Bilingual/Bicultural Latinos don’t live in two worlds: Part I

In advertising, bilingual, multicultural on November 30, 2010 at 1:16 am

If you haven’t noticed by now advertisers and brands are anxiously trying to reach the Hispanic market. Most importantly they are stumped as to how to properly target that bilingual/bicultural consumer who lives in both the Anglo and Latino worlds, as they always say. Given we represent almost 70% of Hispanics in the U.S., it’s important they talk to us in the most relevant way possible.  Many have come to the realization that it’s not about reaching us in-language -it’s not about English or Spanish; but rather content regardless of language. But what happens to all those other times when you are not living your Anglo or Hispanic side but are just part of the mainstream…and I’m not talking white America?

You might say, it’s easy to target Latinos with music, food, or refranes/colloquialisms that are specific to the Latino culture. But what happens when you try to target us in our Anglo world? What are those Anglo occasions?

For example, what happens when I go to a Thai restaurant, then head out to a bar to watch some football with some friends and then catch a breakdancing battle all in one day? What world am I living then? This is exactly what I did a few weeks ago on a Sunday night and yet it’s hard for me to imagine how marketers/advertisers are supposed to reach me on such an eclectic night like that.

That’s why I see it a little bit different. When we talk about content it shouldn’t be about Anglo vs. Hispanic but about the vast amount of cultures that make up America…not Anglo but multicultural. Latinos don’t live in two worlds, they now have the option to live in multiple worlds. Just think about it, that Sunday night I lived three different worlds and cultures. I participated in Thai culture -with chopsticks and all, I participated in traditional Anglo culture with beer, football and foosball, and then I participated in breakdancing culture – along with hundreds of 16-25 year olds who shared moves I can’t possibly replicate. The greatest thing about that night is that there wasn’t one time when I was thinking as a Latina or as an Anglo. I was just being me. Enjoying every second of what New York City had to offer. Embracing life for what it is and being a part of those cultures as if they were my own.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it was a missed opportunity when there wasn’t a single brand sponsoring the vast amount of Latinos and multicultural kids who were showing off their moves at the Kings of New York Breakdancing Battle or when 10 Latinos including myself were enjoying a delicious Thai meal together. But then again, it really wasn’t an opportunity that was missed according to brands.

As an advertiser, I am going to share with you what usually happens inside corporate America. As executives plan strategies on how to best target Latinos of various acculturation levels; large amount of studies, research and findings are bought to help with this planning process.  What usually happens is that these quantitative studies show a side of bilinguals that is usually seen on TV today…The majority of Latinos love soccer, the majority of Latina moms are stay at home or work part-time, Latinos are the first group to head out and catch the summer blockbusters…and the list goes on and on. So, unfortunately it’s not a stereotype but what they consider the facts. While some brands are beginning to open up, we need to help many other brands scratch the surface- but they need numbers to believe it and to convince those making the decisions.

It’s time we as Latinos start to show the influence we have in America. It’s time we unite and use social media (from twitter, to facebook to our blogs) to our advantage. So that every time we post a video, share a link or upload a picture we share with others what we are truly into beyond the norm. This way we can start to teach advertisers but most importantly clients/brands that we do more than the stereotypes and we can start to open their minds to our many eclectic and diverse worlds.

So, let’s start here. What are you into? I have opened a facebook account so we can share what we do beyond the stereotypes… LatinasyPunto on facebook.

  1. ooh, so much to list that doesn’t fit in the stereotype. i love to read fiction, especially short stories. can’t live without vietnamese food. enjoy riding my bike to work. etsy and all things crafty. npr and the wall street journal. letting my dogs live with us inside the house (versus on the porch like in my hometown).

    but mexican food will always be my favorite 🙂 i *heart* arroz y frijoles.

    great post!

  2. very well said !

  3. we are approaching la raza cosmica…sometimes our close ties to the mother land aren’t so present in our daily lives, that we actually are just being what we know to be..

    ourselves..a fusion of ideas, cultures and realities…

    come and listen to my ipod and you’ll get the point! haha..



    • Thanks David. It’s so interesting and true that our biculturalism extends beyond one aspect of our lives from our ipods, to the food we eat, from the Spanglish that may or may not slip our tongues, to the holidays we celebrate…it’s all a large fusion of realities as you said. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Great blog post! Could you drop me an email at ?

    Voto Latino is the leading Latino youth civic engagement organization, co-founded by the actress Rosario Dawson. Would love to add you to our blogger coalition and keep you posted on our initiatives. Your description of life in NYC is very much that of our bicultural audience. Keep up the great blogging!

  5. Loved your post and I completely support the idea that we Latino-Americans live in multiple worlds. (I believe this idea encompasses more than just Latinos too.) In my life, I listen to music in Spanish, French, English, Italian, a variety of Polynesian languages, Japanese and occasionally Tagalong. I’ve also visited a few places around the world, including a two-year volunteer stay in the South Pacific. The more I travel, the less you can place me within a certain category.

    It’s unfortunate that so many advertisers look at the stereotypes and don’t realize that being American is being multicultural.

    Thanks again for the post. I really enjoyed it.

    • Patrick thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. You are totally right about this topic encompassing more than just Hispanics. The more I talk to people the more evident it is that we are becoming more and more multicultural because of the nature of how we live life today. We are much more open to various cultures, we are exposed to more global issues and because of technology we can be a part of conversations that matter wherever we are, see videos that expose us to things we care about and educate ourselves on things that in the past we may not have been able to. I have to say it’s pretty neat to be living life today. Now, if we could just get advertisers and brands to get it!

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