It’s the authenticity, stupid

It seems to be getting tougher to crack the Hispanic space these days but if you’re going to do it then do it big and do it RIGHT.  MySpace Latino’s launch concert on April 11 in Miami is a great example.

If you want to establish your credibility–especially street cred–immediately and unequivocally with today’s Latino, then you have to start on the right foot.  It’s all about setting the right tone, and MySpace Latino did that nicely by having as its concert headliner Boricua reggaeton pioneer Tego Calderon.  MySpace Latino made a profound statement by kicking off its “Shows Secretos” concert series with a black Latino–when was the last time you saw any Hispanic media entity do that?  Sure, you had Circo and Beto Cuevas give brilliant, crowd-energizing performances, but Tego was the headliner, and that said it all.  The audience responded in kind.

I’ve been a great admirer of Tego and his music for some time.  He is a genuine poet and accomplished musician but what has also struck me about Tego is that in a Latin entertainment world often dominated by the light-skinned, the blond and the blue-eyed, Tego unabashedly and proudly talks about his Afro-Latino heritage and essence.  With Tego it’s all about being authentic.  And there’s no doubt that his fans, and young Latinos in general see this.

When Hennessy cognac decided a few years ago to take its personality-driven “Never Blend In” advertising campaign Hispanic, it was absolutely critical that it maintained the essence of the campaign.  The Hispanic celebrities selected had to be genuine and also had to be perceived as authentic  and independent innovators.  So Hennessy selected Tego as its first Hispanic personality (and it wasn’t like they were jumping on the reggaeton bandwagon because it was before “Gasolina” hit the airwaves).  The Hennessy brand was a pioneer in its selection of Tego as much as Tego himself is a reggaeton pioneer.  After all, Hennessy had been using the images of such iconic and independent-minded individuals as Marvin Gaye and Miles Davis for its general market efforts.  Hennessy hit a home run with Tego, and now so has MySpace Latino.

Not only is Tego seen as the real thing but he really walks the talk.  It probably won’t win him a key to the city of Miami but Tego recently told the Miami Herald what he thought of the Magic City: “it can be a little too superficial, and that’s not me.”  It’s all about keeping it real.  Sure, he performed in Miami but he didn’t lose himself.

MySpace Latino is built from a brand with a formidable equity and tenor, but it needed to launch itself assertively and authentically.  It has done that with Tego.  I’ve always said this about my favorite media mogul and owner of MySpace, Rupert Murdoch: he doesn’t hire stupid people.

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