Hispanic Sports Marketing: Portada spoke with Arizona Coyotes CEO Xavier Gutierrez, the first Latino CEO in NHL history. Gutierrez delves deep into nuance to appeal to Hispanic sports fans.
“I’ll be the first to admit that I never imagined I would be in sport, in hockey,” said Gutierrez. Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Gutierrez was an avid Chivas de Guadalajara football fan. His family emigrated to San Jose, California, where Xavier remained a fan of Chivas but grew up to enjoy other sports although ice hockey was still not a part of his life. It was while he was a student at Harvard that along with other students, Xavier learned about ice hockey. Long story short, after more than 20 years of career as a business executive, investor and negotiator, on June 8, 2020, Gutierrez was named president and CEO of the Arizona Coyotes Hockey Club.
As President and CEO of the Arizona Coyotes, Gutierrez oversees all business operations, strategic planning, organizational decision-making and government relations for the club. A major goal for Gutierrez is to make hockey and the Coyotes more popular among Hispanics and to increase the engagement of Hispanic sports fans. “It’s an intentional cohort that we’re looking for. If you’re looking for a young market, you’ve got to go after the Latinos,” Gutierrez told Portada. According to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Phoenix, AZ, Hispanics make up 30% of Arizona’s population and 40% of metro Phoenix. Phoenix is the fifth largest city in the United States Like other parts of the United States, Hispanics are the driving force behind the sports marketing landscape.
Hispanic sports marketing: intentional, consistent and genuine
To achieve the aforementioned Hispanic sports marketing goal, Gutierrez says it’s critical to answer the question of how to best bring diverse voices into decision-making. He is proud to say that 40% of the Coyotes leadership team are women, as is the front office. Another mantra is “to go to new places to find people so they don’t come from hockey and sports”. The Gutierrez team has many executives with professional backgrounds in consumer marketing, banking and politics.
“To successfully engage the Hispanic population, outreach must be intentional, consistent, and genuine. You can’t think of it as a transactional relationship. You have to embrace them, ”says Gutierrez. “We do this through our content, both in Spanish and in English, but also through music, games and images,” he adds. 80% of the Hispanic audience is predominantly English or bilingual, only 20% is predominantly Spanish. That’s why the Coyotes have both dedicated social media handles in Spanish (“Los Yotes”) and English.. “People think the Spanish language will appeal to Hispanics. It does not work. You have to be in the language and in the culture, ”says Gutierrez.
People think the Spanish language will appeal to Hispanics. It does not work. You have to be in the language and in the culture.
Leading the charge of the Coyotes is a new advertising campaign, created with the advertising agency MullenLowe LA, which aims to embrace the entire region and highlight the Coyotes’ emphasis on reaching out to communities that have not traditionally been home to hockey fans. In July, the team appointed Los Angeles-based MullenLowe as the agency to spearhead the rebranding in a bid to “transform the Coyotes into more than a hockey team, emphasizing the multicultural approach of the team and their commitment to lead and make an impact in their community ”. according to a press release announcing that the agency had reinvented the Coyotes brand.
According to Gutierrez, the Coyotes will also use influencers and ambassadors: “We just started using influencers. We create a brand that is affiliated with people who make an impact and who are not traditionally involved in hockey. “
We create a brand that is affiliated with people who make an impact and who are not traditionally involved in hockey.
Differences between football and ice hockey marketing
When asked about the main differences between marketing hockey and soccer to Hispanics, Mexican-born soccer fan Gutierrez notes that “soccer is a sport that the Latin American market has a deep connection and history with. It is therefore not necessary to have an introduction. Hockey hasn’t been part of the athletic journey, so marketing starts with explaining the sport. But once they’re exposed to hockey, they’re excited about the fast-paced action and the need for extra attention.
Another big step in growing the Hispanic fan base is the NHL’s plan to host a game in Mexico. “We are working with the league to have a game in Mexico soon,” said Gutierrez. It also became known that the Coyotes submitted a proposal to build an arena district in Tempe that must be approved by the city of Arizona and then voted on at a public meeting. The US $ 1.7 billion development proposal near Priest Drive and Rio Salado Parkway uses private funding along with part of the funding from the city’s tax revenues to pay an additional $ 200 million .
“In order to expand our rabid fan base, we need to attract Latinos and non-Latinos. We need to expose sport to communities that are not necessarily part of it. We have to super-serve our fan and our waiting fan, both Latino and non-Latino, ”concludes Gutierrez.