SBJ/June 24-30, 2013/In Depth

Corona steps into the ring for new promotion

Over the last six years, fight fans in Hispanic neighborhoods in the western U.S. and Texas have grown accustomed to seeing Tecate cans featuring the faces of Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather and others who headlined pay-per-view boxing cards on Mexican holiday weekends.

Beginning this summer, they will see a new lineup of fighters, this time on Corona bottles, and in a far broader distribution.

In mid-August, Corona rolls out a line of bottles featuring six fighters — Miguel Cotto, Bernard Hopkins, Peter Quillin, Erik Morales, Abner Mares and Danny Garcia — that will be included in 18-packs available in 32 states.
Each pack will contain three commemorative bottles. Corona distributor Crown Imports is expected to produce at least 300,000 cases, distributed primarily to Hispanic accounts. The promotion runs at retail through October.

It will be the first major in-store promotion run by Crown since it signed on as a sponsor of Golden Boy Promotions last year.

While Corona has sponsored boxing in both Mexico and the U.S. for years, most of its stateside buys have been primarily brand plays: A logo on the center of the ring for televised fights. Corona has sponsored ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” since 2011 and has been on the mat on many fights on premium cable. This is the first time Corona will build a retail promotion around boxing.

It’s also an example of how boxing’s new front-line sponsor is adapting the tactics that worked for Tecate in the sport to fit its brand and its strategies.

“Tecate was a great partner that did things in boxing that really nobody else was doing, but they really started to focus on only four states,” said Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions. “Corona has the ability to activate in 50 states, which gives us potentially a far bigger reach.

“As they activate more and more, it’s going to be a monster.”

While built to climax on Mexican Independence weekend (Fiestas Patrias), when Mayweather is scheduled to face
Bottles featuring fighters will be distributed primarily to Corona's Hispanic accounts.
Mexican star Canelo Alvarez at the MGM Grand, the promotion also will tie to Hispanic heritage month, meaning it could align with Cotto’s next fight. Though it hasn’t been locked down yet, Golden Boy is holding Sept. 24 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn in the hopes of making a deal with Cotto.

“The fight that’s going to happen in mid-September is the launching pad, just a beginning,” said John Alvarado, senior director of brand marketing for Crown Imports. “We wanted to have an idea that had legs across September and October. What’s a longer lasting idea that’s not just tied to the fight? That’s where we came up with the idea for this special package that not only allows us to merchandise Corona and the fighters but also tap into the cultural pride that’s taking place during this time period.”

Corona positions itself as a premium beer, so it wanted to highlight its bottles, rather than cans. It will use a shrink-wrapping process that it used with success last year on bottles featuring Mexican soccer clubs.

Interestingly, the promotion will not include the two fighters featured in Golden Boy’s Sept. 14 pay-per-view.
Alvarez would have been a no-brainer, but at age 22, he is three years too young to appear in advertising under U.S. beer industry guidelines. Mayweather had no interest in appearing on the bottles, boxing sources said.

The fighters Corona did get offer a diverse cross-section that will play beyond the Western, Mexican-centric states that Tecate targeted with its retail promotions — Southern California, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada.

There are two Mexicans: Morales, in the twilight of a career that included title belts in four weight classes; and Mares, a Mexican Olympian who has won titles in three weight classes in three years.

There are two Puerto Ricans: Cotto, an icon; and Garcia, who is unbeaten and on track to take over Cotto’s mantle as the island’s favorite son.

And there are two African-Americans: Hopkins, who at age 48 makes history each time he defends his light heavyweight championship; and Quillin, a New York fighter who has been exciting in the ring and charismatic outside of it.

“We’ve built the program from the ground up, [asking] our distribution partners to identify where they thought it could do well in terms of our consumer base,” Alvarado said. “So we expect it to primarily be sold within Hispanic accounts. But given the fact that it also has multicultural boxers on it, we do see it having an impact across the broader market.”

Tecate proved over the years that its program did not require a Mexican fighter in order to move cases in the Hispanic market. Its largest production run came the last time it did cans, in May 2011. Those featured Pacquiao and Shane Mosley.

“Corona can make this a national program in a way that Tecate never could, or had reason to,” said Loretta Lucero, president of Los Angeles-based Touch Point Marketing, an event marketing agency that has worked on boxing activation with both Tecate and Corona. “Tecate is very targeted. Corona is going to use this program to really go after that holiday with Mexican consumers, but they also can take it to the East Coast and make it even bigger.”




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