Old Brands, New Faces

With a galaxy of media projects and ad deals, stars like Sofia Vergara are marketing's new mainstream

Understanding the evolving Hispanic demo also has been key for the California Milk Processor Board, home of the iconic “Got milk?” campaign. That extends to its famous tagline, which was modified for the Hispanic community to “Toma leche” (“Drink milk”), because the question “Got milk?” translates in Spanish to “Are you lactating?”

The board, which has had success in the general market with the fictional character White Gold, created a new mascot, Maestro Positivo, for a Hispanic-targeted advertising campaign it launched last fall dubbed “Master of the glass half full.”

“He’s kind of a mix between Dr. Phil and Stuart Smalley,” explains Steve James, executive director of the board. “Consumers have responded to him like he’s a real person, asking him questions and looking for suggestions. It’s very sweet and sincere.”

For the campaign, the board went beyond traditional media like TV and outdoor to employ Latina mom bloggers and radio DJs, Twitter parties and community events, and Facebook and YouTube.

Even though an estimated 90 percent of Hispanic households in California already keep milk in the fridge, the mission was to grow that number even more by creating an emotional connection with the product, as research showed Hispanic moms already understood the health benefits of drinking milk.

To that end, the campaign featured a contest in which people nominated unsung heroes in their communities who advocated healthy, active lifestyles.

Still to come: so-called “positivity” events like carnivals and walkathons.

Unsurprisingly, brands have made social a key element of their campaigns, as 32.2 million U.S. Hispanics are on the Web, representing 14 percent of the total online population, according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau. (That number is projected to rise to 42 million by 2015.) Hispanics, early adopters of technology, are also active users of social media. Last year, the number of Hispanics using social jumped 38 percent versus 16 percent for the general population, reports comScore.

With that in mind, a social media-driven campaign from Disney Parks and Buick put influential Hispanic blogger Manny Ruiz, his wife and three young kids on the road for a summer holiday that stretched from Miami to Alaska. The trip, throughout last July and August, dovetailed with Disney’s “Let the memories begin” campaign.

“To me, this is an example of brands doing clever, risky things because they hadn’t done a program as massive as this even for the general market consumer,” says Ruiz, a Hispanic marketing expert who founded Hispanic PR Wire and organizes the industry conference Hispanicize. “It’s a pretty outrageous stunt to begin with, to send a family 10,000 miles around the country.”

Ruiz chronicled his family’s travels via plane, train, automobile (the Buick Enclave) and luxury liner (Disney Cruises) for 44 days on his popular blog, PapiBlogger, as well as Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and a dedicated Disney Facebook page. Highlights of the family’s trip—planking in the Grand Tetons, getting caught in a wicked windstorm in rural Oregon, visiting Disneyland and Walt Disney World—were documented via posts, photos and videos. “We could take people on this journey with us,” Ruiz says. “We were their guides, but they came along, too.”

Considering the wealth of PR and traditional media coverage that extended the campaign’s reach even further, expect more marketers to hitch a ride with personalities who resonate with Hispanic and non-Hispanic consumers alike.

Click here to view more content from The Hispanic Issue.