AT&T and Ford Motor Co. are the title sponsors of the quadrennial soccer tournament's radio broadcast, paying more than $750,000 apiece. Other sponsors include Miller Brewing Co., McDonald's Corp. and NationsBank, while Coca-Cola Co., J.C. Penney Co. and Home Depot are said to be negotiating for sponsorships.
Hispanics, who make up the fastest growing minority in the U.S., are soccer zealots, so the World Cup broadcast offers advertisers a perfect playing field to influence this hard-to-reach market.
"Any marketer who doesn't advertise during the games misses a golden opportunity to reach and demonstrate its support of the Hispanic community," said Jose Nino, president-ceo of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Cadena Radio Centro's 65 stations reach 83% of the U.S.' 25 million Hispanics.
"[This] is an opportunity for us to make Ford the leader in new-car purchases with this market," said J.C. Collins, Ford Division car advertising manager.
Since 1992, Ford new-car purchases by Hispanics have remained flat, accounting for just 5% of sales.
Ford's "Five out of the top 10" national image campaign, from J. Walter Thompson USA, Detroit, is being adapted by Mendoza, Dillon & Asociados of Newport Beach, Calif., to support the World Cup broadcast.
What makes Cadena Radio Centro's live broadcast of this summer's games particularly attractive to marketers is the opportunity to target Hispanics in their native tongue.
"It offers marketers a unique opportunity to reach a consumer who is difficult to target with traditional media," said CRC VP-General Sales Manager Tony Hernandez, who noted that mainstream TV, radio and print aren't primary news and entertainment media for many Hispanics because of the language barrier.
By default, Spanish-language radio is the ethnic group's main provider of news and entertainment.
"Radio is very important to the Hispanic market. Much more so than the Anglo market," said Rafael Eli, advertising manager at AT&T Hispanic Consumer.
During the World Cup, AT&T will run an image campaign from the Bravo Group, a division of Young & Rubicam, New York.
A 1992 Arbitron survey showed that Hispanics listen to radio 25 hours a week, compared with 22 hours for the general market.
CRC paid $1.1 million for the rights to broadcast the World Cup. As part of the coverage, it will have a commentator and interviewer at each game site. Previously, broadcasters translated the audio from news feeds.
World Cup officials said no radio network has secured the rights to broadcast the games here in English, and there seems to be little demand by advertisers.
Ford wouldn't advertise on a general-market radio network's broadcast of the games, because "there are ample opportunities to reach the Anglo market," Mr. Collins said.