Is controversy appropriate in Hispanic marketing?

Today, the Dallas based pizza franchise Pizza Patrón will launch a one-day marketing effort to connect with its burgeoning Latino consumer base. For a three-hour period, Pizza Patrón will give away free pizza pies to customers who order in Spanish. This seemingly low-key promotion tactic has actually sparked controversy for the pizza chain–mainly from critics who feel rewarding those who order in Spanish is discriminatory. Good or bad, controversy surrounding the marketing stunt has given Pizza Patrón plenty of publicity. Is there a place for controversy in marketing campaigns, even those that reference Latinos?

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Latino Branding Power debuts in Rapid Growth Media

Last week, I was happy to have a small feature in Rapid Growth Media, a local online weekly that reports about the arts, innovation, and economic development in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was interviewed by journalist and creative strategist John Rumery about Latino Branding Power as well as some of my thoughts and insights about marketing to Latinos.

Check out the Rapid Growth Media feature here.

Latino communities: Better by design

Since last month, I have been involved in a new initiative that uses human centered design to solve issues within Latino communities. The Keller Futures Center, an innovative program through the Grand Rapids Community College, facilitates project-based initiatives to help solve unmet and emerging needs in West Michigan communities. Previous research determined that resiliency is a key ingredient in the success of Latino youth – specifically within education.  Existing as a community coalition representing education, business, non-profits, philanthropy, parents, and students, the Latino Resiliency Project will innovate for seven weeks on the topic of what drives resiliency in our youth and determine how resiliency has a positive impact on the educational achievement and overall life conditions for Latino youth.

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A tale of two fiestas

This time of the year is always exciting for me. Being the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month, there are many activities and an increased sense of pride among Latino communities. Here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, we celebrate with two major festivals dedicated to Hispanic interests. The first full weekend of September is the Fiesta Hispana, a celebration of the wide variety of Latin American nations. The second festival, Fiesta Mexicana, coincides with Mexican Independence Day and is a celebration acknowledging the largest group of Latinos in West Michigan, the Mexican Americans. Because I was involved for several years in the planning of Fiesta Mexicana, I am occasionally asked, “Why are there two Hispanic festivals in Grand Rapids?” or “When are they going to combine both festivals into one?” Although I am not overly surprised when this question arises, I believe it does indicate a larger misinterpretation among some about how Latino communities exist and perceive themselves.

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Social media opens doors for “mama y papa” businesses

We have read the news and are aware of the hype – Latinos continue to rock in the social media world. Likewise, recent statistics indicate Hispanic small business owners continue to grow in influence as well. Case in point, a quick drive down the Latino dominant Grandville Avenue in Grand Rapids, Michigan, one will pass several locally owned “mom and pop” businesses; party stores, restaurants, bodegas, taquerías, and salons. Although we have seen plenty of professional and acculturated Latino businesses embrace social media, what kind of value can it deliver for local “mama y papa” businesses?

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Free advice for retailers

Last year I completed a professional certification in Hispanic Marketing Communications through  Florida State University. Since 2009, the F.S.U. Hispanic Marketing department has offered a course that is geared primarily to working professionals. It was a great opportunity to augment my credentials and I would highly recommend the course to others. For a final class assignment, students were asked to study a particular company or industry and develop a comprehensive Hispanic marketing strategy. For my assignment, I choose Grand Rapids based retailer Meijer, Inc.

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Marketing to Latinos in the Midwest

Photo credit: Juan Daniel Castro

This past month was the closing of a personal chapter for me. Since 2003, I have served on the board of directors for a West Michigan based non-profit called the Mexican Heritage Association (MHA). The MHA has been a proud institution in the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan for over forty years. Its flagship event is the Fiesta Mexicana, a three day celebration of Mexican culture that coincides with Mexican Independence Day every mid-September. The photo above was taken just minutes before the ceremonial Grito de Independencia as a huge crowd of patrons covered the Calder Plaza in downtown Grand Rapids.
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