s loss and perhaps most buoyed by its reinstatement. Last week, the World Baseball Softball Confederation (@WBSC) released its updated rankings, and several Latin American nations made jumps since the last update. Cuba (up one spot to No. 4), Mexico (+1 / 5th), Puerto Rico (+1 / 10th) and Dominican Republic (+4 / 12th) are among the upward movers, and in all, 11 North American entities are represented in the top 20. USA (No. 1), Canada (7th), Venezuela (11th), Nicaragua (13th), Panama (14th), Colombia (16th), Brazil (19th) and Argentina (20th) round out the elite list, with 74 baseball playing nations rated in all.

The important question moving forward: what value will marketers see in [events] which represent the future of the amateur game?

As Latin American national teams move towards the sport’s triumphant return to the biggest international stage in Tokyo in two years, will sponsors follow? Beisbol rivals futbol for popularity in many of the nations, and 18 months into the reinstatement there are hints of major international companies getting back into the game there. Alamo Rent-A-Car has naming rights to the Kukulcan Alamo Park in Merida, Yucatan; GBG Energy-Texaco has sponsored the Águilas Cibaeñas team in the Dominican Republic’s Winter Baseball League.

But big sponsorships in these countries at a global level are few and far between. The World Baseball Classic, which first gained a foothold in 2006 and has served as the highest-profile —though by no means only— international baseball event, has seen Dominican Republic (2013 champion) and Puerto Rico (2013, 2017 runner-up) figure prominently, with multinational companies Delta Air Lines, Gatorade, LG and AT&T making strong commitments to last spring’s quadrennial tournament.

The important question moving forward: what value will marketers see in, for example, events like the U-21 and U-15 Baseball World Cups and the Central American and Caribbean Games, which represent the future of the amateur game?

images courtesy WBSC

What: Latino US Olympians such as Alex Ferreira and Jonathan Garcia have not had their backgrounds highlighted in media coverage of the games.
Why it matters: A major opportunity is being missed to market to the Hispanic market with these athletes during the Winter Olympic Games.

Little Promotion of USA’s Latino Olympians

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USA speed skater Jonathan Garcia (credit: Houston Style Magazine)

Though the Team USA roster for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games does not have many Latino faces, there are a handful of athletes competing for Red, White, and Blue who have Hispanic roots. These athletes include speed skater Jonathan Garcia (@jagarcia23), bobsledder Carlo Valdes (CarloValdes_USA), and freestyle skier Alex Ferreira, whose father Marcelo played for Argentina’s historic soccer club River Plate. Carlo Valdes has been interviewed about his Latino heritage and even got a shout-out from Mario Lopez wishing him good luck at the Games. Ferreira and Garcia, though, have had little to no coverage on their unique backgrounds, and all three of them could certainly be celebrated further for thriving in sports for which Latin Americans are less well-known. Other Latino athletes such as Puerto Rico’s Charles Flaherty have gotten attention throughout the country, but those representing the USA are, in fact, underrepresented.

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It is hard to imagine that many of the 69,800 followers of this account would not turn on their television to watch Ferreira, Garcia, or Valdes… and this type of oversight has been unfortunately typical throughout the Winter Olympics.

A Missed Opportunity for Olympics Engagement

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NBC Universo should have more focus on the Olympics (credit: Billboard.com)

Seeing as how the Winter Olympics have historically suffered poor engagement from the Latino community, brands are missing a tremendous chance to promote athletes who could become heroes in the eyes of at least 18% of the United States population. NBC, who holds the US television broadcasting rights for the Games, could have easily boosted its ratings within this demographic by having athletes such as Valdes, Ferreira, and Garcia invite fans to watch the Olympics in advertisements leading up to the competition. At the time of this article, the Olympics are being shown on NBC, while NBC Universo’s website does not mention the Games at all, and the only posts that the NBC Universo Instagram account has on the Olympics are to announce their start date. It is hard to imagine that many of the 69,800 followers of this account would not turn on their television to watch Ferreira, Garcia, or Valdes if their events were advertised on this feed, and this type of oversight has been unfortunately typical throughout the Winter Olympics.

it is time for brands to realize that promoting the likes of Garcia, Valdes, and Ferreira should be common practice every time the Winter Olympics comes around.

Sponsors Can Step Up as Well

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U.S. Olympian Skier Alex Ferreira (credit: Anna Stonehouse The Aspen Times)

On the other hand, brands sponsoring these athletes should also be utilizing them for marketing opportunities to a far greater extent. For example, Alex Ferreira is sponsored by Rock Star Energy, but the company does not have an Instagram post featuring him since the X Games almost a month ago. Another one of his listed sponsors, Waiakea water, does not have a post about him on their feed either. In interviews, Ferreira is an energetic, engaging character, and he is incredibly entertaining to watch as he flies through the air, twisting and turning down the half-pipe: he is the type of athlete that should be easy to market. As of now, his sponsors are missing out on easy dollars, for promoting him to any extent would be wise, but accentuating his Latino background would excite a portion of the United States market that is waiting for people like them to represent the USA in these Games. This latter point is true for sponsors of all Latinos competing in the games: these athletes are the ticket to engaging with a so far under-engaged demographic, and it is time for brands to realize that promoting the likes of Garcia, Valdes, and Ferreira should be common practice every time the Winter Olympics comes around.

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What: The Spanish Ice Sports Federation has inked an agreement with Pixellot to stream its action live and provide highlights.
Why it matters: Ice sports aren’t as popular in Spain as soccer and basketball, but live streaming on the Federation site and highlights on major media outlets can help figure skating, ice hockey and skeleton gain more exposure.

Fans across the globe have more choices than ever in streaming video of their favorite sports. From events as large as the Olympics and Super Bowl to as niche as Division III women’s lacrosse, watching online offers variety, if sometimes quality level also varies.

Looking to seize on the timing of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, the Spanish Ice Sports Federation, or Federación Española Deportes de Hielo (@FedHielo), has announced it will utilize the services of Pixellot (@Pixellotltd) to broadcast three of the key sports under its purvey —ice hockey, curling, and figure skating— via the Federation website.

By utilizing existing strong Spanish media outlets like Marca and Teledeporte TV for highlights, an even broader audience will be exposed to the action.
Rafael Heredia (FEDH)

Founded just a decade ago, the Spanish Ice Sports Federation has sent five athletes to PyeongChang (four figure skaters including two-time world champion Javier Fernández (@javierfernandez) and one skeleton athlete). While they aren’t all expected to medal, the Spanish athletes, in particular the six-time European champion Fernández, have proven popular back home and demand for their sports is on the rise.

Pixellot, headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, with offices in the U.S., Spain, and Japan, streams 16,000 hours of live sports every month, via 2000 systems, according to the announcement of the FEDH agreement. By utilizing existing strong Spanish media outlets like Marca and Teledeporte TV for highlights, an even broader audience will be exposed to the action.

“We had seen Pixellot in action elsewhere and immediately reached out once we were ready to expand our operations,” says Xavier Cherta, FEDH General Secretary, in a statement. “Figure skater Javier Fernández – two-time World champion and a six-time consecutive European champion – will be representing the Federación at the Olympics, along with other winter athletes. We believe his exposure will further strengthen the interest in ice sports in Spain, which will in turn be reinforced by the availability of video streaming.”

It’s a model that, if it catches on for Spanish ice sports, may see even more niche events gain more exposure for fans across the globe.

Featured image credit: Jose Gallego, FEDH

What: Sites that specialize in sports related content found a way to increase ad revenue grow through programmatic advertising sales.
Why It Matters: $15 billion pesos (aprox, US $900 million) were spent on digital advertising in Mexico in 2015. This was distributed between traditional, native and programmatic, with programmatic showing the greatest growth.

Display ad sales are struggling as programmatic surges. While general digital advertising revenue increased by 36% between 2014 and 2015, traditional advertising revenue went down by 14%, according to IAB Mexico.

Image result for mediotiempo“The biggest challenge is selling display ads, because more money is being pumped into programmatic, taking value out of display,” says Javier Salinas, director of Mediotiempo.com, a portal that specializes in sports that went from billing 5% through programmatic in 2014 to 35% in 2015.

While that seems to reflect the trend in the industry, there are still companies that cling to display. This is the case of ClaroSports.com, a branch of the Carso Group, which runs Carlos Slim and obtained the rights to transmit the Olympic Games in Rio this year.

“The bet is still on direct sales. In the case of both the Rio and Sochi Olympics, alliances with brands were made. Programmatic still isn’t our niche,” explains a source at ClaroSports.com, who preferred to remain anonymous due to company policies.

On the other hand, Carla Villafuerte, the Commercial Director of the Media Response Group, an agency that specializes in digital advertising, explained how “if they offer you advertising with a highly segmented audience, and then another that is massive, unless the product is toilet paper, you’re going to opt for the segmented audience. That is what programmatic offers: higher effectiveness at a lower cost.”

Salinas agrees: “even this year, agencies closed TV and then digital media contracts, but TV is able to sign less and less.”

Image result for claro sports brasil 2016To ClaroSports.com, the key is offering attractive packages to clients that allow them to reduce their  costs. For example, in the case of the Olympic Games in Brazil, the medal winners were sponsored by brands, as “we understand that there aren’t Olympic Games every year, but on this occasion we were able to position ourselves and offer packages that no other media was able to put on the table,” explained the source.

“Internet penetration will continue to grow in the next years, and while we still don’t know enough about the latest trends in digital advertising, in the long term, low costs and audience effectiveness will prevail,” adds Villafuerte.

Portales deportivos optan por marketing programático Read this article in Spanish!

Gabriela Gutiérrez contributed to this article. 

What are the most popular sports websites among U.S. Hispanics? What impact did the months preparing for the  Olympic Games have on theconsumption of sports content? The answers to these questions and more, according to comScore‘s June 2015 and June 2016 rankings.

As much as the amount of Hispanic users with Internet access increased,by 4% according to the table below, in June 2016 compared to June 2015, it is interesting to note how the general trend in the consumption of sports sites was negative. But one of the most important events of 2016 has been the Olympic Games, so maybe we will need to look at comScore’s August results to determine if this downward trend was reverted during the event.

Source: comScore Media Metrix, United States, Hispanic All, Home and Work, PC/Laptop only, Junio 2015 vs Junio 2016Unique Visitors (000)% Growth
    Total Internet:  Hispanic All30.14031.3574%
1    ESPN2.4912.374-5%
2    Yahoo Sports-NBC Sports Network2.5392.080-18%
3    Fox Sports Digital – Sporting News Media1.6621.558-6%
4    MSN Sports1.1081.41928%
5    Bleacher Report – Turner Sports Network1.7141.269-26%
6    USA TODAY Sports Media Group1.4601.205-17%
7    SB Nation1.4491.165-20%
8    MLB1.155979-15%
9    CBS Sports891794-11%
10    Sports Illustrated Sites746684-8%

In general terms, the sports category was visited by 32% of US Hispanics during June 2016, which represents an 8% decrease compared to the same month in 2015.

On all of the informed sites on the comScore ranking, there was a decrease in monthly visitors during June 2016, except in the case of MSN Sports, whose unique users increased by 28% compared to June 2015.

ESPN, the sports site operated by The Walt Disney Company, lost the least amount of users, while Bleacher Report, owned by  Turner Broadcasting, lost the most in this particular time period.

Portada’s Latin American Advertising & Media Summit kicked off Tuesday afternoon with a keynote presentation -and interview- with Claudio Ferreira, the publisher of Veja Magazine, the world’s second largest magazine after Time and one of dozens of titles published by Brazil’s Grupo Abril.

Ferreira warned the audience: “My Portuguese is better than my English,” and so he proceded to present entirely in Portuguese. The panel was simultaneously translated into English.

During a one-hour presentation, Ferreira presented some staggering statistics about Brazil’s economic power as the world’s fifth largest economy and highlighted opportunities for brand marketers surrounding the upcoming Olympic Games and the all-too-important FIFA World Cup in 2014.

“We are about to surpass England as the 5th largest advertising spender in the world,” said Ferreira. “I’m sure the Queen is not going to be very happy about that. All we have to do now is win the world cup.”

Among Brazil’s fun facts presented by Ferreira:

  • Sao Paulo is the only capital in the world with more than one Tiffany store
  • Brazil has 264 million mobile phones; 16.1 million of those are Smartphones
  • Brazil is now #7 in number of international events hosted per year…. 3.6 million tourists are expected to this year’s Confederations Cup
  • Veja is the world’s 2nd largest weekly news magazine (after @Time)
  • Veja’s parent company, Grupo Abril, launched 52 apps in 2013; 3.8 million downloads…. Grupo Abril

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