Julie Jimenez|May 7, 2015

Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao may have duked it out in a historic match, but there was an unexpected presence in the ring that still has people talking.

The country of Mexico received most of the prime time exposure, from the branding around the ring and on the screens to Julio Lopez singing the Mexican national anthem (even before the fighters’ own). In fact, the Mexico Tourism Board and Tecate beer were two out of five title sponsors for the fight, which set a new record for sponsorships bringing in $13.2 million.

While beers brands like Tecate are no stranger to sponsoring boxing matches, why would the Tourism Board invest so heavily in this event to promote its “Mexico, Live it to Believe it” campaign?

Aside from the Mexican people’s fondness for the sport of boxing, there was no true connection between the sporting event and the country – except for announcements that it would be broadcasted free of charge in Mexico by the Televisa and Azteca networks.

The connection may not be clear, but the motivation behind it certainly was. The Mayweather-Pacquiao match was dubbed “the fight of the century” and was the most-watched Pay Per View (PPV) event of all time. Early estimates predicted more than 3 million PPV buys, and that number grows exponentially when considering these buys are not just counting individual homes, but also venues broadcasting the fight to packed houses.

Once the official numbers are out, it may be possible to say the Tourism Board spent less than a dollar per person to reach viewers – but will the impressions turn into hotel stays, airplane tickets and an increase in trips to Mexico?

This highlights one of the main differences between advertising and public relations. In other words, as a viewer, are you more inclined to visit Mexico after seeing a logo in the ring, or after watching a TV segment where a reporter actually experiences the culture, destinations and cuisine of the country?

The Mexican Tourism Board placed their bets on the former, but it remains to be seen what effect sponsoring this major sporting event will have on tourism to the country.


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