State Farm Backs Latin Music Shows

For the second consecutive year, State Farm Insurance will be the name sponsor of the Billboard Latin Music Awards, which airs April 29 on Telemundo.

This year, in a new twist, the insurer is sponsoring a series of concerts in major cities across the U.S. leading up to the event, culminating with shows in New York and Los Angeles on April 15 and 17, respectively. For the first time, the awards show itself will air live from Puerto Rico.

The concert series promotes both State Farm (with lots of on-site signage and branded handouts) and the Billboard Awards, but also ties into an educational campaign, according to Michael Roca, the State Farm account lead at OMD Latino, which coordinates the client’s Spanish-language media activity. As part of an initiative entitled “Music Is My Ticket,” concertgoers can donate musical instruments to programs at local schools in exchange for passes to the concerts.

Karen Noel, advertising manager at State Farm, said the Billboard Latin Music Awards is perhaps the biggest Spanish-language branded-content integration the insurer participates in each year. It presents an opportunity to tap into what the client has identified as two of the top three “passion points” for Hispanics: music and education. “We understand and appreciate the importance that music and education play in the lives” of the Hispanic population, she said.

The company has upped its marketing outlay in the Spanish-language sector in recent years and has seen growth in the business it does with Hispanics, Noel said, though she declined to provide further specifics.

Roca said the company is probably spending “six or seven times” more in Spanish-language media than it did just four years ago. According to Nielsen, State Farm spent nearly $60 million in Spanish-language TV in 2009.

“It really exploded in 2007,” Roca said of the client’s spending in the sector, which grew after a major research project that indicated Hispanics were aware of the brand but “felt it just wasn’t for them, that it was too high brow and that State Farm probably didn’t even want their business.”

In reality, nothing was farther from the truth, and the client intensified its efforts to make sure Hispanics knew their business was indeed welcome and sought after by the insurer. “That’s really when we started to focus on becoming more relevant and drilling into the passion points,” Roca said.

Cardenas Marketing Network of Chicago was brought in to help stage the concerts and to bring in additional sponsors — Corona beer, Ritz crackers and Western Union — to help fund them.

Beyond education and music, sports is another huge point of passion for Hispanics, said Roca. State Farm, for the second consecutive time, will also be a sponsor in the World Cup soccer series via Univision, which will broadcast the tournament in June from South Africa.

Billboard and Adweek are units of e5 Global Media.