Each spring for the last 12 years, Tecate has gone to work at a local racing event in Southern California, an area steeped in some of the brands most loyal Hispanic customers. The promotional activities around the race have expanded from just those tethered to the weekend race to programs spread over months in advance.
“It's not just about putting the Tecate logo in the events, it's about how do we engage at all of the events that take place there and how do we take this to retail,” said Felix Palau, vice president of marketing for Tecate, which is the race’s official beer sponsor.
This year, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach takes place April 13 to April 15. Tecate is employing every lesson it has learned over the years to refresh and improve its program. It also incorporates learnings from its most prominent national marketing platform, boxing. Tecate is now the largest beer brand to sponsor boxing matches in the U.S. It runs a full roster of marketing and promotions, including a casting call last year to find an "elite group of Chicas Tecate".
In 2008, Tecate expanded its status as the official sponsor of the Grand Prix of Long by adding its Tecate Light brand.
“Everything we do supports us at retail,” he said. “So it’s very clear when you get to the Long Beach Grand Prix that Tecate Light is everywhere.”
About one month in advance, specially marked packages of Tecate Light and Tecate begin appearing on store shelves in Long Beach offering mail-in-rebates worth $100 off two, three-day reserved seating tickets and four four 12-Packs or larger of Tecate or Tecate Light Beer, or $10 off a single day reserved seating admission, with the purchase of a 12-pack or larger of either brand. This year the value of the rebate has been increased. Free “Fiesta Friday” passes can also be picked up at retail.
The retail promotions “make the event affordable to our consumers and drives traffic to the retailers, “Palau said.
In the weeks prior to the racing festivities, Tecate will offer a host of promotions in local bars, restaurants and nightclubs, including meet-and-greets with the Chicas Tecate Light brand ambassadors.
As the racing weekend draws near, the Thursday prior is the Tecate Light Thunder Thursday “free-view” of racing activities along Pine Ave. where people will look on as the 2012 Miss Tecate Light Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is crowned from among dozens of contestants who vied for the title in the weeks prior.
Over the years, the communications strategy has expanded from just Spanish-language messaging to include English to reach both the Mexican newcomer, as well as the acculturated Hispanic. All of the pre-event promotions and messaging have helped draw in Tecate Light’s core consumer.
“When we first started in 2001 maybe around 10% of the attendees were Hispanic, now it’s about 20% to 30%. We’ve done a good job of attracting our consumer to this event,” Palau said.
On Friday, Tecate’s signature event celebrating the beginning of the race weekend is its sponsorship of a live rock concert. Each year the brand ups the ante by signing star-packed musical talent. Next month, Tecate will present Belanova, critically acclaimed synthpop group from Guadalajara, Mexico, as the headliner of Tecate Light Fiesta Friday. The group will perform on the Convention Center outdoor stage on April 13. The next evening, Saturday, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts will take the same stage during the Tecate Light Rock-N-Roar concert. Both concerts are free to race ticket holders.
“We know that music has become an important element of the racing weekend to complement the daytime programming,” Palau said.
During the racing weekend itself 30 “Pit Stop Pubs” in the form of lounges, sports bars and cantinas will be set around the track and inside the Lifestyle Expo where people can purchase a Tecate or Tecate Light and pose for pictures as racing champions with the Chicas Tecate Light brand ambassadors.
Just as Tecate has upped its game each year, the numbers have followed suit. Palau said the brand has been “growing double digits during that last four to five years in Southern California, so this is a great asset for Tecate.” More dollars are expected to flow Tecate Light’s way to increase marketing in the brand’s biggest markets: South California, Arizona, Texas, Nevada and New Mexico.
“Consumers expect something new every year and we've done so many things that it's hard to come up with new innovations, especially when you've done this 12 years in a row,” he said. “But every year we ask ourselves, ‘How do we make the experience during the weekend of the race more exciting?’ We feel confident that we can innovate year after year.”