May 06, 2008

I posted on a blog last week and was slapped down for my statement by the blog editor.

My statement had nothing to do with a marketing message or did it?

After advising a colleague to get to the point, I stated that I agreed with her marketing points and that I was happy to see more bloggers representing the Hispanic advertising & marketing view-point doing their thing on what I believe to be a potentially beneficial platform to help promote the awareness and better understanding of the US Hispanic Market Industry.

The point that seems to have motivated the blog editor to challenge me was ‘P.S., its good to see a blogger on this blog discussing Hispanic issues. It seems to have gone a little out of balance between bloggers with an interest in African Americans, Asians & the GLBT.’

The blog editor’s response was rapid, defensive and detailing the number of Hispanic blogger posting from a specific date (not enough posts and diverse voices after I really analyzed his response). Furthermore, I was advised that to view the blog content and frequency of postings by representatives of the many ethnic advertising or marketing industries on the blog should not lead to racial analysis, conclusions or turning the issue into a racial debate.  Obviously, he was in his full right to advise me of his point of view.

Well, I backed off and pondered. Do I really agree with that? Or, wow did I hit a nerve here on a sensitive issue of BALANCE of marketing content not race?

Did I just draw first-blood to a fight we will be having soon and not down the road in our Industry?

The fact is that issues such as diversity, multiculturalism and content that does not impact the advertising, marketing and media companies serving the US Hispanic Consumer is receiving much more attention and play in mainstream trade journals and the blogosphere.

Where are the voices of our Industry?

The true voices with expertise in marketing and selling to US Hispanics that can help highlight our success, our nuances and our opportunities.

When topics of diversity, multiculturalism and the Urban Consumer come into a discussion, we need to be careful because we might be considered insensitive if we ourselves don’t recognize differences and address them appropriately.

Diversity and multiculturalism are words often used by African American (AA) focused agencies to fit their needs in marketing their unique skills, market and industry. They typically are not terms used by those marketing to US Hispanics.

There is a perception in our US Hispanic Market Industry that terms such as diversity and multiculturalism are ways in which the African American advertising industry, an industry that has suffered from lack of traction, losses of inclusion, ad erosion and a reduction in AA focused media. These are strategic terms used to defend and to ensure their continued inclusion at the client’s roundtable.

Marketing and social politics intermeshed as a strategic initiative.  What a concept!

It has worked in many cases, but has not generated the dramatic growth you would assume for African American focused agencies. They sensed that corporate America was losing interest and they felt compelled to change the tenor so-to-speak.

I understand strategy, using your best and only defense as an offense.

Terms such as ‘diversity & multicultural’ are part of the conversation even if we as an industry would prefer that they were not elements that are part of a client’s analysis on which way to go with their ethnic marketing programs. Because as valid as the terms and issues are from a marketing perspective, they are also politically charged and that possibly carries more weight in a client's view.

There have been more discussion at the client level for one-stop-agency solutions for all of the multi-ethnic marketing needs than ever before, foregoing the unique expertise and skill-set required to maximize ROI in each distinctly different ethnic demographic. This might be a by-product of the use of terms such as diversity, multiculturalism and basic fear mongering.

ROI might be in jeopardy for many advertisers that succumb to these strategies.

The words ‘diversity and multicultural’ create fear in the hearts of clients and others, since they envision Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton in their corporate lobbies yelling about the injustice they are perpetrating.

It has been done!

To expect Hispanics, African Americans and Asians to gel as one cohesive group just because we are all minorities in the USA is naive and represents a real lack of understanding about culture and language in this country. The cultural politics also do not allow these distinctly different groups to gel either.

Politically based marketing strategies have flourished, ‘diversity & multiculturalism’ are ‘The Rage’ for some and fear for others. For the US Hispanic advertising agencies they are a curse and their inclusion in a conversation with clients should concern us.

Don’t get weak at the knees yet; I am trying to be sensitive here.

The future of the US Hispanic advertising industry is under siege not only from multicultural shops trying to mix various distinctly different cultural & linguistic realities into quasi-homogenous one, there are others at the client’s table stating their ‘UNIQUE’ ability to deliver the US Hispanic Consumer in a cheaper, better and faster way.

They are mainstream ad agencies also chopping at the bit to get a piece of the ad budgets.

We need to better understand the challenges put in front of us.

When do we begin our US Hispanic politically based marketing effort to help thwart the non-minority dictates from an advertiser’s media buys, help generate a more balanced distribution of ad dollars to US Hispanic focused media and ensure that our Hispanic owned & operated agencies and media get a fair level playing field to compete for ad dollars or inclusion?

These are just a few issues we should at least have a conversation about.

Diversity and multicultural are terms that are here to stay, but they do not ensure effective and efficient ROI for advertisers targeting US Hispanics.

We are the largest minority group in the country ... 45 MILLONES and counting with a $5 Billion plus ad industry to boot!

When do we begin the conversation?

So, am I being a Cabezon or thick-headed (looking at my picture does not count)?

Gene Bryan


Ok Gene you asked for this one. You are the king of cabezones for having an unrealistic expectation. In a perfect world everyone shares their point of view based on their expertise. This wisdom from the experience of a lifetime is distilled into useable silver bullets to fight another day in the marketplace for your share of the ad business. In the real world you have a discord of opinions that sound like a group of beginner musicians trying to play the same symphony tune. As a point of reference let me take you down memory lane to your debate I wrote about. In my opinion you are a pioneer for creating a platform for the highly talented movers and shakers of our industry to discuss, debate, and learn from each other. Iron sharpens iron. If you get nicked by a verbal jab by someone with a differing opinion so what? It may have to do more with how your message was perceived and not by what you wrote. What I propose is let's channel this creative combative Hispanic energy into marketing ourselves and our talento into an adolescent Hispanic Advertising industry. Just my dos centavos.

Yuyito, 'm not going to call you a cabezon, but I will say I think you missed the point of the posting in the blog last week and got off track in your comment. In any case, the blog's editor went on record to factually correct a wrong conclusion. I wouldn't call that slapping. Your comment was posted in its entirety without any editing...unlike other blogs, that edit which responses to run, thus defeating the beauty of elevating discussion one voice at a time.

Los Cabezones, sometimes can open a closed door, you can either push it or pull it!!

Thank you Michael Dozier... I have to agree with him in terms of the notion that the point of the posting was somewhat missed (although you redeemed yourself by getting back to the message instead of the messenger). Your additional commentary took it to a whole other place, and dare I say that I think you added that commentary because the piece was a Hispanic marketing focused piece drawn from the comments of an African American storyline, if you will. Regardless, you open up an important topic and one well worth spending time discussing: the whole notion of "balance" as well as the unfortunate use of words like "multicultural" and "diversity." No doubt these words get used to be a "catch all" that puts so-called minorities in one bucket. Just as "general market" continues to be a misnomer for the non-ethnic world of Anglo America (and I'm not even sure Anglo is the right word to be perfectly frank). The dictionary needs to change or at least evolve to keep up with social realities. Counting how many stories are written about one group or are written about another group is less important than taking stock of what stories are being told and how they are being told. Does the U.S. Hispanic marketing story have voices that are emphasizing areas of substance and industry importance? I tend to choose a humoristic path in my writing, but in that particular blog, I was trying to do just that - address a very serious point. I chose to address a subject that I believe is not told from the Hispanic marketing perspective very often - that the market's differences do not make it in any way "less than" or "deficient." There's a whole new world of content out there, of which you are a true leader. You've got credible voices on your site. I hope my contributions to another site are considered just as credible based on my breadth of experience in this market at both the personal and professional levels. There are sites exclusively dedicated to U.S. Hispanic marketing and there are sites that are a blending of different voices on different consumer groups. Being aware of balance is very important. We wouldn't be where we are today if people like you didn't care and pay attention to representation of this nature. At the same time, I think the way your commentary was phrased made what I believe was an important contribution seem somewhat petty and personal (as in my blog is more Hispanic than your blog).

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