March 01, 2011

   As the Census figures on Hispanic keep trickling in, there's one phrase that will continue to bring consternation to Hispanic marketing professionals and Spanish-language media execs: "but I don't speak Spanish."

There's plenty proof that we US Hispanics are a bilingual nation.  The real question is how we as marketers react to this reality.  More often than not we have tried to impose our distinct backgrounds on an increasingly diverse Hispanic lot.  The 1960's radical, Abby Hoffman, offered some sage advice: "Do not try to impose your language on people you wish to reach."

Over the years, I've seen how regional differences have shaped responses to that proverbial phrase, "But I don't speak Spanish."  And these regional nuances have often found their way into varying approaches to Hispanic marketing.

Miami: "But how can you call yourself Hispanic if you can't speak Spanish?!"

New York: "Nene, habla whatever you like."

San Antonio: "We were born here so what's the problem?"

San Francisco: "Some people are so old school, aren't they?"

Los Angeles:

BEFORE - "Hay mi amor, no te hagas!"

INCREASINGLY THE CASE: "Oyes, guey, English helped me get a better job. Dejame hablar lo que yo quiera."

By Manny Gonzalez


Very cool, Manny. You brought a smile to my face. But as we all know, it's not about language but about the culture. And there is a new culture that is neither mexican, boricua, cuban, american or any other combination or option thereof, but rather the convergence of cultures. We propose that it's Neo-Latina, a new cultural identity in which any of your language expressions go, regardless of the region. Likewise, making pavochon forThanksgiving, asados every weekend or the weekly "taco night" in many Non-Hispanic homes. Our biggest challenge as marketers is to understand the behavioral dynamics of these Neo-Latinas and how they are influencing mainstream America.

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