SBJ/June 18 - 24, 2001/This Weeks Issue

Mavs shoot for Hispanic fans

The Dallas Mavericks are taking a page from Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer with marketing plans aiming to build a Hispanic fan base.

Unlike MLB's Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres, and many MLS teams, NBA clubs typically don't tailor any major marketing plans toward the Hispanic community. According to an ESPN Sports Poll, 13.1 percent of NBA fans are Hispanics. But the Mavs are looking to build interest in the team within their local market's sizable Hispanic community, which represents 35 percent of the Dallas area's population.

Last season, the Mavs hired Dallas-based Ornelas & Associates, a Hispanic-owned marketing company, which produced radio spots for the team. As the Mavs settle on next year's marketing strategy, the team is again using Ornelas & Associates to increase the reach to the Hispanic fan base. Part of the strategy includes Mexican-born Eduardo Najera, the Mavs' second-round pick last year.

"Hispanics don't know that much about professional basketball, but with Najera, there is an affiliation," said Victor Ornelas, president and CEO of Ornelas & Associates. "Last year, Najera was drafted and was in camp and there wasn't time to build a program around him."

Mavs officials said that using Najera in radio and television advertising spots to boost interest among Hispanics will be just one aspect of the marketing campaign they say is unique to the NBA.

"We are assessing last year's efforts and plan to continue to have a strong marketing presence in the Hispanic community," said Mavs marketing manager Will Patton. "We are working to strengthen our fan base across all demographic groups, including Hispanics. Najera, because of his heritage, is a natural to feature in our communication to Hispanics. However, he is just one member of our team, and we look forward to building fan connections with the entire team."

The Mavs would not disclose how much they will spend on their Hispanic marketing efforts, but said that the effort represents between 20 percent and 25 percent of the team's overall marketing budget.

This past season, the Mavericks had an average home attendance of 16,232 fans a game, an increase of 11 percent compared with the 1999-2000 NBA campaign. Mavs marketing officials could not break out the percentage of Hispanic fans in attendance.

"It's difficult to break out demographic ticket sales information, but from a visceral standpoint, we feel we attracted more Hispanics to Mavericks games this year," Patton said. "Spanish was more commonly heard on the concourse this year than ever before, we saw Mexican flags in the crowd, had tour groups from Mexico attend games, and for our Fiesta Nights and special Son By Four postgame concert, we drew large Hispanic crowds."

The Mavs also extended their Spanish-language radio broadcasts to cover all regular-season and postseason games.

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