Do Hispanic Marketers Have to Be Hispanic?

Not Really, but It Helps

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Alberto Ferrer Alberto J. Ferrer
Just in case you're saying to yourself "oh no he didn't!" let me reiterate: I believe that you don't have to be Hispanic to be an effective Hispanic Marketer. There, I said it.

That's the short answer. However, it's not as simple as that. There are a fair number of caveats and a not-insignificant amount of nuance in the long answer. I do believe that being Hispanic can make the job easier.

Hispanic Marketing is not about speaking Spanish or being Hispanic or even being married to a Hispanic (don't get me started). In fact, Non-Hispanics can be as effective (and in some cases more so) as Hispanics involved in Hispanic Marketing.

It is about (among others):
  • Having a passion for the Hispanic Market.
  • Understanding the business imperative that the Hispanic Market represents.
  • Being open to and on the lookout for the cultural differences that can make or break communications.
  • Recognizing that the market is different and thus different rules apply.
  • Asking questions to understand and learn.
In my opinion, Hispanics who work in Hispanic Marketing have it easier because they usually need fewer things explained to them (for example, they can read and understand creative that is in Spanish, and many idiosyncrasies of the market are second-nature to them). They "get" the market and creative nuances right in their gut.

But it's not all fun and games. As I alluded to in my professional Hispanics post, these marketers need to be mindful of their target and realize that they themselves, although Hispanic, are not necessarily the target of the communications. They need to evaluate the work from the target's point of view and not their own.

Clearly, the more "different" a target population, the less it is fully understood by the general population and thus the more difficult is it to hit it out of the ballpark when it comes to developing communications. This applies even with a target as broadly defined as "women." Most men I polled, even some married for many years, admit they haven't figured out women even though they interact with them daily.

Specifically on the agency side there is more of a debate, especially with the recent surge in general market agency interest in the Hispanic market. Agency folks, however, have an even greater responsibility and that is to represent the market, understand it, and bring it alive for clients.

The nuances and insights point doesn't just apply to Creatives and Account Planners, by the way, but also to account management folks, the media team, and every other agency department that has a hand in the conception, development, and delivery of messages to the Hispanic consumer.

My rule of thumb is that the closer the work you do at the agency is to the end consumer of the communications, the more important/helpful it is that you are part of that target population and deeply immersed in it.

So, you don't have to be Hispanic to be effective in Hispanic Marketing, but it's easier if you are. Whichever is the case, you need a passion for the market, a deep desire to understand it more than you do today, and a drive to deliver insightful communications to the target.
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