Monday, April 13, 2009

Spanish-Language as Cultural Relevance?


Many marketers approach their Hispanic marketing like an equation. How many Hispanics are exposed to their message via general market messaging? Then, they discount a specific percentage of spill that is not understood by the target (effective spill). Then they develop complimentary goals in Spanish-language to meet their communication objectives. Lastly, some translate their spot from English to Spanish and others develop original Spanish-language creative.

The problem with this approach is that Hispanic targeting becomes a function of language not of cultural relevance. Sure, those who create original creative targeted to Hispanics in Spanish are getting at the cultural relevance. But what about the Hispanics reached via effective spill? Are they not worthy of targeted, culturally relevant creative in English?

Certainly with limited resources, the lowest hanging fruit is targeting those not appropriately reached via general efforts. Yet, the Hispanic market is rapidly evolving and it's only a matter of time before it shares many traits with the African American market.

Ask any African American marketing agency and they'll tell you the same thing. They have to fight for every penny and explain why simply relying on general market spill is not effective. Clients on the other hand, point to the heavy usage of television and radio (African Americans spend on average 10 more hours with broadcast media per week than non-blacks.) US Born Hispanics spend 13.5 more hours vs. non-Hispanics, so it seems Hispanic agencies will eventual suffer the same level of scrutiny.

Which goes back to the original point - when language is used as a crutch to justify advertising, you forget about a critical and growing segment of the Hispanic market - US Born Hispanics who spend less time consuming media in Spanish.

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