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In order for ESPN Deportes to race laps around its competitors, staying nimble (and one step ahead of the latest technology) is key. The American Spanish-language digital, cable and satellite sports television channel is currently in 6 million Hispanic households throughout the United States. But John Fitzgerald, VP of Multimedia Advertising Sales, ESPN Deportes thinks the network’s triple-threat – innovation, live events and in-studio series – will attract even more attention from the ad community in the coming year than it has in years past.
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“We don’t pitch. We just have conversations,” says Fitzgerald. “Several things are capturing our ad partners’ attention: One is the resources that we’re bringing to the table to stay relevant and engaged with our fans. It manifests itself in events.
“Soccer is huge for us. ESPN and ESPN Deportes have been the U.S. home of the UEFA European Championships since 2008. The 2016 UEFA European Championship (Euro 16) will take place June 10-July 10, 2016 in France, and we’ll air the qualifiers leading up to it. In addition, we have exclusive NBA rights, boxing, college footballa real diversity of sports and fans. We can go to our partners and say, ‘Depending on who you want to reach, we can reach them.’ Those events are prime drivers for scale and reach on TV as well as radio.”
An increasing number of the network’s viewers are getting their fill of soccer, football, basketball and other sports in non-traditional ways. “ESPN Digital reaches 10 million Hispanics every month,” says Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald believes innovations like the One Nacion bi-lingual short-form digital platform, which ESPN launched in February 2015, continue to broaden the network’s appeal. The platform integrates ESPN content relevant to the U.S. Hispanic sports fan, serving as a hub for English- and Spanish-language content available across ESPN and ESPN Deportes. “Advertisers are excited about the platform,” says Fitzgerald. “It offers brand integration, great talent and strong storytelling.” For long-form video, the network’s full-episode player is Watch. “We have relationships with OTT companies so you can watch games wherever you are.”
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“We’re putting real resources behind the launch of ESPN Deportes’ new state-of-the-art studios in Mexico this summer, where shows including SportsCenter Futbol Picante, Cronómetro and Los Capitanes are produced,” says Fitzgerald. “We love our current facilities, but the new one’s in the heart of Mexico City near training camps for teams, so it will be easier for coaches will come in and talk to us.
“We’re also excited about Premier Boxing Champions, a series created by Haymon Boxing that will feature top-level fights between many of boxing’s biggest names, starting on July 11 on ESPN and ESPN Deportes. PBC makes boxing about a weekly fightnot one or two a year.”
“We have, as everyone does, a lot of things to sell to people. But we also have a great track record of partnerships with AT&T, Honda, Ford, Domino’s Pizza, Jack Daniel’s, Bud Light and Disney,” says Fitzgerald. “Honda is great example. The group that works with the client pushed us hard to come up with smart branding content opportunities that would allow us to showcase the brand through a myriad of media. Alfredo Lomeli and Carolina Guillén, the co-hosts from #Redes, our program aimed at sports fans who are active on social media, were featured in the campaign, which makes sense because sports is the most social genre. It makes up 1 percent of TV programming, but 50 percent of Tweets. We collaborated with our partner and figured out ways to make something organic. The brand is at the fore but doesn’t feel pandering, and we got a great reaction as a result.”
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“We wanted to take our partnership to next level and collaborate on new and compelling ways to convey Honda Fit’s story to our Hispanic target with a focus on its multiple new features,” says Caleb Windover, SVP, managing director of 42 Degrees @ Mediavest. “In the highly competitive auto category we knew that had to challenge status quo a bit to really move forward.” He, too, thought the #Redes co-hosts were on point. “We wanted to show how the new Fit is particularly relevant to a younger millennial urban car buyer. Carolina and Alfredo, who showcased the car features in the custom content, really embody the millennial spirit and were good match for the Fit brand personality. TV, Radio, and digital were all part of the experience. We wanted to leverage multiple ESPN Deportes assets to make the strongest possible connection to our ‘on-the-go’ Spanish-speaking prospect.” Windover refers to the partnership as “a collaboration on steroids. MV42 worked closely with multiple stakeholders our Honda media client, the Honda multicultural marketing director, Orci Hispanic creative agency, and ESPN Deportes’ sales and production teams.”
“Some of our best partners, like Home Depot, are retailers. Far too many retailers spend their entire media budget trying to reach women,” says Fitzgerald.” It’s smart, but if you go into these stores there are a lot of guys there, too. Men more than in past are the primary shopper, whether they’re single or a single parent, or there are two working people in the family. We know that our fans are in their stores. We also love working with gaming studios and movie studios like EA and Disney. We love to create co-branded work, and would like to do more with those categories. There are a couple of financial institutions doing great work. Wells Fargo is aggressive in the space. But there aren’t enough. Far too few banks are speaking to US Hispanics.
“I’ll consider this season a success if we can partner with advertisers on Euro 16 and the short video series on One Nacion. We have big-scale opportunities and branded content opportunities. We’re talking to the right people in the right way and bringing it forward in a manner that the ad community appreciates.
The More Things Change…
“I’ve been with ESPN Deportes for six years now, and ESPN for 18. It’s been heartening to see how many companies are coming on board,” says Fitzgerald. “Miller-Coors and Home Depot were smart six years ago and they still are today. So many companies are still not on board – pharmaceutical companies, for instance. Language matters, but advertisers are not speaking directly to US Hispanics by building content with actors and actresses that reflect them and the cultural nuances they experience every day.”
ESPN Deportes’ on-air personalities Carolina Guillen and Fernando Palomo air their laundry (clean AND dirty) for all to see.
Favorite social media platform
Guillen: Twitter because it is all encompassed on a timeline!
Palomo: Twitter. The capacity to funnel various media outlets and sources of information into one easy-to-read platform is amazing. It also serves as a good road to capture the attention of an ever-moving and dynamic audience.
Guilty TV pleasure
Guillen: I watch Friends over and over again.
Palomo: Scandal. Washington D.C.-set drama series are always captivating. I also watch The Newsroom often. It portrays the reality of a newsroom and the challenges of reaching the hypothetical journalistic balance.
Career you’d love to have, but probably never will
Guillen: Professional Flamenco dancer
Palomo: Architect. I would love to design buildings.
Sport of choice
Guillen: Tennis and soccer
Palomo: Soccer. There is no other choice here! It’s not a sport, it’s a passion.
Quote of The Day
“I’d love to do more with retailers and not have the way things were influence how they are planning today.” John Fitzgerald
Keep Watching & Reading,
Lynn Leahey, Editor
Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
Diane K Schwartz: Senior Vice President, Media Communications Group
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