NBA shoots for Hispanic audience

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NBA shoots for Hispanic audience
NBA shoots for Hispanic audience

In an effort to attract the growing economic might of Hispanics living in the US, the National Basketball Association this month launched Éne-bé-a, a multichannel marketing campaign. The league, along with the National Football League, NASCAR, the National Hockey League and other sports associations is trying to draw a more diverse range of fans and acquire new customers.

The NBA, which claims a 15% Hispanic fan base, is using national TV, radio and online ads; a microsite; events; merchandise promotion and grassroots programs as part of the campaign. The initiative is the NBA's first Hispanic-specific database-building initiative. It was developed by Hispanic-focused marketing agency Bromley Communications.

Saskia Sorrosa, senior director of US Hispanic marketing for the NBA, said the league has reached out to the demographic group 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 is promoting the program through Spanish- and English-language broadcast ads, which will run through the NBA Finals in June. Those ads promote the microsite www.nba.com/enebea 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. Visitors are prompted to sign up for an e-mail newsletter that emphasizes Latino players' stats, game highlights and general NBA news that is relevant to the segment.

Linda Aguayo, group account director at Bromley, said the league has numerous goals for the campaign, including maintaining and growing its Hispanic fan base, increasing TV viewership and game attendance and selling 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."

The 46 million Hispanics living in the US accounted for $980 billion in buying power last year, according to market research publisher Packaged Facts. The firm estimates that Hispanics will reach $1.3 billion in buying power in 2013.

The NBA is only one competitor in a crowded field of sports leagues trying to reach Hispanic consumers. Earlier this month, the NFL launched a contest with Hispanic-focused marketing agency The Vidal Partnership in which users of Tu Pasión, its Spanish-language social network, upload their photos and videos for a chance to win prizes and Pro Bowl tickets.

In January 2008, Univision.com-powered NFLatino.com, which has an e-mail opt-in, went live. The site is the hub for the NFL's Spanish-language marketing efforts and Tu Pasion lives within it.

Peter O'Reilly, VP of marketing for the NFL, said that Fantasy Football and contests — both of which require registration — help to drive growth of the NFL's e-mail list. The site sends a weekly newsletter during the regular season that includes highlights, Latino players' diaries and other unique content.

"We're trying to really build out that Hispanic database so we can have a longer one-to-one relationship with those consumers," O'Reilly said. He added that database is also used to drive viral marketing campaigns, like a video campaign promoting viewership of the October 12 New York Jets-Miami Dolphins game. That game was used to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

According to Scarborough Research, 9% of NASCAR fans are Hispanic and 8.6% are black. To reach this demographic, NASCAR launched a Spanish-language Web site, Nascar.com/espanol, in 2007. The organization also runs its Drive for Diversity program, which this month kicked off an academy-style training program.

Drive for Diversity develops minority and female drivers in two of NASCAR's racing series. The program operates D4D.tv and has social networking presences on Facebook and Twitter.

"We want this sport to look more like the rest of America," said Andrew Giangola, director of business communication for NASCAR. "Reaching out to these demographics is one way to accomplish that.

"Look at what Tiger Woods and the Williams sisters did for their sports," he continued. "African-Americans and Latinos might not think of NASCAR as the sport to watch, but when they realize there's representation from people like themselves, there's more of a reason to follow the sport."

Other leagues have robust programs to broaden their appeal to minority groups that traditionally were not large parts of their fanbases.

The NHL launched two PSAs focused on minority groups this February. The first, to promote Black History Month, featured notable black past and present NHL players. The second promoted "Hockey is for Everyone," the NHL's program that supports nonprofit youth hockey organizations across North America that offer children of all backgrounds the opportunity to play hockey.

The PSAs were aired in arenas during games, on NHL.com and on the NHL Network. Throughout February, nearly 9 million unique visitors gained exposure to specific Hockey is for Everyone assets on NHL.com, including digital banners, video and print PSAs, and exclusive Web content. More than 73,000 fans have viewed Hockey is for Everyone digital content through the NHL media player on NHL.com.

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