February 24, 2006
Product Naming: The Naming Blunder of 1836
In the next few days, Houston will be changing the ill starred name of its Major League soccer franchise from "1836" to "The Houston Lone Stars", according to some reports. The 1836 name has only been with us for less than a month, making it possibly the shortest ever official name for a sports team. It has been deemed offensive by Houston’s considerable Mexican population as it hearkens back to the 1836 liberation of Texas from Mexico and the foundation of the short lived Republic of Texas, which existed from 1836-1845. The club apparently knew that a certain percentage of its fans would be offended by the name but went ahead and used it anyway.
I think it's easy to see why people of Mexican descent in Texas (self named “Tejanos”) are sensitive about this date. 1836 signalled years of Mexican conflict with the USA that culminated in the vicious Mexican-American war, which most Mexicans believe, rightly, ended with the outright theft of half of their country and the annexation of thousands of Mexican families into the US. Many Texans love the 1836 date of course, not only because it signals the short lived independence of the state but also because it was the date of the famous Battle of the Alamo.
People of Mexican ancestry make up roughly 20% of Texas’s population of just over 20 million. It should be noted that there are more Hispanics in the USA than Canadians in Canada. Obviously, their cultural concerns should be noted by any naming company worth its salt. Using such an inflammatory date in naming a sports team, especially a soccer team, a sport which has a huge following in Mexico and Latin America, is simply idiotic.
Also, who the heck wants to root for a number?
You might also find this interesting. Hispanic Trending, A Latino Marketing and Advertising blog, posted about the Houston 1836 name change and one reader commented that the name change is a backwards move in terms of building the Houston Soccer brand.
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