And here we are once again near another Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM). Like in previous years, we can expect an uptick of campaigns targeting the Hispanic segment, coming from a wide range of brands, from those with a solid commitment to investing in the Hispanic segment to the ones that try to equate a once-a-year post on social media celebrating HHM to an entire Hispanic marketing strategy.
From an official standpoint, the U.S. started celebrating Hispanic heritage back in the late 60s, when President Johnson established Hispanic Heritage Week. Then, President Reagan expanded this celebration to last a whole month (from mid-September to mid-October). In the late 80s, it became a tradition for U.S. Presidents, starting with President George H.W. Bush, to have a yearly proclamation celebrating the history and contribution Hispanics bring to this country.
With the growth of the Hispanic population in the U.S. and its increasing importance as a business driver, HHM became a staple in marketing calendars. However, among industry experts, there’s a perception that marketers haven’t updated their HHM approaches to adapt to the evolution of the Hispanic segment.
For instance, while in the past the focus has been on immigrants and the diverse contributions Hispanics bring to our culture, it is important to recognize that the Hispanic segment today is more robust, and its composition has a majority of people born in the U.S., who create their own culture, influenced by their ancestors, but also by their own experiences in this country.
The impact of this misguided approach is the perpetuation of traditional stereotypes that end up risking alienating a significant share of the Hispanic population, mainly the younger generations. Moreover, another source of criticism is the idea that marketers should reduce their Hispanic segment investments towards one HHM initiative per year, almost like “checking a box” and being satisfied with their pseudo commitment to the segment.
So, to celebrate HHM differently, I asked a few industry leaders from diverse backgrounds to share their perspectives and suggestions on how the business community should celebrate Hispanic Heritage in a fresh and contemporary way. Below is a summary of their thoughts:
Carla Eboli – EVP, Energy BBDO
“If this is your only effort focused on the Hispanic population, then, please think three times before you execute it… It might look opportunistic and, in the end, cause more harm than good. However, if you plan to launch your long-term program during HHM, make sure your efforts are aligned with the community’s needs and that the community is at the center of your initiative. Moreover, make sure your team is diverse and inclusive, reflecting the community you are serving. To get real insights about the Latinx/Hispanic community, we need to have people that are part of the community and truly understand (from within) their specific needs and struggles.”
Victor Paredes – Executive Director of Account Planning, Lopez Negrete Advertising
“How can marketers truly celebrate Latinos in the U.S.? Marketers can invest in playing a role in the lives of the most influential cultural sector of the U.S. population. Invest in unearthing erased Latino history and celebrate our contributions to this country year-round. Invest in Latino endemic content environments and creators because your current marketing plans are incomplete and inefficient without these investments. Take notice and participate in the culture Latinos have been creating for centuries right here in this land because that may also be the genesis of your next innovation.
The population of the U.S. is already majority Non-White in many of the country’s most populous regions. The health and prosperity of the US Latino population are inevitably imperative to the success of any enterprise in the nation. Brands that are part of fomenting everyday prosperity in our communities, addressing inequities that plague us from immigration centers to health centers, will own the future.”
Aldo Quevedo – Principal, Creative Director, Lerma Advertising
“Just like mothers during Mother’s Day celebration, Hispanics should be celebrated every day of the year. When our clients ask us how to maximize their HHM efforts, we often recommend using it as the launchpad for their year-long community outreach programs. We have the data supporting that Hispanics see through superficial efforts like adding flags or showing stories of successful Hispanics. Doing just that could (and will) backfire. They want to know more about your company beyond the products or services they buy from you; they are also interested in the way your employees are treated or if you are helping their community in any way. That’s what ultimately creates brand loyalty.”
Isabella Sanchez – V.P. Media Integration, Zubi Advertising
“Marketers can truly celebrate Hispanics by providing resources to individuals and organizations that are making a difference today. While the historical perspective is important and valuable for awareness and context regarding Hispanics’ tremendous impact across all aspects of culture and progress in the United States, supporting current and future contributions can be more relevant and impactful.
Going beyond the obvious recognitions of historical figures and celebrities and supporting Hispanics that are currently making a difference in their communities will strongly resonate with consumers. This can be done in the form of donations, grants, or scholarships which can provide the necessary resources to ensure that Hispanics can continue to thrive. An enhancement could be creating a new source of support, such as a customized educational forum or mentorship program.
To maximize the authenticity of the efforts, marketers should expand their support from just Hispanic Heritage Month to a consistent effort all year long.”
Donna Speciale – President of Advertising Sales & Marketing, Univision
“Connecting with the Hispanic community is all about authenticity and consistency. If you want to engage with this brand-loyal audience in a truly meaningful and credible way, you must stay connected to their passions throughout the year, every year. Celebrating Hispanics should be an everyday aspiration. This is a vibrant, growing community that contributes so much to this country. So, for brands, it needs to be a continuous journey of learning and commitment.
The growth and impact of the Hispanic community in terms of size and purchasing power will continue, and brands must get in the game now. It still astounds me that more than 1,500 brands advertise in English and do not advertise in Spanish. By not engaging with this audience, they are not giving them the respect, value, and information they deserve.”
Lee Vann – Executive Chairman and Co-Founder, Captura Group
“The best way to celebrate Hispanics in this country is by rightsizing the level of resources committed towards marketing to this segment. It’s not just the size of the media buy; it’s the human capital, research, agency partners, production. Show a genuine long-term commitment to this growing segment.
Unless you’re willing to commit for the long run, don’t just show up during Hispanic Heritage Month. Instead, spend a full month immersing yourself and your team in understanding the size of the opportunity. It’ll be eye-opening.”
Marketers should take some of the above comments to rethink and reinvent their HHM celebrations. For example, one idea is to take advantage of the HHM to better connect with employees, prospective employees in colleges and career fairs, customers, and even suppliers. Expand your take on HHM, consider all stakeholders that touch your business, and leverage HHM as a springboard for your efforts, not your short-term destination.
If there’s one thing Hispanics are very proud of is our ability to create and to reinvent ourselves in the face of adversity. Marketers can use Hispanics as an example and work on truly innovative ways to celebrate and honor the largest minority group in the United States.
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