Marketers Reach Out to Latinos

NEW YORK How best to speak to young people through advertising has always been up for discussion, but how should marketers reach the harder-to-peg bilingual, bicultural Latinos?

That was the question posed during the last panel of Advertising Week, “Microsoft and MRM Worldwide Present Hispanic 2.0,” with no easy answers or fixes.

Brian Morrissey, digital editor at Adweek, helped guide the four panelists, all second-generation Latinos working in the Hispanic market, through the often thorny road of reaching out to bilingual youths who often live in two worlds and languages.

Perhaps Chris Velasco, director of branded entertainment for MSN, based in Seattle, put it best: “I don’t think about [being bilingual, bicultural] everyday. It’s just in situations like this or when I look at marketing and media.” And that oftentimes means advertisers neglecting this thriving segment of the population.

The panelists agreed that a band-aid approach marked by staid stereotypes (old-world music and dancing) and inauthentic messaging will obstruct any inroads to reach the younger English-dominant Latino segment. They, like their non-Hispanic, same-age counterparts, are entrenched in the latest technology, gadgets, social networking sites and blogging, and they don’t want to be talked down to or made to feel like the “other.”

Reaching out to Hispanics 2.0 also means readdressing commonly held beliefs about spending habits, said Maria Lopez-Knowles, svp of MRM Worldwide, San Francisco, who pointed out that young Hispanics often do not follow the same buying patterns as their parents. One of the perceptions is “I’m supposed to be brand loyal because I’m Hispanic,” she said.

MTV Tr3s has strayed from staid perceptions to reach out to young English-dominant young Latinos, said Gonzalo Perez, senior director, consumer insights for the bilingual entertainment network targeting second-generation Latinos, based in Los Angeles. There are cultural passion points that often have a common thread among young Hispanics of varying descents, he said, and it goes well beyond language.

Executives know that music can be a bridge between generations, such as the rhythmic sounds of bachata, Perez said, most often found in Caribbean countries but now a mainstay for many Latinos. “We are reflective of bicultural realities,” he added.

Perez cited Volkswagen and Toyota’s Scion as two brands that have succeeded in delivering personalized messages for young Latinos without talking down to them. The “cool” factor often makes more of an impact than any direct reference to ethnicity.

Common denominators may be apparent among Latinos-regional food, religion and musicbut “you can’t lump all second-generation Latinos,” said Joe Santa, senior art director at Corbis, who is responsible for photo editing and conceptualizing shoots. He said there is a cross-range of images to choose from to best depict Latinos, either stateside or for Latin-American stories.

It’s not as easy it would appear. “Anybody could be an undercover Hispanic,” he said with a laugh.