Hispanic Heritage Month Came and Went—Do Marketers Know? Or Care?

As a media publisher of LatinX content aimed to connect with baseball’s largest growing fan base — Latinos — initial critical acclaim, for our now 5-year-old La Vida Baseball media company, quickly evolved into the dark reality of the challenges, misconceptions and systemic racism ingrained in brand marketing executives towards the LatinX community.

This environment likely exists in part because I am pitching people who look just like me: white, late 40s and male.

It is also why we recently announced we will expand La Vida Baseball to become La Vida Sports, which all told, has $10 million of financial commitment to date. Despite the fact Major League rosters of America’s pastime (or as our team often calls it, “The Americas” pastime) are nearly 1-in-3 Latino, including many of the top stars in the game today, we’ve witnessed firsthand a huge gap in sports marketers’ perceptions and the marketplace realities.

Our team sees the opportunity to not just connect with LatinX sports fans through inspired storytelling, but to inform, educate and help brands, media platforms and athletes equally to engage this powerful audience.

MLB’s prestigious Roberto Clemente Award has gone four years without a presenting sponsor–Why?

Our desire is fueled in large part by frustration with the sports marketing industry. Prospective marketing partners for our media platform assumed LatinX meant “Spanish language.” They asked thinly veiled, racially loaded questions like “What percentage of Latinos have internet access?” or “Can you share the career profiles of your audience by percentage?”

In recent years diversity, equity and inclusion, or “D, E & I”, have thankfully become a staple of any brand interaction. Yet, the reality in my experience is the acronym is seen as simply code for “Black.”  It’s long overdue to see Black representation addressed in marketing messaging. Yet there seems to be no “&” in the equation.

Why is the LatinX community being largely ignored by brands and marketers?

The recently released U.S. Census made headlines once again for the continued decline of the white majority due in large part to the 23 percent growth of the Latino population, which is now more than 62 million in America, or 19 percent of the country. By comparison, the Black population in the U.S. is 46.9 million (14%).

On paper, LatinX audiences should be a top priority as they are the youngest (median age: 28), fastest growing and most content-consuming demographic. Instead, the same demographic that has $1.5 trillion of buying power and is nearly a top ten global GDP if it were its own country, is woefully lacking in brand spending.

Only six percent of total U.S. advertising dollars are allocated for an audience that makes up nearly one in five Americans.

Hispanic Heritage Month shed a little light on the lip service brands are paying to this audience. Media companies slap “Latino” on their brands and curate existing content. Brands translate ads featuring white people into Spanish and call it a strategy.

Only six percent of total U.S. advertising dollars are allocated for an audience that makes up nearly one in five Americans.

Consider Major League Baseball, an entity that is excellent at selling league partnerships, which has gone four years without a title sponsor for the Roberto Clemente Award, the league’s prestigious humanitarian award. MLB staff have shared part of the reason is because brands may erroneously consider it a Latino-only award.

Consider across the four major sports there are numerous instances where Spanish language broadcasters pay their travel expenses to away games out of their own pocket, if in fact they are even permitted to attend the games they broadcast in person.

The Hispanic Promise, from non-profit organization We Are All Human, has drawn tremendous brand support

Consider the sports media company that recently announced their Latino streaming service and yet, the home page of content doesn’t feature one Latino or Latina.

Or, consider one of the most prestigious daily publications, which launched their “Soul of Us” Black journey of American Experience series — on the very day Hispanic Heritage Month started (September 15).

There are beams of light trying to shine a spotlight on the LatinX community, however. Claudia Romo Edelman, founder of the non-profit We Are All Human, created The Hispanic Promise, a national pledge to hire, promote, retain and celebrate Hispanics in the workplace, which has inked hundreds of big-name brands to the cause.

As Hispanic Heritage Month came to a quiet end, I was proud to see our team make some noise. Now, we all need to see that our diverse country needs inclusion of all ethnicities to create equity. I believe sports marketers can be catalysts in helping right decades of wrongdoings.

With that boost, we all grow together.


You can hear more of Jay’s insights on his weekly podcast, Brand Story, Inc., as he advises brands and content marketers on engaging audiences through a media publisher mindset.

Updated Oct 27, 2021, for clarity.

Jay Sharman is CEO of TeamWorks Media, a content company he co-founded in 2000 predicated on the notion that purpose-driven organizations have the power to change both the world and their bottom lines through stories well told at scale.