The Los Angeles Dodgers promotional team came prepared for this for this season’s Mexican Heritage Night — or so they thought. They created 15,000 special Dodgers jerseys adorned with the colors of the Mexican flag for giveaways, a number they presumed would be more than enough to service each fan who wanted one to snag one. Turns out, they were light, as more than 20,000 ticket packages were sold for the night.
The giveaway jersey has green and red sleeves with the word “Dodgers” in green script, and was borne out of Dodgers employees spotting plenty of Mexico jerseys during the World Baseball Classic. So they married Mexico’s colors with the Dodgers brand. Rather than cut off the sales or leave fans empty-handed, the team issued vouchers and will ship out extras by July 31.
The success of this season’s Mexican Heritage Night has been years in the making and part of an “authentic community connection” the team has developed, said Erik Braverman, Dodgers senior vice president of marketing, broadcasting and communications.
The “record-breaking” ticket package sales are in part known because Braverman said the Dodgers regularly offer their full-stadium promotions at 40,000 while other teams cap theirs around 20,000. Still, the 20,000 number was a shock to the Dodgers front office.
“I think it surprised all of us internally,” Braverman said. “We said, ‘Let’s throttle this and continue to promote it and see how wildly popular it gets.’ It was a pleasant surprise.”
Braverman said Dodger Stadium’s location and “what is widely recognized as the largest Mexican fanbase in baseball” both play into why the night was such a roaring success. But he believes a much bigger key is it’s not just a one-night play for a segment of the team’s fanbase. Other, more regular events include Viva Los Dodgers and Dia De Los Dodgers, the later of which includes a bobblehead that regularly runs out quickly.
“We recognize who our fans are,” Braverman said. “Did we take a night to celebrate? Absolutely. But it’s a year-round commitment to the community.”
Along with the giveaway, there was plenty of pre- and in-game celebration. Prior to the game, comedian and LA native Gabriel Iglesias threw out the first pitch, while Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez performed. During the game, Dodger great and current broadcaster Fernando Valenzuela was honored during the fourth inning legends video before being shown live from the broadcast booth.
“The reaction and the volume in the stadium reacting to that was pretty great,” Braverman said.
The current Dodgers team also features two key players with Mexican roots in pitcher Julio Urias and outfielder Alex Verdugo, which Braverman said helped make the night even more special.
The jersey, like the rest of the night’s activations, were a collaborative effort among the Dodgers’ marketing, community relations and in-game programming teams. Braverman said a part of the success in their promotional schedule is the diversity within the internal team, which helps make the games memorable and positive.
Later this month, the Dodgers will host the team’s annual LGBT Night and next month the team will host the 10th annual Filipino Night, with a similar jersey highlighted with the Filipino flag colors. Braverman expects record numbers that night as well.
“The formula comes back to the success we have on any special event or marketing initiative,” he said. “It’s because the Dodgers’ authentic commitment to the community. It’s a year-round effort, not just one night.”
For each of their events celebrating segments of their fanbase, Braverman said he hopes they stretch beyond that segment.
“What we’re finding is, as I walked around it’s not just Mexican fans, it’s fans of all different nationalities that wanted to be a part of it,” he said. “That’s what we’re hoping to foster.”