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'Viva los Houston Texans': NFL Kicks Off Initiative To Talk The Talk
By JENALIA MORENO
November 12, 2003
Fans can sport Houston Texans T-shirts in Spanish. The shirts are initially available at some Wal-Mart stores.
Lo Mejor de lo Mejor
The Best of the Best
De Todo Corazon
With All My Heart
Viva Los Houston Texans
Long live the Houston Texans
(Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
For the first time, the National Football League is trying to tackle the U.S. Hispanic market with catchy Spanish phrases on its T-shirts.
"Viva los Houston Texans," meaning "Long live the Houston Texans," read the T-shirts the National Football League is selling at some Houston-area Wal-Mart stores. The Houston skyline and Texans logo decorate the dark blue shirt.
While the NFL has long tried to attract more Hispanic fans, this is the first time the organization has commissioned a clothing line en español. This latest move is just one of the many initiatives the organization has taken to reach out to its Hispanic fans, said Marjorie Rodgers, who spearheads the NFL's Hispanic marketing effort.
Ever since the U.S. Census of 2000 found that Hispanics were the fastest-growing segment of the population, companies and organizations have been ramping up their advertising and marketing efforts in Spanish. Companies are eager to sell to this ethnic group, which controls $653 billion yearly in spending, according to the University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth.
The Texans include news about the team in Spanish on its Web site.
The NFL already counts 70 percent of Hispanic men between the ages of 18 to 49 as fans of professional football.
By comparison, 79 percent of men of the same age group in the general market are football fans.
"We feel very confident that if we continue to invest in the market that we'll have a stronger fan base in the coming years," Rodgers said from her New York City office.
Individual teams can market their merchandise as they choose, and some may have sold clothing with Spanish phrases, NFL officials said.
Favorite teams among Hispanics include the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers and the Denver Broncos, Rodgers said. Teams like the Raiders are popular with the general market, but Hispanic fans may also follow the team because of its Hispanic coach, Tom Flores, said Rodgers, the NFL's senior director of brand and consumer marketing.
The NFL has also tried to generate a bigger fan base among Hispanics by reaching out to south of the border. The league operates an office in Mexico City and last year sold $16 million worth of NFL-franchised retail goods in Mexico.
Here in the United States, the NFL also is selling T-shirts with Spanish words at stores in Tampa, San Diego, Miami, San Francisco, Oakland, Phoenix and Denver.
T-shirts reading Azucar, the Spanish word for sugar but meaning "sweet," are being sold to Dolphins fans. Pa'lante, slang for go forward, is what some of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers T-shirts say.
And in Houston, in advance of the Super Bowl XXXVIII game that will be held here on Feb. 1, some of the T-shirts say Lo Mejor de lo Mejor, or The Best of the Best. Texans T-shirts also say De Todo Corazon, or With All My Heart.
The NFL ordered an initial production of 30,000 T-shirts with Spanish phrases from Greensboro, N.C.-based VF, and they sell for $10 to $19 each.
"It really makes them really proud to be a fan," said Phil Dooley, NFL brand manager for VF in its Tampa office.
The T-shirts will soon be offered by other Houston retailers, and they are already selling well at Wal-Mart stores, Dooley said.