The good news is that a glaring wrong has been righted. The team formerly known as Houston 1836 will now be the Houston Dynamo. Okay, the new name is pretty lame, but at least it doesn''t insult and offend the primary fan base of the team.
As noted in the lead to the news release announcing the name change, "Houston''s Major League Soccer team is proud to announce a new name that will be representative of a hard working team, and inclusive to all fans."
I''m trying hard not to be a Monday morning quarterbacking here, but, DUH. That would have been the minimum the community should have expected from its newest sports franchise.
Unfortunately, this tendency of marketers to overlook cultural sensitivities is the norm -- at least that''s the perception of young Latinos. According to a major new study released at a New York conference, "Me2: Understanding the Young Latino in America," last week, bearly four-fifths (79%) of 14- to 34-year-old Hispanics cannot identify a brand that accurately targets young Latinos. The Look-Look study included a quantitative survey of 1,800 Hispanic youths and an in-depth qualitative look at their attitudes. It says that because young Latinos do not feel their demands are being met, they are creating and embracing custom communication such as blogs, social networking, TIVO and satellite radio.
If you haven''t been keeping track of the Houston 1836 branding faux pas, see our previous story, "Houston 1836: A Branding Blunder?" To the credit of officials with Houston 1836 and Major League Soccer, they reacted quickly to the mixed reaction to the name. Only days after the original name was unveiled they apologized for their insensitivity and announced plans to rename the franchise. The quote in the news release was expressed nicely, showing the appropriate level of concern for the problem they created:
"Finally, we''d like to once again reiterate that at no time did MLS or AEG ever want to offend any members of the community in Houston. We want everyone to feel welcome and become a part of professional soccer in Houston. Similar to soccer around the world and in our other MLS markets, the sport embraces all cultures and unites the community. We certainly believe this team will be a positive meeting place for the fabulous diversity of this city."
These are all good moves that took some guts under the circumstances. After all, tens of thousands of dollars -- perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars -- were likely invested in the name, Houston 1836, when you consider the costs of the launch, collateral that now gets shredded as well as clothing and other items that can''t be sold.
Actually, I just checked eBay and am pretty surprised that there aren''t a few Houston 1836 items up for bid as collector''s items. Give it some time.
Now that the team has gone a long way to mend its relationship with the region''s Hispanic community, they now need to continue making progress on the field where they''ve started the pre-season 2-3.