To mark the start of Latino Heritage Month on September 15th, the NFL has launched a new, season-long initiative entitled 'Por La Cultura' (for the culture).
A central point of the campaign is a film, 'The Celebration', starring actor Anthony Ramos (of the stage show Hamilton). Featured alongside NFL teams and players, a New York Jets jersey-laden Anthony takes viewers on a celebratory journey through the vibrancy, commonalities and differences within the sport's Latino fanbase.
The film features Latino talent both in front of and behind the camera, with creative led by Lemon Andersen and Jessy Terrero of Cinema Giants. The music within the spot is also noteworthy. The song 'Rompela' is the newest track from Yandel, El Alfa and Will.I.Am and part of the larger league initiative for Latino Heritage Month called the NFL 'Por La Cultura' campaign.
What's more, the NFL is doubling down to ensure that the swell around 'Por La Cultura' doesn't fizzle out after Latino Heritage Month with local and national activities being rolled across the entire football season. To find out more about it all, LBB's Addison Capper spoke with Marissa Solis, the NFL's SVP global brand and consumer marketing.
LBB> To get started, why is it important for the NFL to launch a campaign like 'Por La Cultura'?
Marissa> We are fortunate to have one of the largest Latino fan bases of any sport in this country, as well as the growing number of Latino players, personnel and Legends, so it’s incredibly important to us to celebrate and elevate this rich and diverse community. We want to make sure our overall marketing, our content, and our partnerships reflect, celebrate and serve every aspect of our fanbase, and we are excited to have focused content that showcases the contributions and impact Latinos are having on our sport.
The ‘Por La Cultura’ campaign is an ode to this vibrant and incredibly diverse community. The campaign aims to amplify Latino voices on and off the football field, and through our partnerships with key players, artists, influencers, and other personalities in the community, we want to inspire excitement, engagement and avidity all year round.
LBB> What kind of research can you point to that has driven this particular focus on Latino players, coaches, staff and fans?
Marissa> At 31 million strong, we have the largest Latino fan base of any sport in the US. We also have an ever-growing fanbase in Latin America, particularly in Mexico and Brazil. It is a young fanbase, with 53% under 35 years of age, and skews younger than our average fan. 17% of our total fans are Latino, and that percentage continues to grow year over year. In fact, Latino fandom has grown twice as fast as any other segment in the past year. Latino fans tend to be among the most avid and loyal fans in the league.
LBB> What was your starting point for creative and writing? What did you really want to achieve in the messaging?
Marissa> We have seen and felt over the years the impact that the Latino community is having on the sport, bringing its own unique way of taking in the game and impacting overall football culture from coast to coast. Our entire team of Latino executives and creators has at some point experienced football with a unique Latin twist, whether it is tailgating with our family or celebrating a touchdown in our own way. This campaign was created to elevate that cultural impact, literally put that Latino fan base front and centre and celebrate that unique flavour Latinos bring to the game on and off the field.
For us the perfect starting point to do this ‘ode’ was to start with the name ‘Por La Cultura’ which translates to ‘for the culture’ in English. We made conscious efforts to have Latino creators be part of every aspect of the campaign to ensure its authenticity. Creators came from the music, film, social, sports, and fashion world as a way to highlight and elevate Latino cultura.
LBB> On top of being a way to engage a certain audience, this campaign, to me at least, also highlights the unifying nature of football and sport in general. What are your thoughts on that and how did it come up in discussions?
Marissa> That’s exactly right. Our goal for this campaign was not only to highlight Latino excellence in an authentic way, but also to showcase the open invitation that exists for everyone to be part of this game. Because we truly believe that football is for everyone. Football is a unifier. It brings us all together. We can all celebrate a great pass or a touchdown together despite our differences. That is always something top of mind for us: using our platform for unity and for good. The ability to leverage a platform that has millions of people and to shine the light on a key community is very important for us. And we are going to continue to do this year-round to ensure that ALL communities and ALL people are seen and feel invited and included in celebrating the sport.
LBB> Why is Anthony Ramos the perfect person to front the campaign's central spot?
Marissa> Anthony is the perfect person for the campaign because he is always authentically himself. And he is, by the way, a die-hard New York Jets fan! Whether he’s repping New York and the Jets or highlighting the importance of his Latino heritage throughout his music and entertainment career, we know how much representation matters to him, how important that message is and how critical it is for us to amplify that message through our platforms. It was important that we had a Latino/a that truly is a fan and believes in the power of the sport to elevate our Latino community and to unify rather than divide.
LBB> Outside of that spot, there are lots of activities and executions taking place at national and local level. Can you tell us more about those?
Marissa> First and foremost, it is important to note that showcasing and highlighting the contributions of the Latino community is a key part of our overall fan engagement strategy. This is not something that is just reflected in one spot or in one month of the year. Our goal is to make the NFL much more approachable, elevate how fans engage on and off the field and reflect and inject inclusion in all that we do.
This is why it was important to kick off our 103rd season with J. Balvin in Prime Time. This is also why our first prime time spot celebrating Kick Off had the participation of over 20 influencers, players, and fans representing a wide and diverse fanbase. Our goal is that every fan can see herself/himself/themselves reflected in every one of our messages.
Specifically, as part of ‘Por La Cultura’, we have a very robust programme in place that will last all season long. The programme ranges from music to content series to non-profit collaborations that give back to the community. A few highlights include:
- Our first-ever ‘Por La Cultura’ mixtape comprises a series of exclusive tracks, including ‘Rómpela’ featuring Yandel, El Alfa and Will.I.Am. This is the first track on the mixtape and backdrop of ‘The Celebration’ and the full mixtape will drop in October.
- The launch of the ‘Por La Cultura’ Music Series will bring unique music concerts and experiences to fans in key markets. Celebrity musical talent participating include Piso 21, Dimelo Flow, DJ Camilo, DJ Livia, Sofia Reyes, and Gera MX among others.
- We’ll debut a new content series on El Snap NFL on Instagram, which connects the Latino community with the sport of football on an ongoing basis. During Latino Heritage Month, the new series will be a collaboration with celebrity cleat designer, Marcus Rivero, who will design a series of shoes and cleats for players and coaching staff from a number of teams.
- Our partnership with the Hispanic Heritage Foundation (HHF) is in its second year. The HHF is the exclusive sponsor of the Youth Sports & Fitness Awards category this season, which recognises Latino youth who’ve contributed to the sports and fitness arenas. Winners will be announced later this season and will receive grants in support of their college education and/or to enhance their community service efforts.
- We also work with the Hispanic Alliance for Career Enhancement (HACE), who delivers impactful and culturally sensitive learning content to small and large corporate groups and empowers Latino employees to become better leaders at work, at home and in their communities.
These are some of the highlights from the season-long campaign but it’s also important to note that we work closely with our clubs to continue celebrating the community on a local level.
LBB> As you’ve mentioned, this is a season-long campaign, which you're launching during Latino Heritage Month. How will this roll out over the course of the football season?
Marissa> We are excited to celebrate the Latino community with this season-long campaign. A few of the key moments and ways we’re engaging the community can be found below:
- September Kickoff: We launched Kick Off on Prime Time NBC featuring global superstar J Balvin + Our Kickoff Spot featured Ryan Garcia and DJ Livia along with numerous, diverse influencers, celebrities and players.
- Season-Long NFL Shop Spot: We collaborated with Fanatics to spotlight Chimbala and DJ Adoni’s Dembow beat, as well as DJ Livia in a spot featuring the latest NFL gear collection across all 32 teams for fans to enjoy
- September ‘Por La Cultura’ Spot called ‘The Celebration’: ‘The Celebration’ features Anthony Ramos and was created, directed, and produced by an all-Latino team led by Lemon Andersen and Jessy Terrero of Cinema Giants.
- Season-Long ‘Por La Cultura’ Mixtape: We are working with Neon 16 and Tainy to launch first-ever ‘Por La Cultura’ Mixtape for the season with an all-Latino artist cast. The first track is a collaboration between Yandel, El Alfa, and Will.i.am and was used in our spot with Anthony Ramos.
- Nov-Dec Fashion Collaboration: We’re partnering with Mellany Sanchez and Chito on a new fashion collaboration as part of our NFL Origins collection. Proceeds will go to local artists and their local community.
- Nov ‘El Juego’ Mexico City Game Spot: We have a second spot that will debut in November as part of our in-season NFL game in Mexico City with the San Francisco 49ers playing the Arizona Cardinals, where we will focus the conversation on cross border culture and support for football.
- Jan-Feb Super Bowl Programming: This will be a major beat to our Latino engagement strategy and will run from Playoffs all the way to Super Bowl in Phoenix. Our plans for the tentpole event include: the culmination of our Hispanic Heritage Foundation partnership; the first-ever female local artist designing our Super Bowl Ticket art and style guide (she is Chicana and Native American); and another major spot to celebrate the season and Latino contributions to the sport of football.
LBB> Any parting thoughts?
Marissa> We are very proud that our efforts to engage the Latino community are year-round and are led and created by 100% Latinos for Latinos. We have Latino involvement from the NFL executive ranks all the way to community activists, influencers, designers and artists. We are very intentional with the partners we select, ensuring that any content or collaboration authentically celebrates Latino excellence and the impact the community has on our sport and beyond.
Our commitment to celebrating the Latino community, as well as diversity overall, is an integral part of our holistic fan engagement strategy and approach and will continue to grow and evolve as our fanbase and the sport grows and evolves.