As a seasoned purpose-driven marketer, Claudia Romo Edelman’s We Are All Human Foundation spent months pulling together the ambitious Hispanic Star campaign, celebrating the power of the U.S. Latino community and featuring a 1945 Spanish-language version of the Star-Spangled Banner that would debut on March 26 at Chicago’s White Sox Stadium in Chicago. But Covid-19 called for a change in plans. Hear how Edelman’s life and work experience, and the influential people in her life, prepared her to quickly pivot and address the pandemic’s economic impact in the Hispanic community.
Tell us what you’ve been up to.
Earlier this year, we were getting ready to launch the biggest campaign I’ve ever done—using all the tips and tricks I’ve learned throughout decades of doing campaigns, and with the collective power of great minds from all walks of life. The Hispanic Star campaign was conceived to change the narrative of Hispanics, moving us from invisible to visible, from negative to positive, and from takers to makers.
We were planning a huge event to launch the Hispanic Star at the White Sox Stadium in Chicago at the opening game of the MLB season in partnership with the mayor of Chicago. But three weeks prior to the launch, Covid-19 exploded, and like everything else, the game was canceled. And so too was the launch of the campaign we had planned for more than eight months.
How did you pivot from that?
We decided within three days to repurpose all our assets, platforms and networks and redirect from perception change to helping those most affected by Covid-19. Data showed clearly that the Hispanic community is being disproportionately affected by this health crisis, particularly small businesses, entrepreneurs and independent workers. We knew we needed to act and have the Hispanic Star in Action.
On March 26, the same day we were supposed to launch at the White Sox stadium, we unveiled to the world the Hispanic Response and Recovery Plan as a framework to mitigate the negative economic impact of COVID in the Hispanic community. And instead of a live event, we released a recorded version of the official Spanish language version of the U.S. national anthem, as commissioned by President Roosevelt in 1945, as a tribute to Hispanics in the frontline.
On ‘5 de Mayo,’ as part of the largest livestream concert of Latino artists to support Hispanic farmers called Altisimo, the Hispanic Star will have the opening act with the performance of the national anthem in Spanish. Procter and Gamble, Circulo Creativo, CMC and We Are All Human are launching a national campaign through a beautiful spot created 100% by Hispanics that have joined forces to highlight the contributions of Hispanics to this country today and always.
How did you get to where you are today?
Five years ago, I moved to America [from Switzerland] and, for the first time in my life, I realized that I was a Hispanic and that this community suffers from what I call a ‘reverse marketing’ problem: hiding the best attributes of the Hispanic community and presenting us as someone we are not. Hispanics are powerful but are portrayed as weak, we are huge but think small. Let us get on the same page. Look at these numbers: Hispanics make up more than 18% of the U.S. population and have an annual consumer purchasing power of $1.7 trillion. … However, we’re underrepresented, misrepresented and undervalued.
For the first time in my life, the packaging, so to speak, is far worse than the product. And not only is the packaging affecting the way of Hispanics are seen in the country but it is also negatively impacting the confidence and growth of Hispanics themselves.
What pivotal moments did you face along the way?
"I learned that speaking out is one of the most powerful things we can do..."
When I was a teenager in Mexico City, I volunteered to help in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake. While on the ground, I heard a voice coming from the rubble. I started shouting really loud, got the attention of the adults and together we pushed a rock that had a little girl trapped. From that experience, I learned that speaking out is one of the most powerful things we can do, especially if we use our voice to convene others to a common and just cause. We know that people around the world are not being heard, and in the broadest sense, I have made it my life’s purpose to listen to their voices and bring their messages to those who can help make a difference.
What do you see as the major opportunities and challenges for women today?
A great opportunity is to become more intentional about supporting each other, becoming a network of support and being united. There is a huge opportunity for women to support each other—to hire from each other, to buy from each other, mentor each other. We need to be absolutely clear that social mobility happens when you have strong networks. And that goes particularly for minority communities, such as Latinas, that are big entrepreneurs but cannot grow their businesses.
What advice can you share?
In global organizations, you always have the best results with teams that trust two things: your competence and your ethics. It’s important that they trust you to get things done and that you do it for the right reasons. It’s also important that you can demonstrate your vision and have people follow you and be enthusiastic that you lead from the front and work as hard. … I’ve also learned that being shameless is a virtue, I learned how to be shame-free of being a woman, being a Latina and being myself.
Who has helped you in your journey and how did they help shape your thinking and career?
The most important figures in my life were the women in my family: my mother, grandmother and my aunt. They made me believe that everything was possible and that there’s always someone that will extend a hand for you to reach out to. I’m trying to extend the same for my daughter, my nieces, my cousins and the people under me to make them feel that they have references, that they have a network that they can count on and a safety net where they can fall back and that will catch them in any event.
"...if you don't ask, you don't get, so I’ve always been asking."
Beyond that, in every one of my jobs, I've always tried to find someone and ask them to either mentor me, sponsor me or guide me. I got great advice early on: if you don't ask, you don't get, so I’ve always been asking.
Knowing what you know today, what one thing would you have done differently early in your career?
I would have started earlier on entrepreneurship on my own, not being scared of being alone without a huge organization behind me. I’m an entrepreneur by nature but I just hesitated because I wanted to be safe for my children—providing them with a safety net, education and so on. And that meant not trusting that I was an entrepreneur and a good entrepreneur.