SBJ/June 24-30, 2013/In Depth

Castrol’s Hispanic focus a well-oiled machine

You couldn’t craft a more obvious brand connection than that between the most-watched sports property on Spanish-language television and the motor oil brand that has made it the centerpiece of its Hispanic marketing program in the U.S.

The Mexican national soccer team is linked so synonymously with the green, white and red of its flag that it is known simply, and globally, as El Tri. Just so happens that those same colors, in the identical shade and hue, make up the Castrol logo.

“When we’re doing premiums with the Mexican team, it’s totally Castrol and they love the shirts and hats we give out,” said Tracy Drelich, associate manager of promotions and sponsorship at BP Lubricants USA, which owns Castrol. “It truly flies the Mexican colors. … We’re giving things away that are Castrol green and red, but also Mexico’s green and red.”

Castrol began sponsoring the Mexican national team during the run-up to the World Cup in 2010, attracted by the opportunity to activate during the team’s wildly popular U.S. tour, which typically draws upward of 50,000 fans for each of its five annual dates. That initial negotiation led to a broader deal that also includes sponsorship of the U.S. national team and an MLS league deal. Last year, the brand signed a three-year extension on all three properties that runs through 2014.

One of the lures for brands that sponsor the U.S. tour is a position at the Futbol Fiesta, a 100,000-plus-square-foot entertainment area that attracts tens of thousands of fans before each game.

Castrol also owns FIFA rights, putting it in position to work its connection to Mexico in the U.S. through the
When the Mexican national soccer team tours the U.S., Castrol activates around the accompanying Futbol Fiesta entertainment area, offering T-shirts and interactive elements to fans prior to the match.
Photo by: Ogilvy Public Relations
upcoming 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It began accenting that on this year’s tour, with a Road to Brazil section of its area at Futbol Fiesta, giving away green, Castrol-branded T-shirts that have a large red 14 on the back. Fans who complete a survey have their name entered into a nickname generator, which spits out a Brazilian soccer name, which is then imprinted on the back of the shirt. Castrol distributed more than 1,000 shirts at each of the last two tour stops, Drelich said.

Castrol does pregame activations around all three of its state-side soccer properties. The one with the Mexican team generates the largest crowds and most excitement, Drelich said.

“It just comes out of the culture,” Drelich said. “Mexican national team fans are used to coming out to the game a few hours earlier and having a fiesta and being part of these activities.”

Castrol also activates the sponsorship through retail promotions. Last month, it brought retired Mexican national team star Ramon Ramirez to an event at an Advance Auto Parts store in San Antonio where it gave away Castrol-branded mini soccer balls with a purchase of Castrol GTX, the high-mileage lubricant that is the target of most of Castrol’s Hispanic efforts. The company’s research shows that U.S. Hispanics keep their vehicles longer than the general market and that they place great importance on their reliability.

Castrol also uses the sponsorship in conjunction with quick-lube chains. A promotion it ran in 2011 offered customers who selected Castrol their choice of a free jersey of the Mexican or U.S. national teams, or an MLS club.
“Our key customers are coming to Castrol to help them execute Hispanic programming,” Drelich said. “It tells you something when a key account comes to you over your competitor, looking to leverage what you have.”

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