Tecate exits boxing, targets younger drinkers with new ‘Mexico is in Us’ campaign
Tecate, which for years has positioned itself as the “official beer of boxing,” is laying down its gloves. The Mexican import will no longer sponsor the sport as it pursues a more gender-neutral marketing approach that includes shifting dollars to soccer and music festivals.
The strategy includes shelving the 5-year-old “Born Bold” campaign in favor of a new effort called “Mexico is in Us” that emphasizes the brand’s border-town heritage while seeking to appeal to drinkers who are unapologetically Mexican-American. The changes come as Tecate, which is imported by Heineken USA, attempts to overcome a slump. Sales in stores plummeted 15 percent in 2019, according to IRI data cited by Beer Marketer’s Insights.
“We’ve gone from end-to-end on the brand and given it a full overhaul to try and improve performance and bring new people into the franchise,” says Heineken USA Chief Marketing Officer Jonnie Cahill.
The boxing exit is significant, considering Tecate has dedicated millions of dollars to the sport in the U.S., starting in 2007 when it backed a high-profile match between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather. In the ensuing years, Tecate duked it out with Corona for sponsorships of high-profile bouts, including outbidding its competitor in 2015 when it paid a reported $5.6 million for the rights to the Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao fight. In 2016, Tecate inked an endorsement deal with Mexican boxer Canelo Álvarez, who later appeared in a testosterone-fueled ad for the brand along with Sylvester Stallone.
The move out of the ring comes as the brand tries to “recruit a new generation of Tecate drinkers,” Cahill says. Tecate has a high household penetration with older Mexican-American consumers, he says. “But where the brand has struggled a little bit is to bring in new, younger drinkers—so, people in their 20s and 30s who have heard about the brand … but maybe haven't been exposed to [it] because of their media choices and their preferences.”
The brand is banking that greater involvement with soccer and music will help lure newcomers. New deals include sponsorship of the Leagues Cup, an annual soccer tournament that includes teams from the U.S.’s Major League Soccer and Mexico’s Liga MX. On the music front, Tecate has sponsorships in place with events such as the Catrina Music Fest in McAllen, Texas, which is named for the tall female skeleton synonymous with Mexican “Day of the Dead” celebrations. It also backs Chella, a Latino music festival held in Indio, California as a counterpart to the larger Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
The “Mexico is in Us” campaign includes ads shot in Los Angeles and the brand’s namesake city of Tecate, Baja California, Mexico, which abuts the U.S. border. One spot describes Mexico as “more than a country, it’s a feeling,” with scenes of men and women engaging in various activities in the city and countryside.
Another ad spotlights the Tecate brewery, while describing the brew as a “truly Mexican-American beer.”
Cahill says the goal is to celebrate the best of Mexican and American cultures. “That, we feel, is a very resonant concept with a younger audience who very much sees themselves as, ‘Yeah, I am a Mexican-American, but I am from L.A., I’m from Phoenix, I’m from Chicago—and I am Mexican, and that is great.”
The tagline could be interpreted as having a double meaning—"Mexico is in the U.S.,” which in the current political environment could be read as a comment on immigration. (Tecate did get political in 2016 with an ad that amounted to a light-hearted takedown of Donald Trump's wall proposal by showing Mexicans and Americans propping a cooler on a short beer wal along the border.) But a Heineken USA spokesman said the new campaign is not intended to send any subtle messages. “The tagline came from going back and looking at the ingredients of the beer itself. The fact we have Mexican and American ingredients means literally Mexico is in us,” he said.
The campaign will run for 32 weeks on TV, radio and social media. Spanish versions of the ads will run on Hispanic broadcast TV, while English versions will be confined to digital, social and radio.
The campaign was directed by Alfonso Gómez Rejón, who was born and raised in the border town of Laredo, Texas, and began his career as a personal assistant to Martin Scorsese, according to IMDb. The creative agency is Nómades, which was founded in Mexico and Argentina in 2013 by Pablo Batlle, an Argentine creative and DDB veteran. The shop, which runs the account from an office in Austin, Texas, first began working on Tecate in 2017 and recently retained it after a competitive review.