Branding to end racism

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.

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Latina strong

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.

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Bicultural Mom interviews Latino Branding Power

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.

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Como familia…

Last week, I had the privilege of attending the Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) annual conference in Chicago. LATISM is credited as the largest organization of Hispanic professionals engaged in social media. The 2011 conference, held at Chicago’s Navy Pier, was two and a half days of sessions and workshops that focused on opportunities for Hispanic professionals to use social media in public service, community empowerment, and business development. To augment my participation in the LATISM conference, I designed an infographic to show how Latinos currently engage in social media across the U.S. Originally, I had planned to write this blog post as a follow up review of the professional development and networking opportunities provided at the LATISM conference. Although there were certainly plenty of these opportunities, I decided to modify my post’s focus in light of all that transpired for me both personally and professionally during my attendance at LATISM’11.

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Infographic: Latinos are winning in social media

By the time you read this post, I will be in Chicago at the annual Latinos in Social Media (LATISM) national conference. I had been looking for a relevant professional development opportunity for several months and when I found out LATISM’11 was being held in Chicago, a relatively close traveling distance for me in Grand Rapids, Michigan, I immediately registered my attendance. In honor of the LATISM’11 conference, I have designed an infographic inspired by the popular Mexican game Lotería. The infographic features information about how Latinos continue to “win” with their presence in social media. Please feel free to download the infographic and post it proudly in your place of business, office space, or on your computer or mobile device screen.

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What we can learn from the Day of the Dead

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?

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A Latino/a manifesto against discrimination

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.”

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Let la música take control

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.

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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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More Latino families will soon be attending college graduation parties

Several years ago, my wife and I went to the college graduation party for a son of one of her close friends. The young man being honored had just finished a degree in criminal justice from Grand Rapids Community College and was the first in his family to pursue higher education. After proud family members and close friends gave him a standing ovation for his efforts, he composed himself and thanked everyone for attending. I recall the how the conversations that day revolved around him being a pioneer in his family. I also wondered if we would begin to see more Latinos like this young man pursuing higher education. A recent study by the Pew Hispanic Center would seem to answer my question. Perhaps more Latino families, like the one above, will soon be attending college graduation parities.

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Book review of Latino Link by Joe Kutchera

This past spring I had the pleasure of reading the book Latino Link by online Hispanic marketing expert Joe Kutchera. Latino Link explores the online world of connecting brands to Latino consumers and communities. Kutchera himself has extensive knowledge and experience in this arena and his book offers a wealth of valuable marketing strategies, leading case studies, and relevant cultural insights. Latino Link is Kutchera’s fist book and is published by Paramount Market Publishing, a leading book publisher for multi-cultural business interests. Several months ago, after I tweeted that I completed reading Latino Link, Kutchera asked if I could write a review. I have finally been able to put my thoughts into a blog post.

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Recognizing Afro-Latino perspectives

Back in February, I wrote a post about the African influence in Latin America. The effort earned some attention and since I have wanted to write a follow-up post on a related topic. While my previous contribution dealt with the perspectives of Afro-Latinos in Latin American nations and history, I was recently inspired by a re-post from the blog New Latina. Blog contributor Tracy Lopez wrote an in-depth interview with three Afro-Latinas who give their personal reflections of what it means to be a Latina of African decent. I found the interviews both engaging and revealing. In addition, I believe the reflections from Afro-Latinos(as) are important insights to consider for organizations seeking effective outreach to Hispanic communities.

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The importance of indigenous Latin America

My wife and I took a vacation to the beautiful Canadian city of Toronto recently. We found that Toronto boasts having some of the finest collections of Inuit art and sculpture. The Inuit, who represent the indigenous populations of northern Canada, have maintained many of their traditions and customs for generations. Inspired, I couldn’t help think about similarities with the indigenous populations from Latin America. Like the Inuit, these populations have had a significant impact on the culture and customs of Latinos. As marketers, when we seek to connect with Latino populations, we should consider the values and beliefs held by the indigenous and understand their perseverance in Latin American culture.

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Chris Queso interviews Latino Branding Power

Once again, I was honored last month to be interviewed about the topic of marketing to Latinos. This time Chris Craft, owner of Nao Media in Columbus, Georgia, facilitated the Q&A. Chris recently started is own personal blog dedicated to branding and marketing called “Chris Loves You”. The interview was the first post of Chris’ new blog and coincided with a previous interview I did for Nao with his associate Yu Miyagawa. Thanks again to Chris “Queso” for his support.

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How important is language for Latinos?

Spending time with family this past summer, I was made aware of how multilingual Latino individuals can be. My mother-in-law came to visit from Puerto Rico a few weeks ago and we all gathered for a cookout one day. It was interesting to see the various ways everyone would communicate and interact. My mother-in-law practically spoke all in Spanish. My wife, who grew up both in Puerto Rico and the U.S., easily toggled between English and Spanish. The younger generations, who spoke primarily in English, would occasionally try their hand at Spanish with our visiting matriarch. Yet, despite our various levels of bilingualism, we all able to share together as a family. Assuming our family is just as common as many other Latino families, to what extent should language determine how companies and organizations connect to Hispanics in the U.S.?

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