McLean, Va., October 7 -- Last week’s 19th annual Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA) conference themed “Rompiendo Barreras” (Breaking Barriers) allowed the industry to celebrate its success, yet recognize just how many challenges still exist for Hispanic marketers.
During the very same week of the AHAA conference, on CNBC’s “The Big Idea,” host Donny Deutsch and guest comedian George Lopez commented that targeted advertising was “unnecessary” and that marketers should simply appeal to a broader audience by casting Latinos (among other representative ethnicities) in their general market advertising.
As the leading voice of the Hispanic advertising industry, AHAA takes issue with these comments characterizing them as uninformed and condescending. The misguided view shared by Deutsch and Lopez that the United States is a “melting pot population” and, therefore, advertising targeted solely to the Hispanic market (or even the African American or Asian markets) was unnecessary simply goes against the basic tenets of effective marketing: the only way for brands to connect with consumers is through insight and emotion, and thus, through context and culture. It is further ironic that George Lopez calls for an end to advertising for Hispanics when he makes his living by making people laugh at uniquely Hispanic traits and customs.
The U.S. Hispanic market has grown, not only in numbers, but in its complexity and diversity. Heritage, level of acculturation and geographic concentration are only a few of the nuances critical to understanding how to reach this increasingly coveted market segment.
Compared to earlier generations of immigrants, Hispanics are not assimilating. Rather, we are acculturating, and at different levels based on geography and generation, among other factors. We are unique in our desire to retain language and culture as a crucial element of self-identity and pride. As a result, marketing to U.S. Hispanics requires greater consumer insight and cultural and linguistic skill than ever before. Simple translations are no longer acceptable to an increasingly savvy consumer group. Nor is featuring Hispanic faces in general market advertising effective on its own. Original creative that uniquely connects with Hispanic consumers is one of the most important trends, and a proven track record for success in advertising today.
Finally, the language by which Hispanics are best reached is directly correlated to their level of acculturation as The Latin Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences, Inc. demonstrated with its decision to return the Latin GRAMMY’s to Spanish-language television following disappointing ratings on the George Lopez-hosted prime-time event on CBS.
As J. Walker Smith, Ph.D., president, Yankelovich Partners, Inc. has said, "There is no more important segment of the American consumer marketplace of tomorrow than Hispanics. Most marketers get it wrong when it comes to Hispanics, leaving an enormous opportunity for first movers who do it right."
AHAA member agencies are uniquely qualified to “do it right.” Working with clients from across corporate America including Toyota, Procter & Gamble, Sears, Ford Motor Company, Bank of America, McDonald’s, and Wal-Mart, among other top Fortune 500 marketers, Hispanic agencies have provided, and will continue to provide, an important road map to sustained market leadership by tapping into the profound values, beliefs, and emotions of U.S. Hispanics that impact consumer behavior. The proof is clear. With billings of more than $5 billion, AHAA agencies continue to lead the industry.
The Hispanic advertising industry is growing four times faster than all other sectors of advertising. The uninformed comments by Mr. Deutsch and Mr. Lopez are unfortunate, and once again prove that as far as this industry has come, there is still work to be accomplished.
“Hispanic advertising is incisive, creative and effective,” says AHAA Chairman Alex López Negrete. “We must awaken advertisers to the fact that culturally sensitive marketing to the Hispanic community is far more effective than simply ‘including more of us through casting’ in general market ads, as George Lopez suggested on Mr. Deutsch’s show. AHAA and its leadership are committed to communicating with the boardrooms and corporate leaders of American business to ensure marketers aren’t fooled by speculative and inaccurate statements about our industry and, encouraging them to hire professional AHAA member agencies to deliver their messages and help their brands grow.”
Donny Deutsch and George Lopez have demonstrated small, narrow thinking when it comes to connecting with Hispanic consumers in ways that build long-term brand affinity. The only real “big idea” is that traditional audiences and markets for advertising have changed, and those who do not comprehend this reality will be left behind.
You can read about AHAA here: Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies (AHAA)