A recap of news and trends in the Sports Marketing world as compiled by Portada’s Editorial team….

Spark and 120 Sports Announce Real-time Integration Deal

120_SportsDigital Properties are increasingly announcing deals with agencies (as opposed to with single companies or brands). The trend also includes the sports realm: 120 Sports announced a digital-led partnership with Spark SMG focused on real-time brand integrations across the league-owned multi-sports network.
The partnership is designed to better position Spark SMG clients with audiences as they increasingly migrate towards mobile devices and other OTT platforms. The partnership involves eight Spark SMG clients in total; one of them, Bass Pro Shops, launched its campaign on 120 Sports at the beginning of November. While Steve Mazeika, Communications Manager at Spark did not want to disclose the other 7 Spark clients participating in the program he did say that “these marketers span an array of industries, including QSR, automotive, and pharmaceutical – to name a few.” Spark clients include Taco Bell, Kao, Mead Johnson, Chicago Fire, Red Lobster and Morgan Stanley. Bass Pro Shops will work closely with 120 Sports to produce and deliver branded content in real time to capitalize on the value of timely content around new and evolving news and stories, as well as deliver an authentic brand experience for users. ” “Our approach is to cater to today’s sports fans whose expectation is to consume sports content how they want it (mobile, OTT, desktop), when they want it (live, on-demand) – a total market approach inclusive to all. Currently, all of our content is in English,” Emigdio Gamboa, spokesperson for 120 Sports, tells Portada. 120 Sports will also work with Spark SMG brands to create an on-site presence at several large, sporting events this coming year that will capitalize on trending sports conversation and buzz. Asked about whether, deal includes data sharing between Spark and 120 Sports Sparks Mazeika notes that “that is not currently built into the scope of Spark’s partnership with 120 Sports.”
120 Sports is a network partnership involving multiple leagues and media properties created for the digital generation and the devices it uses most.

Anheuser Busch expands NBA deal to Content Production and a Hispanic Component

DIAGEO NBA LOGOEntering its 18th year of sponsoring the association, Anheuser-Busch will for the first time work with the league to produce digital content for online platforms, that will be aimed at bringing “its brand messages to life through basketball”. The renewal also includes enhanced packaging and marketing rights, with Anheuser-Busch, the Drinks Business reports. It includes the ability to feature select NBA and team logos collectively on cans, bottles and other packaging and in promotional campaigns. Anheuser-Busch will also expand its marketing partnership to include USA Basketball (Amateur Basketball Association) and the league’s Hispanic marketing initiative, Noches éne bé a. Emilio Collins, NBA executive vice president of global marketing partnerships said the expanded partnership would allow it to engage fans in a number of new ways “through live events, retail programs, digital activation and great storytelling.” Anheuser-Busch will continue as the official beer partner of the NBA, Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and NBA development league.

Will NBA, MLB or NFL Create Mexican Franchises?

Mexico FansSoccer reigns in Mexico but the NBA’s latest regular-season game highlighted the growing interest of US professional sports leagues to woo fans in the potentially huge market. Despite a 2013 generator malfunction that forced a game to be cancelled right before tipoff, the NBA held a regular-season contest in Mexico City for the second year in a row last week. The contest between the Boston Celtics and Sacramento Kings underscored the growing desire of US basketball, American football and baseball leagues to tap a growing fan base that watches more than just “f útbol.” “We consider Mexico a priority market where our business has grown and we see great potential,” Philippe Moggio, NBA senior vice president for Latin America, told AFP as fans bedecked in Celtics green and Kings purple flocked into the arena. While the game fell on the same night as the Mexican football league’s semi-finals, nearly 19,000 fans packed into the 22,000-capacity Mexico City Arena. A study by the NBA found that there are around 14 million NBA fans in Mexico, out of 118 million people.
The NFL and MLB are also looking to increase their foothold in Mexico. The NFL said in August that it was examining the possibility of staging regular-season games again. The last time, in 2005, a record crowd of 103,467 crammed into Mexico City’s Azteca stadium to watch the Arizona Cardinals defeat the San Francisco 49ers. MLB may take the boldest step, as league commissioner Rob Manfred said in October that officials were “really interested” in potentially launching a franchise in Mexico. “If we can find the right location, it is possible to support a team in Mexico economically. And an increased flow of Mexican players into the big leagues combined with a team in Mexico would help us with the Hispanic market in the US,” Manfred told the Hollywood Reporter.

CHECK OUT: McDonald’s Patricia Diaz: “More and More Latinos are Becoming Football Fans”

Will Sponsors Reign in Fifa’s Corruption Sleaze?

fifaFive major FIFA sponsors have voiced their displeasure with the way the global soccer organization is handling its affairs amid an ongoing corruption scandal. Five key sponsors—Adidas, Anheuser-Busch InBev, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and Visa—sent FIFA a strongly worded letter demanding “independent oversight” of the federation’s reform process, stressing the urgent need for “cultural change.”
“As sponsors and long-time supporters of football at every level, AB InBev, adidas, The Coca-Cola Company, McDonald’s and Visa all want to see FIFA effectively resume its mission of developing the great sport of football around the world.” The letter continues by saying: “We know that you, the Executive Committee members, will soon be considering a list of reforms aimed at strengthening FIFA’s governance. We urge you to embrace positive changes and also recognize that this is just one step toward creating a credible future for FIFA. We want to emphasize to you the values and characteristics that we believe should be incorporated through the reforms. Transparency, accountability, respect for human rights, integrity, leadership and gender equality are crucial to the future of FIFA. Reforms can set the proper framework for these characteristics, but a cultural change is also needed. The culture change has to begin within FIFA and filter through to the Confederations and FIFA’s Football Associations.” According to the five corporations who sent the letter, independent oversight is crucial: We still believe any reforms should be subject to independent oversight.”

ESPN Relaunches Spanish Sites, New Apps coming in Spring

ESPN relaunched its Spanish-Language websites in U.S. and Across Latin America. Redesigned sites deliver mobile-first design and ESPN’s local, regional and global sports news, content and coverage. Built on powerful new technology and content management platforms, relaunched editions follow U.S. and U.K. relaunch in April; mark next step in global “editions”. The completely redesigned platform will serve fans across Latin America, with dedicated local ESPN sites in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Venezuela. U.S. Hispanic fans will be served by a relaunched edition of ESPNdeportes.com. Fans in Brazil continue to be served by ESPN.com.br (Portuguese-language). The sites are powered by ESPN editorial and content teams across Latin America and around the world, including teams in Buenos Aires, Mexico City, Miami, Los Angeles and the Bristol, Conn. headquarters, as well as reporters and journalists spread across Latin America and editorial teams around the world dedicated to industry-leading coverage of global football, rugby, tennis, boxing, baseball, basketball and more. Built on the same technology infrastructure and design elements as the new ESPN.com (which debuted in April), the sites have been re-engineered to be faster, make more of ESPN’s industry-leading content easily discoverable, and deliver a more engaging experience for fans.“Bringing a uniformly great experience to sports fans all over the world is central to our mission at ESPN,” said John Kosner, executive vice president of ESPN Digital and Print Media. “Working together with our leadership teams around the world, we are delivering editions of ESPN.com to fans across the Western Hemisphere. These will be followed by new Spanish-language editions of the ESPN app next spring.

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What: Fast food giant Taco Bell has consolidated its traditional media assignment with Publicis Groupe’s SMG’s Spark after a formal review. Digitas, also part of Publicis Groupe,  continues to handle digital media planning and buying.
Why it matters: Mec, a unit within WPP’s GroupM, was the incumbent. Spark already handles strategy and planning for Taco Bell since 2012.

vFkj_MHn_400x400Following a formal review, fast food giant Taco Bell has consolidated its traditional media assignment with Publicis Groupe’s SMG’s Spark, worth around US$300 million.Mec, a unit within WPP’s GroupM, was the incumbent.

Spark had already handled strategy and planning for Taco Bell since winning those duties in 2012 after a review. Now Taco Bell has placed its buying assignment with Spark as well. (Check out our recent agency profile of Spark)

Digitas, also part of Publicis Groupe,  continues to handle digital media planning and buying.

Spark has been under a hot streak lately , as it has also won media agency of record duties for Valspar, the paint company, a week ago.

Juliet Corsinita, vice president, media and brand partnerships, Taco Bell Corp., confirmed the move.

In our new agency profile feature, Susan Kuchinskas writes about Spark’s origin, key clients, its multicultural offering, main decision makers, cool upcoming campaigns and more…Spark’s Elevator pitch? Boutique services with the clout of Starcom Media.

Origin story

Chris BootheThis Chicago-based, full-service media agency is the smallest in the StarcomMediaVest Group, but it aims to be, well, the sparkiest. The company’s genesis was in 1999 as Starlink Worldwide, a media agency aiming to serve independent agencies with a more creative approach. In 2007, it rebranded as Spark Communications, with a digital focus. Chris Boothe, formerly president of Starcom, came aboard in 2012 as the agency’s first CEO.

“We created a model based on the best of both worlds: boutique but backed by a global agency network,” he says. Boothe is emphatic – if a bit vague – about how collaboration with its powerful media parent works, but he notes, “If SMG has a strategic partnership with Univision and SMG, all our clients can benefit from that.”

Spark logoMedia plans are architected and executed by Spark, informed by the agency’s insights as well as those stemming from SMG research partnerships and findings, and they also benefit from the parent’s preferred pricing.
Key Clients: ConAgra, Red Lobster, Kao, Taco Bell

Secret sauce

Spark works with clients large and small. Boothe says, “We work best with clients that are seeking to do things differently and want to develop programs that are content-, data- and analytics-driven; delivering precision targeting and making realtime decisions.” Efficiency and precision come from a scientific approach to campaigns that provides maximum impact with minimal waste – and that’s of interest to every client these days, Boothe says. “All clients now are trying to outsmart versus outspend. You have to have a challenger brand mentality.”

Multiculti beat

Multicultural marketing is built into Spark, which takes the total market approach for all media strategies. That said, Stephen Paez, vice president and director of multicultural, is aggressively going after multicultural accounts, having grown total multiculti revenue by close to 20 percent in his 18-month tenure. Spark Multicultural is part of SMG Multicultural, the nation’s largest multicultural marketing agency. While it has its own internal resources, it also can leverage the resources of SMG MC in the same way that other brands within the parent agency do.

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Media decision-makers

Media plans are architected and executed by Spark, informed by the agency’s insights as well as those stemming from SMG research partnerships and findings, and they also benefit from the parent’s preferred pricing. The lead media planners on client teams make key decisions in collaboration with the client, and they’re responsible for making sure the specific client gets the best pricing, best activations and added value, Boothe says.

Shelby Saville, EVP of digital, oversees close to half of all agency billings. Stephen Paez oversees multicultural media and John Muszynski, chief investment officer, leads all investment, total market, negotiations on behalf of Spark’s clients. 


European Wax Center will launch a campaign with the release of 50 Shades of Grey. The in-cinema TKs place with NationalCinemedia Networks allows ECM to target this movie only, running in 1,500+ theaters across the US. A partnership with Fandango lets Spark serve online ads to women who have purchased 50 Shades of Grey tickets or reviewed the movie.

Cool Campaigns 

Treehive BeehiveTo launch Delta Faucets’ new HappiMess campaign, Spark collaborated with Animal Planet marketing and Discovery Communications ad sales marketing to create multifaceted brand integration centered on a custom, content-driven contest. The partnership in the TV show Treehouse Masters includes custom, on-air vignettes; passive product integration; in-program mentions and bumps; and forefront integration in the show finale.

Digital dimensions include a digital landing page on Animal Planet for contest submissions, co-branded banners on Animal Planet and Discovery Digital Network; a co-branded Rich Media Video Box that features the custom vignettes; co-branded homepage road blocks on Animal Planet and Discovery Digital Network; and a sponsored, “behind-the-build” digital episode.

MontanaA campaign promoting skiing in Montana used location-based mobile ads to reach people in the Midwest who were at ski resorts, top skier airports and other outdoor areas. The idea was to target people in markets where there are lots of skiers but the local skiing is not so good. Spark also geofenced the entire state of Montana to allow the Montana Office of Tourism to track the percentage of people who received a Montana ad and later actually visited the state during the ski season. The estimated $25,000 budget resulted in an incremental lift of 4,752 visitors and an incremental $6.9 million lift in visitor spending — returns of $276 for every ad dollar spent.
[vimeo 105771261 w=500 h=281]

Montana Sparks Tourism with Innovative Geofencing Campaign from SMGSource1 on Vimeo.

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A rapidly increasing share of online display advertising is moving towards programmatic, mostly real-time buying. But is the programmatic buying trend going too far? Should some artsy good old-fashioned media buying be incorporated to the rocket science? Here is what some major marketers in the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets have to say.

RTB ProgrammaticThe share of programmatic spend in U.S. digital media transactions expanded  from 38% in 2012 to 53% in 2013 and is expected to increase to 83% by 2017, according to a recent report by Magna Global. While in the U.S. Hispanic market, and more so in Latin America, programmatic trading’s share is lower than in the U.S general market, it is also expanding rapidly there. But are we going too far and adopting programmatic as the be-all and end-all of all digital marketing solutions? (In fact, the trend is that programmatic ad buys will also be used for other types of media). We asked some major marketers:

“We find programmatic buying an efficient use of our dollars to reach consumers who are already engaged with the concept, the brand and the products, we are using it globally”, says Marlene Moronta, Marketing Manager at the The Estée Lauder Companies in New York. Moronta focuses on the Latin American market. However, she cautions that  “while it is effective, it is really about engaging the user through other methods and creating an experience that she can be part of, both online and off.”

While programmatic is effective, it is really about engaging the user through other methods and creating an experience that she can be part of, both online and off.

Maya Kosovalic, Digital and Media Communications Manager at L’Oreal, in Miami, notes that she does “utilize programmatic buying as long as there is enough targeting control from both an environment, psychographic, demographic and exclusion perspective.”  “Yes I absolutely think programmatic buying is the way of the future as long as  it allows advertisers control and access to premium inventory,” Kosovalic adds.

Jillian Meliker Multicultural Supervisor at Spark Multicultural  says that she uses programmatic buying “to target the Hispanic consumer only when it is part of a total market approach to ensure that English language impressions are culturally relevant to our target and that the correct language is being served based on their browsing habits. ” Spark Multicultural  handles strategy and activation for major brands including Conagra and Taco Bell

CHECK OUT Portada’s Latin Audience Buying Guide!

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