Marketing To Latinos: Perception Versus Reality

Latinos continue to be misunderstood by advertisers. Despite their strong purchasing power of $1.5 trillion each year, advertisers need to start "marketing to Latinos based on their needs, not where they are from," says "Orange Is The New Black" actress Dascha Polanco. She spoke at the 4As Transformation Conference Tuesday afternoon at a session with Valdez Productions’ Jeff Valdez. Former JWT CEO Gustavo Martinez was scheduled to participate but bowed out after a sex harassment lawsuit naming him as defendant made national headlines two weeks ago. 

Advertisers continue to segregate the Latino audience in their marketing plans, Polanco asserted. Last year, Polanco starred only in the Spanish version of Old Navy ads, while Amy Poehler was featured in the English-version spots. "I guess language was the goal, but I didn't understand the difference," she says.  



In fact, half of U.S. Latinos don't speak Spanish. "You can't target an audience that doesn't have a connection. It has to start from the bottom to the top," said Polanco.  

Polanco embodies the conundrum that advertisers face when trying to speak to the Latino community. For instance, she has never done one Spanish-speaking show, yet she is often siloed as a Latino actress. She recounts one audition where she freaked out because she needed to fake a Mexican accent since it was assumed she would have a perfect one. "There is a lot of labeling,” she said. 

Perceptions about Latinos in t he U.S. don’t reflect reality. Some 47% of white Americans think Latinos are here illegally, while the actual figure is 16%, says Valdez. Only 3% of news stories on NBC are about Latinos, and of these stories, 64% are about crime and immigration. 

Ultimately the most effective strategies in changing these perceptions are access and education. "Target them based on their needs," says Polanco.  

Lip service to diversity won’t lead to meaningful change, added Valdez. 

1 comment about "Marketing To Latinos: Perception Versus Reality".
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  1. cara marcano from reporte hispano, March 25, 2016 at 11:56 a.m.

    Polanco's  comment that "half of U.S. Latinos do not speak Spanish."
    This comment is completely false. This is not true at all. It is a statement Polanco makes without any regard for fact. 73 % of Hispanics in the U.S. over the age of 5 live in a household where Spanish is spoken at home, within the home. The vast majority of Latinos in the this time speak Spanish. Here is a link to recent data that shows this. With facts.
    Read the data.

    There are many Hispanics in the U.S. at this time who do not speak Spanish. We feel for them. They are still Latino. They are NOT the majority of Hispanics. The majority of Latinos in the U.S. at this time speak Spanish. Spanish is something more than 95% of them claim is important to them and their chlidren and to their cultural identity. You can't be a good media planner or marketer in the U.S. at this time without accepting this.
     If Polanco wanted Poehler's job she should say so. She shouldn't as Mr. Martinez did attempt to bash or degrade or devalue the Spanish-speaking Latino majority in the U.S. at this time. Martinez tried that and we all see where and what that got him. Spanish is necessary for Hispanic marketing and Spansh media is necessary for Media buying to drive sales in the U.S. at this time in the Hispanic market.  A more interesting question might be why this fact, why facts like these are so hard for some of these folks to accept.

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