In it's August 10th cover story about marketing to Hispanics, the Miami Herald opened its article with a reference to Univision's Saturday-night variety show host Don Francisco. No big deal but the story reminded me of what I had heard a few weeks earlier on Power 96, an urban/hip-hop (English-language) Miami radio station with plenty of Latino DJs and popular with Miami's urban Latinos.
Miami's pride, Cuban rapper Pitbull had appeared on the popular late-night show "Jimmy Kimmel" on July 16. A great performance and the following day one of Power 96's Latino DJs beamed with pride, congratulating his fellow Miamian Pitbull for his Jimmy Kimmel appearance, and then adding a comment about how cool it was that Pitbull had not appeared on Sabado Gigante.
Therein lies the conundrum for today's marketers wanting to reach young, urban Latinos, whether they work in "General Market" or Hispanic forums. Today's young Latinos offer a dual challenge: they want, and readily embrace, brands who celebrate their Latino culture, while at the same time want brands (and ALL media regardless of language) to include them in all things mainstream.
It seems like whenever the mainstream media tries to cover a topic unfamilair to the general public they love to gravitate to the most kitschy elements. For Univision, it's either the over-the-top drama on its telenovelas or the man who's apparently become the network's icon, the Latino PT Barnum also known as Don Francisco. For the bicultural Latino, Mr. Francisco has also become kitschy but someone who cannot deliver for these young Latinos what Jimmy Kimmel (or Jimmy Fallon or Conan O'Brien) can deliver: validation of their unique bicultural Latino culture among the masses.
That intense desire for inclusiveness among increasingly influential, young Latinos is today's key challenge, or growing trend if you like. The good news is that you're starting to see marketers "getting it."
Verizon Wireless - While in LA a few weeks ago I heard a radio spot on Spanglish radio station Latino 96.3 FM for Verizon Wireless. It stood out because it featured two young Latinas talking about entering a Verizon quinceaneara sweepstakes, but speaking in English (with no accents) about their "quince" (with the Spanish pronunciation). It's all about credibility and authenticity.
US Navy - A few days ago I heard a Spanglish radio spot on Miami's Power 96, which featured two Latinos alternating between English and Spanish without translating every phrase (sort of like what the pioneering TV show "Que Pasa USA" used to do). I thought it was great for the US Navy. It's about engagement. My only issue is that I was in Miami, and thought that the two Latino voices sounded more Mexican than Cuban or Colombian. OK, it's a cool start.
Miami! You know things are changin' for the better when Colombian pop singer Juanes' September 20 concert in Havana is endorsed by a non-partisan, non-profit organization of young Cuban-Americans, Roots of Hope (www.raicesdeesperanza.org). Their generation is represented on Miami's Power 96 and LA's Latino 96.3.
Don Francisco could very well be sealing deals for Univision in its quest for new advertisers (who SHOULD be on Spanish-language TV given their specific categories or brands), but the network's new 35-year old president will have to figure out what to do with this emerging and increasingly assertive younger, bicultural Latino. And he should keep an eye on George Lopez's upcoming late-night show on TBS. Maybe he should focus on Univision's radio division when thinking of this new Latino generation.
Chances are that this new generation and that Latino Power 96 DJ would welcome Pitbull on George Lopez. For them, Don Francisco will continue to be as loveable as El Chavo del Ocho or that crazy tio---unique to their culture---but not necessarily "representin'."