MLB's 'tiny' move that made a huge difference to the Hispanic community

Remezcla's Morris Dávila looks back on Third Ear's 'Ponle Acento' campaign that finally placed accent marks on player's jerseys

Published On
Sep 30, 2022

Editor's Pick

As our Hispanic Heritage Month Creative Excellence series continues, we’re excited to highlight Morris Dávila, executive creative director of Remezcla, the largest minority-owned Latin digital publisher in the U.S.—and what some describe as Vice for the Latinx community. Dávila brings an innate sense of discovery and cultural fluency to his role and has worked with clients including Toyota, Tecate, MLB, McDonald’s Jack Daniels, Target and more.

A vet of neary two decades, Dávila's multidisciplinary, cross-cultural ideas span traditional advertising, branded content, experiential and influencer marketing. His career began in his hometown of  Monterrey, Mexico, where he studied marketing and worked at ad agency La Sociedad. He then moved to Austin, TX to become art director at Third Ear, formerly known as LatinWorks, rising the ranks to become creative director, 

At Third Ear/Latinworks, Dávila was partners with our guest editor, Saatchi New York Chief Creative Officer and Co-President Daniel Lobatón. Since they paired up a decade ago, “I’ve always admired everything he does,” Lobatón said. “No one understands the power of Latinx insights like Morris. He  knows about the next cool thing before it even happens and creates seamless bridges between Latin culture and brands.” 

Here, Dávila shares a remarkable project from his time at Third Ear, a campign for Major League Baseball that finally gave proper recognition to so many of the players that fill its ranks—with the help of a simple accent mark. 

Morris Dávila of Remezcla

A project that definitely left a mark in my career was "Ponle Acento" ("Put an accent on it") for Major League Baseball back in 2015. It was my first big award-winning campaign as creative director and I couldn’t have done it without a team of super talented individuals.

In a sport where around 30% of players are Hispanic, only a small percentage of its sizable Hispanic audience consider themselves avid fans. The client’s challenge for the agency was to reignite the passion for the game amongst passive supporters.

We noticed one Dominican player, Robinson Canó, was missing the accent mark on his jersey. We quickly found that most Hispanic players with accented last names did not have any diacritical marks on their jerseys. At first, we tried selling this idea as a challenge amongst players to add their marks to their jerseys, but we realized "Ponle Acento" was bigger than a challenge, and we had a powerful insight:

The missing accent situation was not exclusive to baseball players, but it applied to all Hispanics in the U.S., who in one way or another lose part of their cultural identity, whether in the shape of disappearing diacritical marks or by Americanization of their names. Using this nugget, we created a campaign that not only literally put accents on jerseys but also celebrated our contributions to béisbol, from players performances, to their celebrations, their flow, their reggaeton walk-up songs and even stadium foods, among others. 

MLB Ponle campaign logos

The "#PonleAcento" campaign took off and quickly became a movement that transcended baseball because it really connected with Hispanics’ sense of pride. Many notable things started happening. MLB sent a memo to all 30 clubs requesting they have a formalized process to ask players in their roster if they would like diacritical marks on their uniforms. Players immediately started adding diacritical marks on their jerseys, and organically challenged each other to do so. Stadiums started offering diacritics on custom jerseys. Teachers started using the campaign to teach kids Spanish. The New York Times started adding accent marks because of the campaign. The movement also reached other sports like the NBA, NFL and even the Mexican national soccer team. Every Hispanic Heritage Month after the launch, MLB started using a logo with an accent mark that we developed. But most transcendent of all, the National Baseball Hall of Fame now features jerseys with diacritics and their stories.

This campaign has come full circle for me professionally because I’m back working with MLB now as executive creative director of Remezcla, where my team and I are creating ideas that elevate our culture. But it also marked me personally, because when I take my son to a baseball game and see players with accent marks on their backs and embracing their culture, I can tell him his dad had a lot to do with it.