What's Hispanic About That?

I don't think so!

How many times, as Hispanic Marketing "Experts" have we been sent back to the drawing board to start thinking again about a TV spot that'll appeal to a Hispanic audience but, most importantly, to the clients.  And what's the preferred way for clients to send us back to square one?  To ask you "And What's Hispanic About That" spot? Well, after many years as a Hispanic Marketing Creative Director and Strategic Planner, I have learned the true meaning of "What's Hispanic About That?" It does not mean the spot does not work for Hispanics, it just means the client does like the spot. Period.

And I'll explain why with an specific example I once encountered while presenting a Hispanic TV spot to the marketing folks at Chrysler.  The concept was based on professional wrestling, which is a very popular sport among Hispanics.  It was a fun idea; a famous wrestler drove up to the valet parking station at a fancy restaurant in his sparkling new Dodge Durango. Having handed the keys over to the valet parking attendant and walked off into the restaurant, the valet parking employees begin wrestling each other for the key so that they get to park the cool car themselves.  In the end, the famous wrestler walks out of the restaurant only to find his car in the exact same spot and all the parking attendants (all 8 of them) inside the vehicle still wrestling with each other for the key.

Anyway, was it a brilliant spot? Perhaps not, but it did drive the point about the vehicle's appeal to a Macho audience (very much within the Dodge Brand) and about its roomy interior for 8 passengers in a fun way. All part of the brief. And what's Hispanic about that?  Our client, (who later went to work at Walmart and became the leading player in one of the Ad Industry's biggest scandals) asked, flatly.

Well, we said, professional wrestling is a very popular sport in Mexico and Latin America and the wrestler we are using is not only famous himself, he is the son of the most famous Latin America wrestler of all time "El Santo". That should appeal to our Hispanic audience.  But where is the Hispanic insight, she asked?  Frankly, we said, our planning team couldn't find a specific Hispanic insight around "room for 8" in a Sports Utility Vehicle, at least not in the 20 focus group sessions we attended. But the spot should do a great job capturing the attention and the imagination of our target consumer, male Hispanics who want to look tough driving an SUV that's attractive enough to appeal to a very, very famous wrestler, the son of "El Santo" nonetheless.  Yeah, but I have to justify the expense of producing spots for the Hispanic market and if the spot does not have a Hispanic insight, then, it's  no good.

But to no avail, we went back to the drawing board which wasn't all that uncommon for us, or any other team of Hispanic Creatives trying to sell cool ideas to "white" clients without the obvious and stereotypical Hispanic icons or themes such as pinatas or large family gatherings.

(It actually became the most popular TV spot in fourth quarter 2004 in both the Hispanic TV networks as well as the General market networks).

What was the Hispanic insight? It was that while most people believe that the man wears the pants at a Hispanic household, the reality is that the wife is the one that rules the house, plain and simple.  What was the client's reaction?  That's not a Hispanic insight, the same happens in General Market households.  But I love it nonetheless because it is funny (and of course, because she wore the pants in her house- we assumed- and the spot appealed to her, personally.

In fact, she went on to congratulate us for delivering spots that work for both, Hispanic and General Market audiences since she could make the most of her production dollars that way.

Of course we were happy, we sold the spot, but at the same time we were frustrated because it only underscored the fact that selling Hispanic Marketing ideas or executions to General Market clients is a total guessing game, no matter how hard you try to come up with ideas that will appeal to your Hispanic audience (Hispanic Insight or not), in the end, what appeals the most to clients is what ends up getting produced.

I can't say I can blame them.  

To see more of the Hispanic spots that have made it into the General Market TV (once the Holy Grail of Hispanic Marketing Creative Directors) please check out my reel by clicking here.

I'm Lalo Wakefield, Hispanic Marketing Consultant, Creative and Strategy a sus ordenes.


Lalo Wakefield