When it comes to Mexico’s big beer brands and sponsorship, the two major players are taking strikingly divergent paths.

Grupo Modelo S.A.B. de C.V. last week announced a sweeping, five-year-plus premier-level sponsorship of the ATP World Tour on behalf of Corona Extra, a global multimillion-dollar deal that marks a departure from the brand’s beach-focused, fun-in-the-sun positioning.

Meanwhile, the marketers of Tecate have recently renewed U.S. deals in boxing and auto racing and will soon announce a new partnership with the Professional Bull Riders and the organization’s Built Ford Tough Series on behalf of Tecate Light.

The new sponsorship activity comes at a time of mixed results for Mexican imports in the U.S. market.

U.S. sales of Mexican beer slipped 3.9 percent in ’09, according to Beer Marketer’s Insights. While that outperformed the 10 percent decline among all imports, it was a greater drop than the 2.4 percent decline experienced by domestic brands.

Mexican imports gained three percentage points in share of the U.S. import market last year, claiming more than 50 percent of the market for the first time, said Benj Steinman, editor and president of Beer Marketer’s Insights.

Dos Equis—Tecate’s sibling from Monterrey, Mexico-based Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma—and Grupo Modelo’s Modelo Especial were the fastest-growing Mexican cerveza brands in the U.S. last year, growing at a 20 percent rate and double-digit clip, respectively.

Corona, the best-selling import brand in the U.S., posted a 10 percent decline in shipments in ’09, marking the third consecutive year the brand has posted a loss. U.S. brewing giants Anheuser-Busch, Inc. and MillerCoors LLC two years ago introduced Bud Light Lime and Miller Chill, respectively, aimed directly at Corona and Corona Light.

Tecate Adds Bull Riding To Portfolio
After a two-year search for the right property to align with Tecate Light, a deal is being finalized with PBR, said Carlos Boughton, Tecate brand director at U.S. importer Heineken USA Inc.

“We were looking for a very long time and the PBR is a fantastic fit,” he said, noting the sport’s popularity among Hispanic consumers and alignment with the brand’s masculine, authentic positioning.

The deal will give Tecate Light cosponsorship of 24 Built Ford Tough Series events, as well as a tie-in with the PBR’s annual Fan Fest. The brand plans to activate with radio and retail promotions, Boughton said, noting that leverage plans are still being set.

Both Tecate and Tecate Light are involved in sponsorship of the Izod IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, aimed at maintaining presence in the Los Angeles area, the brands’ largest market.

Tecate renewed its eight-year partnership with the event this month. The brand initially became involved in motorsports through primary sponsorship of several Champ Car Series teams that employed Mexican driver Mario Dominguez.

Tecate will leverage the April event in the following ways to reach both mass-market and Hispanic consumers:

  • Sponsorship of Thursday Thunder race kick-off celebrations, which include performances by bands and special promotions at local bars and restaurants.
  • A retail promotion offering $100 off a three-day race pass (normally $125) with purchase of a 12-pack or larger of Tecate or Tecate Light. Product packaging also will include coupons for snack items and auto cleaning supplies.
  • Sponsorship of a Fiesta Friday concert featuring two of Mexico’s most popular rock acts—Molotov and Maltida Vecindad—and Saturday’s Rock-N-Roar, a concert by a yet-to-be-determined act. Both events will take place on the Tecate Light stage.
In addition, Tecate will activate the sponsorship through on-site photo opportunities with the Chicas Tecate Light brand ambassadors, and will supply replica cars and other promotional items to local off-premise accounts.

Boughton credits Tecate’s activation programs with boosting Hispanic attendance at the race.

“Before we started the sponsorship in 2002, Hispanics represented six percent of the total audience; last year it was around 30 percent.”

Boxing is the purview of the Tecate brand, which will sponsor the March 13 welterweight world championship bout between Manny Pacquiao and Joshua Clottey at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Purchasers of a 12-pack or larger of Tecate or Tecate Light receive a $20 rebate offer for purchase of the fight’s HBO Pay-Per-View telecast in states where the promotion is legal.

Tecate sponsors roughly 60 to 90 boxing matches a year, ranging from local club fights to national and international competitions broadcast on TV. In addition, the company has a broadcast sponsorship deal with ESPN to title the studio program that is part of the network’s Friday Night Fights programming on ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.

Tecate also sponsors several single-market properties, including the California State Fair; Denver’s Cinco de Mayo festival and the MLS Colorado Rapids and San Jose Earthquakes.

Heineken USA works with Tecate’s Mexican parent on sponsorships, specifically Felix Palau, vice president of marketing for Tecate equity.

Since ’04, Heineken USA has been the exclusive importer, marketer and seller of brands owned by Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma parent FEMSA Cerveza, including Dos Equis, Sol and Carta Blanca.

In January, Heineken parent Heineken Int’l BV announced its intention to buy FEMSA Cerveza.