The National Hispanic Heritage Month is right around the corner, from Sept. 15th to Oct. 15th (why we don’t get an actual month is the topic for a whole other spot), and what may seem like a great opportunity to engage with Latino audiences has taken a completely different meaning within Latino circles. Welcome to Hispandering Month. No, Hispandering is no longer a term applied solely to politics. Brands are also guilty of feigning interest in all things Hispanic to appeal to a population whose buying power will reach 1.7 trillion by 2020. Given these failed attempts, the Latino community and Latino media have made a sport out of pointing out failed attempts at reaching this unique audience. While much has been written about brands’ failures (I mean, well-intentioned efforts, maybe?) to jump in the Hispanic market bandwagon, the general consensus stands: Superficial attempts at engagement will ultimately fail. To help steer you clear from the path to brand destruction in the eyes of Latinos, we’ve compiled the Ultimate Hispandering reading list for you.
1 | Still confused about what the heck Hispandering is?
Listen to NPR’s segment on the origins of the term, what it represents and doesn’t. Hint Hint, neither do Latinos nor experts agree on the answers. This is a good place to start if you are new to the term.
2 | Keep up with the research.
Every year, Nielsen comes out with a study that delves into purchasing and behavior trends of the Hispanic Consumer. Skip their summaries and interpretations and head straight to their actual reports. Tread lightly, though, knowing that the reports provide you a starting point to understand Latino consumers more deeply, but they should be complemented with a deep look at the specific consumer you want to reach (because we truly are not a homogeneous bunch).
3 | Study up on who’s doing it wrong and run the other way.
We all know the urban myth about Chevrolet’s failed attempt to sell Nova in the Mexican market only to be met with sneers for trying to sell a car whose name literally translated to “doesn’t run.” While this myth stands as a cautionary tale for how not to engage in multicultural markets, there are countless real life examples of brands’ failure to truly speak to this unique audience. Who can forget Hillary Clinton’s well-intentioned but failed abuela campaign? Most recently Home Depot built a wall at one of the emerging (read, where you’d want to be to engage with young Latinos) Latinx music festivals—Ruido Fest. Ask us how that went.
4 | And then there are the very few who get it right.
No other ad to date has done it better than Honda with its Honda Fit #UnBuenFit commercial, featuring the beloved Felipe Esparza and poking fun of all Latino stereotypes brands pack into their campaigns. A close second is AT&T’s social media campaign #BetweenTwoWorls that centers on the intersections young latinos live in daily (they get an additional shout out for featuring a few of LalaboyPR’s friends, including Luisfre from the band Buscabulla). Both succeed not only in their clear understanding of what stereotypes and pitfalls to avoid but in their nuanced understanding of the Latino audience. Study them. Learn from them.
5 | If after doing all this homework, you still need of some suggestions on how to communicate with this audience,
our friends at Latino Rebels created a cheeky list to celebrate Hispandering Month without making their #nomames (#fail) tag that is worth checking out. While tongue-in-cheek, David Pastor provides astute and conscious suggestions to help brands begin to understand not only where they can go wrong but also where they can start to go right. Among our favorite recommendations is “Watch the television series Narcos on Netflix with your Colombian friend (or anyone from a Spanish-speaking country) and respectfully listen to them complain about the accents, historical inaccuracies, cultural insensitivity, and so on.” For Latinos, every day is an opportunity to celebrate our identity and our heritage (though mind you that’s not the ooooonly thing we do), and brands who want to succeed in this space should dedicate some time to listening and understanding exactly what that means.
May your Hispanic Heritage Month be free of sombreros and abuelita references.