Carlos Boughton, brand director for the FEMSA-owned Heineken-distributed Tecate, points out that boxing is one of the top two professional sports for Hispanics -- and that the two fighters may not be Mexican, but they are popular among Latinos. "We get this often: what's the Mexican brand doing sponsoring this event in the U.S. with a guy from the UK and the Philippines? Well, if you are a boxing fan, it's a fight you want to see."
Tecate's sponsorship of the fight is part of an ongoing deal the cerveza brand has with Golden Boy Promotions, now-retired great Oscar de la Hoya's eponymous company. Since singing a multi-year sponsorship deal with Golden Boy in 2006, Tecate has had title billing at fights like de la Hoya versus Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and de la Hoya versus Pacquaio last year.
This year the company went beyond Spanish-language media to reach fight fans via a deal with ESPN on its Spanish and English-language TV, Web, and radio boxing content.
Saturday's fight will be carried on HBO pay-per-view. Boughton says current estimates place U.S. broadcast purchases for the fight at around 800,000. "But worldwide, the viewership will be much bigger," he says. Tecate's lead-up campaign includes commemorative 24-oz cans featuring the images of both fighters and a $20 mail-in rebate discount for the HBO pay-per-view event with purchase of a 12-pack or larger of Tecate.
Boughton says Tecate will also get exposure via ESPN's coverage of the weigh-in Friday afternoon and Saturday afternoon's pre-fight coverage. "For the weight-in you will see Tecate banners and logos on the backdrop, and for the fight [the Tecate brand] is present in ring corners, on the ropes, and [ring bumpers]."
Tecate also distributed fight posters nationally to grocery, convenience and liquor stores, and tailored out-of-home, TV and radio spots to talk up the battle in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
Grassroots efforts leading up to the fight include meet-and-greet and autograph sessions with Golden Boy boxers in Vegas, Los Angeles and San Diego. Boughton says Friday's event, featuring Mexican fistic great Marco Antonio Barrera, will bring around 2,000 people. No surprise, since the MGM Grand hotel -- with a capacity for 6,000 -- is completely sold out, as are hotels on the strip, punch-drunk economy notwithstanding.
Boughton points out that both fighters have earned credibility with Mexican Americans, and that their back stories align with Tecate's "Con Caracter" marketing theme, which celebrates Mexican immigrants as hard-working and family oriented. "Pacquiao's a guy who has defeated a lot of Mexican fighters, from Barrera to [Erik] Morales, to David Diaz. And he's an example of a guy who comes from abject poverty, rises to stardom, but never forgets where he comes from. And Ricky Hatton describes himself as just a guy from Manchester. He lives in a small house and is building a gym in his neighborhood. They resonate with Mexican Americans. -- not only very well-liked as people, but also highly respected."