Tuesday, September 24, 2013

NFL Connects with Hispanics through Fútbol Americano

Marketers face an ongoing challenge to keep their brands relevant among current customers. At the same time, one must always have an eye toward growth through attracting new customers and strengthening relationships with key customer segments. It is the latter opportunity that is behind the National Football League's Fútbol Americano campaign to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. 

The observance is not a creation of the NFL or the sports industry; it originated as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and later changed by President Ronald Reagan to Hispanic Heritage Month (observed September 15 to October 15). Fútbol Americano salutes past and present Hispanic players. The NFL website has a page profiling the stories of Hispanic players, and all 32 teams have local events and or game day activities slated to celebrate Fútbol Americano. In addition, the NFL incorporates strategic philanthropy into its observance of Hispanic Heritage Month. The league will be holding several youth-targeted programs in NFL cities tied to its NFL Play 60 initiative, and is partnering with Courtyard by Marriott to recognize Hispanic leaders in NFL cities through the Hispanic Heritage Leadership Awards.

Motivations for Fútbol Americano
The NFL's Fútbol Americano campaign provides examples in the areas of the external marketing environment and market segmentation. First, it should be recognized that any sound marketing decision can be traced back to a factor or factors in the external marketing environment that prompted the decision. In this case, the growth of the Hispanic population in the U.S. inspires marketers to explore opportunities to build relationships with this demographic group. According to Pew Research, the Hispanic population grew 48% between 2000-2011 to 51.9 million people. Marketing outreach efforts to a group of such significance is a wise decision. Second, elements of the Fútbol Americano campaign illustrate market segmentation in action. One example is the page on the NFL website that profiles current Hispanic players. Photos of 29 current players and short bios are posted. And, five players appear in videos discussing their Hispanic heritage and the challenges they faced on the road to the NFL. Their stories are likely to resonate with the Hispanic audience that is the target of Fútbol Americano.

Celebrate, Don't Sell
The greatest strength of the NFL's Fútbol Americano campaign is its focus on the influence of Hispanic culture in the NFL. Ultimately, the campaign has an objective of growing the NFL's fan base among Hispanics. But, the approach taken is commendable because it is about building relationships instead of being about selling tickets or merchandise. Those outcomes are more likely to follow if bonds are created between brand and audience.

Further Reading - NFL.com - NFL Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month