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What: Major League Baseball released demographics of this year’s Opening Day.
Why it matters: This year’s numbers have set a record for players from outside the United States, including a strong contingent from Latin American countries.

Latin American Representation Strong in Major League Baseball

Opening Day for the 2018 Major League Baseball (@MLB) season has come and gone and this year’s opening day has continued a trend in baseball that we have seen before in the past. It also set a record. A total of 254 players in the league come from 21 different countries and territories outside the United States. The majority of these countries are Latin American. This number is taken from the 25-man rosters and inactive lists of the current 30 MLB teams.

The Dominican Republic has always had a strong presence in the league and this year is no different. The country boasts 84 players currently in the league, led by future Hall of Famers Adrián Beltré, Robinson Canó and Albert Pujols. Venezuela comes in second with 74 players, including reigning A.L. MVP José Altuve, and Puerto Rico and Cuba have often traded for the third place, but the former comes in third with 19; Cuba with 17. Other Latin American countries with MLB player representatives include: Mexico with 11, Colombia with five, and Brazil, Nicaragua and Panama with three.

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Yasiel Puig, Cuban right-fielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Latino Influence on Major League Baseball

Soccer reigns supreme in popularity in most Latin American countries but baseball is often seen as the second favorite sport in this region. However, in places like Cuba or the Dominican Republic, it is actually the most popular. Often called “America’s favorite pastime,” the demographics of the game are changing as the Latin American community continues to add diversity to the game on and off the field. Latinos account for 31% of professional players and Major League Baseball has recognized this. The league, as well as individual teams, have had campaigns to market towards a growing Latino fan base.

Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15th – October 15th) has been utilized brilliantly in recent years by the league. Many teams set aside a game during that time which pays homage to Latino culture and influence on the game of baseball. The success of the #PonleAcento (Put An Accent On It) campaign from 2016 has  left an everlasting mark on the league. The campaign urged Hispanic players to embrace their heritage by adding the accent to the names on their jerseys. It sparked fans sense of pride and became a cultural movement. Latino celebrities like Roselyn Sánchez and other Latino athletes (including some outside of baseball) like Canelo Álvarez wore jerseys with their name and the accent mark on it. Latin American representation in baseball has been and continues to grow and this year’s opening day demonstrates that.

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What: Major League Baseball (MLB) and mitú announced their new “Always-On” content campaign designed to deliver unique MLB content to multicultural youth.
Why it matters: Unique collaboration celebrates the individuality, heritage and diversity of MLB players and fans, beginning in February.

descargaMajor League Baseball (MLB) and mitú announced their new “Always-On” content campaign designed to deliver unique MLB content to multicultural youth.

Beginning in February, MLB and mitú will unveil an array of exclusive digital content that will appear across a variety of mitú and MLB distribution channels. As part of the partnership, mitú will leverage its proprietary technology to measure response and sculpt content to maximize engagement and reach for a young multicultural audience.

“We are excited about this new partnership with mitú which will showcase the energy and heritage of MLB, its players and fans in a creative and fun way for young Latinos,” said Felicia Principe, Director, Brand Advertising & Marketing at Major League Baseball. “This partnership will give mitú access to valuable MLB content and star Latino baseball players that its consumers will enjoy.”

MLB and mitú will collaborate in creating content capturing the spirit and pride of current and former MLB players, comedic sketches, listicles and memes that celebrate the enthusiasm of a new and diverse generation of MLB fans and players. On Opening Day 2016, 235 players – almost 30 percent of the league – were of Latino descent and in a recent ESPN poll, more than 60 percent of Hispanic people living in the U.S. consider themselves fans of Major League Baseball.

“We’re excited to partner with MLB in this unique and exciting way. mitú is the heart and soul of multicultural youth and our deep audience insights coupled with MLB’s historic brand, charismatic players and loyal fan base makes for a perfect partnership,” said Roy Burstin, CEO of mitú. “We are honored to work with MLB and look forward to a successful partnership.”

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MLB spot still
LatinWorks wins MLB account, as baseball swings for the hearts of Hispanics.
Hispanics are widely represented in baseball, including more than 20 percent of players. If you include players with some Hispanic heritage, that jumps to 30 percent. While MLB has long reached out to Latinos, Opening Day 2015 on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball revealed the kickoff of the organization’s first Hispanic ad campaign via LatinWorks.

“Looking at 2015, we wanted to do more to reach out to Latino fans in places we haven’t been. We are buying media and forming media partnerships to engage Latinos more proactively,” says Jacqueline Parkes, chief marketing officer for Major League Baseball.

The campaign is called Aquí, with 30 and 60-second spots running on ESPN Deportes.

Television commercials are backed with a full digital and social media campaign. Consumers are asked to post their own “aquí” moments to social media.

“We will curate those and share them through a portal we’re building out on MLB.com/Aqui,” Parkes explains.

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MLB chose LatinWorks as its “multicultural partner,” a term Parkes says describes the same kind of relationship as “agency of record,” following an agency review of multicultural and Hispanic agencies. MLB already works with mainstream agency Anomaly, and did not consider other mainstream agencies with multicultural desks or capabilities.

Parkes says, “Both agencies will cooperate on the overall communications architecture. But we very much want LatinWorks to have their own point of view. The last thing we would want to do is translate a general market campaign. LatinWorks brings its own perspective, expertise and communications strategy, and its creative represents that.”

During the pitch, the agency provided MLB with an analysis of Major League Baseball’s current position among Hispanic consumers, as well as an outline of opportunities for moving forward. “”LatinWorks has been hugely helpful in educating us on what is going on in the marketplace and developing creative that’s authentic. They presented several opportunities and potential pathways,” she says.

LatinWorks’ creative for MLB will incorporate a multi-platform national campaign for the upcoming season, as well as strategic brand activations surrounding MLB Jewel Events including Opening Day, All-Star Game, and Hispanic Heritage Month. The agency’s full marketing campaign will be unveiled nationally later this month.

Parkes wouldn’t say what other agencies participated in the review. While agency pitches included sample creative, the new campaign came together following an official agency assignment to LatinWorks in early February. The TV commercials were produced in partnership with MLB Network.

MLB aT BATIn addition to the LatinWorks spots, MLB is courting Hispanic consumers by launching a Spanish-language version of its app, MLB.com At Bat. Another ad ran opening night promoting the app and encouraging downloads. The ad for the app was produced by Carlos Lopez Estrada of Landia.

LatinWorks will be part of a new communications strategy organized by incoming Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred, according to Parkes. “We are working collaboratively with MLB.com and MLB Network.”

Parkes adds, “This is us saying to Latino consumers, ‘You are here, you are part of the game, and we want you to be here more frequently.’ The campaign celebrates the nuances of the game and the powerful influence that Latino players have on the game.”

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