The woman behind the launch of the game-changing éne-bé-a [the pronunciation of NBA in Spanish] campaign knows a thing or two about strategic plays. “Getting our éne-bé-a rebrand and Hispanic-marketing platform approved by senior management in 2009 was a turning point for the NBA, and my career,” says Saskia Sorrosa, vice president of multicultural/targeted marketing for the National Basketball Association. “It marked the culmination of 14 years of ‘NBA en Español’ and marketing efforts that were tactical [and language focused].”
By leading the launch of the NBA’s first-ever integrated marketing campaign targeted to the bilingual/bicultural Latino fan, Sorrosa generated record-breaking results for the association. The NBA reported a 34 percent increase in Hispanic viewership and a nine percent growth of its Hispanic fan base. During the 2010-2011 season, Hispanic viewership increased by 59 percent, over-indexing in comparison to non-Hispanic viewership by 27 percent.
“It was an unlikely risk for the NBA to take at the time, but one that has ultimately propelled our business growth. We became trendsetters in the space, transformed our platform into a best practice in the industry, and triggered year-to-year growth across business units,” she says. “Selling and executing this strategic recommendation has helped me demonstrate how calculated risks can lead to innovation, profitability, and groundbreaking success.”
Born and raised in Ecuador and a recent first-time mom to “the most beautiful baby girl in the world,” Sorrosa has a passion for the bandeja paisa (a typical Colombian platter), volunteering, exercising, and baking (she even has her own blog: bellabaking.com). “Baking makes me smile, it allows me to be creative, and it helps take my mind off the day-to-day minutiae.”
In fact, it’s precisely Sorrosa’s creativity that has allowed her to thrive in such a competitive and male-dominated industry. And at only 33, it’s been a fast ride to the top. “A piece of advice I’ve found extremely useful when I started out in my career was understanding that titles and hierarchy should never trump creativity, passion, and active participation,” she says. “You can be a junior executive at a corporation but still bring value to the table. You can be new to the business but still offer fresh perspectives and ideas. No one should ever be afraid to speak their mind. This is how new ideas are born and how entry-level executives can grow to become top leaders in the industry.”
For Sorrosa, who describes her “comfort level with taking calculated risks” as her secret weapon in the business world, the future offers endless possibilities. As far as her game plan for the future, she’ll continue to keep her ear to the ground; focused on giving the NBA’s multicultural fan base what it needs in a way that truly resonates with them. “In a market that’s constantly evolving, active listening is the only way to stay informed and ahead of the game,” Sorrosa says. “Innovation is crucial to establishing a leadership position and setting trends.”