Earlier this month Tecate, a long-standing Mexican beer brand, debuted a commercial that was radically different from other televised commercials. It was tapped as its "First National Campaign" and was targeted toward bilingual Latinos. At first, the commercial didn't come off as bilingual at all, as it was all in English, but that's where the hook was. It's was the subtlety of using recognizable Mexican boxer Canelo Alvarez that attracted Latino viewers. Brands have featured Latinos in U.S.-based commercials for a while now, but what seems different is just how many Latino celebrities are being chosen to be the faces of American companies. Spanish is crossing over into commercials on English-language television as well.
Sofía Vergara has been the face of Pepsi and spokeswoman for Head & Shoulders, speaking in both English and in Spanish. Selena Gomez is currently representing Pantene, Eva Longoria was signed to L'Oréal, and Pitbull did commercials for Bud Light and Norwegian Cruise Line. The Bud Light commercial featured above has actor Michael Peña.
In regards to the Tecate commercial with Alvarez, brand director Belen Pamukoff told Adweek: "Our drinkers are bicultural: second- or third-generation Mexicans who are also Americans who live between those two worlds but don't go far from their roots. Together with Saatchi & Saatchi, we started going deeper inside the bicultural consumer."
Speaking of Saatchi & Saatchi, Stephen Leps, the company's former ad executive, was recently hired by Fusion to become its executive creative director. "I love that Fusion can speak to millennials in an authentic and inclusive way," Leps told AdWeek about his new employer, "a company that has an incredible editorial team creating informative, entertaining and provocative content people are passionate about."
More and more companies and brands are targeting diverse millennials, in particular Latino consumers. Target is another brand that is aiming at bilingual Latinos. Last year it released a commercial titled #SinTraduccion, meaning without translation. The only English spoken in the 30-second commercial is of a woman saying: "There will always be a part of you that simply doesn't translate."
"What we want to do is celebrate the fact that our bicultural guests live in two different worlds," Rick Gomez, senior vice president of brand and category marketing, told the Los Angeles Times. "One is this Hispanic culture and the other is the American lifestyle."
Sandy Rubinstein, CEO of DXagency, a full-service engagement agency, said that these kinds of commercials are crucial for companies and their growth within the Latino community.
"I do think that custom commercial creative for certain markets is a tremendous opportunity to engage multigenerational consumers," Rubinstein said. "Spanglish is so common in Spanish-speaking households that it almost is expected and the more that brands can make that conversational connection with their consumers the better the relationship."
However, there's a very fine line between a commercial that comes off as organic rather than offensive. Taco Bell misstepped in the past with its chihuahua ads, and most recently, Coca-Cola did it with an ad that showed "white Latinos" helping poor Latinos. These days, getting a Latino commercial wrong can actually make or break a company.
"Hispanics are the youngest major racial or ethnic group in the United States. About one-third, or 17.9 million, of the nation’s Hispanic population is younger than 18, and about a quarter, or 14.6 million, of all Hispanics are Millennials (ages 18 to 33 in 2014), according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Altogether, nearly six-in-ten Hispanics are Millennials or younger." Adding to that, about six-in-ten U.S. adult Hispanics (62 percent) speak English or are bilingual.
With a growing Latino population comes spending. In another Pew study, Latinos assessed their personal finances as either excellent or good and are quite optimistic about their economic state. "Thirty-three percent of Hispanics say their current situation is excellent or good," and 73 percent of Hispanics say they think their finances will improve in the coming 12 months."I don’t think there are brands who lack diverse commercials, yet I do believe that one size fits all creative does not work anymore," Rubinstein said. "When your advertising dollars are competing with social media channels it is important to ensure that your creative speaks to the audience in the market it is running." She says that one brand that does an exceptional job at targeting Latinos the right way is McDonald's. Below is one of its most popular Latino commercials, filmed entirely in Spanish.
Related From Vivala: Why I Dumped TV and Fell in Love With YouTube
The invigorating aspect of brands branching out and wanting the Latino dollar is that they're not just pandering, they realize how much we contribute to the economy and are targeting us in positive ways. That's the reason it's working. Seeing faces like Peña and Gomez proves that there are talented Latinos that can represent billion-dollar brands, and that Latinos are spending big bucks and companies know it.