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Internationalization of Atlético de San Luis. Exclusive Interview with Jaime Caro Del Castillo.

Updated: Nov 30, 2023

Roger Hampel

Internationalization of Atlético de San Luis. Exclusive Interview with Jaime Caro Del Castillo.
Internationalization of Atlético de San Luis. Exclusive Interview with Jaime Caro Del Castillo.

Jaime Caro Del Castillo, the Director of Commercial and Strategy at Atlético de San Luis


In the dynamic arena of football, certain narratives echo louder than the collective cheers from jam-packed stadiums. One such compelling tale is that of Atlético de San Luis, a shining star in Mexican football. This team, in a remarkably short time, has not only ascended rapidly through the divisions but is also ambitiously eyeing a global stage. Beginning as a contender in the second division and swiftly elevating to the first within merely two years, the club has consistently exemplified grit, innovation, and zeal in its journey.

On the horizon for November 20-21, 2023, is a standout soccer clinic set to light up Los Angeles. Collaboratively devised as a strategic initiative between Atlético de San Luis, Northgate González Market, and PIXIXI LLC, it promises to be a rendezvous of talent and passion. Northgate Market is a premier Southern California and family-owned supermarket chain that caters to the Mexican and Latino communities.

Highlighting the importance of this gathering, The Football Business Journal has taken the mantle as the event's official media patron, showcasing its vital role in the football universe.

As we delve into the intricacies of this promising soccer clinic, the shared determination between Atlético de San Luis and the legendary Atlético de Madrid unfurls, weaving a shared story that's both unintended and deeply moving.

Join us in an exclusive conversation as Roger Hampel, the Founder of the Football Business Journal, sits with Jaime Caro Del Castillo, the Director of Commercial and Strategy at Atlético de San Luis. Jaime opens up about the club's visions, hurdles, and the indefatigable drive that fuels their journey. Dive deep with us into the mesmerizing world of football, celebrating its spell both on the field and beyond its boundaries.


INTERVIEW WITH JAIME CARO DEL CASTILLO


Roger Hampel (Founder of Football Business Journal): Can you outline some key components of the club's current strategic plan?


Jaime Caro del Castillo (Commercial and Strategy Director at Atlético de San Luis): Absolutely. Our primary business strategy revolves around increasing revenue and maximizing customer satisfaction. In every facet of our business, we have strategies to achieve both these aims.

For instance, in ticket sales, our priority is to expand our season ticket holder base year-on-year. Over the past two years, we've excelled in this area, growing our base by over 35%, a significant achievement in our industry.

In terms of sponsorships, we've secured over 25 deals in the past 24 months. Our focus is on forging strategic partnerships that not only boost our revenue but also enhance the fan experience throughout the year.

Regarding our academy, we're overseeing its expansion. Currently, we have 280 children in our San Luis academy. While they aren't part of the main academy or the youth program, we consider them an integral part of our youth school. One of our aspirations is to establish at least two more academies outside of San Luis and one in the United States. This vision spurred the initiation of the soccer clinic with Northgate Market in California.

On the marketing and communication front, we're concentrating on expanding our digital reach. We're tailoring content to appeal to younger audiences and striving to understand each platform more comprehensively. One of our key objectives is to ensure that our stadium undergoes consistent renovations to enhance the overall fan experience, leading to increased revenue and attendance.

In essence, our fans are at the heart of our endeavors. Our overarching goal is to captivate the city's allegiance, ensuring every resident of San Luis supports Atletico de San Luis. As we achieve this and expand regionally, I believe we'll witness more successes with the club. In summary, our strategic vision revolves around gaining the unwavering support of the city and broadening our regional influence.


THE RELATIONSHIP WITH ATLETICO DE MADRID


Roger Hampel (Founder of Football Business Journal): How would you describe the relationship between Atlético de San Luis and Atlético de Madrid?


Jaime Caro del Castillo (Commercial and Strategy Director at Atlético de San Luis): Atlético de Madrid is the owner of Atlético de San Luis, and there's also a sister club, Atletico in Canada. Together, we form the Grupo Atleti. Beyond the ownership aspect, our relationship is incredibly close. In my role, we communicate with them weekly.

Internationalization of Atlético de San Luis. Exclusive Interview with Jaime Caro Del Castillo.
Internationalization of Atlético de San Luis. Exclusive Interview with Jaime Caro Del Castillo.

Atletico Madrid vs. Atlético San Luis, 2019


Jaime Caro del Castillo (Commercial and Strategy Director at Atlético de San Luis): For example, we have dedicated calls for ticketing sales, sponsorships, merchandising, retail, and marketing. During these sessions, we exchange best practices and collaborate on strategies. It's vital for the three clubs within Grupo Atleti to discuss and adapt initiatives suitable for their respective markets. It's essential to recognize that strategies effective in the U.S., Canada, or Europe might not necessarily resonate in Mexico without the right adaptations for fans and sponsors.

In the marketing realm, we're particularly active in the digital space, offering giveaways that give fans chances to visit Madrid or come to Atlético de San Luis. From a sponsorship perspective, we recently accomplished a significant milestone. This year, we inked our first joint sponsorship deal with Atlético de Madrid, meaning we now share a common sponsor. This collaboration was a key objective we set two years ago, aiming to increase shared partnerships benefiting from the Atlético de Madrid brand in Mexico. One of our ongoing priorities is to continue identifying potential or existing partners that can be shared with Atlético de Madrid.


Roger Hampel (Founder of Football Business Journal): I had planned to ask about collaborative initiatives and exchanges between the two clubs, as well as how the partnership influenced your club's philosophy. I feel you've touched on these points, but is there anything more you'd like to add?


Jaime Caro del Castillo (Commercial and Strategy Director at Atlético de San Luis): Certainly. Our relationship with Atlético de Madrid is deeply collaborative. We're always exploring ways to jointly grow. As I mentioned earlier, we're considering key dates and marketing campaigns that we can amplify together. We're also identifying current partners who might benefit from international brand expansion with Atlético de Madrid. Additionally, we're contemplating potential events both in and outside San Luis.

The U.S. market is a major focus for Grupo Atleti. We're thinking of organizing soccer clinics and potential friendly matches in the U.S. with Atlético de Madrid. In terms of merchandise, even though we might have different partners, we can create cohesive designs that symbolize our unity.

Over the past two years, we've made significant strides in strengthening our partnership. Given the progress we've made, I believe our higher-ups are pleased, and we aim to continue this momentum.


Roger Hampel (Founder of Football Business Journal): Great to hear that. So, on the topic of internationalization and support for Mexican communities abroad, what is Atlético de San Luis's commitment to internationalization?


Jaime Caro del Castillo (Commercial and Strategy Director at Atlético de San Luis): We are deeply committed to internationalization. One of our main focal points is the United States. It's not just a priority for Atlético de San Luis, but I believe for all clubs in Mexico. We aim to further penetrate the U.S. market and connect with our fans there. The U.S. boasts about 80 to 100 million fans who actively follow Liga MX. A key initiative is the expansion of our athletic academies in the U.S., especially in markets significant to us such as Texas, California, and Illinois, where many San Luis residents and fans are based. For instance, we have an upcoming game against Club Monterrey in North Carolina, another important market.

To detail our commitment to internationalization in the U.S., here are five main points:

- Expansion of our academies.

- Increasing our fan database in the U.S.

- Introducing specific products like online memberships or merchandising benefits tailored for U.S.-based fans.

- Organizing more friendly matches in the U.S. against MLS, USL, or Liga teams in primary markets.

- Capitalizing on the Leagues Cup. Last year was our first participation, and we see a lot of potential and areas for growth, especially in sponsorships, ticketing, and foundational activities. Every year, we venture into different MLS markets, even if some aren't traditionally significant for us, to maximize our presence.

In conclusion, Roger, internationalization is a top priority for us, alongside ensuring local engagement. We aim for every San Luis resident to passionately support Atlético and to foster strong connections with our audience.

Internationalization of Atlético de San Luis. Exclusive Interview with Jaime Caro Del Castillo.
Internationalization of Atlético de San Luis. Exclusive Interview with Jaime Caro Del Castillo.

Leagus Cup Game vs. New York Red Bulls


Internationalization of Atlético de San Luis. Exclusive Interview with Jaime Caro Del Castillo.
Internationalization of Atlético de San Luis. Exclusive Interview with Jaime Caro Del Castillo.

Atlético San Luis visiting San Antonio Spurs


Roger: How does Atlético San Luis approach engaging with local Mexican communities? How do you see your role in supporting and engaging these communities?


Jaime: Referring to our upcoming soccer clinic in Los Angeles with Northgate - This clinic exemplifies our vision! Alongside expanding our academies, which cater to players aged six to 15 or 16, we are focused on reaching younger audiences across the U.S. This helps in increasing our brand awareness and connecting with a new generation of fans.


Referring back to the Northgate soccer clinic, it's a two-day event where we'll engage with 150 children, both girls and boys, aged 12 to 17. This also gives us an opportunity to collaborate with a U.S. brand, thereby promoting our brand and potentially scouting talent for San Luis. While this event is scheduled for this month, I'm confident it will be a success and serve as a model for our future engagements.


LOS ANGELES SOCCER CLINIC COLLABORATION WITH PIXIXI LLC AND NORTHGATE MARKET


Roger: What was the inspiration behind hosting a soccer camp in Los Angeles, especially for local kids with Mexican roots?


Jaime: The inspiration came from our desire to collaborate with a US brand, particularly Northgate Market. As we expanded our presence in the US, we recognized the shared vision we had with Northgate. While there aren't many brands currently partnering with us, I foresee this changing soon. Northgate Market expressed their desire to continue to connect with their community and support Latino youth through this initiative. Realizing the mutual benefits, we planned the event in Los Angeles, involving our trainers and marketing team. I believe it's going to be a fantastic two-day event for everyone.

Internationalization of Atlético de San Luis. Exclusive Interview with Jaime Caro Del Castillo.

Roger: Football Business Journal, being a partner with PIXIXI for the event, is eagerly anticipating it. Can you shed light on the activities and training techniques to be employed at the soccer clinic?


Jaime: Certainly. This two-day event allows participants to train under the guidance of our athletic coaches who hail from our official youth programs. In addition to on-field training, they'll benefit from psychological sessions and performance evaluations off the field. Participants will experience the authentic training methodology we employ with our in-house players. Our primary focus is to ensure an enriching experience tailored to the right age group, while scouting effectively. Opportunities like these are rare, allowing us to assess the skills of 150 kids outside of Mexico, especially from a talent-rich region like California.


Roger: Is there a possibility for children from California who join the clinic camp to engage long-term with Atletico San Luis?


Jaime: Indeed, on the branding aspect, we intend to maintain a connection throughout the year once we get acquainted with them. On the sports front, while there are specific criteria to be met, the opportunity for long-term engagement is certainly present. If we identify one or a few exceptional talents, our coaching staff is open to the idea of integrating them, keeping in mind the mandates set by Liga MX. So, to answer your question, yes.


Internationalization of Atlético de San Luis. Exclusive Interview with Jaime Caro Del Castillo.
Internationalization of Atlético de San Luis. Exclusive Interview with Jaime Caro Del Castillo.


Roger: It seems like a great opportunity for the youngsters. What are your aspirations for this clinic, especially concerning local children of Mexican descent?


Jaime: Having worked with two MLS clubs, Houston Dynamo and Chicago Fire, I've observed the emphasis MLS teams place on connecting with their Hispanic fans.

They encourage fans to support both their hometown teams and teams outside their city. In Liga MX, our aim at Atlético isn't just to have fans supporting us throughout the year. We acknowledge they may have allegiances to their hometown teams due to their upbringing. However, if they choose to support a team outside of MLS, we'd like it to be us. One primary objective is cultivating a fresh fan base. On the sports front, we aim to offer a rich athletic learning experience, with the bonus hope of discovering exceptional talent. Ideally, we'd love to be the first choice team for Mexican-American youngsters, but we'd be content even if we rank as their second favorite, right after their local team. The core idea is to ensure these children recognize and feel connected to Atletico de San Luis despite the distance. As we increase our presence in the US, this will pave the way for more consistent engagement.


Roger: Circling back to the LA soccer clinic, can you explain how this initiative fits into Atlético de San Luis's overarching internationalization strategy?


Jaime: Absolutely. As I've touched upon previously, this initiative checks off several boxes in our international strategy. First, we're forging a partnership with a significant brand, which is monumental for us. Secondly, we're reaching out to a younger demographic outside of San Luis, right here in the US. This clinic is emblematic of our broader vision and what we aim to achieve. Our aspiration is to pepper the calendar with strategic touchpoints throughout the year across various business sectors. For instance, while retail initiatives might span the year, we may organize one or two friendly matches alongside events like this clinic, participate in the Leagues Cup, and run regular Atlético de San Luis academy operations. The idea is to maintain a year-round presence across different business areas in the US, encapsulating our drive for internationalization while staying attuned to our local objectives.


Internationalization of Atlético de San Luis. Exclusive Interview with Jaime Caro Del Castillo.
Internationalization of Atlético de San Luis. Exclusive Interview with Jaime Caro Del Castillo.

Atletico de San Luis vs. Houston Dynamo FC


FIFA WORLD CUP'S 2026 IMPACT ON THE ASL's INTERNATIONALIZATION


Roger: What was the impact of the joint FIFA World Cup 2026 on the Atletico de San Luis internationalization strategy and opening up for the US market?


Jaime: Regardless of the World Cup, we had considered expanding into the US even two years ago when we first arrived here. With the new administration, we always recognized the importance of the US market. The past two years have been incredibly busy, but I believe we've made significant progress. In 2022, the team made its inaugural trip to the United States, visiting Houston and San Antonio. Fast forward a few months, and we've participated in this cup and already scheduled games for the upcoming year. We also notice a growing fan base in the States. Building our presence there is a gradual process – it's like laying bricks. We have to start from scratch. I'm genuinely proud of my team and our achievements to date. So, in essence, even without the influence of the World Cup, we were always focused on our US strategy.

Internationalization of Atlético de San Luis. Exclusive Interview with Jaime Caro Del Castillo.
Internationalization of Atlético de San Luis. Exclusive Interview with Jaime Caro Del Castillo.

Atletico's Fans in New York


LONG-TERM VISION


Roger: Could you share with us any long-term visions or exciting developments fans can anticipate for Atlético de San Luis in the upcoming years, both on and off the field?


Jaime: Certainly. We've announced our plan to construct a brand-new training facility here in San Luis. We're incredibly enthusiastic about this venture. The facility will offer more training fields and expanded amenities for our players. In addition, we've embarked on renovations for our stadium. We'll be installing a new set of lights throughout the venue to enhance visibility. There's also the installation of a massive screen planned for either the end of this year or early next year. This is aimed at augmenting the in-stadium experience for all our attendees.


From a technological standpoint, we're investing significantly in analytics, both on the sports and business fronts. We've recently funded a commercial study to gather more data about our fans. This will enable us to create customized promotions and offerings, as well as forge partnerships with entities that align with our vision and can elevate the overall fan experience year-round.


Lastly, in terms of strategic collaborations, we've recently partnered with the Restaurant Association here. This association will present our fans with promotions and special deals at 28 local restaurants, especially for our season ticket holders. It also offers another venue for fans to catch our games. This partnership, announced just two weeks ago, not only expands our local presence but also strengthens our bond with the community.


Roger: Your strategy reminds me of Venezia FC. Their approach from the outset was to be "your second favorite team." In the United States, for instance, someone from Miami might support Inter Miami, but there's room to be their second choice. Of course, aiming for the top spot would be ideal!


Jaime: Let me add, Atlético San Luis is a relatively young club. While soccer has a longstanding history here, our affiliation with Atlético Madrid only began in 2017. In a span of two years, we progressed from the second division to the first in 2019. So, considering our journey with Atlético Madrid, we've been on this path for just six years. The strides we've taken and the growth we've achieved in such a short period make me deeply passionate about our mission. The dedication of our directors, CEO, and president is palpable. We're all aligned in our daily commitment to growth, victory, and continuous improvement. In the past two years alone, we've tripled our employee count, signaling our growth trajectory. I'm immensely proud to be a part of this organization.


Roger: Your journey reminds me also a lot of Atlético de Madrid's past. They too faced relegation years ago and managed to rise from La Segunda Division to the brink of a Champions League victory in 2014, coming just a minute short of clinching the title. Similarly, you transitioned from the second Division to the First and now aim for global recognition. Both clubs, perhaps even unintentionally, seem to share such a resonant story! I truly appreciate our conversation, Jaime.


Jaime: I appreciate your kind words! Thank you very much, Roger!

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