NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- No one understands the U.S. Hispanic consumer better -- or with more creative advertising -- than Procter & Gamble. The biggest advertiser to Hispanics was also one of the biggest winners at Ad Age's 12th annual Hispanic Creative Advertising Awards, taking home the Best of Show trophy for a Bounty paper-towel commercial that identifies with the battle people fight against messy spills for a clean kitchen.
The Cine Las Americas campaign by LatinWorks was the biggest winner overall this year.
For sheer "we love to watch these ads" popularity, the biggest winner overall this year was Cine Las Americas' campaign by LatinWorks, which mined the endless craziness of real Latin America leaders for the brilliant tagline "If this is our reality, imagine our films." The TV commercials were a contender for Best of Show, and the campaign picked up seven awards for Austin's annual Latin film festival: two TV and two radio Golds, and Silver prizes in the TV, magazine and integrated campaign categories.
In the end, "Batalla" prevailed for its originality, with extra points for creating theater of the mind in a challenging medium and difficult product category.
P&G and Lapiz also picked up three other awards -- Silver prizes for another Bounty radio spot and a magazine ad for Gain With Febreze detergent, and a Bronze for a Pepto-Bismol TV spot that humorously illustrates the dark side of the rich, spicy food Latinos love. Another P&G agency, Wing, also won a Silver for a Downy Ultra TV spot.
The "Batalla" spot also has an English-language version called "Battle" for bilingual radio stations, reflecting growing efforts to target the elusive but fast-growing acculturated, English-speaking Hispanic.
"Radio is a very important medium for Hispanics in our country of origin," said Maria Bernal, associate creative director at Lapiz, Bounty's Hispanic agency. "People are used to having radio with them. Your roots are there."
More and more the Hispanic consumer is a marketer's best source of insights and inspiration that work in the general market, too. For instance, Volkswagen of America gave its Hispanic agency, Creative on Demand, an assignment to get across VW's message of carefree car-maintenance service, and it ended up working for all consumers.
The insight was that Hispanics perceive German cars as good but too expensive to maintain. The carefree-maintenance message was delivered in such an entertaining way in the TV spot "Fake Out," in which a car owner tries to disguise his vehicle as a Volkswagen in order to score free maintenance, that the judges gave it three Silver awards in different categories (TV, Bicultural Hispanic, and the Beyond Hispanic category for general-market work by a Hispanic shop)."It was almost a game-changer," said Teresa Wakeley, Volkswagen's media and diversity marketing manager. "We definitely saw it move the needle."
Daniel Marrero, founder of Creative on Demand, said that although the spot, done in both Spanish and English versions, works for everyone, there's a special nuance for Hispanics because it highlights "la vivencia," a Latin American concept that roughly translates as ingeniously getting away with something.
About 8.3% of Volkswagen's customers are Hispanic, above the auto industry average of 7.5%, Ms. Wakeley said. The car maker, which is making a major push to grow sales in the U.S., is spending about 15% of its ad budget in the Hispanic market.
"It's not just about targeting multicultural audiences, it's about leveraging them," said Ken Muench, senior VP-director of multicultural planning at DraftFCB, Chicago.
That led to a gold win in the direct-marketing category for DraftFCB's fast-growing multicultural unit with a Hispanic-inspired direct response TV campaign for State Farm.
"We said, let's not think of the campaign in traditional silos, with separate general market and ethnic," Mr. Muench said. "We told State Farm, 'we want to lead with these ethnicities."
The campaign grew out of a research project into how people really feel about other ethnic groups, and the subconscious associations they make when shown pictures of families of different races. The findings: the Hispanic family was seen as the most credible and community-oriented, and the most "real," while a white family was the least believable, and would have evoked the least emotional engagement if cast in a commercial, Mr. Muench said.
State Farm chose to cast an engaging young Hispanic man, who is completely bilingual and bicultural. He moves effortlessly in and out of about 20 commercials, the majority airing in the general market. The Hispanic spots are more likely to feature a State Farm agent, and some are in Spanish. The African-American-focused commercials feature more black characters. But the central message -- go check with your friends and neighbors about their car insurance, then come talk to us at State Farm -- is inspired by the way Hispanic families shop.
"We flipped the whole dynamic, and that's the direction we're heading with a lot of our clients," Mr. Muench said.
In an interesting sidelight, DraftFCB examined new words added to the Oxford English Dictionary in the past decade in different categories, such as technology, the environment and what the agency calls "crossculturalism." The agency found that 11% of the new words referred to the environment, such as ecotourism and free-range, and 18% to technology, such as upload. A whopping 31% of the new dictionary words reflected crossculturalism, and many are food and entertainment-related, such as anime, telenovela, guayabera, taqueria, huevos rancheros and cilantro.
"There's a different mindset that exists today among consumers," said Mark Gibson, State Farm's assistant VP-advertising. "Instead of isolating consumers in silos, the opportunity today is to try to understand what things are respectful of culture and heritage, and appreciated. Consumers really get it, much earlier than firms do."
He said this is the first time State Farm has used the continuity of one character to help tell its story.
"Brands can no longer ignore the new [normal] for today is a much more crosscultural society," he said. "We're trying to show we get and understand who you are as consumers and make it relevant."
Another jury favorite, "Harlistas," by Harley-Davidson's former agency Carmichael Lynch, won four bronze prizes for telling the individual stories of Harlistas, or Hispanic Harley riders.
One of the best uses of social media was JWT San Juan's "Cada Dos Horas" ("Every Two Hours") effort for the American Red Cross to combat panic and promote preventive measures during the AH1N1 flu crisis. Twitter, Facebook and email were used to send witty alerts every two hours reminding people that's how often they should wash their hands.
Ad Age conducts the annual Hispanic Creative Advertising Awards in partnership with the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies.