Orange Is the New Black Star Says Your Brand Should Do This to Reach Latinos

It starts with who you're hiring

Headshot of Katie Richards

Orange Is the New Black star Dascha Polanco sat down with Valdez Productions president Jeff Valdez to discuss the rise of Latinas in media, entertainment and technology at the 4A's Transformation conference in Miami today.

While Latinos hold $1.5 trillion in consumer spending power, Polanco said brands and the Madison Avenue agency's who market them still haven't figured out how to reach them.

Polanco noted that one of her greatest challenges has been making people understand that diversity is more than black and white. There are 55 million Latinos in the U.S., but according to a Latino gap study by Columbia University, Hispanics were better represented in the media in the 1970s than they are today. She said she believes the best way to spark change and break stereotypes is through education.

"The information is there. America as a whole and the people you have to target, target them based on their needs," Polanco said. "You'd be surprised by how many brands I've come across and they start off with, 'Yes we want to work with the Latino market,' but then they say, 'You know what? I give up' and they decided to give the budget away."

Valdez noted that if there were at least one Latino executive at the brand or agency, that would help people understand the group's buying power.

However, both Polanco and Valdez acknowledged that the advertising industry is miles ahead of Hollywood in terms of equality. "I will say I am very pleased when I look at TV and I see a lot more diversity on TV [ads], and then I turn over to a TV show and it just goes away," Valdez noted. "Madison Avenue can always improve, we all can. Hollywood is just not there."

@ktjrichards Katie Richards is a staff writer for Adweek.