FOX Deportes to Use CSUN Student Ideas in UFC Campaign

From left to right: Yvette Hernandez, Samantha Arevalo, Kristen Walker, Shirley Teran and Khushboo Gunwany at a UFC event. Photo courtesy of Khushboo Gunwany .

From left to right: Yvette Hernandez, Samantha Arevalo, Kristen Walker, Shirley Teran and Khushboo Gunwany at a UFC event. Photo courtesy of Khushboo Gunwany .

It seemed like a simple request. But the marketing students in California State University, Northridge professor Kristen Walker’s upper division class were well aware that the appeal for assistance from FOX Deportes officials was not going to be easy.

Executives with FOX’s Spanish-language sports network tasked the group with developing a campaign that would increase the reach of its Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) programming within a key demographic: 18-35 year-old Spanish-speaking and bilingual males in the United States. The students divided into groups and began to work.

Their hard work paid off. Just weeks ago, FOX officials announced they were incorporating one team’s concept, “Soy UFC,” into a national campaign to make FOX Deportes the “go-to” destination for UFC content for Spanish-language and bilingual consumers. Ideas by the other CSUN teams are also being utilized by FOX.

“We were excited to work with professor Walker’s class and found their ideas and fresh perspective invaluable,” said Steven Graciano, vice president of marketing at FOX Deportes. “Their commitment to the project was evident and the students show a firm grasp and understanding of the nuances related to marketing to Hispanics.”

Walker said she is proud of her students’ efforts.

“They all worked hard to develop campaigns grounded in creativity, showing a depth of research,” she said. “The winning team developed a campaign entitled ‘Soy UFC’ to show a varied Hispanic base of UFC. The team really engaged the audience during their presentation with a lively demonstration of the unexpected nature of who is a UFC fan.”

The project grew out of the FOX’s Creative University, a program FOX Sports developed about five years ago with academic and athletics institutions from around the country. A FOX Sports Media Group business partners with a class to address a marketing, research, technology or strategy challenge that the business faces. Students then team up to create real-world solutions, products and campaigns to address the business challenge. This was the first time FOX had partnered with a class at CSUN.

“For the CSUN project, we saw a great opportunity,” said Christina Appleton with FOX’s Creative University. “Traditionally, we ask the classes to deal with regional challenges, but here we thought to do a national campaign for our Spanish-language viewer.”

Appleton said FOX executives were impressed with how thoroughly the CSUN marketing students immersed themselves into the project.

“They as a group had some great ideas, so it was hard to single out a winning team,” she said. “Their ideas were so good we shared them with the executive vice president, general manager of FOX Deportes, they were so good. They were shared with everybody at the company.

“The ‘Soy UFC’ campaign really delivered a cohesive campaign in the most effective way,” Appleton continued. “It captured the essence of FOX and UFC, and also really dialed into the Hispanic consumer that we are trying to talk to. We’re working out the details now about what it will look like and how to get the students’ ideas live.”

The winning team consisted of seniors Samantha Arevalo, Khushboo Gunwany and Shirley Teran; recent graduates Rachel Harvey and Yvette Hernandez; and exchange student Viktor Treptow.

Gunwany said her team “didn’t set out to win. Our sole purpose was to create a comprehensive and distinctive marketing campaign for UFC on FOX Deportes.”

She noted that her team consisted of five women and only one male, a student from Germany here for only one semester.

The team spent hours conducting primary and secondary research in order to develop their campaign. Though, Gunwany admitted, the slogan “Soy UFC” came to her in a dream. She actually forced herself awake to write the idea down for fear she’d forget it in the morning.

“Knowing that family, community and tradition all have very high value in the lives of our target audience, we wanted to promote UFC on FOX Deportes as a channel that shares those same values and is part of that same family,” Gunway said. “We had to find a way to connect to the passion points of growing up as a Latino, whether in the United States or their country of origin.”

Gunwany said many advertisers make the mistake of assuming the Hispanic audience is homogeneous and all they have to do is translate their English-language campaigns into Spanish in order for them to succeed.

“But each Hispanic community is unique,” she said. “There are some shared values, such as valuing family, but there are also cultural differences. Advertisers have to recognized those differences, and truly understand the similarities if they are going to effectively reach out to the Hispanic population. That’s what we tried to do.”

Appleton said the fruits of the students’ efforts should be appearing in FOX Deportes’ marketing campaigns later this year.