If You Want Hispanics, Buy Hispanic

  • by , Featured Contributor, March 28, 2016

Since the beginning of television advertising, we’ve studied how every single nuance can impact a consumer’s likelihood to be persuaded. “Should that road look wet or dry?” “Hold it in your right hand to imply more trustworthiness.” “Get the food artist in here to rearrange the sesame seeds!” “Are you sure that we can’t do that thing with the ice anymore?”

Now we’re supposed to believe that the language doesn’t matter. 

¿De verdad crees?*

There is a byproduct of Total Audience Planning that assumes that there’s a way for one size to fit all if you work the algorithms hard enough. That’s exactly the sort of thinking that can lead to missing the target if you’re literally not speaking to your audience.

Following along a total audience planning model, there’s a sense that you can reach all the Hispanics you need with general market programming. It’s the “everybody’s watching, so I will get them without having to buy Hispanics separately” theory. However, audience fragmentation, time shifting and other realities of the video landscape have diffused the hubris that fuels the “everybody’s watching” position. Other than some extremely big ticket live programming, even event programming is niche programming today.



One of the biggest events to air in January was the Golden Globe Awards. An analysis of Nielsen Npower data shows that just 5% of its audience was Hispanic Adults 18-49. NCIS, the top drama on general market television, enjoys an audience that is 96% non-Hispanic. In fact, the show’s 1% Hispanic A18-49 audience might as well just be a sampling error.

Shows such as the CW’s Jane the Virgin and Fox’s Empire are assumed to deliver strong Hispanic audiences. Yet the Jane audience is not stuffed with Hispanic viewers. Only 15% of its audience comes from Hispanic homes. Empire’s audience is only 6% Hispanic. Six percent! 

Don’t forget the king’s ransom you pay in a CPM premium to reach Hispanic viewers on Empire or some other English-language program – with 94% of the audience outside of your intended target.

Programming on Hispanic networks delivers an audience that’s at least 97% Hispanic, no matter if it’s on Univision, Estrella TV, Telemundo, or any other Hispanic network. 

If you advertise on Hispanic networks, you get Hispanic viewers. Period.

“Hispanic” is not simply a demographic. Hispanic is a culture. 

Hispanic viewers who speak any amount of Spanish in their homes are drawn to their cultural touchstone Spanish language programming. Even those viewers who speak mostly English tune in to more than their fair share of programs on Hispanic networks. The language emotionally connects Hispanics to the content. 

The language spoken in advertising has a direct correlation to effectiveness with Hispanic consumers, according to a Nielsen’s TV Brand Effect study. Within Spanish Dominant homes, ads in Spanish had a 32% lift in likeability in A35+ homes, along with a 26% increase in brand recall. English ads in these same homes had only an 8% lift in likeability and 5% for brand recall. Even with bilingual homes, ads in Spanish deliver a 23% boost in likeability and a whopping 37% surge in brand recall. 

Hispanic programming delivers audiences that are virtually 100% Hispanic – and this audience appreciates being spoken to in their own language. They may be ambi-cultural, but they forge and revere deep connections to their heritage. Establishing brand connections with this powerful consumer base in Spanish will encourage them to become a loyal brand customer. 

Hispanic viewers aren’t bonus weight. If they are an advertising target, they should be treated as one. Hispanic consumers are a group that will represent nearly $1.7 trillion in buying power by 2017. For that sort of potential, it makes absolute sense to speak to them in their own language, where they can be found – watching programming that values them as much as they value it.

At its heart, advertising is about communicating a message. If you fail to speak a consumer’s language, it doesn’t matter how many art directors you use – your audience just won’t hear you.

* Do you really think so?

1 comment about "If You Want Hispanics, Buy Hispanic".
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  1. Marcelo Salup from Iffective LLC, March 28, 2016 at 3:57 p.m.

    I don't know where "total market" planning got (1) completely perverted and (2) sidetracked but, many of us have practiced this total market planning for years. I, for one, was among the staunchest defenders of hispanic advertising because, precisely, of total market planning. But, in my view:

    1. Total market is defined by understanding the relative importance, market by market, of the different groups in your sales

    2. There needs to be specific creative for each group, so that English-dominant Hispanic get their own advertising (as opposed to general market) and Spanish-dominant ones get their own, Spanish language advertising

    3. There has to be a degree of equalization (to make up for "pockets" of underdelivery on your regular buys) and of incremental support aligned with (1) purchasing behaviors and (2) strategic direction

    At FCB I invented Visual C++ tools for both, equalization/incremental delivery and total market planning

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