...goes a long way, especially when I'm thinking about brands, brand management and the power of brands to build successful organizations and careers.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Dynamo dynamics intrigue me

The team formerly known as Houston 1836 has folded under pressure from the Mexican-American community, and changed its name to the Houston Dynamo. It's a pretty good name, but I'll leave it to others like John Wagner to comment further. And please don't count me in with this guy.

The official news release includes this quote from the Houston Dynamo general manager Oliver Luck:

"The scientific genius behind the dynamo's invention is the rotation of a single magnet, whose North and South poles create electricity in a nearby coiled wire...We believe a parallel can be drawn to the two major communities in Houston: English speakers and Spanish speakers, who together will create electricity at games unlike any other in MLS."

That seems like a stretch to me, especially given the PR dynamics before, during and after the team's original "1836" announcement. And John can probably add some on-the-ground comments here (he's a PR pro and a soccer fan in Houston) too, but I'm still concerned, from a PR perspective.

Judging from the media I've read on the subject, the team seemed to do all the correct work before making the decision, received the blessing of the Mexican-American political and business leaders, involved prominent Mexican-Americans in the public introduction of the name yet were blindsided by a small group of Mexican-Americans. From that, I can draw from several possible conclusions:

1. The research effort was not all that exhaustive and the ownership of the team either was asleep at the wheel or lied to the community about the results. This is not a good sign for the future of the team or of its ability to forge long-term relationships.

2. The so-called Mexican-American business and political leaders are NOT, in fact, leaders and do NOT represent the Mexican-American community. This is not a good sign for the Mexican-American political and business leaders who hope to be a voice for their constituency and improve their representation in the greater Houston community or the community that has high expectations for its leaders.

3. A small but vocal ethnic community can effect change within the greater Houston community. This is not good for the businesses that now must invest even more resources to ensure that they are being sensitive to the community lest they become the target of the next effort.

4. The "small" community described in the media was, in fact, quite large, has a legitimate influence and, thus, can really mean trouble for organizations, business and political leaders and businesses who don't pay enough attention to them before acting.

To those who care about the soccer team, about Houston and about its Mexican-American community: which of these conclusions - if any - are correct? We can learn from your answer.

UPDATE: I'm not from Texas so I didn't realize this, but the team announced the new name today, the anniversary of the battle at the Alamo. Sheez...who's pulling the PR levers for these guys? Don Rickles?

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Blogger TexSport Publications said...

A rose by any other name......

Soccer is still soccer.

However, the name was growing on me. I guess I was smart to buy a 1836 t shirt before the change.

Think it might "offend" some if I wear it to the games?

I have a blog relating to Texas sports and have posted my views on the name change.

Please feel free to visit and leave any comments.


10:18 PM

Blogger John Wagner said...


I think No. 3 is most accurate ... a small, but vocal, segment of the Mexican-American community flexed its muscles and affected change.

Where they succeeded was not by inflaming the Latino community, but by scaring the sponsors who believed the issue would never go away.

It's definitely a cautionary tale for marketers and PR folks.

7:26 AM

Anonymous J. Michael said...

Hold the fort, Mark. We've got another brand crisis on our hands. Red Bull is trying to acquire the MetroStars.

For a link, try:

11:47 AM


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