Panel: Marketing Giants

Three marketing experts share insights on producing strategies, content and the perfect approach for brands that focus on diversity and multiculturalism.


Natalie Boden

President & Founder, Boden Agency

Jose Suaste

Executive Creative Director, Fluent360

Pete Lerma

Principal & Founder, Richards/Lerma


What do you consider to be the most important aspects to have a successful campaign targeting Latinos?


NATALIE BODEN: 2018 is the year of the Hispanic market. It’s the year of embracing diversity, not as a nice to have, but as a business imperative. As brands look for growth, developing a highly targeted Hispanic communications plan will be key.

We talk about the importance of writing love letters to our community. No one wants to receive a love letter that reads ‘to whom it may concern’ you want it written to you as an individual, as a community.

We recently launched McDonald’s ¡Síganme los Buenos! (Good guys, follow my lead!) campaign, aimed to evoke a nostalgic connection with the Hispanic consumer and drive purchase of the $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu items. Grounded in the insight that Hispanics look for clever ways to find great value without compromising quality, we partnered with one of the most beloved – and clever – Hispanic icons, El Chapulín Colorado, to drum up excitement for the new Dollar Menu. The program included social/digital, grassroots initiatives and media stakeholder engagement, which drove over 100 million media impressions and a lift in comp guest count.

El Chapulin Colorado, also known as our very own Latino Mickey Mouse, was born in Latin America and he was brought to the the U.S. in our hearts. McDonald’s partnership with the iconic character for the launch of the $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu is a love letter to our community: it shows McDonald’s understands the rational and emotional drivers of our U.S. Hispanic consumer.


JOSE SUASTE: To me the most important thing that a campaign targeting Latinos has to have to be successful is human truth. Too many times campaigns think that by simply speaking the language, they’re going to get the response they’re looking for. When in reality, language is just a tactic, and not an idea. Language may get you in the door, but if you don’t have substance and real truth, you won’t stay long. And what I mean by human truth is something that everyone can relate to; something that a person can look at it and connect emotionally to. Where it gets tricky for targeting Latinos, is that that something can’t just be stereotypical or broad. And that’s the second most important thing to keep in mind when targeting Latinos with advertising. Stay away from stereotypes. Sure they exist for a reason, but the Latino population is incredibly diverse. Think about it. You can be a mom and love your family, but you could also be a working mom, who happens to own her own business and work in a field predominately operated by men. It’s this dimension that makes her way more than just a Latino mom.


PETE LERMA: First of all, disregarding cultural stereotypes. Campaigns targeting Latinos do not have to be “Latino campaigns” full of mojitos, piñatas and tacos. Campaigns targeting Latinos have to connect with their audiences, but in 2018 relevance is all about connecting with a mindset. We validated that last year in a collaboration with The University of Texas at Austin. In partnership with them, we did a nationally representative research study. It demonstrated that cultural curiosity, or as we sometimes talk about it, “cultural promiscuity” is a primary motivation for the majority of Millennials and younger audiences. Latinos embrace their cultural traditions, 100%...and, at the same time, they exhibit a willingness to discover and internalize new cultures. That is what we call Omniculturalism. And Omniculturalism has become a common aspirational mindset across all ethnicities in the US.

If you only connect with Latinos via their Latin traditions, you might miss the mark. Latinos are so much more complex than that. Brands need to take risks by understanding, embracing and mirroring that complexity and cultural curiosity. As such, it might mean that abuelitas or a Spanish celebrity won’t make the cut, and instead, you might build a very successful Latino

campaign featuring Chance the Rapper. Brands have to be open to the possibilities that Omniculturalism offers.


How or in what ways does you marketing strategy change when it comes to Latinos?


NB: The brand of the future is the brand that knows when to segment by ethnic segment and when to segment by universal values. Building a communications campaign infusing diverse insights from the onset is key. If the consumer insights and mindset is the same across segment

(sometimes when you’re looking at U.S born GenZ this could be the case), then one creative expression and an integrated stakeholder plan will resonate with your audiences. However, when the consumer insights and mindset differ across segments, brands should consider segment-specific creative expressions and stakeholder plans that speak directly to

each key audience.


JS: Well my business IS to market to Latinos, so they’re always on my radar. It’s never a surprise. But as I mentioned earlier, the strategy can change depending on the target. Are they young, old, single, married, men, or women, recent arrivals, or 2nd or 3rd generation Latinos living in the U.S., etc. Also, within those categories, we can get into financials, education levels, where they’re from, geography, etc. It’s pretty complicated and, like any other marketer, we use data to really paint a full picture. However, data isn’t the answer to everything. Interpreting that data is. That’s why we have highly qualified professional strategists to interpret that information so we can create effective marketing. People aren’t data… they’re people.


PL: Not a lot, really. It’s all about following our disciplined and proven process; and the process remains the same no matter who the target is. First, we immerse ourselves in the audience, then we work to uncover the most poignant insight or pain-point the brand can solve for. Only then, can we develop creative communication that lives up to our mantra. The work has to be LOUD AND CLEAR; Loud in its ability to break through the clutter, clear in that it makes sense and resonates with the consumer.



What has been one of your biggest challenges when working with brands that want to break into Latino market?


NB: In the last year, we’ve seen brands take a few steps back to analyze whether it is necessary to develop Hispanic specific campaigns. 2017-2018 has taught us the importance of communicating to diverse audiences. The U.S. is a rich tapestry of cultures, of all colors and all races, and brands should commit to celebrating this richness. By embracing what we call Power of Culture, brands are committing to communities– and to the citizens and culture that embody them. But we don’t all live and breathe these multicultural, multi-ethnic communities, which is why we have taken some of our clients right into the communities, with immersions that are planned against the brand’s strategic imperatives. When you walk down the Piñata District in L.A or through the ‘Mexico of the Midwest ‘in Chicago you see first-hand why the Hispanic market represents $1.3 trillion in purchasing power.

But if raw data is what drives you, look at Facebook’s Hispanic Affinity Index, indicatingthat 71  percent of the 35 million Hispanics on Facebook are engaging mostly in Spanish. This is a clear indication of the strength of the market.


JS: I can name two, but I’d say the biggest challenge has been convincing clients to adequately invest in the Latino market. They want to dip their feet in, see if they can find a quick hit, but hardly ever want to spend the dollars it takes to establish a presence in the market. This to me just seems backwards. We have mounds and mounds of data showing that Latinos have an immense buying power and yet, they don’t truly believe the return is going to be significant. Example, I had a telcom client I won’t name who, we presented information to showing that 65% of their clientele was Hispanic. Yet we never received anything near 65% of their marketing budget. And the second has been finding clients of color in decision-making positions. More often than not, we are presenting advertising ideas for Latinos or African Americans to people who are not of Hispanic or African American descent, didn’t grow up in these communities, or, much less, frequent them today. Therefore, we get pushback from a lack of understanding when it comes to the ideas. They’ve never lived or had to understand those particular lifestyles so they question the validity of our concepts.


PL: First and foremost, commitment. The opportunity is obvious for all brands… but the question becomes, “Do you really want to go there? Are you willing to get uncomfortable? To try new things? To devote the proper time and resources? To start an exercise in humility and accept that you need to learn, to transform yourself and to trust your partners in the journey?”

Additionally, it is easy to underestimate the challenge. You won’t solve it with a few radio and tv spots. Your whole organization has to become culturally sensitive and that will affect many aspects of the business: the website, store signage, personnel, recruitment policies… you might have to revisit your mission, vision and values too. It’s not easy, but we’ve helped brands do it.



What about Latino talent / recruitment in ad agencies? How could agencies benefit from having Latinos and other minorities as part of their team?


NB: I believe it’s important to have diversity in leadership, and across all levels of an organization. Every person comes from his or her own place and experience. A Latino can bring perspective from the point of view of being Hispanic, challenges they have faced specifically because of race, opportunities they’ve been able to identify because of their different perspective. It absolutely is about different races, gender, perspectives and cultures. It’s nonsense when you hear “you don’t need different colors, you need different perspectives” or “it isn’t about gender, it’s about different perspectives.” Our lives have been impacted by race, culture and gender and how we experienced each element of it, so the more diverse we are, the smarter the decisions we can make as a company or organization.


JS: This is a tough question for me, because if this was to happen on a wide scale, I’d be out of job and my multicultural agency would close its doors. But obviously the benefits are undeniable. They’d be able to communicate to and serve a wider audience, and the collective group would be able to build campaigns that encompass the many types of Americans that exist within our country. On a personal level, all kinds of diversity can only benefit the workplace and society. It would tear down walls that exist both physically and psychologically to create more understanding. That being said, at this time and place there is no excuse for an agency to not

have diversity. Ignoring certain sections of society is outdated and irresponsible.

PL: Honestly, it’s not just about benefiting from diversity: it’s about survival. If you hope to establish meaningful conversations with U.S. audiences, you just can’t do it from a monolithic (often white, often affluent) point of view. Every ad agency should mirror the diversity found all across the country. And that transcends ethnicities. Being ethnically diverse is important, but cultural diversity is what matters. In order to achieve that, be companies should be open diversity in everything: religion, sexual orientation, interests and even political views.



What kind of trends will we be seeing in the rest of 2018?


NB: These are three biggest trends we see are impacting communications initiatives: Building richer narratives. 2018 is a year of building trust. As such, building culturally relevant story arches that acknowledge the personal values and passion points of the Hispanic consumer will be important. Generating buzz from diverse influencers, press and stakeholders that matter to the brand. The stakeholder landscape is more diverse that ever before. It will be important to take a 360 approach to building stakeholder engagement plans that drive brand advocacy across channels influencing the Hispanic consumer, including traditional media, social media influencers, celebrities, organizations, and community leaders.

Creating experiential moments that generate brand love and sales lift. Developing activations that focus on building brand reputation and driving in-store/online traffic will be key, as well as taking into consideration the natural make-up of the neighborhoods where you plan to activate, be it on a national or hyperlocal level.


JS: I think we’ll continue to see trends much like the student walkouts, the Me Too movement, and TimesUp, etc. When any cultural sentiment gets attacked, the more we will be called upon to speak up and join the fight. People are realizing that their voices are powerful, and social media is the great connector. I also believe that brands will have to assume more responsibility

for the messages they’re putting out, and the feedback that the audience is responding with. After all, brands are made up of people - they’re no longer these giant faceless monsters. If they want to compete for consumer loyalty, they’ll have to align themselves with beliefs that represent the people who work for them, not just the people they’re trying to sell to.


PL: None of us have a crystal ball, but we’re seeing a few stars aligning in the direction of an increasing number of brands taking a stance on political and social issues. The current state of affairs calls for it, and brands can’t simply remain neutral. Neutrality is artificial. Brands, as complex entities with defined personalities should have a point of view on society. Consumers value and, often, demand it.