Having worked in General Market and Hispanic advertising agencies, and now placing top talent in both for the past twelve years, my experience has taught me a lot about the Hispanic advertising world.
It’s twice as hard to be a Hispanic advertising professional as it is to be a General Market agency person.
First of all, you’ve got to have the same advertising knowledge in both Hispanic and General Market: strategy, project management, creative development, production, research, media, digital savvy
and more. You need the same client relationship skills and financial understanding. In addition to that, you also need to pile on an expert level grasp of the Latino market.
Marketers look to your guidance for the right and wrong ways to market to Hispanics. What are
the best practices, the pitfalls, the numbers and metrics to support your opinion? You’ve got to defend your market every single day.
There are also several forces sniping at you from many angles.
When I ran accounts for General Market, I didn’t have to defend why we needed to create a new Oreo commercial. But in the Hispanic market you’re constantly being challenged.
Hispanic agency professionals are routinely asked: “Won’t we reach most Hispanics in English anyway? Why do we need a separate Spanish language version? Why don’t we just translate the English copy and dub it over or do a shadow shoot? If two thirds of Hispanics are Mexican, can’t we just cast all Mexicans? Can’t we just use Spanglish? What do you mean there are different words in Spanish for the exact same thing?”
On top of that, there’s also a fair amount of money grab from agencies in the General Market, even in the same holding company. After all, the budget comes out of one pot – more for you means less for me. Plus, the budgets you’re defending tend to be significantly smaller. The production budgets of Hispanic creative are nowhere near what we spend in General Market.
And here’s the kicker. The great irony of the job being twice as hard is this:
Hispanic advertising people actually get paid less than the equivalent title in the General Market!
I first saw this when I worked for a Hispanic agency having come from General Market. When I was hired, they told me with a straight face that “a little Hispanic agency” couldn’t afford the salaries of the big boys in New York!
This bears out in the job specs for the recruiting work I do as well. No wonder most of the Hispanic professionals I talk to are interested in breaking into the General Market side or becoming a Client.
There is hope in the Total Market approach.
I don’t mean to come across as all gloom and doom. The market is evolving.
There are some awesome Hispanic advertising professionals I’ve worked with and others whom I’ve placed. They tend to thrive in the agencies that are breaking new ground. There are also more adjacent opportunities for them than ten or fifteen years ago. I see many talented professionals becoming subject matter experts on Hispanic marketing in General Market agencies and Client organizations.
An often used but misguided approach for a General Market agency is to simply hire people with Latino surnames and open their doors on that basis. They are often under-resourced or worse: simply trans-create their English language work without thought to cultural insights.
There are also outstanding agencies. Many of the old school Hispanic agencies have shrunk or disappeared. Some enlightened agencies however, are effectively marketing to the new American demographics of a Total Market.
This more nuanced approach some call “cultural fluidity” makes sense. The either/or approach is outmoded. As a Caucasian in Los Angeles I was statistically in the minority. And many of my Latino colleagues were as “General Market” as me.
There will be a demand for those professionals who can truly understand the entire equation, evolving
away from the artificial ghettoization of the Hispanic market. Then maybe salaries will catch up
to reward the unique skills required to market in the future.
Global Recruiters of Sarasota is a boutique executive recruiting firm placing professionals in both Multicultural and General Market ad agencies coast to coast, [email protected]