MLB Marketing Effort Celebrates Baseball’s Latino Stars, Fans

This story appears in Sportico’s Morning Lead newsletter. Click here to sign up and get it delivered straight to your inbox.

If you’re a baseball fan, there’s a pretty good chance your favorite ballplayer hails from a Latin American country. Nearly one-quarter (24.2%) of the 949 of MLB players rostered on Opening Day were born in a not-so-distant baseball hotbed, with the Dominican Republic beating all international comers with 108 reps.

Aside from the outsized headcount—per MLB data, no fewer than 231 Latino players were listed on rosters at the start of the 2024 season—many of the league’s hottest young stars are members of this ever-growing cohort. As of Thursday afternoon, eight of the 13 players currently batting .300 or better were born in Venezuela or the Dominican Republic, including No. 1 Luis Arráez (San Diego by way of San Felipe, .332) and newly minted Yankees phenom Juan Soto (Santo Domingo, .312).

In a bid to celebrate the impact Latino players continue to have on the game, MLB is teeing off a new fan-facing branding campaign, “El Béisbol es Otra Cosa”—or “Baseball is Something Else.” Featuring Saturday Night Live’s Marcello Hernández and rapper Myke Towers, the 90-second supercut of the spot includes explosive on-field moments from the likes of Soto, Reds speedster Elly De La Cruz, the Mets’ Francisco Lindor and Randy Arozarena (Rays).

More from

Helmed by the Brooklyn-based creative agency Remezcla, the initial “Otra Cosa” spot was directed by LOBOS, a collective name assumed by filmmakers Carmelo Varela and Andrew Garcia. On the paid-media front, 15- and 30-second edits of the longer anthem spot will appear across digital and social media outlets, while the TV plan includes buys across Spanish-language outlets such as ESPN Deportes, Fox Deportes, Universo and CNN en Españo

The spots will continue to run in heavy rotation throughout the summer, with adjacencies planned for the Home Run Derby and the 94th MLB All-Star Game. A fresh rotation will be in the works when Hispanic Heritage Month rolls around in mid-September, which in turn will help set the stage for the postseason fireworks.

“With ‘Beisbol,’ we’re showcasing the spectrum of Latin American cultures as they’re experienced across all of baseball,” MLB chief marketing officer Karin Timpone said. “It’s really a wonderful palette from which to explore everything from music and food to family and style.”

In a sense, the spot underscores baseball’s fundamental principle—tradition and the upholding of same—while serving as a reminder that newer customs can elevate the fun without detracting from the more hidebound ways of doing things. Which is to say, bat-flipping is awesome. Go cry in your Volvo, haters.

While there are no clips of players launching their Louisville Sluggers into orbit after a dinger, the fluidly edited spot includes a bunch of bold and bright nods to each players’ native culture. Repeat views reveal an almost obsessive level of detail in play; not only does Arozarena’s sombrero perfectly match the Rays’ signature navy hue (Pantone: 648 C), but the very presence of Mexico’s traditional topper on the head of the Cuba-born outfielder—rather than, say, a seemingly more apposite fedora—may very well send the inquisitive viewer down an Internet rabbit hole.

In a particularly effective gambit, the spot careens from English to Spanish and on to a high velocity hybrid of the two tongues. While there are a few linguistic reversals to navigate, much of the energy of the spot is generated by the play between the on-screen explosions and the sinuous rapids of the audio track. Talk about data overload; with this spot, information keeps flying at you faster than a Luis Gil four-seamer.

The resultant burst of energy is a big part of why the clip is so effective. As Lindor is shown knocking the cover off a ball during a night game at Citi Field, Towers lets loose with a “¡Fuácata!” that subsequently gets the Batman “Biff! Pow! Bang!” treatment on the screen. The Cuban interjective may not be translated into English, but Towers’ voiceover is: When paired with the crack of Lindor’s bat, the cheers of the crowd give rise to “sounds that don’t need subtitles or translations.”

As Timpone notes, approximately one in four Gen X consumers identifies as Latino, a statistic which is in line with broader demographic trends. At last count, there were some 63.7 million Hispanic-Americans in the U.S., accounting for just shy of one-fifth (19.1%) of the overall population. In a sense, the entire spot functions as a celebration of the changing face of the game, and much of the joy that’s being conveyed here has to do with a full-throated embrace of traditions that are taking root in U.S. soil as the national composition evolves.

Naturally, a lot of the visual touchstones are related to food; as Hernández says over belly-rumbling shots of steaming plátanos and an arepa that looks for all the world like a cross-section of a deadball era Spalding, “Home is something that you carry with you.”

Speaking of Hernández, the young comic got his start on NBC’s flagship sketch comedy show in October 2022, when he joined Colin Jost during the “Weekend Update” segment to hype the postseason. “You know, Latinos dominate baseball,” Hernández said at the top of his debut turn. “I’m not saying that we’re naturally better, I’m just saying we’re more fun to watch. When a Dominican guy hits a home run, he throws the bat to a different dimension, and once he gets to home plate, he thanks everyone he’s ever encountered.”

But back to the “Otra Cosa” spot, which ends with Hernández and Towers cheering from the bleachers of Arizona’s Chase Field. The two performers let loose a salvo of Spanish-language ballpark slang that covers everything from “Hey, that’s out of there!” to the universal “That’s awesome!” As the Padres are seen celebrating in their rainbow sherbet City Connect unis, Towers caps the effort with the tag line. By the time the spot fades to black, you’ll no longer need to scan the subtitles. Baseball truly is something else.

Best of