Marketing To Latinos: A Guide to the In-Culture Approach Part 2
Part 2 Case Studies | Part 1 Case Studies
CASE STUDY: Cerveza Tecate Campaign
Llegó para quedarse 2000
Labatt USA


For Mexican-brewed Cerveza Tecate, it has been a faster than expected climb to the top of the imported beer category in the U.S., where the whole industry has been semi-flat since the 1980s. When Tecate importer Labatt USA approached The Cartel five years ago, it wanted to break into the top 10. They embarked on an aggressive strategy to channel Tecate's marketing efforts exclusively behind the Hispanic market, namely the less acculturated Mexican American market where share had not been maximized.

The Cartel established the brand's positioning as truly authentic and the most Mexican of the Mexican beers. Sales rose, and in1998, Tecate advanced to 8th-ranked imported beer in the U.S. from 11th the previous year, according to Impact Databank.

The campaign was designed to expand from within, creating a halo effect that attracted the general market and other acculturated Hispanics to Tecate - even though Labatt expended minimal advertising effort against the general market. Along with the "Latin explosion" of the late 90s, the Brand discovered that new consumers were enjoying the point of differentiation that Tecate offers versus American brands, specifically its authenticity and trendy cache as an imported beer.


In addition to meeting standard brand objectives (i.e., increasing volume-growth and brand awareness among the Mexican American market), The Cartel and Labatt focused on new objectives:

  • Maintain the results-proven, focus strategy,
  • Evolve creatively and develop an authentic and genuine campaign that would resonate even stronger among first-generation Mexican Americans,
  • Sustain the brand's annual double-digit growth momentum and catapult the brand to the top five.


From an industry standpoint, the import category continued to experience higher than average growth rates, helping the brand to accomplish its goals. The upswing in imports was consistent with the economic boom and consumers' purchasing dynamics of the late 90s.

From a consumer perspective, The Cartel recognized that Hispanics appreciate products from their homeland and that they did not necessarily want to be coaxed into consuming American or non-Mexican products right away. Many times they purchased U.S. name brands because they did not want to stand out from the crowd. Messages needed to support and encourage the target to consume their Mexican products by evoking pride of heritage and culture already inherent in Tecate. Respecting the halo effect, the agency also knew it was important not to alienate more acculturated Mexican Americans and Hispanics who may be inspired to drink Tecate as a way of connecting with their Hispanic heritage.

Strategic Planning

Building on the success Tecate had achieved through its initial platform, Labatt and Cartel agreed the best course of action was to maintain the "Tecate, Llegó para quedarse" (Here to stay) positioning for 1999 and 2000. The brand's efforts continued to concentrate on the still under-tapped, Spanish-dominant Mexican American market where the most volume gains could be made with current budget levels.

To take it a step further, the team agreed to evolve or "refresh" the campaign. The Cartel developed the Saludos desde Mexico (Heartfelt Greetings from Mexico) campaign that genuinely depicted the target's life experiences in the U.S., which was heartily embraced by the Mexican American community.


The Cartel developed an integrated "full-circle" print, radio, out-door and TV campaign to drive trial and brand awareness and at the same time, generate excitement among consumers and the trade. The Cartel's media partner, San Antonio-based MediaWorks, worked closely with local Tecate brewery representatives to identify appropriate local media vehicles that would deliver messages right to the neighborhood, barrio-by-barrio. In fact, local reps from Tecate's brewer Cervecería Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma in Mexico are sent to the U.S. to positively influence volume sales in top Hispanic markets. To pitch Tecate as the "true" Mexican beer, print and outdoor ads leveraged Tecate's brand equity in the red and gold signature can.

Tecate was also made the hero in all print executions utilizing humorous plays on words (double-entendres). Media was negotiated one-on-one with local radio stations and with the help of Tecate brewery reps. The reps were also enlisted to generate excitement among retailers via regional promotions at community events such as fairs, musical concerts, and sporting venues.

The authenticity positioning was maintained across the creative components. Radio spots used contemporary Mexican regional and folkloric music performed by mariachis from Mexico as well as "corridos" (open-ended folk ballads), about the unique experience of drinking Tecate, performed by bands from Mexico. TV spots featured native Mexican people in major Mexican cities sending heartfelt greetings and good wishes to their fellow paisanos in the U.S. Tecate also signed on as one of the broadcast sponsors of Major League Soccer and the Mexican Professional Soccer games that aired on all Spanish TV networks.


Again, with absolute minimum efforts in the general market and focusing on a niche strategy, significant results in 1999 and 2000 were achieved. In summary:

  • Performance growth for 1999 and 2000 was 13% and 23%, respectively.1
  • Tecate is now the fourth largest imported beer in the U.S. after Corona, Heineken and Labatt Blue.2
  • Awareness increased significantly across various brand and preference criteria according to proprietary measurement tools.3
  • Also, Tecate is now the number one imported can in the U.S.4

Tecate has developed a solid personality and character in the U.S. Hispanic marketplace, and continues to do so while gaining respect from other segments of the market, setting the stage for a major leap that will propel the brand to new heights in the 21st century.

1 Labatt USA's SADI Database for volume shipments from Mexico
2 Impact Databank Publication 2000
3 Labatt USA's Proprietary Tracking Study
4 Nielsen Food & Liquor 2000

Agency: Cartel Creativo, Inc. (The Cartel),