Monday, August 22, 2011

Tips for reaching Hispanics

July 18, 2011 | by Bill King

■ Learn from athletes and their stories. Many 20-somethings who are emerging as stars are much like the cultural, bilingual audience. Boxer Victor Ortiz was born to Mexican immigrant parents in Garden City, Kan. He was raised mostly by Anglo foster parents in the Midwest. When he was 16, he moved to California to train. Soon after, he learned to surf. He is comfortable speaking English or Spanish, sometimes wears a sombrero into the ring, cheers loudly for the Kansas Jayhawks and drips a surfy-kind of California cool. Which box would you like to put him in?
“He has a personality that connects with everyone,” said Loretta Lucero, president of California-based Touch Point Marketing, which works with sponsors of Golden Boy Promotions. “He’s a cool surfer guy but he’s loyal to his Hispanic roots. He can sing with mariachis if he wants but also go surf with five guys off the Santa Barbara coast. That is the face. That’s the future.”

■ There is room in the basket for the familiar and the new. For years, MLS has wrestled to gain traction with Mexican Americans who followed soccer avidly, but paid little attention to what went on stateside. The league has found that its best chance is to seek inclusion, rather than conversion. “If your family soccer club was Cruz Azul and you live in Chicago, your family would get together and watch Cruz Azul,” said Russell Findlay, MLS CMO. “They would know when the games were on and support them endlessly and wear their colors. That doesn’t mean they can’t and won’t be supporters of the Chicago Fire. It doesn’t mean we want them to convert away from Cruz Azul. We want them to have a trial and adopt the local club.”

■ The future may be Spanish in English. “For now, people mostly think about Spanish language as a way to reach Spanish dominants, and around the right properties and the right athletes there is always going to be a business,” said Dario Brignole, a former IMG executive who now runs his own agency, Shine Entertainment, in Miami. “But bilingual, bicultural content, if you asked me, is the future. If I have $10 million to put in a new business, my business would be Latino sports content, but in English. That’s where I’d go.”

■ Use the Web to deliver original content that is relevant to bilinguals. This season, the Houston Astros launched a weekly Web series called “Contacto con los Astros,” which features the team’s Spanish-language radio crew hosting a seven- to nine-minute segment that includes one interview with a player in Spanish and another in English, the latter of which includes Spanish subtitles. All webisodes are posted to both Spanish and English social media streams and also promoted through Univision. The Astros consider the core of their Hispanic market to be 18-34 and bilingual. “Showing our players speaking in their native tongue is invaluable,” said Astros Hispanic market development coordinator Nicky Patriarca. “Even if [fans are] English-speaking Hispanics, they’re still very interested in their culture.”

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