April 07, 2009

     As our Hispanic market gains visibility and strategic importance clients are stepping up their game, becoming smarter and interested in what makes our consumers tick. But unfortunately there is still plenty of closed-mindedness to go around. Here’s a fun look at some common sayings or situations that might hint that your potential or existing client, how do I put this, might not be all that into your market. If you smell these signals it might be better to focus your energy on getting clients that want to get it. If not you run the risk of becoming the whining ethnic agency. And we surely don’t want that, right?

Top 10 Signs Your Client Might Not Be Hispanic-Ready (loosely based on reality)

1.    They timidly propose that they start the Hispanic initiative really small this year given budget constraints, perhaps with Tacos and Corona beers at their offices to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

2.    When you are not sure if the budget they give you for the first year is in U.S. dollars or Mexican pesos.

3.    When the client secretary is assigned as your agency’s direct contact, or worse yet, when the contact becomes the secretary at their general market agency. No, not a good sign at all.

4.    If they consistently refer to your account team as Juan and Maria.

5.    When the hard-working Latina cleaning ladies on the client side are asked to approve creative.

6.    When they say: “We are not ready yet, but when we do something we want to make sure we do it right,” wink, wink.

7.    If you find yourself creatively coming up with the fifth version of a presentation on the Hispanic opportunity showing that 80% of their market is Latino, and they still don’t get it.

8.    When they honestly ask you if their general market television spot featuring Sally and Ted, their red-headed boy named Jimmy and their well-behaved dog named Spot in front of their lake house in upstate rural Michigan would work if dubbed. And when you answer no, they say “really?”

9.    When they don’t seem to grasp that in the Hispanic market television and radio budgets are not the same thing, and that simply put, budget trends apply both to mainstream and U.S. Hispanic market.

10.    When their excuse for not doing something in the market is because they don’t know how to grapple with all the languages and accents in the Hispanic community. “We just don’t want to offend anyone.” Again, all variations of “when we do it, we want to do it right.”

So you’ve been warned, give it a couple of times to convert these types of clients, but if not move on to the many more that get it. I’m sure you’ve experienced a couple of others scenarios that you might want to share. So write up. Feel free to embellish creatively for entertainment and inspirational purposes.

By Roberto Ramos, President & CEO, The Vox Collective


Very true! And to add on to the list: 12.- When clients' wonder why Univision or Telemundo won't air a TV commercial in English, "are you sure?" they'll ask. It is sometimes incredible how these things still exist but from experience, persistence pays off and as the numbers keeping growing, they'll slowly come around.

Perseverance is the key word here. If Hispanic advertising agencies hope to be funded adequately enough to represent the share of market that U.S. Hispanics represent then we must continue to educate our clients about the opportunity and continue to present the kinds of initiatives that reach our marketplace effectively. Over and over until they get it! Then we have to evolve past thinking that all Hispanics speak Spanish and Spanish only. There is a Bilingual generation that will represent half the market soon enough. And guess what, we don't all watch Univision.

Roberto is right about this signs, I think one more point to add is: 11.- Every Tv or Radio Spot has to have Mariachi or Salsa music, becuase that is what Juan and Maria that clean the building listen to all day long. Sad yes, but true.

Underneath Roberto's comedic approach is a necessary lesson for brands. Some companies still DO NOT GET IT and with the current economic climate no brand can afford creating campaigns without the Latino Market in mind. This is no joke. Great thought-provoking piece.

Underneath Roberto's comedic approach is a necessary lessons for brands. Some companies still DO NOT GET IT and with the current economic climate no brand can afford creating campaigns without the Latino Market in mind. This is no joke. Great thought-provoking piece.

Funny but dreadfully true, especially on the East coast - sorry. I've actually done Hispanic market presentations to large, publicly owned firms. When you enter a board room full of white, supposedly educated, department heads and executives, it can be a challenge. Their level of experience with anything cultural is incredibly limited and you receive a lot of elementary questions.

Maybe it's time to recognize that it's not them, it's you. Maybe your professional Hispanic slip is showing. When you find issues that should have been left behind two decades ago, it is because you are preaching axioms that are almost 30 years old (are you the second coming of Pedro Font?) It's definitively not about "Geting it" (the theme of the circle jerk held in Vegas recently).

Roberto, thanks for putting some humor into situations that we've all encountered. I could not agree more with your message: there are plenty of good clients that want to get it, so don't waste your time with those that only give you silly excuses for not doing Hispanic or multicultural.

Too much truth here but you have to find the humor in our situation! I went on a shoot once where the client's feedback on wardrobe was that there is not enough high heels and red clothing - think they got it confused with a bull fight - LOL

Is Roberto writing a humor column, or does The Vox Collective actually deal with clients that would provide a first-year budget in Mexican Pesos? Referring to the account team as "Juan" and "Maria"? That's worth a chuckle. But then I saw example No. 8 - and stopped. One would hope to chuckle at such a ridiculous example. But we know better. Transcreations and translations still permeate the Hispanic landscape. Why? Good question. Is it a client thinking they understand the Hispanic market when they don't? Is it a client thinking they can "do Hispanic" on the cheap in lean economic times? Perhaps "yes" is the answer to both. Roberto's comments seem silly to those in the U.S. Hispanic market that would hope clients are more savvy and that these examples are pure comedy. Sadly they are not comedy. They are the tragedy of reality with some clients that think they "get it" but aren't even close to understanding the nuances of targeting the nation's Latino consumer.

@Juan Haha, - "It’s definitively not about “Geting it” (the theme of the circle jerk held in Vegas recently)." Really, that's the funniest, and spot on comment on this post so far. But, please, don't mess with Pedro Font, he's no Maddof, even if he ran a ponzi agency.

#13 - oh we don't need copywriting, someone in the office studied in Mexico last summer so she's translating that for us. She said it would only take a few minutes and you guys take 2 days for copywriting. Really, it's laughable. Thanks for all the consolation. Always a relief to know we're not alone! Lauri

We've come a long way baby! I wonder if it's so hard for us to sell the idea of investing in Hispanic advertising -now that numbers are helping us- How was it for the "forefathers" of Hispanic advertising? They sold the "need" of doing advertising in Spanish back then, when they didn't have much to support their claims... Yeah yeah, I know there are pros and cons to their inheritance because they also helped create the cliché images of the Latino bigotudo, la abuela, the still-now-very-useful overly protective Latina mother and the glue-attached Latin family. Images that sometimes we find oh so difficult to destroy, I mean change, in the minds of our beloved clients.

I had a client once that said to me that the Hispanic Market was too complex and intimidating. Is it really? Or was it a total lack of interest in learning about it because numbers were dissolving his interest? I think that also latent is the idea that, eventually, the following much-more-prosperous generations of Latinos will become American Minds easily reachable thru the GM networks so...Why bother?

LOL! Fantastic article, "aplausos!!!! Please note that in my blog I put some examples of what mainstream clients consider a good translation and how I turn it into a a more emotional adaptation. it is unfortunate that clients still don't see the potential and seriousness behind the Hispanic market. The bright side is that I have seen an evolutionary trend in taking it seriously, rather than a revolutionary trend do do so. Keep up the good work, i really enjoyed your article. Michael

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