El Paso Triple-A Team Name: Lessons in Marketing Success and Failures, Mostly Failures

And there you have it, the El Paso baseball team is the El Paso CHIHUAHUAS.

If you thought the horde had any respect for El Pasoans by now I’m sure you’ve put that notion completely out of your mind. Whether you were hoping for the Aardvarks, or the Buckaroos or you just hated all of them, it really doesn’t matter because the decision has been made. Like the decision to destroy city hall and sack the El Paso taxpayers with millions in debt to build a playground for the rich without taking your needs or wants into account so has the naming of the team.

But look closely at the marketing behind the name of the team. As much as the horde was hoping for the undying love from the community what they got instead is that they have had to face the fact that the community is not only angry about the process but they are also openly angry about everything related to the team. The worst part is that the team hasn’t even played in El Paso yet. Social media was universally negative about the new team name. There was a reason that only children were invited to the unveiling of the team name and it had everything to do with keeping community outrage in check.

The horde already knew this by how they prepared to let the community know the team’s name. Look closely at the marketing effort and you will see what I mean.

Before I get into the failures there is a small marketing victory the marketing arm of the horde can claim. They managed to create anticipation, however lackluster it was. For an event of this magnitude, the unveiling of the name should have been about the excitement about the new team. Instead the team’s official quotes were about “we know there will be controversy”.

However, the team managed to keep the media’s attention on the naming of the team. Strictly from a marketing point of view, keeping the media engaged by having them devote attention to the partial logo hints released last week can be considered a marketing victory, however small. They managed to create anticipation, media buzz and community discussion about what the team name would be. They managed to focus community attention towards the anticipation of the team’s name and away from the controversy for a couple of weeks.

But the horde clearly understands the community is not buying the Kool-Aid they are selling.

Even in the horde’s best propaganda outlet, the El Paso Times masquerading as a newspaper, the marketing arm was busy trying to diffuse public anger.

In Aaron Bracamontes’ article; “El Paso’s Triple-A baseball team’s name to be reveled today” published yesterday, General Manager Brad Taylor immediately is quoted as stating; “the mascot may not necessarily be something that matches the logo”. Instead of strongly embracing the brand, the essences of the team, Taylor instead begins to make excuses.

He already knew the team was going to be called the Chihuahuas!

I’m not a brand expert, in fact I’m far from it, however in my many years of developing my businesses I have learned that the most important thing, in fact the driving force behind a successful business is its brand. Everyone knows McDonald’s because of the brand it has defended and reinforced over its lifetime.

The marketing team driving McDonald’s would never lead with the “mascot may not necessarily be something that matches our logo”. Instead McDonald’s, like all successful brands, builds a cohesive brand package around a strong message that continuously sends out the message that “we are one thing”, good food no matter where you are.

What the El Paso’s baseball team marketing geniuses have instead done is to send out the message that the mascot and the brand are not cohesive; instead each is its own part. This does not build a strong brand, it severely weakens it. But that is what happens when you don’t believe in your own brand.

Did I already write that the team is called the Chihuahuas?

The article goes on to explain, more like create the illusion that the brand was developed after much thought went into identifying the spirit of El Paso. According to the article they used pictures of the “Asarco tower, Rudy’s Country Store and BBQ, a mariachi, the Union Depot, a statue of a bull and a cowboy”.

Casey White, part of the brand development design team, is quoted as stating that they wanted the brand “to represent the city”. Chihuahuas?

Think about that for a moment, they looked at images of Rudy’s BBQ, a restaurant chain out of San Antonio as representative of El Paso. Rudy’s is as El Paso as Taco Bell, or Chihuahuas. What about L&J’s or Chicos Tacos or Burrito House. Do they not represent El Paso cuisine?

Oh that’s right, I forgot, those places represent the everyday El Pasoan. I would argue that for the horde, that type of essence of El Paso is something they do not want because it represents the rift-raft of El Paso to them.

Instead they want Chihuahuas! Yea right!

However it gets worse. According to the article they looked at Mariachis, that although represent the Mexican culture they have nothing to do with the essence of El Paso at all. In fact, Mariachis do not even represent northern Mexico as they are better associated with the State of Jalisco than any other part of Mexico. They have come to represent Mexico in a generic sense but are not representative of Mexico as a whole, much less El Paso.

Oh yea, Chihuahuas!

The statue of a bull?

I have seen more bulls in Chihuahua and Houston in one hour than I have seen bulls in El Paso in the many years that I was there. Likewise, the only thing I’m going to say about cowboys is that real cowboys would pummel you, if not outright stick their spurs up your, you know what, if you hint that El Paso is full of cowboys. You are more likely to find a sombrero then you are to find a cowboy hat in El Paso.

But what do you expect from a brand design team originating out of San Diego?

The design duo understands as much about El Paso as Pace Picante Sauce, of the “this stuff’s made in New York City” fame understands about Salsa Fresca! But hey, Chihuahuas represent El Paso!

As a matter of fact, the other part of the brand design team, Jason Klein “admits that they know the name may not be a consensus hit”. In fact he goes on to implore; “We ask that you give it a chance”.

And there you have it, instead of the strong, without any hesitation of the community embracing the baseball team brand, what you got El Paso was more propaganda designed to extinguish the essence of El Paso in order to replace it with the “yuppie” Americanized reinvention of Penelope Cruz riding down El Paso Street, excuse me Main Street on the way to the horde’s playground to eat hotdogs instead of the burritos that El Pasoans prefer. Or, for the Chihuahuas masquerading as a baseball team!

After all, the stadium was never meant for you, it is just another pillar in the gentrification of El Paso.

12 thoughts on “El Paso Triple-A Team Name: Lessons in Marketing Success and Failures, Mostly Failures

  1. Chihuahuas ? Why not just call us the El Paso Mojados or the El Paso Redskins. Heck , even Taco Bell had to take the Chihuahua off their commercials. And why did the Times have all those articles on vote for your teams name ? Just like the ball park location and the tearing down of City hall we never really had a vote on the name. The name was already decided by Mrs. De La **** Foster. In the immortal words of Josh Hunt(according to Cook), ” you let us worry about that.” The Times poll shows less than 12 percent wanted this name. So much for the Citizens having a say.

    Oh, and Henry, I do live here and im pretty sure I pay more in Taxes than you make.

    Note: This comment was edited by Martín at 10:09 ET to remove inappropriate language.

  2. No mariachi’s in El Paso? Really? When was the last time there weren’t mariachi’s at a wedding or quinceniera or someone’s backyard birthday party?

    Get over yourself Martin! Just because you hate it, I’m going to love it and, one more thing, PLAY BALL CHIHUAHUAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Could have been a better name….and I am sure if the team loses….there will be jokes in NYC etc

    but its such a cute dog….and I have seen the little teacup dogs stand up to huge dogs and persons

    go Chihuahuas!

  4. Thanks for the blog Martin. It’s basically what I have been pondering after the announcement.

    I work in marketing and advertising, and I can honestly tell you it sounds as if the marketing firm put no effort into their research at all. I am going to jump to the conclusion they wanted to use “Chihuahuas” as the name all along, but decided to feed the public some BS as to all the “research” they did. I mean, how moronic does one have to be not to know Rudy’s BBQ is a chain, and has nothing to do with El Paso at all. Might as well have looked at photos of Applebee’s or Chile’s.

    I could be wrong, but I doubt they did something as rudimentary as focus groups. If they had, they would have found that “Chihuahuas” probably wouldn’t have been a favorable name to use. As a marketing firm they also should have done research on the controversy over the ballpark, which I would have hoped would have strayed them away from using the “Chihuahua”, which some if not most will deem controversial, as a team name. At least the “Desert Gators” would have had some El Paso history associated with it.

    And why not keep the money here locally? There are more than a few design and marketing firms in El Paso that would have done a better job at both the research and the design. I’m not too keen on the idea of a rabid Chihuahua gracing the t-shirts and hats of the El Paso public.

    I am curious however as to what the Mascot will be? Maybe they will save money and just recycle the chicken from the Diablos? But who knows, perhaps it will be a giant burrito running around and further making fools out of this “progressive” border town.

    “Get a rope!”

    – Chad

  5. (sigh) Just when I thought that this idiotic town couldn’t get any more idiotic-er. Well, perhaps l can be helpful by coming up with the new 7th inning baseball song: Take me out to the dog pound.* Take me out to the dogs.* Buy me some kibble and buy me some bits. *Let’s cheer those canines to go get some hits. *So let’s bark, bark bark for the home team. *lf they don’t win it’s a shame. *Let’s hope they neuter their opp-o-nets at the old ball game!

  6. They should have used one of my suggestions: “The Mordidas,” that would truly reflect El Paso’s culture and especially resonate with our public officials. For a logo, they could have had Woody wearing a face scarf and holding a gun while robbing the voters.

  7. You mean the voters who voted to tax themselves on all 3 QOL bonds? Those voters?

    lol and smh, and any other abbreviation that means “for crying out loud”…..

  8. Another disappointment, but like you said, this stadium was never about El Paso and it’s citizens. It’s been the pet project of the rich and petulant, at our expense. Our representatives sold us out. Now to add insult to injury, we have a name that perpetuates the stereotype. They might as well have used thrown in the sleeping campesino with sombrero. Sadly, some people will never get it, because they refuse to analyze that a name like this creates negative images for our city and people. They can’t see the difference between propaganda and real news, either. Our news media is eating all the “horde” PR bull, too. Why wouldn’t they? They want a piece of the advertising dollars. To Mr. Lopez who stated in El Paso Times that the “strategy is awesome”, I don’t consider it a success when it’s brought so much negative attention, nor is it “wholesome fun” Mr. Taylor. As you see not everyone in our city is jumping up and down with joy. I do hope the conversation and backlash continues.

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