It’s not news that Obama won because of Hispanic support in key states. Yes we can, yes we did and yes we will do it again! The Latino segment of the population seems to say. if the short story “House Taken Over.” Casa tomada had not been written in Argentina in 1946 by Julio Cortázar, but rather last year in the United States by Noam Chomsky.
Where are you in the evolution of the Hispanic market?
The Hispanic market started with marketing-focused agencies that enjoyed their moment of relevance as far as the construction and justification of that market was concerned. But now, to grow in the Hispanic market you may need to add a more creative, appealing layer. Why? Because 16 percent of the U.S. population is Hispanic, but 16% of international award recipients sure aren’t and certainly, 16% of US advertising expenditures isn’t Hispanic-related. To reach the next plateau, you need to capitalize on your brand in that gap. That’s the business reason to embark on, or at least to try to embrace, creative advertising in the U.S. Hispanic market.
Whatever the language, do you have something to say?
As our grandmothers use to say: If you have nothing to say, it’s better to say nothing. But this is advertising, meaning that you are interrupting to sell, so you better have something meaningful to say. Especially the Hispanic market, where everybody is as colorful as it gets, even more if we consider the minorities inside the minority, and the United States with United States mainstream lifestyle, feelings, of homesickness, etc. It’s not the “Spanish-speaking market,” it’s the last frontier of the richest and most segmented market in the world, the U.S. market and you have a lot of money and no excuses.
Is it market research or is it a burning bush?
Information itself is not power; the proper articulation of that information could make you powerful if you properly execute the entire procedure. We all know that most of the time in the Hispanic market, the decision-makers are entering into unknown territory, but we also know the results of saying the same thing again and again or saying too many things at once. In a nutshell, the collectivization of the decision-making practiced by corporate America should be faced with a strong agency culture/personality. This isn’t being a “rebel”. This is the reason the client hires an advertising agency, and you need to synergize all the forces in the agency with the client. Otherwise, you may end up transforming the research findings into the main message, and that’s not always the best option, because it could turn the “standard error” into the biggest mistake of your career.
Why do you need an agency for the Hispanic market?
Like the former president of AHAA (and agency owner) once said: “Do you think you can do it better? Come and get me. I can show results!” And the bottom line is that we are in advertising where money talks and everything else flies through the window. And that’s the truth but not all of it. To be honest, many professionals have gone from the Hispanic market to the general market, it creates a problem when they try to go in the opposite direction. It seems that even the planners aren’t ready to face the client when they show the work to their “Hispanic market experts” (usually people with a Latino surname but not much expertise in Hispanic marketing). Trust me, nobody without the proper training and experience can foresee these “experts” feedback.
Why the Hispanic media isn’t talking to me?
All over the world, no matter what the language, race or geography, people “don’t watch TV” or at least they complain about it. The Hispanic market is not the exception, and let’s not forget that every subgroup feels that TV represents “the other:” Too Caribbean, too Mexican, too Norteña, too Colombian, too Castillian, and on top of these divisions, there’s the lower class and upper class/”snob” dialect, etc. So don’t get caught in this mess; there are real differences among the Latino subgroups, but there is a bigger difference between all Hispanics/Latinos and the “mainstream in the United States. It’s your job to celebrate that difference to drive attention to your brand.
Are we there yet? Marketing focused agencies now and then and AGAIN
In the beginning, marketing-focused agencies were kings. And it’s easy to understand why marketing executives in the general market needed to see every decision completely justified in their ads, since this was completely new. That was then and this is now: We don’t need to justify 100% of what you see in our ads. So again, please stop treating marketing and research as if they were Holy Cows. Or your competition could mark your brand as a T-bone or more appropriately, “carnitas.” If you don’t think it has changed, and you need more confirmation, consider that “Inglés sin barreras” is selling Spanish courses on Hispanic television! There you can see a grandma (obviously) saying “M’ijito, sí lo escuchará su abuelo.”
Some guidelines if you’re still new to this
OK, this is just a guideline. I’m sure everybody has their own question to add, and I invite you to do so on some form of social media (I don’t quite get why they’re called “social;” every communication media is social by definition).
What language should I use to address my Hispanic target?
Which is the more adequate channel?
How much should I invest in this segment?
How should I adjust my message to get it across to this segment?
Should I create products or brands only for Hispanics?
I can’t go far from the DNA of the brand but should I stay close to the general market campaign?
Again, why should I care?
If you’re still reading this article, chances are you already care. The purchasing power of this Hispanic market has almost doubled since 1990 and it’s projected to reach 2 trillion by 2020. If you’re in a multinational company and you have offices in LATAM, you know that the United States is now the biggest Latino/Hispanic market in the world. On top of that, we also have a North American Academy of the Spanish Language or ANLE for advice. Hardly anyone has heard of ANLE, probably because few have imagined there was such a thing as official “U.S. Spanish.” So here goes my first style question for the ANLE: Is it appropriate to say “¡Órale che!”? Or is it just to soon? (Órale che = Let’s go, dude, mixing slang from México and Argentina).
By Pablo Carpintero
I’ve won a few international awards with pieces that were really published! And with real clients! I’m a hands-on, concept-driven, Creative Director/Copywriter. I began my career as a copywriter in Argentina working for multinational ad agencies and independents too. I then worked for several agencies all over the world with my laptop in Argentina (yes, the Internet was created for me.) After doing this, I felt ready to move to the United States to continue my career working for agencies in the general and Hispanic markets. I have over 15 years of experience in print, radio, TV, web, mobile, video and social media.
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