As presenting sponsor and official beer of the biggest boxing match in 2017—the Sept. 16 bout between Canelo Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin—Tecate is gearing up its largest marketing push of the year.

In edited comments below, Gustavo Guerra, Tecate brand director, Heineken USA, discusses the thinking behind Tecate’s sponsorship strategy, the brand’s partnership with Golden Boy Promotions, and other topics.

IEG SR: Tecate sponsors a range of properties, with a focus on boxing. What kind of role does sponsorship play in Tecate’s marketing mix?

Guerra: Tecate focuses on the bi-cultural Hispanics’ two biggest passion points, soccer and boxing. Overall, our strategy for both is to bring fans closer to the action than anyone else. As a brand, we don’t just sponsor these sports; we take a long-term deep look into a partnership for how best we can activate with 360-degree above-the-line and below-the-line campaigns.

IEG SR: Has Tecate’s use of sponsorship evolved over the years?

Guerra: Yes, in most cases, that means we focus on fewer, bigger events. Those consumer experiences provide the best chance to engage in the brand’s “Born Bold” DNA.

IEG SR: Tecate is considered the official beer of boxing. What is appealing about boxing from a marketing standpoint?

Guerra: Boxing is our biggest asset. Over the past ten years we’ve activated and sponsored some of the biggest fights in history—Mayweather versus Pacquiao, Canelo versus Khan, Canelo versus Smith, GGG versus Jacobs, Canelo versus Chavez Jr. and ultimately, Canelo versus GGG on September 16.

Long before that, we sponsored Oscar de la Hoya’s 2007 fight against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. From that moment, we saw how our target market, bi-cultural Hispanics, responded to seeing the Tecate logo at the center of the ring and in the fighters’ corners.

Plus, it’s the perfect opportunity to activate the fight as a gathering occasion for friends and family. Tecate has historically partnered with the best promoters across the sport including longstanding relationships with Bob Arums’ Top Rank Promotions, Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and Tom Loeffler’s K2 Promotions, and today, Tecate is considered the official beer of boxing.

Tecate’s boxing authority has also transitioned to the big screen with brand appearances in the seventh film in the Rocky franchise—Creed (2015) and on the small screen through Showtime’s Ray Donovan (Season 4).

IEG SR: Tell me about Tecate’s partnership with Canelo Alvarez

Guerra: In February 2016 Tecate signed a multi-year partnership with Oscar de la Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and its star fighter Canelo Alvarez to become the brand’s first individually endorsed athlete.

That was a big moment for the brand because Canelo was also pushing to crossover to the general market sports fan. He was obviously a known fighter in boxing circles, but as we tried to rebuild the profile for the sport, we aimed to build Canelo’s profile too which included being featured in our 2016 and 2017 above-the-line campaign—which included broadcast advertising, digital, retail and PR.

In 2016, Canelo joined the “Born Bold” campaign in a commercial called “Flashy.” The concept was about how individual boxer’s entrances into the ring had become big Hollywood-style productions and Canelo was taking his entrance back to his simple roots and embracing his ‘bold’ Mexican warrior mentality encouraged by our iconic Black Eagle.

In 2017, Canelo reprised his role, but we also added the additional star power of Sylvester Stallone to the campaign with the two icons taking verbal jabs at one another to “Be Bolder.”

IEG SR: How else does Tecate activate boxing?

Guerra: We’ve become known within the sports industry for our range and depth of activations both above-the-line and below-the-line. For onsite, there are immersive fan experiences and extensive sampling opportunities. For retail, there are national promotions across all major retailers and a mail-in rebate to bring the cost of the HBO pay-per-views down. For social, we create content primarily for Facebook and Twitter because that’s where the bulk of our consumers engage.

Here are a couple of stats that help inform our strategy:

  • Bi-cultural Hispanics consume more digital video on their smartphones—almost five minutes more than the rest of the U.S. (Nielsen)
  • 85% of U.S. Hispanic internet users are on Facebook (AdAge)
  • 49% of U.S. Hispanic internet users are on Twitter (AdAge)

IEG SR: What do you consider Tecate’s most effective sponsorship, and why?

Guerra: Our partnership with Golden Boy Promotions and Canelo Alvarez is truly special. They’re partners who respect our contributions while also being a catalyst to bring fans closer to the action. And, Canelo basically owns premium cable (HBO PPV) for two key selling periods for Tecate—Cinco de Mayo weekend in May and Mexican Independence Day in September.

Plus, Canelo has demonstrated that he sells PPVs which drives volume opportunities at retail; At 26, he already ranks as the 8th all-time top-selling PPV star (4.7M buys).

IEG SR: Tecate has a long-running involvement in soccer. Tell me about that.

Guerra: Internationally, Tecate has been a long-time partner of Chivas de Guadalajara in Mexico with our iconic logo on the jerseys along with product sold at the stadium.

In the U.S., we help amplify their summer exhibition games in the Sun Belt states—a key historical territory for Tecate and our bi-cultural Hispanic consumer. There are 21 million legal drinking age bi-cultural Hispanics that live in the Sun Belt—Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas—of which 62 percent are soccer fans.

With almost five million fans in the U.S., Chivas is the second most followed club in the Americas, and we know that Tecate consumers are 42 percent more likely to participate in soccer and watch Major League Soccer (key soccer occasions) versus Coors and Bud.

Proudly, Tecate indexes the highest with bicultural versus any other domestic light beer. All of these facts add up to an opportunity we can’t ignore and an opportunity to bring soccer fans closer to Tecate.