De La Hoya-Vargas Takes Different Promo Tack


Coming off its record-breaking June Lennox Lewis-Mike Tyson pay-per-view co-promotion with Showtime Event Television, Home Box Office PPV is revving its marketing machine for its Sept. 14 Oscar De La Hoya-Fernando Vargas fight.

Focusing heavily on the Hispanic market, HBO PPV will emphasize radio stations and Internet media to promote the super-middleweight championship event, rather than mainstream television outlets — the preferred vehicle for Lewis-Tyson,

"Lewis-Tyson transcended boxing, but this fight is the biggest boxing event that we'll have this year," said HBO PPV vice president and general manager Tammy Ross. "They're different marketing plans because they're completely different events."

Dr Pepper, which takes its first step into the boxing marketing arena, will back the $44.95 bout through a sweepstakes and in-store promotion whereby consumers have a chance to win a free trip to the fight in Las Vegas.

Ross said the soft-drink distributor decided to step through the ropes because of Vargas and De La Hoya's appeal to boxing fans.

"A lot of issues that sponsors have is with the image of boxing and boxers that get in trouble," Ross said. "Dr Pepper liked the idea of Oscar and Fernando, they liked what this event stands for in the scheme of boxing and they liked the fact that the fight doesn't carry a lot of controversy."

Dr Pepper will join overall fight sponsor Miller Brewing Co., which will provide $500,000 in media support, including radio spots in the top 10 markets, as well as a national schedule on Spanish-language radio networks.

Radio is Key

Additionally, more than 10 top-rated sports radio stations will be broadcast live from fight's Las Vegas site the week of event.

"We're trying to free up all the dollars we can to help radio because that's promotion that your money can't buy," Ross said.

CBS SportsLine ( will devote a special section of its site to the fight, which will feature behind-the-scenes looks at each of the fighters' camps, exclusive photo galleries, and PPV ordering information, Ross said. CBS SportsLine also hosted a contest in which consumers could win autograph boxing gloves just by posting a question on the site to the fighters. will promote the fight on its home page during lead-up week and will host a chat with De La Hoya, Ross said.

On the print side, HBO PPV will run ads in USA Today
on Sept. 10 and Sept. 13, as well as in such Spanish-language publications as Vista Magazine, a sports and entertainment magazine; On the Magazine; and Guantes Magazine.

HBO PPV will also distributed a 30-minute fight preview show that will air in several markets including New York, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Miami, San Diego, Denver and Phoenix.

While Ross would not predict how well the fight will perform, she doesn't think its close proximity to the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks will negatively affect buys. HBO PPV will not actively market the fight on that day, sans limited print interviews with the fighters. Traditionally, the Wednesday before a PPV fight is often a major promotional day.