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Sponsorship Around the World: Argentina Edition

Sponsorship Around the World: Argentina Edition

6 minute read

  • Argentinians are highly passionate for the sport of soccer and this passion can affect how sponsors activate with certain club teams
  • The capital of Argentina, Buenos Aires,  allows for significant municipal sponsorship, however, citizens have pushed back on the over-commercialization of their city
  • Due to a history of dictatorships, Argentina has high levels of distrust towards government which can allow sponsors to demonstrate change in the community  

Sponsorship Around the World is a series published by MKTG that will take you to different countries to highlight sponsorship trends and best practices from outside North America. For each installment, MKTG will provide an overview of key insights from a different global market. For the fourth installment, MKTG travels to Argentina to study their sponsorship landscape:

Argentina is often described as a European country located in South America due to its history of European migration which has shaped the culture of the country. With Argentina culturally different than other South American countries, sponsorship marketers must be aware of the country’s landscape. Soccer star Lionel Messi may be one of the most globally recognized names from Argentina, however the country provides sponsors with a variety of opportunity beyond their most famous athlete. Sponsors looking to market in Argentina must be fully aware of the culture they are activating in to receive the greatest value from their sponsorship. MKTG highlights five sponsorship insights regarding the country of Argentina.  



Soccer rivalries trump brand standards in executing activation

With World Cup victories in 1978 and 1986, Argentina has a rich history of soccer, producing some of the best players in the world. Argentina’s domestic soccer league, the Argentine Primera Division, is made up of 30 clubs from across the country and represents the top level of soccer in Argentina. Two of the most prominent clubs within the Primera Division are the Boca Juniors and River Plate. These clubs also make up one of the fiercest rivalries within the league, with the Daily Telegraph ranking it the largest rivalry in all of soccer. The rivalry is so great that fans of each club are prohibited from each other’s home stadium. This polarizing dynamic between the club’s fans has significant implications for how sponsors activate. Due to rival River Plate’s red and white colour scheme, Coca-Cola, who is a partner of Boca Juniors was required to change their iconic red and white colours to black and white. The level of fan avidity for soccer in a market like Argentina supersedes the level of fandom in North America. Sponsors in this market must understand this context when activating or displaying signage, as even the most tangential reference to a rival team can lead to backlash. 


Municipal sponsorship is prevalent but not without push-back

Municipal sponsorship is usually polarizing amongst consumers who can view the practice as the over-commercialization of a public space. However, municipal sponsorship can also present governments with much needed cash for underfunded projects. Municipal sponsorship is prevalent in Buenos Aires as a number of street signs can be found with corporate branding. Brands like South American Telco company Claro and American Express are some of the companies present on Buenos Aires street signs. High traffic areas such as Florida Street in Buenos Aires, a popular shopping destination, provide brands the opportunity to reach a large number of consumers. However, over commercialization in the city has been an issue with residents in the past. In 2008, the city began to enforce stricter regulations on outdoor advertising, which lead to the removal of 40,000 outdoor advertisements. While street sign branding still remains, brands must ensure that municipal sponsorship or advertising is not overly intrusive or it can run the risk of frustrating citizens.


The World Tango Festival and Championship reaches both locals and foreign tourists

All international markets have landmark properties or property genres that capture the spirit and culture of the market; for Argentina, that property type is Tango. Tango is a popular form of dance that originated in Argentina in the late 1800s and has since spread throughout the world. The tango remains an important piece of the country’s culture, and in 2009, was included on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Every year, the World Tango Festival and Championship is held in Argentina’s capital of Buenos Aires. More than 500 couples travel from around the world to compete, with events held at 42 different venues across the city. The two-week festival attracts several locals, as well as over 100,000 foreign visitors. Multiple international brands sponsor the festival including Air France and automaker Citroen. In addition to international brands, multiple local Buenos Aires restaurants sponsor the event in order to promote their business to the influx of tourists. The World Tango Festival and Championship provides brands with the unique opportunity to sponsor an event with high cultural significance to Argentinians, while still reaching an international audience. 


Argentina’s distrust in government allows sponsors to be seen as drivers for positive change

Although the country is currently run by a democratically elected president, Argentina’s long history of government corruption continues to play a major role in the public’s perception on the role of elected officials. Research company Edelman runs an annual survey measuring the trust that citizens have in different institutions that operate in their country, such as NGOs, government, and businesses. The 2016 results showed that only 26% of Argentinians have trust in their government (lowest score within the ~30 countries sampled in and 30% lower than Canada’s figure where 53% of citizens trusting the government). Meanwhile, businesses in Argentina achieve a 53% level of trust. This higher score has created an environment where the private sector has greater permission to address social causes in that market. CSR and cause sponsorship is rapidly emerging in Argentina. A 2011 financial crisis accelerated how companies look at their role in society and it is now compulsory for companies with more than 300 employees to publish a CSR report. Charitable organizations are becoming more sophisticated about their sponsorship offerings, creating opportunities for brands to go-to-market with socially beneficial activations. 


The “David Beckham” of polo provides an international ambassador for a variety of brands

Due to its European influences, the sport of polo is popular throughout Argentina. Much like golf, polo has a handicap system for players and the top ranked players receive a ten goal handicap. Currently, all living ten goal handicap players, with the exception of one, is Argentinian. This is why many refer to Argentina as the mecca of polo. Argentinian polo player, Nacho Figueras, is one of the most recognized players in the sport. In 1994, Figueras turned pro at age 17, and has since played throughout the world. However, it is his career away from polo that has given Figueras so much recognition. In 2000, Figueras appeared in his first ad for Ralph Lauren, and has since become one of the faces of the brand. Figueras’ modelling career has since taken off, and has leveraged his recognition to become an unofficial ambassador of polo by promoting the game throughout the world, and trying to shift the perception of polo being an elitist sport. Figueras is also leveraged by the Argentina government as an ambassador to help attract foreign direct investment into the country. Naturally, his modelling career and activity away from his sport has drawn comparisons to David Beckham. As one of the most recognizable faces in Argentina who is involved in a wide range of projects, Figueras proves to be a valuable ambassador for the country of Argentina and sponsors alike. 

A country’s customs and cultures are what make the area unique from other destinations. Just as it is important for a visitor to be aware of the culture they are entering into, it is important for sponsorship marketers to have a similar understanding of the cultural context. For MKTG’s sponsorship profiles on other countries, click here

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