I am happy to have been selected as a guest speaker at this year’s LATISM (Latinos in Social Media) Conference in Houston. Last year, I had the pleasure of attending the national traveling conference when it came close to my neck of the woods at Chicago’s Navy Pier. I found the experience both educational and inspiring (you can read my recap post about the 2011 conference here). In Houston, I will be a panelist for a discussion under the business track entitled “Understanding the New Hispanic Consumer”, a session dedicated understanding the key issues businesses must remember to create effective strategies to reach Latinos. I am looking forward to participating on the panel, rekindling old friendships, and making new connections.
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?
I remember listening to popular music as a teenager. Sometimes the way lyrics were sung gave much leeway to misinterpretations. Some of the most famous misinterpretations have become almost legendary and many can be found on the website www.kissthisguy.com. The site is named after the popular Jimi Hendrix song Purple Haze in which the lyrics “’Scuse me while I kiss the sky” have often been misinterpreted as “’Scuse me while I kiss this guy”. Kind of funny. What happens, though, when the layer of a second language defines how an individual interprets the letras of a song? The results can be amusing, if not somewhat clever.
I had just completed a new blog post this week when the Pew Hispanic Center released another study. This one is about the turnaround in Mexican immigration. According to the report, immigration from Mexico has dropped to zero and possibly even less. Like their previous report about Hispanic/Latino identity, this latest report also has implications for marketers and brands. So, is this now the end of Hispanic marketing? Again, not really.
A report this past month from the Pew Hispanic Center states that neither of the terms “Hispanic” or “Latino” has been fully embraced by individuals of… well… Hispanic or Latino origin. While this may not be new news to those of us who belong or work within Latino populations, the report indicates challenges many brands and marketers face in trying to connect with Hispanic demographics. According to the report, half of Latinos identify more strongly with their respective country of origin (Mexico, Puerto Rico, Colombia, etc.) rather than a pan-Latino identity. Is this the end of Hispanic marketing? Not really. The answer, however, may be much more complicated.
I was honored recently to have a guest spot on the West Michigan based show Radio in Black in White. The show, facilitated by Skot Welch and Rick Wilson, covers topics related to race, ethnicity, and cultural competence. Skot and Rick have many years of collective experience in these areas and will often delve into uncharted waters during their weekly broadcast discussions. I appeared during a segment of the show when they took a few moments to talk about Latino culture, Hispanic marketing, and the origins of Latino Branding Power. Listen to the clip below featuring my talk with Skot and Rick:
In October, I wrote a post proclaiming a manifesto against discrimination for multicultural and Hispanic marketing professionals. In my opinion, not only do we have an obligation to our clients and business needs, but also to make our communities better places to live. Unfortunately, discriminatory attitudes still exist in advertising, marketing, and media. The good news is that those who have had the most negative impact on the perceptions of race and ethnicity are also in the unique position to propagate the most good. A recent campaign from Mexico may suggest there are other professionals that agree.
At last month’s LATISM conference, I couldn’t help but notice that the majority of attendees and presenters were Latina. I realize this observation should not be a surprise, as Latina bloggers continue to influence the online world. But this being my first social media conference, I found it a refreshing divergence from the typically male dominated worlds of computers and technology. Every day, these social media mavens provide highly valued content to their peers throughout the nation and internationally. Many brands have jumped on board with their advertising dollars. Those who haven’t would be wise to take notice.
Last month, I had the pleasure of being interviewed again. This time it was by Chantilly Patiño of the respected blog sites Bicultural Mom and Multicultural Familia. Chantilly has earned a community of followers that values her insights and perspectives. (She is also a fellow West Michigander, originally from Muskegon, Michigan) Although Chantilly covers many topics related to multiculturalism, she excels with her discussions about families and relationships. Being a blogger of multicultural marketing related topics, I was honored to receive the invitation.
The video above is a montage from a vacation I took to Michoacán, Mexico during the holiday known as El Día De Los Muertos (The Day of the Dead). My mother and I made the journey together a few years ago and had a fantastic time. Although a celebration to honor the dead may seem a bit macabre from a Western influenced point of view, for the indigenous populations of Mexico and Central America, it is a very commonplace tradition. What can this fatalist inspired holiday teach us about the attitudes and values held by many Latino communities?
In 2005, during my sabbatical in Mexico, I spent a period of time working in a Querétaro marketing firm as a designer. I decided to lend my expertise in exchange for the opportunity to experience day-to-day life in a Spanish-speaking work environment. One day, I was working on an assignment for a real estate client, developing layouts for a promotional print ad. As I had done many times before, I scoured stock photography websites for good images. I found one particular photo of a smiling young couple enjoying their recently purchased home. The couple in the photo happened to be of African heritage. I later reviewed the new designs with the agency’s director. When we came to the layout with the young couple, he pointed to the image and said, “I’m sorry, but here in Mexico we cannot feature images of dark complected people.”
The recent passing of Apple founder and super-star innovator Steve Jobs has saddened us. Mr. Jobs truly challenged many dialogues with regard to how people access technology and media. One such area Jobs has been credited for reinventing is the digital music industry. Through the invention of the iPod and the iTunes music store, he and Apple placed music and entertainment into the hands and pockets of people the world over. Interestingly enough, a recently released study by Dr. Felipe Korzenny of the Center for Hispanic Marketing Communications at Florida State University (FSU) explored the use digital music by Latinos and other ethnic populations. Considering audiences that marketers in the music industry have traditionally targeted, the study results may be a bit of a surprise.
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.