Amidst all the glitz, glamor and advertising during Sunday’s MTV VMA’s something unprecedented is set to happen: a major advertiser will run a commercial in Spanish, without translation.
In an effort to show how it values multicultural consumers, the wireless company’s new spot not only offers no translation for non-Spanish speakers, it features spokesman Thomas Middleditch looking befuddled trying to address the situation. This is definitely the first time Verizon has offered an untranslated ad during mainstream program, and is believed to be a first for any major advertiser.
“We have a broad audience, and the bi-cultural audience is becoming more and more important,” Diego Scotti, Verizon’s chief marketing officer, tells Marketing Daily. “We wanted to connect with this audience in a special way.”
In the spot, a couple is eating at an outdoor restaurant, when they get a troubling notification on the phone. Cursing their lack of coverage, they work to eat quickly. Seeing the crisis, Middleditch apprehensively approaches the couple before being interrupted by a different spokesman, Hispanic Actor Luis Gerado Mendez. (“I’m someone like you, but ‘en espanol,’” he explains to Middleditch.) Mendez commences explaining Verizon’s network superiority to the couple in Spanish while Middleditch looks on. (Middleditch continues his confusion even after the couple’s problem is solved, believing the term “El Nino” is in reference to the weather, rather than a little boy.)
“It’s cultural moment that makes sense as we try to tell our story in a number of different ways,” Scotti says of placing the ad in the high-profile VMA awards.
The spot was developed by Verizon’s general market agency McCann and multicultural agency The Community. Though Scotti wouldn’t offer specifics, it’s likely the ad — and others like it — will air in other general-market programming. “We’re going to be selective in terms of how we do it,” he says. “We’ll definitely do more and more of it.”
In addition to running the mostly Spanish-language spot, Verizon will also be running a new spot featuring New York Giants’ wide receiver Odell Beckham Junior. That spot is entirely in English.