Lose the Translation

By Published on .

In one of the Vidal Partnership's latest spots for DirecTV, a teenage girl interrupts a sideline sportscaster at a soccer game, frantically pushing him aside and grabbing the mic to make a plea to her father in rapid Spanish. "Please," she says, "I don't only want to watch sports. I want to watch channels that I like, too." In another, a young man sits on a stage with members of a talk show love triangle to get his mother's attention. Other than the fresh concept and slapstick execution (the girl punches out a furry mascot that tries to interrupt her), the spots are notable because they represent the agency's strategic work targeting the Hispanic community in the U.S. from their five offices.

Directed by Wasabi Film's Diego Kaplan (whose suckling MTV baby won Cannes hardware last year), the campaign's debut led to a 34 percent rise in calls for the satellite service's DirecTV Para Todos ("DirecTV for everyone") package, which includes Spanish-language channels along with general-market channels. "What we've been trying to get across is the idea that to have successful Hispanic advertising, you don't just translate and insert a mariachi in every spot," says Mauricio Galvan-Zamudio, creative director at the Vidal Partnership. "It needs to be an idea that connects to a Hispanic client, and if it's in the strategy, it might not be as obvious." In the case of DirecTV, the strategy was to literally talk to the person in a Hispanic household that makes decisions about the television service during the programs that they watch the most. Once the clients accepted that strategy, they allowed Galvan and his team to have fun with the creative content. Alex Pallete, director of account planning, says that these spots are especially appropriate for a multi-generational household that has older members wanting Spanish-language programming as well as younger kids who are bilingual. "Playing with the idea of completeness includes the whole family," he says.

These spots represent just another recent success for the rapidly growing agency, which plans to add eight new creative staffers to the current 10-member team, which is led by Galvan from the agency's New York headquarters. In June, the agency won a $30 million Home Depot account, and it also handles Old Navy, Heineken, MasterCard, Diageo and Century 21. Two days after last August's blackout in the Northeast, the agency debuted a spot from Heineken targeted toward Caribbean, and more specifically Dominican beer drinkers with a conversation relating to Santo Domingo's infamous power outages, in which two friends save the Heinekens in the fridge. The ad is punctuated with a logo and the tag "New York or Santo Domingo?" and served as an inside joke that boosted brand strength in the community.

But the American Hispanic market, while diverse, is growing quickly, and the Vidal Partnership is eager to point out that there is plenty of opportunity for strong creative based on strategy. "This market is constantly evolving," says Galvan. "There was a point where each community was separate from each other and they didn't mix; I think now they're starting to mix, and you can see them sharing culture and messages, not just the one targeted toward their nationality. Being Hispanic isn't the point-it's the medium for the message."

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