Goodbye, Don Francisco; Hello, 'The Root': Cultural Awakening Of U.S. Hispanic America

Within a matter of 30 days, Univision made two sweeping changes to a cultural institution in the United States; they cancelled one of the longest running shows on television, “”Sabado Gigante,” and purchased the largest online website for African-Americans, “The Root.” 

“Sabado Gigante” was the most-watched show in the U.S. by Hispanics and many signified its cancellation as a bellwether for the end of Spanish-language media, however I think it points to a broader cultural shift among U.S. Hispanics. 

“Sabado Gigante” was riddled with misogynistic and racist undertones that appealed to a certain generation but as millennials comprise now the largest generation in the U.S. and Hispanics making up over 20% of this group, this type of entertainment no longer flies. 

The purchase of “The Root” by Univision points to “ties that have long bound people of color together” and symbolizes “ even greater levels of communication” between Hispanics and African-Americans as Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the Hutchins Center for African and African-American Research at Harvard University, points out. 



Hispanics and African-Americans have historically had tensions in the U.S., but as each generation becomes more multicultural — Gen Z, for example, has the largest percentage of mixed race ancestry in history — a more multicultural world view is being adopted by U.S. Hispanics. 

The meteoric rise of Pitbull, whose music melds African-American and Latino rhythms, points to a more multicultural mainstream. 

African-Americans are also adopting Hispanic culture. An interesting analysis of the similarities and intersections of bachata and blues highlights how Hispanic and African-American cultures are continuing to blend in the U.S. The former bachata super group, Aventura, for example, were raised on a steady musical diet of Rap and R&B. 

For Total Market cheerleaders, this acquisition points to a Total Market paradigm. However, I think this signifies something more critical, an awareness of how large the influence of Hispanics and African-Americans have on culture at large. 

Univision has doubled down on a fresh Hispanic perspective by simultaneously bidding adieu to a dated version of the Hispanic worldview, “Sabado Gigante” and purchasing “The Root.” Univision now owns the two largest media properties for both Hispanic and African-Americans, positioning them as a trendsetter powerhouse, a leader in leading the new multicultural mainstream. 

The implications for marketers extends beyond the tired message of putting multicultural first. This acquisition further cements Hispanic and African-American consumers as trendsetters, pushing brands even more to target them with cultural competency in order to create a halo adoption across other demographic cohorts. 

We are living in exciting times, a cultural awakening not just for these two groups, but for America at large and the landscape for marketers becomes more complex, leaving more room for creativity and culturally relevant marketing to arise.

1 comment about "Goodbye, Don Francisco; Hello, 'The Root': Cultural Awakening Of U.S. Hispanic America".
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  1. Tony Dagnery from SIMBIOSIS Consulting LLC, June 25, 2015 at 9:48 p.m.

    Timely piece Mario.  Your example of how Hispanic and African-American cultures have borrowed from each other and influenced each other through music made me think of a time when disco and house were influenced cross-culturally (if you will) and one could hear African rhythms, Salsa, Big Band and even orchestral compositions in the sounds.  Groups of people from all backgrounds; Latinos, Black, Gay, Anglo, rich, poor and middle-class, were filling dance floors and dancing together in unison.  So this change has been in the making for a long time.  It's just that now it's out there for all of us to see, enjoy and celebrate.  And that's a wonderful thing.    

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