How Puerto Rico Little Leaguers Success Help the Big Picture with Brands and Cause Marketing

What: The Puerto Rico Little League team made some waves out of the Caribbean region, continuing the sport's legacy on the island.
Why it matters: Through the dollars brands can spend through cause marketing, dollars which done right, can be amplified well beyond a traditional marketplace.

Last weekend the birthday of one of Puerto Rico’s most revered figures, Roberto Clemente, was celebrated across Latin America. This week his lasting legacy has provided its latest example of the vibrancy of baseball in his native country, as the Radames Lopez Little League team, representing Guayama, continued its positive play as the surprising Caribbean entrant in the Little League World Series (@LittleLeague).

Now it’s not that unusual for Puerto Rico to break through to Williamsport; what is unusual is the storytelling that went on as this team, post Hurricane Maria, often trying to assemble with little supplies or even electricity, several of whom had lost their homes and gone without some essential supplies for months, made it undefeated through its regional and on to the grandest brand stage, not just Williamsport but ESPN (@espnas well.

These kids from Puerto Rico have an amazing story and have succeeded in cutting through the clutter with the eyes of the baseball world on them.

The team, many members with their hair dyed blonde like the stars of last year’s World Baseball Classic Puerto Rico team, have quickly become a shining light on how the power of sport can inspire and engage those casual fans who may think the issues from the massive storms last year are a distant and completed memory.

Yes, it’s a feel-good story, but how does that translate into business? Through the dollars brands can spend through cause marketing, dollars which done right, can be amplified well beyond a traditional marketplace. We have seen the scores of brands that have sought to activate through the platforms of ESPN during the Little League World Series, and while many watching across the country may be casual fans tuning in to watch some elite kids, tying some of those brands to cause, one which is still playing out throughout the Island Nation with some fresh goodwill ambassadors now telling their stories, is a great opportunity.

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Harrie Bakst

While we may think of companies looking to jump on the bandwagon and the buzz, especially traditional baseball brands like Nike (@Nikeor Franklin (@FranklinSportsor Under Armour (@UnderArmour), the ability for cause-related brands to amplify their message surrounding these young, telegenic faces and stories can go much wider. Telecommunications companies like Verizon, who have both big philanthropic and sports marketing budgets, can find a great tie to help continue to give back to the efforts in Puerto Rico by leveraging the cause celebre among the islands newest stars, so long as the mix is one of aid and assistance.

“We see brands all the time tied to causes that are ongoing, and they are able to leverage and inflection point to drive awareness and dollars when the spotlight is turned on,” said Harrie Bakst co-founder of WCPG (@wcpgco), a company whose mission is to pair brands, athletes and causes together for a great collective spend. “These kids from Puerto Rico have an amazing story and have succeeded in cutting through the clutter with the eyes of the baseball world on them, even if they advance no further. If there are savvy brands who see Puerto Rico as a key market, and now better understand the efforts there are not yet complete, the time would be right to work with their group. It could be a win well beyond some games in Williamsport for all.”

An effort Clemente would be proud of, in the land he loved and in the game that delivered so much for him, now with a new generation taking the next step.


Jerry Milani @gbpackjerry

Jerry Milani is a freelance writer and public relations executive living in Bloomfield, N.J. He has worked in P.R. for more than 25 years in college and conference sports media relations, two agencies and for the International Fight League, a team-based mixed martial arts league, and now is the PR manager for Wizard World, which runs pop culture and celebrity conventions across North America. Milani is also the play-by-play announcer for Caldwell University football and basketball broadcasts. He is a proud graduate of Fordham University and when not attending a Yankees, Rams or Cougars game can be reached at Jerry (at) JerryMilani (dot) com.

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