What Marketers Need to Know About the World Cup

Q&A with Javier Güemes, Creative Director at Orcí

Q: Traditionally, Univision has been the go-to network for Hispanics to follow the World Cup in the U.S., but Telemundo won the Spanish-language rights to the 2018 World Cup. Is that going to make any difference in terms of coverage or audience?

My guess is that ratings are going to go up, as we’ve seen this happen before. Consider this: Since Telemundo became part of NBC, they have expanded their coverage to a younger Hispanic audience, so this jump from one TV network to the other is supposed to be a smooth one. We all know that there’s nothing like watching a fútbol game narrated in Spanish, as it’s a real cultural experience. Since Telemundo is adding to their audience an important percentage of young Hispanics who usually watch English-language shows or don’t watch TV at all—except for an event like this one—I expect to see a halo effect here.

The only challenge I see for Telemundo is during games on weekdays, when online TV streaming services will be big competition and big players. No pun intended.

Q: How important is language when reaching the U.S. Hispanic audience?

Language should be considered a tactic, not a strategy. When the message is relevant, language is secondary. It all depends on who you’re talking to and which channels you’re using, as that is what brings language to the first row.

Q: The U.S. did not make it to the World Cup this year. Does that pose a challenge to brands and marketers?

Remember that for U.S. Hispanics, multiculturalism is in our DNA. We project our love for the game on multiple countries, including our countries of origin—be it Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay or Argentina—and there are high expectations for the participation of Peru, Costa Rica and Panama. And let’s not forget that Brazil and Argentina are, and have always been, big favorites to win the Cup. At this point, Latino fans are focused on all the Latino teams attending and they all have their favorite team. You’re going to see people shifting from one favorite team to another as some of these teams get eliminated during the competition.

Q: With a growing Hispanic community, do you think soccer will increase its number of fans and popularity in the U.S.?

 It’s happening already. The creation of Major League Soccer (MLS) set the foundation for American soccer and made it possible for U.S. soccer fans to have their “own” teams. Also, the MLS did something really remarkable by creating a youth league—for the first time, we have a generation of Hispanic college students getting scholarships to play soccer. On the business side, beer and apparel companies are making huge investments in media advertising. Sports bars are a true testimony that soccer is gaining tremendous popularity in the U.S.

Q: For Latinos, soccer is more than a mere sport to watch, it’s a social and cultural event that transcends borders. What is the cultural significance of the World Cup for U.S. Hispanics?

For U.S. Hispanics, I feel that fútbol is a remainder of our great diversity and also a way to show that we are here and want to be accepted. It’s a chance to show, without fear of being judged, what we’re passionate about. We all feel like we’re experts when it comes to soccer.

On the other hand, it’s the perfect excuse to get together. Everybody knows that we Hispanics are a very social community, so the World Cup is the perfect opportunity to be yourself with your family, friends or co-workers.

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