J Balvin

Balvin performs at the 2015 Billboard Latin Music Awards presented bu State Farm on Telemundo at Bank United Center on April 30, 2015 in Miami, Florida.

Rodrigo Varela/Getty Images

For its first major tour sponsorship in the U.S. Latin music ­market, Toyota is ­placing its bets on up-and-­coming Colombian star J Balvin, who was named best new artist at the Billboard Latin Music Awards in April.

The automaker is the official partner of the ­singer’s first headlining North American tour, which launches Sept. 23 in Miami with rising Mexican-American singer Becky G as guest artist on all 18 dates. The campaign will include branded content and vehicle integrations at venues, and ties into a larger strategy for the automaker that also includes sponsorship of La Banda, the TV ­competition seeking the next Latino boy band (which premieres Sept. 13 on Univision), and its "Musica y Destinos con Toyota" platform, which launched in 2013 and partners the brand with up-and-coming acts, initially through social media campaigns. Other artists in the program include Becky G, Natalia Lafourcade and Ximena Sariñana. 

"We’ve never done anything this big in the Latin music community," says Jim Baudino, Toyota’s engagement marketing manager.


Courtesy Photo

Hispanic major-media ad spending grew 12 percent to $9.5 billion from 2013 to 2014 -- far above the ­estimated 4.9 percent growth for overall U.S. spending, according to Ad Age. Among the list of top Hispanic media ­spenders, Toyota ranked at No. 15, behind only General Motors and Nissan. The company slipped from its No. 13 slot in 2013, but actually upped its Hispanic media dollars from $81.9 ­million to $83 million, ­according to Kantar Media.

Toyota’s Balvin partnership began in 2014 with activations and other programs during his tour with Enrique Iglesias and Pitbull. Baudino adds, "Our focus is artists on the rise."

This article first appeared in the Aug. 29 issue of Billboard.