by Erin Clark, Planning Director
When you ask a marketer to name a sport that is popular with Hispanics, chances are 9 out of 10 times you’ll get soccer as the answer. But, as emphasized in a previous Provoke Weekly, Hispanics aren’t only into soccer. NFL ranks high on the list, but when you dig further you’ll find that boxing is a viable niche with deep multicultural roots – particularly for Hispanics. Boxing is so ingrained in Hispanic culture today that when looking at viewership data*, Hispanics make up the highest proportion of Pay-Per-View purchasers, boxing’s primary distribution method.
The boxing ring has provided a stage for many inspirational stories, from professional to amateur boxers. I recently sat down with one of our talented producers at Dieste, Tony Pacheco, who films documentaries when he’s not working on award-winning ads. One of his latest documentaries, Crónicas del K.O., focuses on the amateur boxing culture in Mexico, and soon he and his friend/director Octavio Soto will begin working on a similar documentary capturing the parallel of boxing today in the US.
What stood out to you most while filming about the state of boxing in Mexico?
The poverty. The uncertainty. The passion. The need to fight. Boxing is full of stories and characters. A fighter’s story is mesmerizing, no matter if he is the winner or the loser. All of them are a life lesson outside the ring.
Did you know a lot about the sport previously or did you learn on the go?
Octavio’s grandmother was a huge boxing fan so he grew up watching the big fights of the seventies and eighties. On my end it was my mom. She could call by name every punch in a fight. The project gave us a new perspective on the sport, a more intimate and truthful experience than ever before. When you stand close enough to smell the sweat and blood, it becomes much more powerful than when you watch sitting in a bar.
What have you noticed in the US that makes it so similar to boxing in Mexico?
Boxing is closely related to the lower social/economical groups, and that is the same in the barrio and in the ghetto. Young fighters step up to the ring full of anger. That kind of motivation is so strong they can overcome just about anything. For a fighter, this may be the only way to earn both money and a social position, something otherwise impossible for a kid with two fists and no education. All you have to do is watch an amateur match; they only last three rounds, and you can see them throw punches non-stop from bell to bell. For many of these fighters a win in the barrio feels the same as a world title. Now that we are just starting to work in the US, we found there are a lot of Mexican fighters in the gyms here. This makes them approach the sport with a different mind. They still have the need to fight, the itch that only fades when you fight, but just like in any other trade, international trade makes it all better.
There is no doubt boxing is not for the faint of heart nor is it the right fit for all brands, but it does offer a platform to connect with a multicultural audience in a unique way. Fans love the sport because they can relate with the struggle of being the underdog and a desire for the thrill of the victory. Brands investing in boxing today are fairly limited to nutrition supplements, sports apparel and beer. Miller Lite recently released Campeón, an ad featuring Juan Manuel Márquez, which builds upon the passion that Hispanics hold for boxing. Tecate also recently signed Mexican super star, Canelo Alvarez. However, boxing is becoming more mainstream with gyms such as Title Boxing Club, South Beach Boxing and Beat Box catering to people who want to “train like a boxer” but forego the cuts and bruises. This opens up new opportunities for brands to get involved.
To build a deeper understanding of the multicultural audience, turn to the experts at Dieste, located in Dallas and New York.
*Source: Simmons Fall 2015 NHCS Adult Study