Super Bowl XLV will take place at Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas. This will be the first time that the Super Bowl will be held in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and only the third time it will be held in Texas. The game, to be played on Feb. 6, will pit the champions of the AFC and the NFC. For marketers focused on U.S. Hispanics of Mexican descent, the game pits professional football against fútbol.
More and more NFL teams are courting the lucrative Latino market in an attempt to tap into an aggressive fan base ready to shell out dollars. The NFL's strategic positioning and marketing efforts for this season's big game will allow them to do just that.
In October 2005, the NFL played its first regular-season game outside the United States. It drew over 100,000 people in Mexico City. Over the last four years, the NFL has aggressively sought to connect with U.S. Latinos of Mexican descent, a fan base that is large and growing at rapid pitch. The 2010 season saw one of the most aggressive positioning strategies by NFL members as more than half of the teams celebrated Mexican Hispanic Heritage events at various stadiums.
News media heavyweights also invested big in Hispanic markets in 2010, and followed the NFL's culturally relevant approach to reaching and activating Mexican Latinos. In celebration of last year's Hispanic Heritage Month, ESPN Deportes launched Fanático Latino, an integrated marketing campaign honoring the character and diversity of the Latino Sports Fans.
Univision Interactive Media and the NFL also went on the offense by jointly launching the NFL.Com/Español site. In September, professional football, not fútbol, delivered two of the most-watched season opening games among Hispanics. That week's top English-language program among Hispanics was NBC's Sept. 12 "Sunday Night Football" game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.
Daniel Sepulveda is a former soccer player who switched to football and is of Mexican descent.
Almost every U.S. professional sports league has joined the mad dash to reach Mexican Latino populations. Whereas traditionally boxing and soccer thrived on Latino fandom, other leagues are now vying for a chunk of the pie. The NBA launched large-scale marketing efforts including Spanish-language radio broadcasts and team websites and community-engaging events. The MLB, NHL and even NASCAR have similar campaigns underway.
According to the Nielsen Company, Hispanic NFL viewership has skyrocketed, up over 12 percent from last season. Ratings are up over that same time period too, by 7 percent, the media ratings company said. This is up from last year's Super Bowl between, which averaged 7.8 million Latino viewers in the U.S., and a huge increase from the 2003 season's average of 780,000 Hispanic viewers per regular season game. Increased growth is especially critical in the down economy that has forced the NFL to downsize its workforce.
The NFL ramped up its push towards U.S. Hispanics in recent years. Marketing, advertising and sponsorship dollars as well as innovative grassroots initiatives have all been cultivated with the new target demographic in mind.
Dallas offers a definitive Mexican Latino flair to this year's Super Bowl. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the U.S. population now stands at 308,745,538, up just 9.7% over the last decade -- the slowest growth rate since the Great Depression. However, Texas grew more than twice as fast as the nation, thanks largely to a surge among Mexican Hispanics. Dallas has the fifth-largest U.S. Hispanic population of Mexican descent and over 1.5 million Mexicans in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex are the third-largest foreign born Mexican population in the U.S., per Metropolitan Statistical Areas.
On one level, the choice to host the game in Dallas is rational -- the weather is ideal, the atmosphere is fun and the tourist industry can accommodate the crowd. On another and most likely more influential level, the choice is strategic. What better way to captivate the Mexican Hispanic market than to bring the game to the famed Latino football hotspot?
The big push towards Hispanic consumers is in part due to the quality of fanship they offer. Latinos tend to be ardent fans with strong home team convictions. Simply look at the level of dedication Hispanics have for their beloved fútbol teams and it is easy to understand what has U.S. professional sports leagues salivating.
High levels of extreme fandom coupled with abundant consumer dollars have motivated sports leagues to seriously re-evaluate their efforts towards the Hispanic population.
Super Bowl XLV will showcase a full-on attempt to captivate Hispanic audiences. The NFL is pushing its NFLHispanic.com website even more than ever. This site is designed as a tool to attract potential marketers to buy into its 360-degree platform approach to reach the Hispanic demographic. This approach allows brands to reach the segment at every angle from television, online, radio, print, calendar events to grass-roots efforts. Viewers can expect a markedly overt Hispanic overtone for this year's championship game.
The key to success when communicating with Hispanics is to appeal to the segment through dialogue rather than to target them using a monologue. Messaging should resonate with the diverse peoples who identify as being Hispanic in order to truly grab their attention. According to Nielson, last year's Super Bowl ranks as the most-watched American television program ever with an average audience of 106.5 million viewers. NFLHispanic.com states over 3 million more Hispanics on average watched last year's Super Bowl XLIV than the World Cup Final. Perhaps the league already has the field of cultural marketing figured out.