What: Hispanic players, which make up nearly a third of opening day rosters, are starting to be used in national campaigns, even for non-sports brands.
Why it matters: Brands may be catching up to the crossover appeal of the sport’s top Latino stars.
With Hispanic players making up more of the rosters of Major League Baseball clubs than ever, it’s interesting to see which mainstream, national brands are employing these crossover stars in their campaigns. Two notable examples were announced as Opening Day arrived across the country. New Era (@NewEraCap), in its “We Who Reign” campaign (see video below), has included Astros second baseman (and reigning A.L. MVP) José Altuve (@JoseAltuve27); eight-time All-Star Robinson Canó (@RobinsonCano); New York Yankees pitcher Dellin Betances (@DBetances68) and Cubs infielder Javier Baez (@javy23baez) as part of a broad effort: “transcending just baseball alone, and spanning sports, music, art, and culture,” according to its release.
Another is Lamps Plus (@LampsPlus), about as mainstream a brand as you can get, partnering with Dodgers utility man Kiké Hernandez (@kikehndez) and his fiancée —and former Miss Universe Puerto Rico— Mariana Vicente. According to the Lamps Plus announcement, Hernandez and Vicente will promote the nation’s largest specialty lighting retailer through social media and other activations during the year.
While it’s clear that Hispanic MLB players are increasingly making their mark on the field…, their impact as brand spokespeople hasn’t caught up.
“Kiké Hernandez has a passionate fan base resulting from his positive persona,” said Dennis Swanson, CEO of Lamps Plus, in a statement. “As a utility player, Kiké can be counted on to be plugged into the lineup wherever he’s needed for his team. It’s like lighting – you add a chandelier or a lamp to a room where it’s needed and it makes a dramatic difference to the ambiance.”
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Baseball fans also saw Altuve utilized in Five Hour Energy’s (@5hourenergy) TV and digital spots in 2017, in an example of a brand that has a sports connection but targets active adults. The light “José Altuve is Everywhere” ads had him fielding a grounder, signing autographs, even selling hot dogs, highlighting his status as the league’s top player— perhaps on the way to becoming among its most marketable. After all, who doesn’t love that the shortest guy on the field (5’6″) can also be the best?
While it’s clear that Hispanic MLB players are increasingly making their mark on the field —reportedly nearly a third on opening day rosters are Latino—, their impact as brand spokespeople hasn’t caught up. It will be interesting to see which other brands look to connect not just with the Latino community but a broader audience through these stars.
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Cover photo: Lamps Plus