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The NFL Scores Big With Latinos of Mexican Descent

Texas will host Super Bowl XLV, the most watched event in American sports as the AFC and NFC go head-to-head for the right to hoist the Lombardi Trophy and make an unprecedented attempt to appeal to Americans of Mexican descent.

Written by Richie and Lucia Matthews, DIÁLOGO, San Diego, CA

Super Bowl XLV will be a faceoff between the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers 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 February 6, 2011, will pit the champions of the AFC and the NFC and 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 attempt to tap into an aggressive fan base ready to shell out consumer 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 NFL.Com/Español Site. In September 2010, 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 September 12 "Sunday Night Football" game between the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins.

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 vamped 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 percent 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 that are from Mexican decent and over 1.5...
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