SBJ/June 24-30, 2013/In Depth

Angels seek messaging that will play across both the Hispanic and general markets

Los Angeles Angels owner Arte Moreno was the first Mexican-American to own a major pro sports franchise. The club’s vice president of marketing and ticket sales, Robert Alvarado, is a native Southern Californian who happens to be Hispanic.

The Angels have neither a Hispanic marketing department, a Hispanic marketing agency nor a Hispanic marketing plan — even though they play in a city that is 53 percent Hispanic, a county that is 30 percent Hispanic and a metro market that is 44.5 percent Hispanic.

“When you’re talking about the biggest markets in this country, people of Hispanic heritage have become, in essence, the mainstream in those marketplaces,” said Alvarado, who is in his 13th season with the Angels after six years with Coors Brewing Co. “So we tend to look at a lot of the things we do already in our marketing scheme and strategy and say — ‘Hey, what’s scalable?’”

By scalable, Alvarado means that they ask whether a program or tactic will play across both the Hispanic market and the general market, because if it only plays in the general market, it probably won’t be a broader success in today’s Los Angeles market.

“If we do family Sundays, well, that permeates the [Hispanic] culture,” Alvarado said. “I don’t have to layer promotions above and beyond that, because it’s scalable. Or giveaways. Every kid likes a bobblehead. Or a chance to run the bases. Things like that are all scalable.

“We operate in suburbia, in bedroom communities, and we’re surrounded by a lot of the Hispanic population base. Within a 15-mile radius, we pretty much touch 80 percent of the Hispanic population base of Orange County. They’re all around our stadium. So we’re an institution in this market. People are aware of us. They know what we do here. We have a very favorable perception among that demographic here, and we make ourself accessible to them.”

That hasn’t always been the case.

It’s not that Hispanics in Southern California were averse to the Angels. But, sharing a market with the Los Angeles Dodgers and their history with Fernandomania and the iconic voice of Spanish-language radio personality Jaime Jarrin, the Angels were up against a mighty cultural force.

If you were a baseball fan in Southern California, odds are, the Dodgers were your team. About a dozen years ago, the Angels dug into research to assess their standing among Hispanics. They found that they made up 12 percent of their ticket buyers. Today, they make up about 30 percent.

The Angels have gone from drawing 2 million to 2.3 million fans per year to exceeding 3 million each year for the last 10 seasons.

“We strongly feel that a disproportionate amount of our attendance growth has come from that Hispanic base,” Alvarado said. “Now, I will tell you, winning the World Series here [in 2002], everybody likes a winner.

“My guess is that when we started to disproportionately attract Hispanics to our games, when they finally experienced a game here, I think they saw a difference. You know what? I’m seeing more and more of our brown people here. The more I see brown people in the stands, actually having a good time, the higher propensity that I will come back and bring my family and adopt this team on my own.”

Not to be ignored in the swing is the role of Moreno, who bought the club from the Walt Disney Co. in 2003.

“We don’t often talk about it because our owner doesn’t like to talk about it, but that has an influence,” Alvarado said. “It changes perception. It gives off the perception of accessibility. And it’s aspirational. The aspirational aspect of it is huge in that community, without having to say a word.”


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