HMC To CMOs: Continue 'Latino Coating' At Your Own (Career) Risk


The Hispanic Marketing Council today unveiled a new campaign calling on marketers to stop the practice of “Latino Coating.” Which is kind of like greenwashing but instead of pretending to care about the environment, it’s about brands that pretend to care about properly marketing to Hispanic communities.  

Or as the Council put it in a statement, “Latino Coating is defined as a superficial marketing approach coating products, campaigns, media or entertainment with Latino elements for the appearance of diversity without genuine understanding or respecting Latino culture. This behavior involves surface-level attempts at inclusion, such as incorporating stereotypical imagery, language, or cultural elements into marketing campaigns, without a deeper connection or meaningful representation.” 



The Council cites research that the Hispanic market constitutes 20% of the U.S. population and represents $3.2 trillion in GDP, “essentially making it the fifth largest economy in the world.” By contrast, brands spend less than 4% of their advertising budgets on Hispanic-targeted efforts. 

The creative development for campaign, #StopLatinoCoating, was led by Luis Miguel Messianu, Founder, President and Chief Creative Officer of MEL (Messianu Edelman Lerma). Creyentes and Casanova//McCann also contributed, with input from the Council’s board. 

“To us, Latino Coating is a form of cultural appropriation that seeks to capitalize on Latino identity for marketing purposes without genuinely valuing or respecting the culture,” explained Messianu. “It’s akin to whitewashing, greenwashing, or rainbow washing, but it preys on Latino identity—offering a mere illusion of inclusivity by adding Latino elements on the surface. It’s activating during Hispanic Heritage Month and patting yourself on the back.” 

The Council also points to McKinsey research asserting that more than a third of Latinos are dissatisfied with current products or value propositions being offered.  

“CMOs who do the bare minimum, check boxes and engage in Latino Coating are not only doing their organizations a disservice but they are also risking their careers,” the Council warns.  

The HMC offers the following advice:   

  • Increase Hispanic marketing spend levels commensurate with the Latino $3.2 trillion buying power. The general market is dead, and marketers must be savvier to capture the hearts and minds of today’s multicultural consumer. 

  • Delve deeper into understanding Latino culture, respecting its complexity, and acknowledging diverse perspectives and experiences to ensure their products and services stay relevant and valuable to Latinos. 

  • Ensure there’s meaningful representation. Authenticity comes from genuinely representing Latino communities, not just by being visible but by understanding and respecting their values and experiences. Latinos don’t want to be targeted; they want to be seen and valued. 

  • Seek and pay for the right help. Work with partners who truly understand the Latino cultural context so brands can forge real connections with the U.S. Hispanic market. 

More from the campaign can be found here. It was introduced at the HMC's annual summit in New York. 

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