As Spring Training Starts, A-Rod Scores with Presidente

He never became “The Captain” with the Yankees, that was left to his teammate Derek Jeter. However now we can call him “El Presidente,” and as Spring Training gets rolling this week it is remarkable to continue to see the brand growth of Álex Rodríguez, and what that can mean not just to Dominican and Latino baseball fans, but to brands looking to expand into a multicultural marketplace.

We are referring to Rodríguez’s recent announcement that he will become not just an endorser but a key investor in popular Dominican brand and AB InBev’s-owned Presidente beer, an island mainstay which is now looking to grow its business footprint in the United States. Rodríguez made a big splash with the announcement, dropping a Super Bowl commercial and a media tour in the first step of what should be an interesting and engaged battle to cut through the clutter and raise the profile, and sales, of Presidente in America, especially through baseball.

“In such a competitive environment you need to find ways to move quickly to the head of the class in recognition, and that’s not easy,” said Tony Ponturo, longtime head of marketing and brand development at Anheuser-Busch who is now a consultant and career counselor at Columbia University. “Alex Rodríguez as a broadcaster and media personality is a known entity well beyond baseball, and getting his engaged support on so many fronts is a huge win for Presidente. He has crossover appeal and it will resonate pretty quickly with consumers than if they would have tried to move ahead on their own, which is a long and hard fight.”

Rodríguez has become chairman of Presidente USA and took a minority stake in the brand, one in which he told Fast Company was a known quantity to him growing up. “Presidente was present at my house every night at dinner, where there was at least one—or sometimes, you know, a lot more than that, he said last week. “My father is no longer with us, but I think he would have been more proud of me being a part of Presidente than hitting all those home runs and winning a championship with the Yankees.”

The market for Presidente isn’t just the two million Dominicans or 60 million Latinos, it is the casual consumer as well as the sweet spot, which is the baseball fan. Rodríguez’s multilingual skills make him a great fit, and his affinity for the brand gives it authenticity which is really tough to have sometimes. Then factor in his growing presence at FOX Sports, his ongoing business and personal relationship with Jennifer Lopez and a brand reinvention that is perhaps the biggest in sports following his PED suspension, and you have a connection with a huge upside as we start thinking about baseball and business this spring.

Now this is not Presidente’s first foray into sports. They have been export partners with the University of Miami Hurricanes, the Miami Marlins, and the Miami Heat. And they even received some street cred in 2012 when Ozzie Guillén mentioned the brand as a cure after being defeated 15-5 versus the Boston Red Sox, “Seven Presidentes and a sleeping pill and be ready for the job tomorrow. “

It is the boldest push into sports, one in which a key influencer plays a vital part. It will probably not be the last, due to baseball’s heavy base of rising and established Latino stars is ripe for engagement. Rodríguez is also deeply engaged, not just a spokesperson, and that deeper engagement will play well with fans and players when the cameras are off.

“The key to the beer business, or any major consumer play, is how do you get heard,” Ponturo added. “With Alex Rodríguez you now have a loud and influential voice and that’s pretty powerful.”

As pitchers and catcher report, Presidente hits a business homer.