Wisdom.Applied Wednesday: You Say NBA, I Say Ene-Be-A
As sports fans prepare for the beginning of the NBA Finals tomorrow night between Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors and LeBron James’ Cleveland Cavaliers, we take a look at how the league is leading the way when it comes to connecting with its growing Latino audience.
In 2010, “La ENE-BE-A” (a translation of the NBA, or National Basketball Association) introduced “Noche Latina” games. As part of this campaign, every March teams have worn special edition jerseys that put a Spanish twist on some of the most popular teams in the league: Los Bulls, Los Spurs and El Heat, to name a few.
Despite backlash for not going through with a full translation of the team names (Bulls to Toros, Heat to Calor, Spurs to Espuelas, etc.), the league found through extensive market research that its Latino fanbase connected most strongly with the names with “El” or “Los” in front, as that is how the fans referred to their favorite teams in everyday conversation.
Noche Latina came about following three years of campaigns aiming to strengthen the relationship between Hispanic fans and the league. These programs have pushed the league to third in popularity among Latino sports fans, trailing only Major League Soccer and the NFL. In 2015, “Noche Latina” featured 14 games between some of the most popular teams among Latinos, a partnership with Univision Deportes and a strong online presence, including a Spanish version of the NBA.com website, and social media pages to keep Hispanic fans engaged.
Noche Latina is just one piece of a larger engagement effort on the NBA’s part. The next three ads, which ran in 2013, 2014, and 2015 respectively, are a perfect example of the road the NBA has taken to reach out to the Hispanic community. First, an ad with a strong message breaking common misconceptions and generalizations about Latinos:
The second a fresh and simple message featuring Carmelo Anthony, a star player on the New York Knicks of Puerto Rican descent:
and the most recent ad leveraging the controversy around teams’ nicknames to deliver a multicultural in a unique way:
Cover Photo by Zereshk, Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons