After a Running Start, NFL Goes for Long Haul

NEW YORK When the Dallas cowboys meet the Chicago Bears Sept. 23, there will be more for Latinos to watch during Sunday Night Football commercial breaks.

“It’s the one game that we’re focusing on most heavily to reach Hispanics on a national level,” said Robert Stecklow, NFL director of advertising, who points to Hispanics’ affinity specifically for the Texas team.

The campaign—called “Juntense,” or “Get Together”—officially debuted Sept. 10 and includes two 30-second Spanish-language spots. NBC, ESPN and ESPN Deportes, which broadcast the games on regularly scheduled nights, will air the commercials created by New York-based advertising agency The Vidal Partnership (TVP). And NBC-Universal-owned Telemundo, which is the NFL’s official media partner for a second year but does not have broadcast rights, already has presented one of two Coors Light-sponsored festivities for Hispanics. A Pepsi Smash Super Bowl Fiesta is slated for next year, said Eli Velazquez, director of network sports for Telemundo.

“The efforts the NFL is putting into this is a good way of demonstrating that the Hispanic community is important,” he said.

Four 10-second identifiers (IDs) will be rotated during televised games, though not concurrently, including a specially created ID depicting a Latino in a Cowboys jersey and Norteño hat who says, “Yo soy ranchero. Y Cowboy de corazón. Soy fan.” (“I am a rancher. And a Cowboy at heart. I am a fan.”) Univision Radio stations that broadcast the NFL games will also run 30-second commercials to promote the televised matches.

Whether the reenergized ad campaign has brought in new Hispanic viewers is too soon to tell. But Latinos are watching. According to Nielsen Media Research, 1.2 million Hispanics, persons 2+, viewed Sunday Night Football Sept. 9 on NBC, the No. 1-watched English-language show of the week (09/03/07-09/09/07).

Latino talent will be on display not only running on Chicago’s Soldier Field Sept. 23, but also during entertainment segments. Gloria Estefan will sing the national anthem, and Ozomatli, a band known for its Spanish-English mash-ups of hip-hop, salsa, cumbia and Middle Eastern funk, will perform during halftime.

“There will be a Hispanic theme woven throughout, which we’re excited about,” Stecklow said. “NBC has very much bought into the theming of that game.”

To fuel the excitement and Hispanic outreach, the NFL has created an in-house bilingual ad to run before the game in USA Today and Spanish-language creative for Chicago’s Hoy newspaper, with TVP overseeing the copy.

“We’re smart enough to know that we’re really good at advertising, but when it comes to unique audiences, we like to call in some experts to work on it with us,” Stecklow said.

TVP got a great recommendation from BBDO, the NFL’s lead agency, said Peter O’Reilly, marketing director for the NFL. “They were recommended on multiple fronts,” he said, including by agency clients Sprint and Home Depot, which are also NFL partners.

An added bonus is the NFL season coincides with Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15-Oct. 15), so Latino “American fútbol” fans will be part of a bigger whole. Said O’Reilly, “From all of our research, we hear, ‘Expose us more to it and deliver a real message.’ “