Why Can't Hispanic TV Be as Good as Hispanic Advertising?

As Agencies Push Boundaries, Programmers Push Garbage

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Laura Martinez Laura Martinez
With all the talk about the growing "programming choices" for Latinos in the U.S., I decided to spend a whole two hours one morning flipping through the Spanish-language channels on my TV and watching on the Internet other channels I don't have access to, including some local stations in Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas and South Florida.

The verdict? We now have more of nothing to watch. Or rather, there are now more Spanish-language "choices" serving me -- and my people -- with the same crap we are used to: dating contests, gossip and paparazzi shows, court fights, reality TV, wrestling and, of course, lots and lots of T&A. In a nutshell: the exact same things I grew up watching on Mexican TV, now expanded and proudly Made in the USA. (Just for the record, none of this means English-language TV is beaming with fantastic viewing choices, but for what concerns us here I will focus solely on television that targets U.S. Hispanics.)

What I find most interesting, though, is that every time I talk about my disappointment in Spanish-language television to either an advertising or a television executive, I am told basically to shut up, simply because I am not the "target." The target, apparently, are the legions of uneducated, Spanish-dominant immigrants who presumably crossed the border by foot and now have to be punished with awful TV choices just because that is what they are used to.

Sure, you can say my background -- or simply the fact that I also speak English -- does not make me a likely fan of Don Francisco or Laura Bozo (not that they care). But I am also not the target of the new crop of bilingual, hip offers such as Mun2 and MTV Tr3s going after bilingual, hip kids (I am pushing 40, for God's sake! And I understand only half of what these kids have to say anyway). And don't get me started on "Ugly Betty"

All this leaves me virtually in TV limbo, or in the best-case scenario, with the crowd of middle-aged, retired Americans watching CNN, PBS, AMC or TNT (even though I'm not one of them) and feeling just like that time when I was turned down by a research company because I was not "Mexican enough". As it turns out now, there is nothing out there for me in TV-land because I am nobody's target.

None of this actually matters, since I don't care too much for TV anyway. But what interests me is the disconnect between some of the great advertising being done by Hispanic agencies and the crappy TV those ads run on. And while I am aware this is by no means exclusive to the Latino market, things get trickier here, since a lot of those same groundbreaking commercials have to do with debunking Hispanic stereotypes -- yep, those same ones portrayed and perpetuated by Spanish-language TV.

I have seen great TV spots crafted by the likes of Dieste, The Vidal Partnership, Zubi, Gallegos or La Comunidad that approach the Hispanic market in fresh, creative and sometimes even cynical ways, giving their audiences much more credit than the TV titans do. Call me crazy but when it comes to the Hispanic market, I find the ads much more engaging -- and entertaining -- than the programming itself. Is it just me?

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Read more from Laura daily at Mi Blog Es Tu Blog.
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