August 23, 2009

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 (  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'."


Just one comment --and a non-aggressive one at that! If you think Telenovelas are "over-the-top" in what sounded to my untrained tri-cultural ears, a despective way, what do you make of "24"? I mean, Jack Bauer saves the world every single week! This reminds me of a conversation I had with Stuart Miller when he wasn't the CEO of Lennar yet. He was very despective about Juan Luis Guerra and 440's song in which he "quisiera ser un pez en tu pecera..." and made comments about what kind of culture could produce a song like that. I reminded him that his culture made "In a gadda da vida" a Top 40 hit. What you think is kitschy, some others think engaging. What we need is even more Hispanic media to drive home the point of cultural difference and make sure we keep getting the ad budgets.

Nice article. Couldn't agree with you more. We have an interesting comment about retro-acculturation and young Hispanics that you can get to via our Facebook page.

Good post Manny. When I moved from the fifteenth to the fifth largest Hispanic market, I made it my business to study this younger demographic. I quickly realized the media company I worked for at the time had nothing engaging for this market segment. When I went to the sold out Shakira concert I realized we needed to create a strategy to reach them and keep them wanting more. Fast forward five years to now. The one print product we had at the time for these millennials and gen xers, is gone. It was killed due to lack of advertisers. I saw the hand writing on the wall and moved on. I am reminded of the comment in Dr. Felipe Korsenny's book "Hispanic Marketing" by one of the Milwaukee brewers. Why should be advertise to Hispanics? This after the fact that Hispanics were already a large block of consumers. Go figure.

Throughout my successful advertising career -- over 30 years old -- I have sustained the theory that one can sell very effectively to Hispanics without using Hispanic media. I have always believed, precisely due to the diversity of our multiple Hispanic markets, that what the genuinely resourceful advertising executive should always consider is market segmentation. The example that you give with the Kimmel performance -- and tagging Don Francisco with the "uncool" label -- is the closest I’ve heard to my position. Those who understand the alchemic formula that conjures a successful ROI with explosive branding are aware that there are products ideally suited to Don Francisco, and there are those that belong on Jimmy Kimmel. Perhaps, the TRUE dawning of the Age of Aquarius --beginning on December 2012 -- will start opening everyone's eyes. Market segmentation, plus very specific media selection, will finally take a long deserved prominence -- so I don't have to be tormented in Miami with McDonald's spots that are more suited to the Los Angeles audience! -- and the outrageous notion that we need to reach our consumers in "Walter Cronkite Spanish" will finally be blown away. Let's face it, it's not only a thing of words, the pitch also matters. And... that's the way it is!

Marcelo, your points are well-taken. The diversity of cultural interpretations you reference across cultures also exists within cultures, including our own Latino one. Thanks for your comment. And I agree, we need more Hispanic media that engages our multiple Latino consumer segments.

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