As a record-breaking number of Americans are glued to World Cup games, imagine what's happening at U.S. Hispanic agencies, staffed by people who are already lifelong futbol fans and hail from multiple countries that are World Cup contenders. It's life and death, along with face painting, a goalie's soccer net in the lobby, Latin snacks during games, and all the big-screen TVs tuned to Univision.
With Argentina facing Switzerland at noon EST and the U.S taking on Belgium four hours later, Tuesday, July 1 will be a full day of soccer. Half the teams that made it through the first round into the Group of 16 are from the Americas, and halfway through that knockout round, the U.S. and four Latin countries—Argentina, Brazil and dark horses Colombia and Costa Rica—are still in the game.
Here's a sampling of the U.S. Hispanic agencies having the most fun:
Wing, New York
Grey's Hispanic agency Wing is hosting a viewing of Tuesday's games for everyone at Grey in the agency's Town Hall space. A similar airing of the Brazil versus Mexico match a couple weeks ago drew an agency crowd of more than 200 people to watch the game and sample Brazilian food, said Wing's managing director Sandra Alfaro. To announce the event, Wing created a poster with the image of Brazil's Neymar and the words "For us, soccer is a religion. Come to mass."
The Brazil-Mexico viewing kicked off with a fun video of Wing execs displaying their own (widely varying) soccer skills, partly to introduce the Hispanic shop's management team. The opening player, chief creative officer Favio Ucedo is, in real life, a notable soccer player.
Professional face painters came into the agency and painted everyone's faces with the colors of the countries the agency is rooting for.
In the lobby, Alma set up a life-size goalkeeper's net in front of the giant heads of soccer stars.
Because Alma's sole British staffer, Amy, was lonely amid all the fanatical Latin fans, the agency kindly started an Instagram campaign to encourage David Beckham to visit her at #BringBeckham2Alma.
Brazil is hosting the World Cup, but Portuguese-speaking Brazilians tend to be in the minority in agencies packed with Spanish-speaking Mexicans, Argentines, Spaniards and Colombians. And the real die-hard Brazilian fans are in Brazil this month anyway. One exception, Alma's senior VP-managing director Isaac Mizrahi, says he couldn't get home to Rio de Janeiro. So he bought a new TV for the World Cup. Mr. Mizrahi is pictured with Mexico fan Ivan Gonzalez, Alma's social Mac artist.
"We have four teams that we have been following closely, USA, Mexico, Colombia and Argentina (we have a couple of Brazilians but we outnumber them)," said Joe Zubi, chief operating officer of Zubi Advertising. "Every time these teams play we provide food and drink from the country in the main conference room and tune all TVs in the agency to Univision. Tomorrow, in light of the Fourth of July, it will be hot dogs, chips and apple pie!" Mr. Zubi noted that "our Colombian contingent is very optimistic."
Leo Burnett's Hispanic agency is hosting viewing parties for both games in a room for 300 people. On the menu: authentic empanadas for the first match, and beer and hot dogs with the second.
As a service to bewildered Americans, Lapiz and LBi have developed a mobile page called soccertranslate.com to be your soccer guru while watching matches. Just click "Ask," type your question, and futbol connoisseurs (who are also Lapiz and Leo Burnett copywriters) will speedily send you "an informed, witty answer about every aspect of the game," promises Lapiz VP-account director Ernesto Adduci. He says the team has fielded questions about subs, stoppage, off-side and other rules, as well as players and odds.
Conill, Los Angeles and Miami
Conill has a policy of no meetings scheduled during major matches, said Cynthia McFarlane, chairman/CEO Latin America and Multicultural USA. For Wednesday's USA game against Belgium, the Miami office will probably adjourn to the Fado bar at Mary Brickell Village, where they go to watch the biggest matches or on weekends.
During the Mexico vs. Netherlands game at Fado on Sunday, the entire agency was rooting for Mexico except for the general manager of Conill's Miami office, Jasper Nelissen. Who is Dutch.
Mr. Nelissen is pictured below preparing to watch another match, Spain vs. Netherlands, where he persisted in rooting for the Dutch team. (He's with Spain fan Beatriz del Amo, client services director). Mexico and Spain have both been eliminated; maybe Mr. Nelissen is too lucky for the Netherlands and shouldn't be allowed to watch his team's next game, against Costa Rica in the quarter finals.