NBA launches effort to attract US Hispanics

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In an effort to broaden its appeal to Hispanic audiences, The National Basketball Association launched Éne-bé-a, a multichannel marketing campaign.

The league is using national TV, radio and online advertising, in addition to a Web site, events, merchandise promotion and grassroots programs. This is also the first time the NBA has launched a database-building initiative specifically for its Latino audience.

Saskia Sorrosa, director of US Hispanic marketing for the NBA, said the league has reached out to Latinos since 2000. “But this is the first time we're gathering all of our assets under one umbrella marketing platform to reach this demographic,” she added. “We wanted to have a unified message while remaining culturally relevant.”

The NBA has 19 Latino players from six Latin American countries. Hispanics make up 15% of its US fan base, according to the league.

To promote the campaign's digital elements, the league launched Spanish- and English-language broadcast ads on October 19. Those ads promote the microsite www.nba.com/enebea, which was launched October 16, as a call to action. On the site, users can watch news, view photo galleries and click to interact with Éne-bé-a on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Sorrosa added site visitors will be prompted to sign up for an e-mail newsletter that will emphasize Latino players' stats, game highlights and other general NBA news that might be relevant to the segment.

She added that Éne-bé-a will also launch webisodes featuring Latino players and stressing the importance of passionate fans and game attendance in the first quarter of 2010.

The campaign was developed by Hispanic-focused ad agency Bromley Communications. It is expected to run throughout the regular season and next June's NBA Finals.

Linda Aguayo, group account director for Bromley, said the league named the effort what it did because Hispanic NBA fans don't want to be categorized by the language they speak.

“This is why we didn't go with ‘NBA en Español' or ‘NBA Latino,'” she said. “They want to be a part of the brand.” The effort is a way for Hispanic fans to connect with the league using the name they already call it, she explained.

Aguayo said the league has numerous goals for the campaign, including maintaining and growing the NBA's avid Hispanic fan base, to increase TV viewership and game attendance and sell more merchandise.

“At the end of the day, every marketer wants to surround the consumer,” Aguayo said. “The NBA has so many assets — grassroots, broadcast, digital and community outreach — that allow us to target consumers with their strong brand message.”

Spanish language telecasts will be available on ESPN Deportes during the regular season, which begins next month, and the conference finals. The NBA also airs hundreds of Spanish- language live-game radio broadcasts each season through station partnerships in 10 cities with league franchises.

In terms of media buying, this campaign also marks the first time the NBA is targeting Hispanics outside the NBA's own media assets. Ads are playing on Telemundo, Telefuturo, Fox Sports en Español, CNN en Español, Mun2 and MTV3.

Sorrosa said while the main target demographic is consumers 18 to 49 years of age, the NBA is also reaching out to even younger viewers.

“Running ads on channels like MTV3 and Mun2 will help us engage viewers at an early age,” she said. “The younger they are when we reach them, the more likely they are to become lifelong fans.”

Éne-bé-a-branded shirts and other merchandise will be available at New York City's NBA Store, select team arena stores and online at NBAstore.com.

The campaign's grassroots programs include Es Tu Cancha, a program to improve and renovate basketball courts in Hispanic neighborhoods across the US.

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