SBJ/June 24-30, 2013/In Depth

Miami’s diversity calls for customized campaigns

When the Miami Dolphins consider the Hispanic market in South Florida, they set strategies for two distinct groups: The bilingual, bicultural, mostly Cubano Hispanics who make up the breadbasket of the broader market, and the more diverse recent immigrants who have come from a vast expanse of Central and South America.

“The thing that is so unique about our marketplace is that you can’t use Hispanic as a blanket here,” said Claudia Lezcano, the Dolphins’ chief marketing officer, who joined the team 18 months ago after seven years in advertising and marketing at Burger King. “I am Hispanic. My mother is Mexican. My father is Cuban. And that is somewhat representative of our community.”

Miami not only has the highest percentage of Hispanics of any major U.S. market, it also is the most diverse of any market that is more than one-fourth Hispanic. Mexicans make up 78 percent of the Hispanic population in Los Angeles and Houston, and 91 percent of the Hispanic population in San Antonio. Nationally, about 65 percent of Hispanics are of Mexican descent.

Miami offers a much broader mix. About half of the 1.6 million Hispanics in Miami-Dade County are of Cuban descent, making it, by far, the largest Cuban community in the nation. But that also means that half of Miami-Dade’s Latinos are not Cuban. There are 114,701 Colombians; 105,495 Nicaraguans; more than 50,000 Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Hondurans and Mexicans; and more than 40,000 Venezuelans and Peruvians.

Half of all Cubans in the U.S. live in Miami-Dade or neighboring Broward County. So do one-third of all Nicaraguans and Venezuelans in the U.S., and one-fifth of Colombians. Miami-Dade also is home to the nation’s largest Honduran and Peruvian communities.

“In our market you have two buckets of Hispanics,” Lezcano said. “You have the bilingual, bicultural Hispanic that
The Dolphins created a monthly Football Fiesta that sets up at a Hispanic mall.
Photo by: Miami Dolphins
was born and raised here and has been here for decades. And then you have the recently arrived Hispanic community … and they’re coming to us from South America.

“It has been an interesting journey trying to craft plans that really target that bilingual, bicultural consumer that has been with us for many years, but then introducing the sport of American football to the newer Hispanic arrivals in South Florida.”

To reach more established Hispanics with deeper Miami roots, the Dolphins craft their general market campaigns to be reflective of the community, casting Latinos and including cultural nuances that will connect with them. They also have increased their grassroots efforts, creating a mobile Dolphins Fan Experience unit that brings video games and locker room displays that can be paired with player and cheerleader appearances. Since launching the unit last July, the Dolphins have reached more than 100,000 Hispanic consumers in neighborhoods and at Latino festivals, Lezcano said.

“Rather than waiting for the community to come to us at the stadium, we’re out in the community interacting in meaningful ways,” Lezcano said.

The Dolphins also created a monthly Football Fiesta program meant to appeal to both bicultural Latinos and new arrivals. Set up at a mall where most of the shoppers are Hispanic, the Dolphins put on a 30- to 45-minute program that introduces football in ways that also can be entertaining to existing fans. For example, couples from the audience compete for prizes in challenges, one of which is a contest that requires contestants to put on 15 pieces of a Dolphins uniform.

“We’ve done a lot in the past, but it was sporadic,” Lezcano said. “We have more consistency and continuity year-round now. We’re doing fewer things, but they’re bigger and better and we’re doing them more consistently.”
The Dolphins realize they are not likely to win over many of the new arrivals through NFL football. So they’re approaching them with the sport they’re already most familiar with: soccer.

Last year, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross launched Relevent Sports, a soccer promotions company that will bring the world’s premier club and touring national teams to Sun Life Stadium. It’s the extension of an effort that began in 2011, when a club friendly pitting Chivas de Guadalajara against Barcelona drew 70,080 people.

Relevent Sports brought in Colombia vs. Guatemala in February and Spain vs. Haiti earlier this month. In July, it will bring in a match pitting popular clubs from Colombia and Honduras as part of a two-day Colombian music festival. In August, it’s hosting back-to-back doubleheaders featuring eight of the world’s premier soccer clubs. In addition to those soccer dates, it’s hosting the Venezuelan independence festival.

The driving factor behind the increased menu of soccer and other events popular with Latinos is to fill stadium dates created when the Miami Marlins got their own ballpark, not to grow Dolphins fans. Still, the Dolphins hope to take advantage of that opportunity. Their mobile unit is part of the setup each time they host a soccer match or music festival.

“There are a large number of people coming to the stadium because of the sport of soccer who have never been here before,” said Todd Boyan, senior vice president of operations at Sun Life Stadium. “There are people who have lived here that whole time [since the stadium opened in 1987] and had never been here before. The great opportunity for us is to have people become more and more comfortable with coming here, and hopefully that will translate with respect to their attendance at Miami Dolphins games.”


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