Selling Through the Many Tongues of Latino America

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- When pop star Jennifer Lopez appeared at a recent Telemundo presentation to ad agencies and advertisers to promote her new production
One of 34 HBO Latinto spots that play with the many ways English and Spanish intertwine through contemporary Hispanic life in the U.S.
Budweiser's 'Rapper' spot celebrates 'True' beer and Hispanic culture.
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deal with the NBC-owned Spanish-language network, she spoke briefly in Spanish and described growing up watching telenovelas with her mother and grandmother.

Typically multilingual
Ms. Lopez is typical of many U.S.-born Hispanics who were raised in Spanish-speaking households but live and work in a largely English-speaking world.

"There's quite a crescendo of interest in the bicultural English-speaking Hispanic market," says Christy Haubegger, the founder and former publisher of Latina who joined Creative Artists Agency earlier this year to help bring Latino entertainment projects and marketers together. "Most research and time, effort and resources have been in the Spanish-dependent market. There's an evolution going on as marketers and their agencies move away from simply marketing in Spanish to being marketers to Hispanics."

Income and language
"Income is closely correlated with language ability," she says. "It's rare to see an affluent household that is Spanish-dependent. There are 1.2 million affluent Hispanic households, with incomes of $75,000 and up."

Ms. Haubegger says that even in making their media buys in the general market, carmakers Land Rover of North America and Volvo Cars of North America favor programs that deliver ethnic consumers in higher numbers. It makes sense to Ms. Haubegger, who is the executive who sits on both vehicle makers' diversity advisory boards: the largest auto market is Los Angeles, a city that is 47% Hispanic.

"Only 9% claim they only speak Spanish," she says of the U.S. Hispanic market nationally. "Fifteen percent speak Spanish and some English; 17% speak both languages, 37% are fully bilingual, and 22% speak only English."

Absolut Ritmos
Absolut vodka's first foray into the Hispanic market, "Absolut Ritmos" -- in English, "Absolut Rhythms" -- uses Hispanic music and dance to draw in Latinos. For three months this summer, Absolut will bring Latin dancers and salsa and merengue music to New York clubs along with Absolut mojitos. Absolut even has recipes for cooking paella with Absolut Peppar and marinating cerdo asado in Absolut Kurant.

" 'Ritmos' is looking for very acculturated Hispanics, probably second or third generation," says Jim Goodwin, vice president of marketing at Absolut Spirits Co., although he adds that this target could vary by city depending on local demographics.

For Absolut, this is just the beginning. Mr. Goodwin hopes to hire his first U.S. Hispanic agency by the end of this year.

"We'll do consumer research, then develop advertising to include print, online, radio, outdoor, point of sale, events and promotion," Mr. Goodwin says. The company piloted "Absolut Ritmos" earlier this year in Miami, backed by Spanish-language ads created by Puerto Rican ad agency JMD. The agency also did Absolut's first print ads for the Hispanic market, breaking in the July and August issues of Time Inc.'s People en Espanol, Hispanic Trends and other magazines.

Most of the growth in the Hispanic market continues to be fueled by new advertisers entering the market, like Absolut and Fruit of the Loom, which last month named Grupo Gallegos, Los Angeles, to introduce Hispanic consumers to Fruit of the Loom's fruit guys, who will be called "Las Frutas." And Best Buy, Staples and Energizer are all in reviews to name Hispanic agencies. The majority of ads targeted at this market are in Spanish, and analysts' forecasts -- after the Hispanic TV upfront presentations last month -- that Univision ad sales will be up 20% indicate healthy growth for Spanish-language media.

Experienced marketers
But experienced Hispanic marketers, especially those targeting segments like the youth market or the affluent, are increasingly getting their messages across in two languages.

"Fifty percent of the brand spots we do for Anheuser-Busch and McDonald's ended up airing in both languages," says Luis Miguel Messianu, chief creative officer of Omnicom Group-backed Del Rivero Messianu DDB, Coral Gables, Fla. "At the shoot we conceptualized it so we knew it could work."

To cover the spectrum of the Latino market, the founders of Hispanic youth marketing agency Ruido Group, New York, are launching a holding company of specialized Hispanic agencies this month under the name Latin Vox Communications. In addition to Ruido, which works with Coca-Cola Co. and other clients, LVC will consist of New York-based shops Cognoscenti Publicidad, the first agency aimed specifically at affluent Latinos; public relations shop C/I Hispana; and ID3 Publicidad, a more traditional Hispanic ad agency.

Cognoscenti, for instance, will do marketer-branded events and networking opportunities, reflecting the lack of platforms and media where affluent Hispanics come together. Ruido focuses on the youth market because 65% of Hispanics are under 35 and "very assertive about culture," says Roberto Ramos, LVC's president-CEO, who was born in Cuba, raised in Costa Rica, and came to the U.S. 20 years ago. LVC will also look at custom publishing to fill the content gap, he says.

"Hispanics are trying to re-establish their roots through retro-acculturation," Mr. Ramos says. "Due to the great acceptance by mainstream culture, that's happening earlier in their lives. They sign up for salsa or Spanish lessons."

About 75% of Latino adults routinely watch TV in both Spanish and English, according to a study by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute. In Latino households, where families tend to watch TV together, two-thirds of respondents said that their children preferred English-language programming. Just 4% preferred to watch TV in Spanish.

Marketers are paying attention. HBO Latino aims squarely at the generation gap with a new on-air promotional campaign. The 34 spots feature a wide cross-section of Latinos, from Spanish-dominant, recent immigrants to second- and third-generation English speakers with little command of Spanish. Delivering off-the-cuff speeches, comedy, poetry and rap, speakers switch quickly between both languages, adding a liberal dose of Spanish.

The spots mirror the network's identity, says the ads' director, Alberto Ferrera, executive producer for on-air promotion and creative services. Focus groups have pinpointed HBO Latino's audience as a mixed demographic with varied command of English, he says.

'Corny' Spanish-language TV
"The children don't want to watch Spanish-language TV because they think it's corny, and the parents won't watch [English-language] HBO because it's in English," Mr. Ferrera says.

The spots, shot in a single day on a $40,000 budget, were so well-received in early screenings that HBO Latino executives are considering editing them into a 30-minute feature to air during Hispanic Heritage Month in September, he says.

Reaching the bicultural consumer can be confusing for marketers who were told for years that they just need to advertise on Hispanic TV to reach the market.

Three-step marketing
"Segmenting by language is important," says Mike Fernandez, who this month opens Latin Factory, a New York-based agency for Hispanic entertainment marketing and grassroots events. This is a niche he identified in his most recent position as a multicultural marketing manager responsible for Hispanic marketing at Pepsi-Cola Co. "Step two is an overlay of in-culture experiential marketing. Step three is your general market plan, with your brand essence and strategic positioning."

Mr. Fernandez grew up with Spanish-speaking Mexican parents in San Antonio, Texas. He says his mother still won't answer the telephone during her favorite novelas on Univision. Mr. Fernandez's own "guilty pleasure," he says, is a dance program called Roof on Telemundo's bilingual cable network Mun2.

"The bicultural consumer is a tough nut to crack," he says. "If I were an Anglo marketer, I'd be completely confused."

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