Reebok Launches Web Site for U.S. Hispanic Market

Extends Promotional Relationship With Mexican Soccer Team Chivas

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Within a month of striking a deal last year with Mexican soccer team Chivas to launch an official product line in Mexico backed by an ad campaign there, Reebok started getting calls from U.S. Hispanics asking where they could buy the Chivas soccer jerseys.
The new BarrioRBK Web site emphasizes Spanglish and music as it aims at young Latinos.

"We said, 'Let’s bring the products to the U.S. and do a campaign,'" said Jorge Dionne, Reebok’s marketing director for Latin America and, since the end of last year, U.S. Hispanic.

Chivas relationship
That happened last fall, and now Reebok is further targeting the U.S. Hispanic market with Barrio RBK, its first Web site for young Latinos (www.barriorbk.com). The site is in catchy Spanglish, and leverages the international relationship with Chivas and the already urban feel of the general market site, rbk.com. The heavy emphasis on music, through online Radio RBK, is channeled into reggaeton on the Hispanic site. And Reebok's “I Am What I Am” general market RBK campaign from ad agency McGarry Bowen, New York, features a growing number of Latinos, from Chivas goalie Oswaldo Sanchez to actor John Leguizamo. All those ads appear on the site.

“We’ll keep looking for people who resonate with Hispanic consumers,” Mr. Dionne said. And from now on, all ads relevant to Hispanics will be tagged with the Web site address, he said.

Mexican ad agency
Before the Web site, Reebok brought the ads created by its Mexican agency, Wunderman, Mexico City, to a handful of U.S. cities: Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and San Antonio. The Mexican campaign promoted the new Chivas line with the tagline “La nueva piel de Chivas” (“The new skin of Chivas”), a play on words because in Spanish a chiva is a goat. The poster, outdoor and bus shelter campaign was so popular that in Mexico City and Guadalajara the company had to put up signs asking people to stop stealing the posters and to instead come to a Reebok store to get one for free, Mr. Dionne said. In the U.S., sales of Chivas products to Hispanics will double this year, he said.

Reebok will look for a Hispanic agency in the U.S. by the second half of 2006, Mr. Dionne said.

For the Web site, Reebok is working with Latinthre3, a Miami-based online ad agency focused on the U.S. Hispanic and Latin American markets. Latinthre3 approached Reebok as the company was thinking about building a Hispanic site, said Marc Fireman, Reebok’s global director of advertising and integrated marketing.

Reggaeton dance game
To appeal to Hispanics, the site has a reggaeton dance game and contest, and the music area includes the top 10 Latino artists, he said. And Reebok has just signed Daddy Yankee, one of the hottest reggaeton stars, to partner in a footwear line.

Reebok will promote the site with banner ads, but hasn’t bought any media yet, Mr. Fireman said.

The site also taps into an advertising trend toward reaching young Hispanics through greater use of Spanglish.

Matias Perel, CEO of Latinthre3, said, “At the beginning we talked mainly about Spanish, but realized if you spoke only in Spanish you’re neglecting the 40% who are English dominant. We built a site in Spanglish. I don’t recommend that for all clients, but for this segment, it’s the way young Latinos talk. The key is to have copywriters who understand when to use Spanish and when to use English.”

Pump Wrapshear running shoe
The Barrio RBK description of the Pump Wrapshear running shoe, for instance, explains “Create a custom fitting shoe every time with a twist of the dial. No lo crees? Es simple. Turn the valve on and start caminando.”

“We did a lot of research about how to integrate that into the site in a smart way,” Mr. Fireman said. “Spanglish makes a lot of sense from a cultural cue standpoint. It captures more the way Hispanic teens communicate with each other.”

During the first, soft-launch month, barriorbk.com has gotten about 5,000 clicks with no promotion, Mr. Dionne said.

“That shows the need for something that specifically speaks to Hispanics,” he said. Web users who click on Contactanos to contact Reebok are asking very specific questions about products, like what’s new and whether the company is creating anything for Hispanics, he said.

Testing consumer behavior
“Before promoting a platform too much it’s good to test the behavior of consumers when they get to the site,” Mr. Perel said. “See how much time they spend on the site, how fast they leave, are pages light enough to access, where they move the mouse.”

Initially Reebok is relying on existing assets, like links from Reebok’s general market sites, and public relations and word of mouth.

Young Latinos are quick to spread the word. Among U.S. Hispanics, for instance, penetration of Internet access on cellphones is at 4%, compared to just 1% for the general market, Mr. Perel said.

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