Live from Directo Days: Connecting Creatively with Hispanics

New York— Hispanic audiences differ from general U.S. markets in their reactions to themes and their presentations, said author and consultant Ronnie Lipton during a session on creative content Monday at DMA Directo Days. Touching on photography, layout, and legibility, among other elements, Lipton shared two dozen ways that creative can and cannot connect with a Hispanic audience.

When it comes to stereotypes, Lipton said that marketers often make the mistake of using symbols such as cactus, hot peppers, and sombreros when they do not make sense with the message or theme.

Some marketers put models in traditional Hispanic clothing – Lipton pointed out a recent TV spot for General Motors that had an actor in traditional Mexican clothing, though the commercial was filmed in a well-known Miami location. In that instance, Lipton added, the advertiser committed another no-no: The model was dressed in bright colors that were inappropriate with the message.

Hispanics can also be offended when the fonts used in Hispanic campaigns do not match the message but provide a stereotypical Hispanic flavor. The best bet, according to Lipton, is to avoid fonts with names such as Fiesta, Siesta, Carumba, Mambo, and Fajita. The six more preferred typefaces: Garamond, Goudy, Palatino, Caecillia, Caslon, and Gill Sans.

As with marketing targeting a more general audience, the people in images within direct campaigns should interact with the product or the service and be “relatable.” Though there should be a sizable representation of models with olive skin and dark hair and eyes, they needn’t be the only types of models cast. But it is important that models look “real,” rather than like supermodels, though they should dress sexier, wear more jewelry and makeup, and be more fashionable that the general market.

“Hispanics want to look attractive and put together,” Lipton said. “Hispanic women do not just roll out of bed and go to the supermarket.”

Since family is an important value to Hispanics, people should be shown in groups, and women should never be posed alone in a family-type of setting. And when in doubt, feature children when it makes sense to include them.

“You almost can’t go wrong when you include children, but it has to be appropriate,” Lipton said.

Hispanic campaigns, according to Lipton, should make use of three themes. The first is an emphasis on the group rather than the individual. The second is showing what is special about a product or a service without slamming the competition—in other words, demonstrate what makes your offering unique instead of saying, “We’re better than Brand X.”

The third, theme is the demonstration of machismo—but only when appropriate. An ad for the U.S. Army showing people jumping from airplanes, for example, was appropriate, but Volkswagen’s billboards in Miami last fall promoting the 2006 GTI were not. The text “Turbo Cojones” on the billboard was considered profane by the Hispanic community.

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