Brands Take Aim at Hispanic World Cup Fans

Univision wins as digital ad spend doubles

So what if the U.S. is in the World Cup’s “Group of Death” and has to win against Germany, Portugal and Ghana to make it to the next round? Advertisers aren’t shying away. If anything, they’re introducing themselves to a global audience, notably Hispanic fans.

Ahead of the 31-day sports spectacle, which starts on June 12, Spanish-language broadcaster Univision has seen a doubling of digital ad spend on its properties compared to the last World Cup. On the homepage of the U.S. National Soccer Team, a Chips Ahoy ad is running in Spanish. And, Sporting News Media chief revenue officer Rich Routman said that approximately 40 percent of brands interested in advertising on International soccer portal want their message to specifically reach Hispanic eyeballs. “If the U.S. gets knocked out early, this becomes a very multicultural and Hispanic proposition,” said Routman.

The games are especially lucrative for digital properties, considering that soccer doesn’t have natural breaks in the game for commercials. VML’s managing director of analytics and insights Eric Beane said digital budgets have gone up since the last WC, and more brands are taking advantage of online interactive opportunities for die-hard fans. “We’re seeing a lot of clients trying to reach emerging markets and a global audience,” Beane said. “[Soccer] is the right platform to do that.”

One of’s advertisers, Gatorade, is using the site to tout its Unreal Around the World global contest, in which amateur soccer athletes give personal accounts of how practice has improved their game play. Winners get to meet professional teams including Arsenal, FC Barcelona and A.C. Milan. Molly Carter, Gatorade’s senior director of consumer engagement, said while this global campaign wasn’t created only for the Hispanic market, it was intended to reach historically interested parties. “As a media buy, we definitely heavy up the dollars in Hispanic markets,” she said.

Even ESPN has seen an increase in interest for its Spanish-targeted properties. AT&T will sponsor its digital interactive World Cup bracket in both English and Spanish, and ESPN Deportes will boost the main U.S. English broadcast with more than 12 hours of live news and coverage daily.

The sports media giant is also relaunching a more mobile-friendly on June 1. This is the first World Cup the soccer portal has been active, and ESPN is hoping to make it a global product for new audiences.

“In many places around the world, we are a digital-first company,” said Eric Johnson, evp for global multimedia sales. “It’s going to be the halo for our [soccer] coverage and our umbrella brand for our digital venture during the World Cup.”

Even though it had focused most of its efforts on Latin American markets during the 2010 World Cup, McDonald’s is expanding to include all demographic groups this year. Its digital push is an augmented reality soccer game that pops up when consumers scan soccer-themed fries packaging.

“It’s getting broad enough that the same passion for the sport is being expressed everywhere,” said Matt Biespiel, McDonald’s senior director of global marketing. “That’s why we’re betting that this is the year.”

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