When it comes to marketing to U.S. Latinos, there’s doing it, and then there’s doing it right. Everyone wants a piece of that reported $1.3 trillion pie—the annual buying power that Latinos in this country represent. Who can blame them, right? I mean there’s a whole bunch of us and we do like to buy stuff.
Still, does how these marketers talk to us matter? Does it really influence the way we buy things, and most importantly for them and the millions they’re pouring into advertising campaigns, does it make us want to buy their products over any of their competitors’?
I would argue the answer is an emphatic Yes—although I have been known to engage in a good argument just for the hell of it, too… But speaking solely as a consumer who’s grown up watching soapy, melodramatic, telenovelas—first in my parents’ living room and then in my own—sprinkled with an endless parade of bad commercials in Spanish, I can tell you, these days commercials targeted to U.S. Latinos are a whole lot better than they once were.
It used to be that marketers thought there were only two ways to reach us:
A. By dubbing their English commercials word-for-word into Spanish, sometimes not even bothering to re-film these spots with Spanish-speaking actors. These were always my favorite. I loved making fun of how fast the recorded voice-over was talking over the actual mouth of the actors who had been muted for U.S. Latinos. They always kept talking after their lips were sealed. It was awesome!
B. By speaking to us only in Spanish. At least these commercials were more of a thought out, targeted attempt. They also gave celebrities like “Cuchi-Cuchi” Charo, Maria Victoria, and Erik Estrada a breath of relevance again to their careers.
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Today, it seems like marketers have finally awakened to the true diversity of our communities. It’s as if somebody in a board meeting somewhere at last got up and said “Hey Latinos speak English too, and dubbing our English commercials into Spanish is stupid!” It was probably a Latino! Whoever that person was, I think we all owe him or her a big “¡Gracias!”
Without someone’s bright idea to market to us more intelligently, we wouldn’t be experiencing the recent boom in funny and relatable television commercials in both English and Spanish. Some of my favorites include the ice-cream-stealing, chisme-talking abuelitas for Blue Bell, Wendy’s Tía Lupe, CoverGirl’s Sofia Vergara with Ellen Degeneres, and of course M&M’s William Levy commercial. That last one was pure genius. We should all go buy a bag of M&M’s in appreciation of that genius marketing concept. I’m hoping that from here it only gets better. And funnier!