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World Cup Marketers Kick Their Spanish Ads to English-Language TV

J.C. Penney, Hyundai, Dish Target Bilingual Consumers

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Yes, those are subtitles on your screen.

In a move to appeal to bilingual consumers, several marketers are airing Spanish ads with subtitles on English-language networks during the World Cup. Marketers have been tiptoeing into this space with Spanish phrases or slogans included in ads, said David Wellisch, founder and managing partner of Latinum Network. But running an ad entirely in Spanish on an English network is novel.

"It's very innovative," Mr. Wellisch said. "Companies are exploring and experimenting across the board. It's all driven by the growing influence of this consumer segment."

J.C. Penney scooped up ad time for its Spanish-language spot, "Pulse," on NBC, ABC and Fox, after the ad performed well on Univision. (A promotional offer added to the spot will have an English voiceover.) The spot is part of a push meant to position J.C. Penney as the department-store destination for Hispanics.

"Hearing the Spanish language with subtitles will be a compelling disruption that should cause the commercial to disrupt better than if it was translated," said a J.C. Penney spokeswoman. "It's also a great way to cast a wider net and capture the more acculturated, bilingual millennials that may be tuning into other networks outside of Univision during the World Cup."

Dish Network is embracing the approach with its campaign, El Juego Bonito, or "The Beautiful Game." An ad featuring a scantily clad dancer promotes the ability to watch multiple views of a soccer game with Dish's Hopper set-top box -- with multiple views of said dancer. The ad aired on late night shows, including "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report."

Hyundai has also been airing a subtitled ad as part of its "Because Futbol" campaign that features a baby boom nine months after the World Cup.

As recently as the Super Bowl, Coca-Cola was the subject of a consumer backlash for airing an ad that featured a variety of languages. As such, Mr. Wellisch said there's certainly a possibility marketers airing Spanish-language ads on English networks could upset some consumers. But generally, he added, World Cup audiences are more "progressive, urban, and more culturally open and engaged."

"You have to place some bets and take some risks," Mr. Wellisch said. "If you're a Latina mom, watching in the office on an English network, and [J.C. Penney] is speaking to you, you will remember."

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