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Copa de la diversión

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What: Minor League Baseball has named the ‘Mariachis de Nuevo México (a.k.a. the Albuquerque Isotopes) as its Copa de la Diversión champion for 2018.
Why it matters: With the number of participating clubs more than doubling to 72 this coming year, Albuquerque and the other finalists can serve as examples of how teams can engage the Hispanic communities in their respective markets.

When Minor League Baseball (@MiLBrolled out its Hispanic-driven initiative Copa de la Diversión this past year, 33 teams jumped on board. This past season, to varying degrees of commitment. And as 2019 will see participation double across the country, with 72 clubs engaged, including every one of the initial 33, the new teams will have numerous examples of success stories to draw from.

This week, MiLB selected the Albuquerque Isotopes (@ABQTopes(a.k.a. the Mariachis de Nuevo México (@MariachisNM)) as the winner of its first Copa de la Diversión™ (Fun Cup™) event series winner. MiLB’s new Latinx Advisory Committee selected the Isotopes for numerous initiatives that took the Copa experience to the next level, to outdistance the following clubs who were finalists: Monarcas de Eugene (Eugene Emeralds @EugeneEmeralds), Cucuys de San Bernardino (Inland Empire 66ers of San Bernardino @66ersBaseball), Cielo Azul de Oklahoma City (Oklahoma City Dodgers @okc_dodgers) and the Flying Chanclas de San Antonio (San Antonio Missions @missionsmilb).

The expansion of this program, even into some non-traditionally Hispanic regions … shows that teams have identified that Latinos in their markets may still be largely untapped

“All 33 participating teams fully embraced the Copa de la Diversión initiative, authentically engaging their local Latinx communities in a transformative, relevant and fun new way,” said Kurt Hunzeker, MiLB Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Research, in a statement. “Having to select a single winner from a list of worthy candidates was a difficult task for our Advisory Committee, but it was impossible to ignore how much the Albuquerque community embraced the Mariachis’ mission and ballpark experience all season long.”

Some of the elements of the Mariachis/Isotopes full-dive into the Copa series included an investment of significant marketing money into the program, which led to a single-game attendance record in Albuquerque in their May 5 Copa game and highest average attendance in themed games across the country. The team also worked closely with groups like the Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce (@AHCNMto maximize the community connection and benefit, helping them net the largest revenue from licensed “Mariachis” merchandise and commercial partnership revenues dedicated to Copa events.

Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019 at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing’s preeminent topics. Felix Palau, VP Marketing, Heineken will discuss “How to measure ROI and transfer best practices between sports marketing platforms”. Other speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: “Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?”Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

The expansion of this program, even into some non-traditionally Hispanic regions like Tulsa, Winston-Salem, Salt Lake and Durham, shows that teams have identified that Latinos in their markets may still be largely untapped. It will be interesting to see how many of the 40 or so new teams follow the examples of the Albuquerque, San Antonio and others that were all-in on Copa and how it may one day be an MLB initiative as well.

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What: Minor League Baseball and ECHO Inc. have built a partnership via MiLB’s Copa de la Diversión program.
Why it matters: As the first corporate sponsor of Copa, ECHO can serve as a blueprint for how companies can best hit the large geographic area that this demographic encompasses throughout 160 MiLB cities.

Copa de la Diversión, the successful and growing Hispanic outreach program introduces last year by Minor League Baseball (@MiLB), has its first dedicated corporate sponsor in ECHO (@ECHO_USA). The agreement, announced last week, makes the Chicago company (via Japan) the “Official Outdoor Power Tool of MiLB” and of the Copa program.

ECHO will activate its sponsorship with programs in many of the MiLB cities participating in Copa in 2019. Pregame events targeting professionals will highlight ECHO products, and teams will have their use for field and park maintenance.

“We are proud to have ECHO Incorporated as the first official outdoor power tool of Minor League Baseball, and to integrate them into our rapidly-growing Copa de la Diversión platform,” said David Wright, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer for Minor League Baseball.

For a company like ECHO, it’s a wide-ranging sponsorship, targeting professionals who use such equipment, distributors, dealers, and general consumers.

ECHO will also gain social and digital media presence on the consumer side through MiLB.com, the MiLB mobile app and team social outlets. Community initiatives, use of MiLB and team logos and partnerships in this month’s winter meetings and trade show are also part of the agreement, which ECHO notes is “specifically designed to embrace the culture and values that resonate most with participating teams’ local U.S. Hispanic/Latino communities by bolstering their marketing and customer service efforts to create a culturally-relevant gameday experience.”

“We are excited about this new partnership because it provides us a good grassroots approach to reaching our customers,” added Wayne Thomsen, ECHO Vice President of Marketing and Product Management. “What better way to help people make a connection with our brand and products than joining efforts with Minor League Baseball. The fact that teams will use ECHO products for field and ballpark maintenance further reinforces the connection.”

Join us at PORTADA LOS ANGELES on March 15, 2019 at the Loews Beach Hotel Santa Monica, where we will dive deep into sports and soccer marketing’s preeminent topics. Felix Palau, VP Marketing, Heineken will discuss “How to measure ROI and transfer best practices between sports marketing platforms”. Other speaking engagements include Tiago Pinto, Global Marketing Director, Gatorade who will provide answers to the question: “Will Corporate America jump on the soccer opportunity?”Attendees will also be able to benefit from Portada’s meet-up service of three-eight-minute meetings with top brand executives!

MiLB hopes this is the first in a series of similar partnerships, after having established Copa de la Diversión and more than doubled team participation for 2019. For a company like ECHO, it’s a wide-ranging sponsorship, targeting professionals who use such equipment, distributors, dealers, and general consumers, and can serve as a blueprint for how companies can best hit the large geographic area that this demographic encompasses throughout 160 MiLB cities.

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What: MiLB’s successful ‘Copa de la Diversión’ initiative will more than double to 72 teams in 2019.
Why it matters: Programs that celebrate the Latino influence in baseball and connect to the community are positive for the teams and their fans, and a potential touch point for marketers.

As the Latino composition of professional baseball rosters—in both the majors and minors—grows, it makes sense for leagues and teams to celebrate the diversity in their players and fan bases. And as Minor League Baseball (@MiLBcontinues to experience growth on the field and on financial ledgers, initiatives like Copa de la Diversión help everyone embrace the culture and values that these communities represent.

With that, MiLB is following up last year’s successful Copa, which saw 33 teams participate and, according to the organization, generated a combined US $3.7 million in revenue and 12.5% attendance increases, by announcing that more than double that number, 72, will take part, across 29 different states in the upcoming season. In 2018, teams took to the field as the Durham Toros, Omaha Cazadores de Tormentas and Charlotte Caballeros (similar to NBA and MLB alternate identities) in select games.

100 new employees have been hired by the 72 participating teams, helping club staffs begin to more closely reflect the composition of the on-field talent and fan base.

As with other programs in this space, authenticity is the key: it can’t be seen as just a publicity stunt or to market additional apparel. The phrase “Copa de la Diversión” translates to “Fun Cup,” and included other facets of the fan experience, including food and music. And some teams made some internal changes to promote the program, including hiring bilingual employees in ticket sales and attracting more diverse internship applicants, according to La Vida Baseball (@LaVidaBaseball), a baseball news site that celebrates the past, present and future of Latino baseball.

The 40 or so new teams will try to tap into success stories like that of the Albuquerque Isotopes, Class AAA PCL affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. As “The Mariachis” that night, the club’s May 5 Copa celebration set a single-game attendance record of nearly 17,000 and, according to BallParkDigest.com (@ballparkdigest), set franchise records for merchandise sales.

The #PortadaLA summit in Los Angeles on March 15, 2019 (Hotel Loews Santa Monica) will provide a unique setting for brand marketers to learn about the opportunities sports and soccer content offers to engage consumers in the U.S. and Latin America.

With that success, MiLB is all-in on the initiative. “For some teams, it was looking yourself in the mirror and being like, ‘Man we don’t have enough people on our staff that looks like our community’,” said Kurt Hunzeker, Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Research at MiLB “I think that was a huge benefit.”

Hunzeker also noted, per La Vida Baseball, that 100 new employees have been hired by the 72 participating teams, helping club staffs begin to more closely reflect the composition of the on-field talent and fan base. This diversity can also help teams make decisions that will affect those fans, as having voices “in the room” with firsthand knowledge of the particular characteristics of the Latino fandom can prove fruitful.

So what is next for Copa? Hunzeker has indicated that at least 13 more organizations will get on board in 2020. Perhaps this can lead to a program of this type on the MLB level, or other sports may use it as a blueprint to help connect with Latino or other ethnic groups. In any case, it’s been a huge positive for teams and communities.

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What: The Reading Fightin Phils minor league baseball team’s retirement of Roberto Clemente’s #21 highlights a season full of Latino-themed promotions across MiLB.
Why it matters: Teams are connecting with fans through these Heritage nights, encouraging local companies and businesses to partner with them to reach the Hispanic communities.

It’s about a four-hour drive across most of the state of Pennsylvania from Pittsburgh, where Roberto Clemente roamed the Forbes Field, and, briefly, the Three Rivers Stadium, right field, to Reading, current home of the Phillies’ AA affiliate, the Fightin Phils (@ReadingFightins). From 1955 through his untimely death on New Year’s Eve, 1972, Clemente paved the way for future Latino players with a combination of skill between the lines and compassion and community-mindedness off it. Indeed, MLB’s highest annual honor is the Roberto Clemente Award, presented to the player who “best exemplifies the game of baseball, sportsmanship, community involvement and the individual’s contribution to his team,” as voted on by baseball fans and members of the media.

While there have been pushes to have his classic #21 retired across the game, as Jackie Robinson‘s #42 was, Reading is getting a jump on it and doing so themselves. It’s a bold step for the state’s fifth-largest city, an area with a strong Hispanic population. Celebrating this community and the city’s diversity, the team will host Latino Heritage Night on August 22 —its first home game after what would have been Clemente’s 84th birthday on August 18— during which it will retire the number and play as “Los Peleadores de Reading.” Fans will also receive a Clemente Los Peleadores bobblehead figure.

The Lake Elsinore (Calif.) Storm are designating a full weekend, June 1-3, as Hispanic Heritage Weekend, their Western Riverside County location ideal for an extended celebration.

The promotion is one of many Hispanic-themed events scheduled throughout the minor leagues this year. Across the country, 33 teams in 19 states are involved in “Copa de la Diversión,’ a season-long event series specifically designed to embrace the culture and values that resonate most with participating teams’ local U.S. Hispanic/Latino communities. Each team will host multiple events through the season, with each creating culturally-relevant on-field personas that honor the local U.S. Hispanic/Latino communities, to be announced next Tuesday, March 20.

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“Minor League Baseball is built on the fun, memory-making experiences created by our teams each and every day,” said Kurt Hunzeker, Minor League Baseball’s Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Research, in a statement last month. “When we introduced ‘It’s Fun to Be a Fan’ and ‘Es Divertido Ser Un Fan’ last season, the overwhelmingly positive response led us to create this season-long event series, further showcasing our teams’ commitment to their communities and MiLB’s unique brand of fun.”

Teams Tailoring Latino Heritage Events

Other teams are tailoring the events to their communities. The Lake Elsinore (Calif.) Storm (@Storm_Baseball), Class A affiliate of the San Diego Padres, are designating a full weekend, June 1-3, as Hispanic Heritage Weekend, their Western Riverside County location ideal for an extended celebration.

The Chattanooga Lookouts (@ChattLookouts), the Twins’ AA Southern League team, will wear jerseys representing various flags on Hispanic Heritage Night on April 29, with proceeds from a post-game auction benefiting La Paz, a local Hispanic community organization.

The Great Lakes Loons (@greatlakesloons), the Dodgers’ A affiliate in Midland, Mich., have a Latino Night scheduled on July 20, with a post-game salsa dance party.

In addition to forging goodwill, teams have been able to connect the heritage events with corporate partners. First Tennessee Bank, for example, is a presenting sponsor of the Lookouts’ night. The Loons partnered with a local bar & grill for their post-game celebration.

Check out the stars of Portada’s Sports Marketing Board, who will meet at Portada Miami on April 18-19 to discuss various topics related to the future of marketing and innovation in sports. Register now!

What: MiLB has announced its 2018 campaign aimed to reach US Hispanic communities, “La copa de la diversión.”
Why it matters: After the great success of last year’s campaign, MiLB will launch a new series of events that will create culturally-relevant experiences and embrace local Latino communities.

Minor League Baseball (MiLB) has announced the launch of “Copa de la diversión” (“Fun Cup”), a series of events designed to embrace the culture and values that resonate most with participating teams’ local U.S. Hispanic/Latino communities.

In 2017, MiLB launched a successful marketing campaign titled “Es divertido ser un fan” (“It’s Fun to Be a Fan”). Just like last season, teams will bolster their marketing and customer service efforts to create culturally-relevant experiences through music, concessions, and promotions.

The 160-game event series will begin on April 8, in Round Rock, Texas. To build awareness and create excitement for the new national series, a 3-foot tall “Copa de la Diversión” trophy will embark on a tour of the participating cities, as part of a “Gira de la Copa” (“Cup Tour”).

To visually celebrate the diversity that defines MiLB communities nationwide, MiLB and each participating team will create culturally-relevant on-field personas that honor the local U.S. Hispanic/Latino communities. The “Copa de la Diversión” team identities will be unveiled on March 20.

After the conclusion of the season, each participating team will auction its “Copa de la Diversión”-branded game-used caps and jerseys and donate the proceeds to a U.S. Hispanic/Latino-focused organization in its community.

“Minor League Baseball is built on the fun, memory-making experiences created by our teams each and every day,” said Kurt Hunzeker, Minor League Baseball’s Vice President of Marketing Strategy and Research. “When we introduced ‘It’s Fun to Be a Fan’ and ‘Es Divertido Ser Un Fan’ last season, the overwhelmingly positive response led us to create this season-long event series, further showcasing our teams’ commitment to their communities and MiLB’s unique brand of fun.”

To find out which teams will be participating in the 2018 campaigns, see the official MiLB press release.