Translations don't cut it. Much less Google Translate

Sure, there are lots of General Market campaigns that are not adaptable or translatable to Spanish.  But, in my 20+ years working at some of the top Hispanic advertising agencies in the country, I'd say that at least 50% of the work I created was an adaptation of the General Market campaign.  And that's the truth. While advertising CREATIVE EXECUTIONS (not campaigns) may not always translate in terms of language of culture, most General Market CAMPAIGNS are usually grounded on a "big idea", and big ideas ALWAYS translate into any language or any culture. 

I just finished working on a radio campaign for an electricity retailer in Houston.  The offer, (like most products0 was as appealing to Hispanics as it was to anyone else... "Free Electricity Every Saturday".  The GM executions, however, did not translate well into Spanish, culturally.  One spot was about a teenager vacuuming his room and, to mom's horror, he was doing it on a Wednesday instead of a Saturday.  He couldn't understand why mom was so upset.  Funny, no doubt.  However, Hispanic mom's are focused on helping their kids, specially the boys, get ahead in life, not on doing household chores like vacuuming. So it didn't really make sense to translate this execution.  Additionally, the client didn't want to send the message that this offer was only good for doing boring, tedious household chores. They wanted to talk about fun stuff too.  The Hispanic execution had a perfect mix of both.  A man and his son are about to do that home improvement project that mom has been waiting for a long time.  So they are totally taken aback when she asks them to save it for another day. Same concept? Yes, but this is why it works for the Latino market. Hispanics are Do-It-Yourselfers; they enjoy home improvement projects and they are good at them, since a lot of them work in construction and maintenance.  They also want visitors to see that their houses are nice, specially those visiting from Mexico, because it shows that their "adventure" across the border has paid off.  Finally, to make sure that we conveyed the idea that this was a fun project, mom discovers that dad bought a new electric saw so that he could use it for the first time on this project.  Like a kid, he could not play with his new toy until Saturday.

In conclusion, if you are looking to target Hispanics while maintaining synergy with your general market campaign, don't reach out to a translator because translations simply don't work, but also, don't go an hire a Hispanic Advertising agency to help you with your campaign adaptations, they have a lot of overhead to cover and you will see that reflected in their bills.  Get a Creative and Strategic consultant for best results.

Give me a call to talk about your next campaign adaptation.  

Lalo Wakefield. 713-851-1662.

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