By Jose Luis Los Arcos, VP of Sports Partner Solutions at Univision
There is no doubt: The #1 sport worldwide has finally arrived in America. While many major sports have been facing audience declines, soccer (or fútbol) is at a massive tipping point in the U.S.—and Hispanic fans and Spanish-language consumption are at the forefront of that growth. This past summer alone brought an incredible number of soccer tournaments and games to U.S. viewers, which delivered record viewership, proving that soccer mania is at an all-time high. For any brand looking to grow with Hispanics, the time is now, and soccer, often called “The Beautiful Game,” is a fantastic way to connect with this audience.
To talk a little bit more about how our beloved sport of “futbol” is continuously growing in the U.S., I was thrilled to be joined by Angela Zepeda, Chief Marketing Officer at Hyundai Motor America, Enrique Bonilla, Former Executive President at Liga MX (Mexican Soccer League), and Olek Loewenstein, President of Sports Content at Univision, at this year’s Advertising Week where they each gave very unique perspectives on the explosion of soccer fandom in the country, the rising influence of Hispanic fans, and how brands are leveraging the sport to fuel their growth.
It’s About the Rivalry
One of the main contributors to the rise of soccer in the U.S. is the increase in tournaments and matches, giving soccer fans more of what they want. “There’s been a great change in what’s going on in our fútbol,” said Liga MX’s Enrique Bonilla, “what [soccer fans] like is the rivalry.”
The growing rivalry Bonilla refers to is the one between Liga MX and Major League Soccer (MLS) teams. Part of Enrique’s role at Liga MX is to create new competitions and tournaments to meet the needs of soccer aficionados in the U.S. With Liga MX’s expanded relationship with MLS, the goal is to develop a partnership that is not just appealing to existing fans of the game but helps bring new ones into the fold. And so far, it’s working. “It’s growing in a way that we never expected.”
It’s About Consistency
For brands that are looking to engage with Hispanics in a meaningful way, you must stay connected to their passions throughout the year, every year. This is another reason why soccer is such an effective marketing vehicle for any brand’s growth. According to Univision’s Olek Lowenstein, “soccer provides you with a platform that is all year long. It’s not a season that starts and ends. You have soccer throughout the entire year, and the way you build on it is building on the passion of the sport throughout the season.”
It’s About Authenticity
Hyundai has been no stranger to advertising in major sports across the U.S. This year, however, was a big one for the brand as they came in a big way to sponsor Liga MX on Univision’s hit soccer show Sabado Fútbolero (Saturday Night Soccer). “We really needed to be where this bigger audience was and Sabado Fútbolero was it,” said Hyundai CMO Angela Zepeda, “we wanted to show up like we really understood this audience and talk to [them] in a way that seemed very relevant and very relatable.”
Through unique in-culture and in-language creative, Angela shared how their sponsorship tapped into the passion Hispanic soccer fans have for their teams and the fun rivalry between fans of all ages (even among abuelas and their granddaughters.) “We really tapped into this heartbeat of the passion that the fans have,” said Angela, “the fandom is huge in all sports, but it’s really big in soccer.”
As shared by all of our speakers, it’s clear that as the Hispanic population in the U.S. grows, the popularity of soccer in the U.S. grows along with it. This presents a huge opportunity. Any brand looking to grow their business within the world of sports can’t overlook soccer as an effective way of reaching a new audience. For more insights on Hispanics and the growth of fútbol in the U.S., click here.