In the trenches of Hispanic marketing
Atlanta-based marketer Eduardo Perez concedes that figuring out the right way to reach Hispanics can be a
|Perez says it’s important to keep the focus on family.
But Perez, president of PM Publicidad and an American-born Hispanic, insists that the task can be accomplished if corporations, properties and agencies simply make a concerted effort to figure out who their true target demographic should be.
Perez believes that many Hispanic marketers are getting too caught up in chasing the ever-elusive male consumer while failing to realize how much stock Latinos put in the overall family.
“Short of boxing and MMA, I think a lot of traditional sports underestimate the importance of family — how most of these events draw, even if it’s a male-oriented sport, women, kids and in many cases families,” he said. “I think some brands underestimate that; they think there’s going to be a lot of men, and so some of the activations are more oriented to the men than the families.”
PM Publicidad uses a deliberate approach in its marketing work for the NASL Atlanta Silverbacks, which has entrusted the agency to entice both Hispanic and non-Hispanic fans alike to go to the team’s games. That’s no small feat because the city is brimming with entertainment options.
|The agency boosted the Atlanta Silverbacks’ media efforts.|
Perez said that previously, the Silverbacks were reaching Hispanics only through grassroots efforts like hosting soccer games on fields adjacent to their stadium, but the club failed to follow up on that with messaging in the media. This led to a situation in which Hispanics who knew about the grassroots efforts were connected with the club, but the greater Hispanic population in Atlanta was unaware.
PM Publicidad is seeking to change that with a more robust media campaign that uses a hardcore Silverbacks fan to try to stump for why fair weather fans should go to games. He said the thought is to focus on the “family aspect, the close-up aspect, players signing balls and autographs after the game.”
He added, “It’s more intimate and affordable, too. But it also speaks to hardcore fans, because if you hear the voice of the hardcore fan, then maybe it catches his attention, too.”
Attendance is up 20 percent for the Silverbacks thus far this season, and Perez thinks that as the targeted messaging continues, those figures will continue to climb.
“Now that they’re advertising on Spanish-language channels, it’s going to make a big difference,” he said. “I think in the past, the fact that the Silverbacks were playing on any given Saturday was just lost on a lot of people. So if they weren’t reminded and, more importantly, if they weren’t invited, they’re not likely to attend. Whereas if they are invited and they know about it, they’re obviously much more likely to attend.”
Wasserman Media Group
As someone with Hispanic roots, Heidi Pellerano certainly appreciates Hispanic Heritage Month. But as the
|Pellerano would like to see companies take a more year-round approach to Hispanic marketing.
Pellerano, Wasserman Media Group’s senior vice president of multicultural marketing, was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She believes that too many companies these days try to reach Hispanics only during that symbolic time frame instead of taking a more meaningful, grassroots approach year round.
“We try to get our clients to think beyond the easy check-off list,” Pellerano said. “A lot of brands are active during Hispanic Heritage Month. Fantastic. But you know what? While Hispanics appreciate Hispanic Heritage Month, it’s not something we celebrate ourselves. There’s so many other things that are important to the Hispanic American consumer.”
Instead of looking to connect with Hispanic consumers solely during an arbitrary time span, Pellerano said, companies should focus on tangible things that actually matter to Hispanics on a day-to-day basis, which is a considerably more effective tactic. For example, many of Wasserman’s Hispanic marketing clients have consumers who are still predominantly Spanish-speaking and thus may need help navigating through various parts of American life.
“Even if you have been in this country for five years, there’s still a lot of firsts,” Pellerano said. “Because of that, with the consumers, we focus on dedication to building trust and interacting in a one-on-one dialogue, so they can hear about the services, touch it, and they can talk to others about it — because it’s a group that is very keen on recommendations and influencers in their community.”
Wasserman brought this same approach to its Hispanic marketing work for Quaker Oats, which culminated in a jersey naming-rights deal with the Chicago Fire. With the Chicago-based cereal company looking to both bolster its standing in its hometown and extend its Hispanic outreach, Wasserman and Quaker focused their Fire marketing efforts around perhaps the greatest influencers on earth: moms.
“When we looked at the Chicago market, their over-index on the Hispanic moms was very critical,” Pellerano said. “And the concept of family is very important to them, so that’s why they honed in and we helped them do the partnership with the Chicago Fire.”
|Quaker Oats uses its deal with the Chicago Fire to reach Hispanic moms.
As part of its “Quaker fuels the Fire” activation, Quaker worked with the team to build Quaker Corner at Toyota Park. At the branded area, Quaker activates in ways such as giving out its warm cereal during cold matches. Outside of the stadium, Quaker is active with MLS’s Futbolito youth program and other youth soccer tournaments in the Chicago area.
Pellerano cited an internal study that showed the activation efforts have led to 20,000 one-on-one interactions between company reps and fans — reinforcing the goal to reach Spanish-dominant speakers through face-to-face conversations.
“The mom is the nurturer that is providing for the family, and there is something powerful about what Quaker Oats can do,” Pellerano said. “The Chicago Fire was deeply committed from a youth development program, and also promoting healthy, active lifestyles, so we brought those things together.”
As Hispanic millennials become more significant consumers in the U.S. economy, Aldo Kafie has sensed a
|Kafie says it pays to understand generational differences among Hispanics.
Kafie, a Honduras native, is group director within Octagon’s Access unit, which focuses on marketing to multicultural and millennial consumers. His first step in preparing Hispanic marketing campaigns these days is talking to companies about whether they want to reach first- and second-generation Hispanics or whether they want to reach those from third and fourth generations.
While those who make up the former group likely have a direct link to soccer and still follow the game closely, those who are among the latter may have a less fervent connection with the sport and instead are more focused on leagues such as the NFL and NBA.
“A lot of the young Hispanic fans that you see nowadays are still very strongly interested in soccer, but they’re most strongly interested in soccer because they want to have that direct connection to their family, bloodline and heritage,” Kafie said. “You’re seeing them have a lot of varying interests, similar to what you’d see from a general-demographic U.S. fan.”
Kafie cited an Octagon study that showed 31 percent of Hispanic millennials like soccer — more than two times the rate of non-Hispanic millennials. One of the effects of this, Kafie said, is that assimilated Hispanics are starting to cheer more for the U.S. men’s national team. This makes it an increasingly alluring property for companies to target for Hispanic marketing outreach — a notion that may have been seen as preposterous even a decade ago.
For example, LA Galaxy and U.S. defender Omar Gonzalez, an American-born Hispanic, has landed endorsements with Mondelez, Marriott and Post Foods in the past nine months.
For Octagon’s work with Allstate’s sponsorship of the Mexican national team, its activation campaign certainly kept some elements that would be appealing for the older generations — important for an insurance company — but also included facets for Hispanic millennials to boot.
|Fans of the Mexican national soccer team enjoy an Allstate sponsored activity.
In a separate move that was geared toward the tech savvy, Allstate has set up an online portal where fans can send well-wishing videos to the U.S. and Mexican teams. In exchange for sending the video, the user gives Allstate his or her contact information, which generates leads.
“There’s nationalities not just from all over Latin America, but also the complexity of the added acculturation here in the U.S., where people are now starting to feel more comfortable with being a little more American rather than more Hispanic, so to speak,” Kafie said. “Being able to communicate in a manner that is consistent, authentic and non-offensive is probably the most important factor.”
Through his years working in multicultural marketing with the likes of Sprint and International Speedway
|When crafting marketing strategies, Ervin targets Hispanic passion points.
“A lot of agencies out there will look at a certain sport or entertainment aspect simply because someone likes it or they have a particular affinity for it,” said Ervin, now vice president of account services at multicultural marketing agency Cultur8. “What we really do is take a full step back, start with our planning department and really look at those passion points for a particular segment.”
Last year, when Cultur8 was developing an activation strategy for AT&T’s sponsorship of the Mexican national soccer team, the agency decided the best passion point to align with the soccer property was something that’s ubiquitous in the soccer world: music.
Cultur8 enlisted the services of Grammy Award-winning, Mexican pop duo Jesse & Joy to create a sort of unofficial anthem for the country’s national team as the main facet of its Corazon de Campeon campaign. The group performed the song at a halftime show during one of Mexico’s friendlies in the U.S., and Ervin said it “really became a kind of rallying cry for the Mexican fans as they were cheering on the Mexican national team.”
|Soccer fans visit AT&T’s booth at Futbol Fiesta.
Ervin said that AT&T saw its sponsorship of the Mexican team partially as a brand play, but it included a retail component as well. Last year, before Mexican friendlies in the U.S., the company would bring a Mexican soccer legend to one of AT&T’s retail stores in a given market. Some of those events attracted more than 500 people. “You can just imagine what that drives to that particular region and store manager with the foot traffic they usually would not be getting on a Wednesday afternoon,” Ervin said.
The Corazon de Campeon campaign ended in 2013, but the company’s sponsorship activation goes on, primarily through the Futbol Fiesta sponsors exhibition that is held before Mexico games in the U.S. for sponsors of the team. AT&T is the title sponsor of Futbol Fiesta, and Ervin said tens of thousands of fans pass through the company’s location before any given game.
At its Futbol Fiesta booth, the company generates leads and features activities like meet-and-greets with company spokesman and Mexican broadcasting legend Fernando Fiore, as well as giveaways and games.
With Hispanics increasingly assimilating into U.S. culture, veteran marketer Nelson Albareda is challenging his shop to craft messages for companies that not only will appeal to that demographic but the general market as well.
He cited the NBA as an example of a property that’s been successful at principally targeting one demographic first and foremost, but being inclusive to the greater public as a whole, too.
“When you look at the NBA and a lot of the NBA sponsorships, you’re obviously leading with African-Americans. And yet, you’re not just marketing to African-Americans,” Albareda said. “That’s what we’re seeing with Hispanics.”
Albareda, whose firm is marketing for, among other companies, FIFA World Cup sponsor McDonald’s, recalled a conversation with a colleague who saw a World Cup deal as solely a Hispanic play.
“And I was like, ‘No it’s not.’ Every soccer mom and every kid in every town in America right now has soccer,” Albareda said. “And, yeah, it may be a big passion point for Hispanics, but how do we lead with that Hispanic passion point — like [Mexican forward Javier Hernandez] or whoever that player or touch point is — and meet the full market?”
While the company is still firmly rooted in soccer, Albareda said Eventus has burnished its ability at reaching the greater market in its work outside of the sport. In baseball, for example, the company has worked with the Miami Marlins, New York Yankees and the Hispanic Heritage Baseball Museum Hall of Fame, among others.
The company brought together the latter two a few years ago to create the Latino Living Legends exhibit at Yankee
|Eventus was behind the Latino Living Legends exhibit at Yankee Stadium.
Elsewhere in the Hispanic sports marketing realm, Eventus works with teams to set up postgame concerts featuring Hispanic talent. It works with McDonald’s on a youth baseball program that includes clinics, Major League Baseball player meet and greets, stadium tours and game-day tickets for families. Eventus also worked with NASCAR in 2012 to set up a Hispanic fan platform, with Phoenix as the test market.
“The big message here is Hispanics like all sports and it’s not just about soccer,” Albareda said. “It’s great when it’s a World Cup year or Gold Cup year, but it’s just so much broader than that.”
Shine Entertainment Media
Dario Brignole has seen corporate commitment to Hispanic sports marketing grow profoundly in the U.S. during his 14 years in the industry, but he still sees some of the same sloppy mistakes.
Brignole, chief executive and founder of Shine Entertainment Media and a native of Argentina, said that when
Brignole said companies need to identify, then zero in on, specific segments of the Hispanic community instead of trying a blanket approach to the demographic.
“A soccer fan in Chicago, Dallas or Houston is most likely Mexican, and you have to approach him with someone either neutral like ESPN Deportes’ Jorge Ramos or you go with a Mexican player,” Brignole said. “But for a soccer fan in Miami, who most likely will be South American or Caribbean, you have to go with someone from South American soccer or European soccer.”
To reinforce the point, Brignole used a food analogy.
“Imagine a great American hamburger with tomatoes, lettuce and bacon,” he said. “Now, you want to adapt that hamburger to Mexicans, who will also eat it, but maybe they want guacamole. You don’t put bacon. Now, you want to adapt the same hamburger to the Caribbean region, so maybe you put rice and beans on it. You have the same tool, but you have to really adapt it to the market that you are going, and the Hispanic market is not just one market.”
|ESPN Deportes’ Jorge Ramos has helped Napa drive store traffic.
The auto parts chain traditionally has generated much of its business through wholesale, but wanted to use its Hispanic marketing to drive store traffic among the do-it-yourself crowd, and saw Ramos as the perfect pitchman to drive that message.
Napa used Ramos in an ad shot in Spanish and English in which he is seen calling a game in a store. Brignole also worked with ESPN Deportes and Napa to get specially branded Napa desks to appear on air during a pregame show before a Mexico World Cup qualifier in March in Atlanta, where Napa is headquartered. In the coming months, Ramos will be participating in a Napa-sponsored sweepstakes in which a winner gets to go to Miami to meet and participate in a live show with him.
Brignole represents Ramos while Soccer United Marketing represents the Mexican national team and PM Publicidad represents Napa.
“We found the sweet spot of putting a brand that wants to identify with the Hispanic market with a talent that was already credible with the Hispanic market. That’s the first connection,” Brignole said. “And, two, when you go to the Napa store, you get all the benefits that Jorge Ramos told you about. At the end of the day, there has to be that benefit for the customer.”
Brad Rothenberg has spent a lifetime in soccer. The managing director of LeadDog Deportes is the son of perhaps the most accomplished U.S. soccer executive ever in Alan Rothenberg, and engineered the rise of Alianza de Futbol, a nationwide scouting program for Hispanic soccer players.
“Especially when the World Cup comes around, a lot of companies do a smash-and-grab,” he said. “They show up for World Cup, and then they disappear, and they think, ‘Oh, we show up for World Cup because we have to as it’s a time when a lot of Hispanics in the U.S. are paying attention,’” Rothenberg said.
“But Hispanics pay attention all year long, every year, between the companies that do things on an ongoing basis and come back to the same markets year after year and that keep their promises and offer value — they’re the ones that they’ll trust.”
Alianza helps raw Hispanic talent get noticed by pro clubs and has turned into such a Hispanic hotbed that it now counts Verizon, 7UP, Ram and Kellogg’s among its sponsors. In addition to its scouting program, it organizes tournaments and clinics for amateur soccer players.
Last year, the success of Alianza helped Rothenberg land LeadDog Deportes’ marquee deal to represent Mexican star defender Rafael Marquez. Rothenberg helped Marquez sign a wide-ranging endorsement with Verizon in which he touts the company’s work during Alianza tournaments and serves as a spokesman for Verizon overall.
As part of his Verizon deal, Marquez promotes Alianza U, the property’s effort to help Hispanics get recruited to
|Alianza de Futbol has provided a platform for sponsors such as Kellogg’s, 7UP, Ram and Verizon.
It’s this sort of tangibly impactful sponsorship deal, Rothenberg said, that leads people to truly feel a sense of loyalty to a company.
“We’re effectively buying membership to a database of college coaches who have a history of getting kids into college. So we will, with Verizon’s help, get dozens of kids into college who probably weren’t going to go to college without the help of Alianza U,” Rothenberg said. “Again, it’s all Alianza, but it’s not soccer per se; soccer is just the door opener.”
Rothenberg said that with the deal, Verizon was looking more to bolster its brand by associating with Alianza U and Marquez as opposed to generating a specific quota of new sales leads.
“You can buy all the media you want, but if you’re only buying media and attaching an ad in Spanish, it’s not going to resonate the same way it does when you’re getting local with a player appearance, giveaway, contest, promotion and other activities that can happen in their community,” Rothenberg said. “The Hispanic consumer is, generally speaking, a very smart consumer. They know what they like and they’re only going to respond to a brand that treats them with respect and stays in the market with them on an ongoing basis.”
With Hispanics measuring higher than other groups in smartphone usage and social media consumption, Flo Bryan and Ricardo Martinez know just where to turn to these days when planning a Hispanic marketing campaign.
“We’re catering marketing programs to where that Hispanic consumer already is,” Bryan said. “The Hispanic community over-indexes in social media, and we want to be relevant to that constituent, so we build programs that take the brand to where that consumer is.”
CSE attempted to do just that when it worked with client Coca-Cola to activate its sponsorship of the Mexican national soccer team. To help build up to the World Cup while simultaneously trying to teach consumers about the company, CSE helped Coca-Cola set up a “Win to Brazil” microsite in both English and Spanish with fellow Mexican soccer team sponsors Home Depot and Makita.
CSE represents only Coca-Cola, but secured the participation of Home Depot and Makita for the campaign. On the
|CSE helped Coca-Cola activate its sponsorship of the Mexican national soccer team by setting up a microsite.
To increase consumers’ knowledge of the companies, the activation allowed users to gain more entries into the grand prize contest by signing up for Home Depot’s weekly email blast or by taking a weekly quiz that asked various questions about Coca-Cola such as, “What kind of Coca-Cola products are sold in Mexico?” Martinez said.
“Whether you got it right or wrong, you’ll come away with product knowledge. And you could do it every week and get an entry for taking the quiz.”
The other facet of the contest allowed fans to take a photo of their receipts from one of the three companies, enter it onto the microsite and, once the given company verified the purchase, the user would receive more entries. The program ended last month.
Martinez said that one of the more impressive results from the campaign was the considerable number of visitors to the microsite who returned multiple times.
“For me, the big call point was the repeat user,” Martinez said. “And the conversion rate from a visitor to a user was also very high. It obviously attracted and did its purpose.”