A new feature in Latin-Know: Friday Special. Fridays seem to be the day when my posting gets a little whimsical, so why not venture further outside of the box and offer someone else's opinions? Latino marketing expert and blogger Juan Guillermo Tornoe of Hispanic Trending answers some questions for me. Enjoy!
Latin-Know: What's the most exciting trend in Latino marketing today, in your opinion?
Juan Guillermo Tornoe: Marketers and advertisers embracing the fact that it is not that much about addressing Latinos in English or Spanish, but about presenting messages that are culturally relevant to those they are trying to reach with their advertising and marketing efforts. How now you can see people noting that Hispanics are not all the same; recognizing their differences not only based on their country of origin (or ancestry), but also on their lifestyle and degree of “acculturation”. Observing how big companies are more and more allotting a specific percentage of their budget on different Latino subgroups and how local, small to medium sized, owner-operated companies are choosing whom they will reach on a consistent basis (you can’t deliver the same exact message to Mexican-Americans and Argentinean-Americans, for example, and expect the same rapport and reaction to the manner in which is being communicated), is an encouraging sign of the times.
L-K: The most exciting Latino ad campaign you've seen lately?
JGT: I purposely try not to pay too much attention to commercials, in order to prevent being influenced by them while writing my clients’ messages. That said, one campaign that caught my eye some time ago, was Coke’s “Real” campaign with Salma Hayek, followed by other similar, bilingual/bicultural commercials. It very well depicts the reality that a high percentage of Latinos experiences on a day to day basis, while living in America. How they interact with the “general market” but still keep their own identity, their own culture. Most importantly, how Coke manages to embrace that “realness” seamlessly becoming an integral part of it, which is not a long shot, given that Coke is and has been everywhere; the chances are very high that the soft drink indeed is part of every Hispanic reality to a certain degree. It is a great branding effort on behalf of the Coca-Cola Company.
L-K: Does one need to be Latino to know how to target the Latino market? Why or why not?
JGT: Most certainly not. It does give you certain early advantage (it takes one to know one), but anyone with the desire, hard work, open-mindedness, and thirst for knowledge and understanding can do as good a job as a Latino marketing to Hispanics. It is about being a good marketing and advertising professional, really understanding the way human beings make decisions and how cultural traits play a role in the decision making process.
L-K: How much of what you see in Hispanic advertising these days is something you yourself would respond to as a Latino?
JGT: Maybe less than a third. In general, one third is simply dreadful, independently if it’s Hispanic advertising or not; the other third is full of worn out stereotypes. Then there’s the final “third” that does convey relevant messages to Hispanics in a relevant way. Of the latter group, given the distribution of the Latino population by Country of origin, many of these commercials speak to “Mexicans”, “Puerto Ricans”, or “Cubans”, generally in that order, depending on which part of the States you are in. As a Guatemalan (puro Chapín a mucha honra), having a heavy cultural influence from our neighbors in the North (Mexico, that is), and them constituting 65% of all Latinos, a good part of these good ads “speak to me”. Still some are just way too focused in a cultural group that I don’t feel any connection whatsoever with the message. There is nothing wrong with this, it is just what the market demands and I fully support this strategy.
L-K: What do you think about cultural clichés (e.g. chili peppers, sombreros, etc.) in Latino marketing?
JGT: They tick me off. They portray narrow-mindedness, a lack of interest, little or no research, and no respect nor recognition of the rich and diverse background of the Latino Community. The “Frito Bandito” days are over Mrs. and Mr. Marketer… way over.
L-K: How, in your opinion, can companies improve the way they communicate to Latinos through marketing?
JGT: I believe I have addressed this issue through my previous answers. The only thing that I wanted to add is that individuals truly interested in earning the repeat business of Latinos should constantly be reading, researching, and experiencing first hand the Hispanic Culture. Our blogs, Hispanic Trending (some obvious self promotion going on here) and Latin_Know are good places to start, but there are several other reliable source of information out there.
Thanks Juan Guillermo!