It’s Not Just About Language, It’s About Understanding

Posted by hispanicize on Jun 28 2011
by Juan Aceves,

For some time now there has been a lot of debate over how to best reach the Hispanic/Latino consumer and contrary to most arguments is the one of language. The Census figures, though culprit in part for the “new” interest in this segment of the population, have only confirmed what was already common knowledge, that Hispanics/Latinos are becoming a force to be reckoned with.

Another important result from the Census figures is that they have opened the Pandora’s box that the American-born Latinos represent. These new citizens of the United States of America still carry in their blood traditions and a language that come mostly from south of the border, yet are as American as can be; this conundrum generation has thrown the entire advertising industry for a loop.

But, it’s not just the Hispanic-American youth that is making waves in the U.S. society, it is also the African-American youth, the Asian-American youth, the Indian-American youth, the European-American youth and all the other young people in this country who are being exposed to incredible diversity since birth that are saying: Enough hyphenated identities!

So, it would seem that in view of this new generation’s inclusive mentality, advertising is in need of a serious update, not multicultural, Hispanic, African-American, or Asian advertising, but the entire industry. Mainstream advertising must evolve and adapt to a new reality: The fabric of this nation, the makeup of the United States of America is changing, the White majority is not the standard anymore.

Previous notions of “Whitefication” and assimilation, of incorporation and homogeneity are becoming outdated, as Ken Muench of Draftfcb, Chicago told me in a recent interview: “The silent generation that fought WWII basically got burnt on the international stage. They came back to the U.S. and said: ‘I’m done with the rest of the world, I’m going to retreat to my suburbs and live around people that look like me.’

Their kids, the Baby Boomers, were born and said: ‘No, Dad, it’s about tolerance. You have to tolerate people that are different than you.’ Then their kids were born, Gen X, and they said: ‘Tolerance, my butt, Dad; it’s about acceptance. You have to accept them into your circle.’ And then Gen Y came along and they are saying: ‘No, no, no, it’s about attraction. I’m attracted to that, I like the fact that she’s from India and that’s why I want to date her, because she’s fascinating.’”

With the advent and coming of age of new media, social media, and all the evolving methods of mass communication that emerge constantly, consumers now, for the first time, have a voice of their own, the ability to self represent. And in voicing their preferences, they are forming new communities based on shared experiences, common interests and corresponding beliefs.

These new societies are comprised of many nationalities, skin colors, ethnical backgrounds and socioeconomic strata, in effect very complex communities that are self governed and interestingly enough, not segregating. This presents a unique opportunity to address the new consumer, not as a segment of a market, a minority, a majority, or other dividing classification, but as human beings that form part of a diverse race.

With this in mind, we could take a good, honest look at the history of advertising and maybe learn how to speak more in terms of embracing differences and diversity, and the inspiring power they bring along when they come together of seeking commonalities in our goals as inhabitants of one world, of accepting individual tastes and beliefs … all contributing to a universal language indeed.


--