Hispanic sports marketing: Portada talked to Arizona Coyotes CEO Xavier Gutierrez, the first Latino president and CEO in NHL history. Gutierrez dives deep into the nuances of attracting Hispanic sports fans.
“I’ll be the first one to admit, never did I ever imagine that I would be in sports, be in hockey,” Gutierrez says. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Gutierrez was a passionate Chivas de Guadalajara soccer fan. His family emigrated to San Jose, CA, where Xavier remained a Chivas fan but grew to love other sports although ice hockey still was not a part of his life. It was while being a student at Harvard that, together with other students, Xavier became acquainted with ice hockey. To make a long story short, after a 20+ year career as a business executive, investor and dealmaker, on June 8, 2020, Gutierrez was named President and CEO of the Arizona Coyotes Hockey Club.
As president and CEO of the Arizona Coyotes, Gutierrez oversees all business operations, strategic planning, organizational decision-making, and government relations for the club. A major objective for Gutierrez is to make hockey and the Coyotes more popular among Hispanics and to increase Hispanic sports fan engagement. “It is an intentional cohort we go after, If you go after a young market, you have to go after Latinos”, Gutierrez tells Portada. According to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Phoenix, AZ, Hispanics make up 30% of Arizona’s population and 40% of metro Phoenix. Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the U.S. As in other parts of the U.S, Hispanics are driving the sports marketing landscape.
Hispanic Sports Marketing: Intentional Consistent and Authentic
To achieve the aforementioned Hispanic sports marketing objective, Gutierrez states that it is key to answer the question of how best to bring diverse voices to decision-making. He is proud to say that 40% of the Coyotes leadership team are female and so is the front office. Another mantra is to “go to new places to find people so that they don’t come from hockey and sports.” Gutierrez’s team has many executives with professional backgrounds in consumer marketing, banking, and politics. “To successfully engage the Hispanic population the outreach needs to be Intentional, consistent, and authentic. You can’t look at it as a transactional relationship. You need to embrace them,” Gutierrez asserts. “We do this through our content, in both Spanish, and English and also through music, games and images”, he adds. 80% of the Hispanic audience is English-dominant or bilingual, only 20% is Spanish-dominant. That is why the Coyotes have both Spanish-language (“Los Yotes“) and English-language dedicated social media handles. “People think that Spanish-language will attract Hispanics. That does not work. You have to be In-language and in-culture,” Gutierrez maintains.
People think that the Spanish language will attract Hispanics. That does not work. You have to be in-language and in-culture.
Leading the charge of the Coyotes is a new campaign ad, created with ad agency MullenLowe LA, which seeks to embrace the entire region and highlight the Coyotes’ emphasis on reaching out to communities that have not traditionally been home to hockey fans. In July, the team named MullenLowe, based in Los Angeles, as the agency leading the rebrand in an effort to “transform the Coyotes into more than a hockey team, highlighting the team’s multicultural approach and their commitment to leading and impacting their community,” according to a statement announcing that the agency had re-imagined the Coyotes’ brand.
According to Gutierrez, the Coyotes also will be using influencers and ambassadors: “We just started to use influencers. We are creating a brand that is affiliated with people who are making an impact and that are not traditionally involved in hockey.”
We are creating a brand that is affiliated with people who are making an impact and that are not traditionally involved in hockey.
Differences Between Soccer and Ice Hockey Marketing
Asked about the key differences between marketing hockey and soccer to Hispanics, Mexican-born soccer fan Gutierrez notes that “soccer is a sport the U.S. Latino market has a deep connection and history with. So there is no need for an introduction. Hockey has not been part of the athletic journey, so marketing starts by having to explain the sport. But once they are exposed to hockey, they are excited about the fast action and the need to pay close attention.”
Another milestone to increase the Hispanic fan base is the NHL’s plan to organize a game in Mexico. “We are working with the league to have a game in Mexico soon,” Gutierrez says. It also became known that the Coyotes submitted a proposal to build an arena district in Tempe that must be vetted by the city of Arizona and then voted on in a public meeting. The proposal for the US $1.7 billion development near Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway calls for private funding along with a portion of funding coming from city tax revenues to pay for $200 million on top of that.
“In order to expand our rabid fan base, we need to attract Latinos and non-Latinos. We have to expose the sport to communities that have not necessarily been a part of it. We need to super-serve our fan and our fan in waiting, both Latinos and non-Latinos,” Gutierrez concludes.
Scotiabank’s sponsorships in Canada and Latin America are focused on sports passion points like hockey and soccer, as well as arts & culture. How do we know this? We talked to Mike Tasevski, VP Global Sponsorships at Scotiabank, and a Portada Council System Member.
Until a few months ago, Mike Tasevski held the position of VP, Market Development at Mastercard. We asked him in what way his current job at Scotiabank is different from the one he had at Mastercard. “At Scotiabank, I have a global role in which I oversee a very different portfolio that is heavily focused on sports passion points hockey and fútbol with a very unique flavor of arts & culture. In comparison to my previous role, where there was a focus on multiple partners, my role at Scotiabank is to establish unique partnerships that will assist in delivering ROI on all channels for our bank objectives including personal banking, wealth and clients…
My role at Scotiabank is to establish unique partnerships that will assist in delivering ROI on all channels for our bank objectives.
Mike Tasevski, VP Global Sponsorships at Scotiabank, will be one of the dozens of brand marketing innovators participating in Portada Miami on June 4, 2020. If you are interested in participating in Portada Miami and/or in Portada’s networking and knowledge-sharing platform with brand marketers please contact us here.
Canada’s Sports Passion Point: Hockey
Scotiabank has billed itself as “Canada’s most international bank” due to its acquisitions primarily in Latin America and the Caribbean, but also in Europe and parts of Asia. We asked Tasevski how Scotiabank’s marketing investment approach to sports passion points differs in all these regions. “The key focus in Canada is hockey due to the popularity of the sport in this nation,” he answered. “People widely consider us Canada’s Hockey Bank due to all our partnerships. Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) (20-year sponsorship agreement valued at C$800 million, many Canadian hockey teams, the NHL, Hockey Canada) In the South America market, we are investing heavily in soccer (A major partner of Concacaf, Fútbol Club Barcelona (FCB), Costa Rica Fútbol, etc.)”
The Way to Mexico’s Heart: Fútbol
In 2000, Scotiabank increased its stake in Mexican bank Grupo Financiero Inverlat to 55%. Scotiabank lateracquired the Inverlat banking house in 2003, taking over all of its branches and establishing a strong presence in the country. The Mexican bank’s name subsequently changed to Grupo Financiero Scotiabank Inverlat.
“Soccer/Fútbol will play an important role in the Latin American market. For example, there are over 25 million FCB fans in the Mexican market,” said Tasevsi. “Our association with FCB allows us to jointly communicate with the passionate fútbol fan and to educate them on the Scotiabank brand and how we can assist with all their financial needs. Fútbol is key in the Latin Market and we will continue to invest and support the growth of this sport passion point in this market.”
Our association with FCB allows us to jointly communicate with the passionate fútbol fan and to educate them on the Scotiabank brand.
Future Plans to Tap into Sports Passion Points
Spanish soccer champions FC Barcelona have unveiled a new regional partnership with financial group Scotiabank, the first deal struck from the club’s recently opened New York office.
The multi-year agreement will see Scotiabank become the La Liga side’s official partner in Latin America and the Caribbean, and it will work alongside the club to sponsor a number of soccer programs in the regions aimed at underprivileged youth.
Scotiabank will also set up soccer festivals and will support local teams in attending training events in Barcelona. On top of this, customers will receive exclusive ticket deals and competitions.
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.
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. “Thegold 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.
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
“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.
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.
“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
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.
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 messagedelivery, 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)
What: Global engagement is more critical than ever for teams, brands, and leagues. Why it matters: Here are eight ways for entities to cultivate a wider, more diverse audience.
Sports business has never been more global, and fans and brands more engaged, than they are today. Whether it is Liga MX (@LIGABancomerMX) expanding its footprint more into the United States, MLB (@MLB) to Japan or the NBA (@NBA) to India, the largest properties in the world are spreading their reach and touching fans in ways like never before. Fandom is still celebrated locally, but the reach and level of fandom are beyond borders.
With that reach can there can be some slippery slopes. A misplayed National Anthem here, a misunderstood custom there, and clubs looking to cultivate a wider audience, especially in their home venues, can easily undo the goodwill, and the brand activations, that they were trying to grow.
With that eye to global engagement, we looked at eight ways to best engage, be it team, brand or league.
Be Authentic. It is becoming more and more cliché, but an authentic engagement into a multicultural space is key. There were times years ago when the NBA would slap “Los” on a jersey and play mariachi music and call it Latino night. Check the box and move on. Those days are gone. “Social media today has given fans the ability to respond pretty quickly to what we are doing, and if something seems contrived, we hear it right away,” said Elisa Padilla, SVP of Marketing and Community Relations for the Miami Marlins (@Marlins) in a conversation last year. “Everything we do, especially when trying to engage a multicultural Latino audience that may be Cuban, Venezuelan and Puerto Rican, each with their own nuances, has to be sincere. If it’s not the brand can lose great credibility and it is hard to get it back.”
Know The Audience. Also along those lines, knowing who is following, who is engaging and what they are responding to and asking about is also critical to success. Creating promotions and marketing to a community that is not as engaged in your team or your sport, or doesn’t fit culturally, can lead to issues. “The beauty of data collection today is that we know more and more not just who is buying a ticket, but who is coming into the building every night,” said veteran sports marketer Chris Lencheski, currently a professor at Columbia University. “That data now gives us great insight not just into the buying habits but into the physical makeup of who is at an event, and that can help us create programs for audiences that we may not have known a lot about. It also gives us the opportunity to survey that audience and ask them what they would like.” Those types of fan engagement platforms have led to landmark changes in areas like concessions, where teams are now selling more and more ethnic and local foods, or in how a game is presented in terms of language for public address. Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls (@NewYorkRedBulls), for example, make all announcements in both English and Spanish, something which does not happen regularly at an NFL or NBA game. Understanding who is in the seats, by asking and collecting data, gives you a great chance to serve the audience enjoying the event.
Build Over Time. Often times teams, or even leagues, will see a trend and rush to adapt and capture a moment, which in the end may come across as both unauthentic and contrived. Recently the New York Knicks (@nyknicks) created “Latvian Heritage Night” to try and make their young star Kristaps Porzingis (@kporzee) more at home. When Porzingis was traded, Latvian Heritage Night was canceled. While the effort to try and tie to the culture of a rising star is understandable, the ability to build and connect with an audience and culture who may be the first time in an arena is now lost. Instead of finding ways to expand a relationship, the effort seemed more contrived and some brand damage is done. Also, especially with Latino marketing in sports, trying small programs that identify with select groups: Cubans in Miami, Puerto Ricans in New York, Mexicans in Houston, and then expanding out from there, and building on success, sometimes works better than just branding “Latinos” and trying to pull from a mass that may be disconnected. “As a Latina with a Puerto Rican background, I may be able to identify with a Venezuelan or even a Dominican cultural event, but it’s doubtful I will be able to connect to more nuanced happenings from say Panama or Brazil,” added Karin Buchholz, former head of community relations for the New York Knicks. “I have Latina pride and loved seeing that pride played out in sports, but if it seemed rushed or contrived just to check the box, it didn’t work. Better to be sure and steady than to rush and try to be everything to everyone.”
Taking the time to listen to the players and the coaches and then building programs around their interests makes the connection so much stronger.
Take It To The Community. In the past, many efforts in multicultural marketing were just tied to an event. Find a sponsor, do a giveaway, check the box and cash the check. These days, initiatives have to transcend the arena or stadium to be effective. ‘We only have a certain amount of people coming into a building, and multicultural marketing needs to be very experiential, especially since many of the people we want to reach may only be able to come to a game once or twice a year,” Padilla added. “Programs need to have arms and legs and go into the market, not just take place at a game. We need to show that we are supporting community initiatives and delivering value in the neighborhood as well. That’s the best way to build trust and affinity.” In addition to food and clothing drives and school initiatives, one of those efforts is an annual program run by DC United (@dcunited) of MLS. Partido de las Estrellas is an all-star match involving old and current Hispanic players as well as local celebrities. The venue is located in Columbia Heights, a part of the city with a notably large Hispanic and Latino population, and aside from the match itself, there’s music, food and other forms of entertainment celebrating the community’s value to the city. It takes the experience beyond a pitch and delivers it in the backyard of the fan.
Get buy-in from those on the field. Sometimes the best programs are those where coaches and players, not just marketers, have input. Listening to the stories of the players; their traditions, the places they spend their time, is also essential. “Often times we would look at a team makeup and ask if they looked like us, like those in the community,” added Buchholz. “Especially in leagues like MLB, MLS and the NBA, the players are coming from such diverse cultural backgrounds that their stories can relate to an audience we may not have thought of. Taking the time to listen to the players and the coaches and then building programs around their interests makes the connection so much stronger, and that becomes an even great win than just trying to randomly force an initiative.”
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. Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!
Identify New Partners: The unending quest to find new revenue sometimes can lead teams back to the same safe places again; categories are limited, and especially at the five elite leagues in North America, the prices paid for exclusivity in a category can be exorbitant. However multicultural marketing gives the chance for teams to bring in custom brand categories for programs and events, sometimes at a lower price point, than could be done in a general marketing environment. “We see it more and more, an entrepreneurial salesperson sees an opportunity around a player or a cultural event, and goes and finds brands willing to come in and activate around it that may not have been able to find their way in any other way,” Lencheski added. Case in point was the Philadelphia 76ers and their rising star, Australian Ben Simmons (@BenSimmons25). The Sixers created a niche with the Australian Company, Four and Twenty Meat Pies, an Australian favorite, to give them the ability to come in and sample and do an “Australian Heritage Night.” In a traditional environment, Four and Twenty (@FourntwentyUSA) might have been blocked from being in the building by larger vendors and sponsors in a food category. However by creating an Australian flavor (no pun intended), a carve-out for exposure was created, buzz generated, and exposure grew. In many other markets, ethnic brands like Goya Foods (@GoyaFoods) have found Latino or Hispanic culture nights as their way into an arena or venue to start a conversation about partnership and story tell, and often times those brands help take that experience back out to the market in a consumer promotion. By looking deeper, and being smarter, teams and leagues can re-slice and dice a category that was once whole, and everyone involved can win.
Speak the Language: Another sometimes overlooked nuance is being able to not just act in a multicultural environment but to also deliver materials and programs in the language that is not English. The Oakland Raiders in recent years have worked closely with Native American groups who are loyal to the team, and out of that came the ability to broadcast games in Navajo. The Detroit Tigers do all outreach in both English and Spanish, as do a growing number of MLB teams, and built their annual “Fiesta Tigres” event as a way to celebrate Spanish language first fans. “It is essential that we have programs that don’t just address culture, especially Latino culture, but take that culture and deliver every element in Spanish,” Detroit Tigers (@tigers) VP of Communications Ron Colangelo said. “We need to make the transition to fandom easy, and sometimes the easiest way to do that is to take the language of sport, be it radio, TV or in print, and literally deliver it to the fan base in a way that they can easily understand. It builds great trust and shows no matter how subtly, that no matter what your language is, we are here for you as a team and as a brand.”
If It Doesn’t Fit, Don’t Do It: We kind of end where we started; with authenticity. In a copycat business world, the rush to do something for the sake of doing it, or because the concept can be sold, is not always the best. There are many teams, despite pressure from a league, do not do all forms of multicultural marketing because at this point, their audience, and their community, is not as diverse as others, or doesn’t have a large makeup as certain other cities. The Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) for example, have a vast program marketing to the Chinese community; it worked very well and has a natural fit in the culture of Houston. A team like the Milwaukee Brewers (@Brewers) may market heavily to a German or Polish fan base because of the traditions in that city. It does not mean that you are culturally closed off; what it means is that you need to take the time to do programs right, keep them authentic and deliver to the community which you are in. trying to do too much every time is tough, and often leads to failure. Listening and being engaged in the community means you have the ability to see, hear and feel trends, especially with emerging ethnic groups. Taking the time to know when to engage, how to engage, and where to engage is not just good business, it’s good human nature.
What: The Los Angeles Kings have ramped up outreach to the Latino community with ESPN Deportes Spanish broadcasts and a Mexico City clinic. Why it matters: While most L.A. teams have added Spanish broadcasts, only a handful of NHL teams have followed their lead; the success of the team’s commitment may sway others to follow suit.
How unusual is it to hear hockey—NHL hockey anyway—in Spanish? Other than Vegas’ success, only Chicago (@NHLBlackhawks), Florida (@FlaPanthers) and San Jose (@SanJoseSharks) have pushed Spanish language broadcasts. Still, for the 3.3 million people who both have an affinity for sports and speak Spanish first in L.A. County, let alone the 50 % of the residents who identify as Hispanic or Latino, the idea isn’t that crazy.
…[T]he Kings efforts show an affinity to identify and cultivate a niche that has been left undeveloped.
“Hockey is still being introduced to the Hispanic community in some ways after all these years. With all we have going, this guarantees we can penetrate into the Hispanic market on this platform.” Mike Altieri, (@MichaelAAltieri), the team’s head of communications and broadcasting, told the LA Times last month, and the results have been pretty solid, especially on social media.
There is certainly a market for Spanish language sports in L.A., with the Dodgers having has Spanish language games since Walter O’Malley brought the team west (Fernandomania didn’t hurt, either!). The Lakers (@Lakers), Rams (@RamsNFL), Clippers (@LAClippers), Angels (@Angels) and Galaxy (@LAGalaxy), as well as LAFC (@LAFC) and Chargers (@Chargers), all have Spanish language broadcasts, with only the Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) not trying to make the mighty connection to the tech savvy and increasingly affluent demo.
There is also a strong affinity to try and connect fans of soccer with hockey vs. American football given some of the ebbs and flows of the sport, but it’s an experiment worth noting, with very little risk and potential reward. The reward? New fans for one, casual interest in the game number two, and brands who may see the crossover as valuable to their ever-expanding and sometimes challenged outreach to the Latino community in finding extra value around sports.
Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019 at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing’s preeminent topics. Felix Palau, VP Marketing, Heineken will discuss “How to measure ROI and transfer best practices between sports marketing platforms”. Other speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: “Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?”Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!
That added value is also seen in the community, where the Kings went far south to host a three day camp in Mexico City last month. The camp was held at the La Pista Interlomas ice rink and hosted over 100 youth ice hockey players ranging from 10-18 years old. The state-sponsored Sports Diplomacy program is focused on youth empowerment and coach development for ice hockey in Mexico.
“We were thrilled with the opportunity to teach our great game to the youth of Mexico. The fundamentals of hockey are important skills for both physical and mental development and we were excited by the attendance and greatly encouraged by the level of talent that exists within Mexico’s youth hockey community,” said Kings President, Luc Robitaille. “We are already planning our next visit and the chance to expose even more kids to the game of hockey.”
Now is suddenly hockey going to surpass the Latino interests tied to baseball, soccer or even the NBA (@NBA) and NFL (@NFL) quickly? No. However the Kings efforts show an affinity to identify and cultivate a niche that has been left undeveloped, one that continues to grow and has solid crossover potential down the line, especially with no other NHL franchises entering the space to the far south, or for that matter east or even north to the Bay Area.
If you are going to own a market, own it all, and that’s what “Los Reyes” may be doing, on air and in community.
What: The San Antonio hockey team Rampage held the first two of five Hispanic-themed nights in which it re-named itself Los Chimuelos de San Antonio. Why it matters: Connecting with the large Latino population in San Antonio is essential for a team whose sport isn’t traditionally connected with this group.
In reality, hockey and Latino culture have a long way to go and connecting with latin culture may be the NHL’s (@NHL) biggest challenge for growth in North America. As a result, select teams like the Las Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) have found ways to embrace and thrive with the Latino community. But even in large areas like New York, with three NHL teams, the growth in the Latino community has not been robust.
Leave it to a minor league team with a large Latino population to find a way to cut through the clutter.
That’s who we are, so it’s vital that we represent who our city is and the cultural values that we represent.
Chimuelos’ first game
The inaugural Chimuelos contest event began with a celebration and a mariachi band. Fans in attendance enjoyed Folklorico dancers, face painters, photo-ops and even a Día de Los Muertos altar. They brought photos in memory of their loved ones, too. In each of the Chimuelos contests, players wore special jerseys. They painted the goalies’ masks like traditional skulls made out of sugar.
The team’s social media got into the act as well with the Chimuelos theme included in team updates and game recaps. Feedback from fans has been tremendous—some even preferred the name over “Rampage.”
Outside of the arena, there were Mexican and Latin American food trucks. But perhaps most notably, at the first game, renowned Mexican-American chef and San Antonian Johnny Hernandez served signature tacos and quesadillas inside the arena from his restaurant La Gloria. There was even a line of Chimuelos-themed merchandise available at the team store and online.
“It was a lot of brainstorming, combined with focus groups and bringing in a lot of people, internally and externally, from the Hispanic and Latino community in San Antonio,” said Team Business Operations Ryan Snider.
“Nearly 64-percent of the population here identifies itself as Hispanic. So from a business standpoint, it’s obviously important. But really it’s about connecting culturally with our city,” said Snider. “That’s who we are. So it’s vital that we represent who our city is and the cultural values that we represent.”
What: The Vegas Golden Knights, the newest NHL franchise, is making inroads with the Latino community in the region. Why it matters: Team engagement with street hockey clinics, merchandise sales, community school events and even Spanish-language promotions will be a win for all.
Hockey and Latino outreach may seem like a bit of an outlier, but not if you are the Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights). One of the most successful sports business startups of all-time, the Golden Knights have broken so many boundaries that it’s hard to count, with a new focus and success on the Latino market in and around The Strip.
The leader of the push is Kerry Bubolz (@KerryBubolz), Golden Knights President, who has seen the impact that introducing sports like hockey at the grassroots level can have in a growing and underserved community like Las Vegas.
Last February, during the inaugural season which saw the Golden Knights advance to the Stanley Cup Finals, the team announced that in partnership with sponsors, the NHL (@NHL) and the NHLPA (@NHLPA), they were donating full floor-hockey equipment packs to middle schools in Clark County. For each school, that included 60 sticks, multiple nets, border controls to create a rink in a gymnasium and, training for school staff to better understand the rules of the game. Given that more than half the school district has Hispanic and Latino origins, the assimilation and introduction was pretty generic.
The Portada Brands-Sports Summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.
“They’re growing in size and economically in this market,” said Bubolz in the article. “I’m seeing more and more people of a Hispanic heritage following the team. I see them at the games. We’re seeing it in our metrics digitally and socially. So what are other ways that we’re reaching out in an authentic way?”
This led to another emerging idea in the NHL, one that has taken hold in NFL, MLB and the NBA for years: Spanish language broadcasts. ESPN Deportes 1460 AM in Las Vegas, came on board, now delivering games in native language as well. The move made the Knights one of six NHL teams now to offer games in Spanish, with AT&T SportsNet (@ATTSportsNetRM), which carries the Golden Knights, now providing an SAP option as well.
The result is a growing grassroots push for, yes, hockey in the Latino community in the desert.
What has been seen in a more native sport for the community, soccer, with Las Vegas Lights is not just fan support but brand activation joining forces with the team, which is a huge boost for the bottom line. For hockey, with Golden Knights games still at a premium, heading to T-Mobile Arena (@TMobileArena) might be a stretch for many young Latino families, but engagement with the team with street hockey clinics, merchandise sales, community school events and even Spanish language promotions will win for all. What also makes this a smart play for the team is that it seeds a new audience, one which may love the breakneck speed of the sport and the glamour of the NHL but had never been exposed before. That audience will take time to mature, but the Golden Knights have the luxury of time and buzz on their side.
Latino hockey fans: a new phenomenon sprouting seeds in the sands of Nevada.
What: Michael Neuman, theEVP and Managing Partner at Scout Sports and Entertainment and a member of our new Sports Marketing Board, speaks to Portada about the MLS’s efforts to turn soccer into a major sport in the US. Why It Matters: Football, basketball, hockey and baseball are historically the most followed sports in the U.S. But there is opportunity for soccer to gain terrain and draw investment from today’s biggest advertisers.
Four sports have traditionally dominated American sports: football, basketball, baseball and hockey. “There are two main reasons that put them there; their ability to aggregate big audiences, live, and their sophistication to collaborate with brands and their agency partners to build fully sponsoring offers and packages,” explains Michael Neuman, the EVP and managing partner at the specialized marketing agency Scout Sports and Entertainment, which is Horizon Media’s Sports and Entertainment division.
But soccer is catching up. “If anyone [in sports marketing] is overlooking soccer, they are making a huge mistake,” says Neuman.
“You have to remember that the MLS is still a very young brand,” he said. Established only 23 years ago in December 1993, it is far behind the main American sports in terms of the maturity of their professional leagues. The NFL is 96 years-old, the MLB 114, and NBA 70. “It still has many years to go to catch up with where the other sports are,” the member of Portada’s sports marketing board adds.
We’re still in the first generation of the MLS.
As passion for sports teams is often passed down through generations, this means that “we’re still in the first generation of MLS,” says Neuman.
But while the MLS is young, it is as sophisticated as any other league in terms of marketing. “They do a great job offering brands with many touch points with many different assets,” Neuman notes.
If there is any doubt on this, you just need to take a look at the list of the league’s official sponsors, which includes Adidas, Audi, AT&T, Coca-Cola, Wells Fargo, Heineken, Tag Heuer, The Home Depot, Etihad Airways, and more.
Tough Competition from International Leagues
On top of competing with other sports, the MLS must compete with other worldwide renowned soccer leagues. “There is also great soccer being played around the world, and so soccer fans are watching games from Germany, Spain, the Premier League, the Mexican League…,” explained Neuman.
This particular challenge is not shared with other American sports whose leagues are not eclipsed in size and popularity by their global counterparts.
The MLS is just one part of a larger soccer offering that comes from a global environment.
“There is less of a desire to satisfy the need for football content or baseball content outside of the US, where the MLS is just one part of a larger soccer offering that comes from a global environment,” Neuman adds.
For sports marketers, soccer represents a great opportunity to reach both US-natives and the Hispanic market. “It is the type of platform that can really reach both, the general market consumer and the Hispanic consumer, more so than the other professional leagues that we have been talking about,” Neuman asserts.
But, to succeed in their soccer marketing strategies, Neuman believes that marketers must have knowledge of both the multicultural and the sports market. There is a need for more multicultural sports marketing executives in the US.
“The days of having a sports marketer building a multicultural sports strategy without a multicultural influence are over you can’t pull that off,” explains Neuman.
The soccer platform is as vibrant today as it has ever been and it’s only going to get bigger and better.
Neuman sums it up: “the soccer platform is as vibrant today as it has ever been and it’s only going to get bigger and better, and the audiences are going to continue to grow.”