HOW MARKETERS MISREPRESENT AMERICANS

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By Carla Eboli, Chief Reputation Officer, Dieste

There is something interesting about the discrepancy in how marketers see America and its population and how everyone else sees it. Looking at the profiles of Americans featured on TV and in print ads, it’s clear that we are living in two very different worlds. It seems we are still far from a good balance between what is real and who the fashion & beauty industry represents.

Here are the top three discrepancies I find intriguing in how marketers see America and how Americans really are:

1.) Plus Size Fashion

I struggle with the concept of plus size quite a bit and here’s why. According to the CDC, the average American woman’s waist measurement is 38.1 inches. I decided to visit some of the most iconic American brand websites to see where the majority of women fit in the size charts. Below is a table of several brands and their respective sizing.

Levi’s Wal-Mart Ralph Lauren J Crew Wrangler Old Navy
18 2X 2X N/A XXL XXL

So, what does plus size mean in a country where the majority of women wear 14+? 

Some brands such as Christian Siriano get it. The designer has always approached fashion in an “all type of women” way and recently had five plus size models in his runway show in New York. JCP, an iconic American brand, also recognizes that their customers go beyond sizes 2 and 4 and a year ago, launched the #HEREIAM initiative which, contrary to what critics have said, does not glorify obesity but helps women accept their bodies with dignity.

YouTube channel “Boldly” is killing it with videos such as “Plus-Size Women Re-Create Fashion Ads” – more than 4MM views or the even better What It’s Really Like To Model Victoria’s Secret Swimsuits with over 10MM views.

2.) Flawless*** Everything

I love the concept of flawless – mainly when it is work related – but it bothers me to think how hard it is to achieve the so coveted “flawless look” that we all see on TV and print ads. Motivated by the relentless search for perfection, “cosmetic surgery online games” are becoming more popular among children and young adults while parents debate about the risks of being targeted by such games when their children are only 8 years old.

What is the impact of the unrealistic standards of beauty ad campaigns on women?

The pressure of looking perfect from top to bottom has long lasting, negative effects on women according to studies conducted by Dr. Nancy Etcoff, Assistant Clinical Professor Harvard Medical School, Director of Program in Aesthetics and Wellbeing, MGH Department of Psychiatry. “Increasing pressures from advertising and media is a key force in driving appearance anxiety,” says one of the studies recently published by Dr. Etcoff.

Dove took a very important first step in our industry when they launched the “Dove Self-Esteem Project” around the world generating a lot of positive PR. American Eagle was also very bold when they vowed to release ads without any photoshop or retouching of the model’s bodies.

They not only got thumbs up from the industry but also from consumers. Since they launched #AerieReal in 2014 the brand has seen continual growth: In the 4th quarter of 2015 alone, the brand’s sales rose 26% and in 2016 sales went up 20%.

3.) Multiracial Families

“The eyes are useless when your mind is blind” is one of my favorite sayings. Simple, yet profound, it seems to summarize the approach that some companies and brands are taking regarding interracial marriage.

Every year, 2.1MM marriages are celebrated in US, according to the federal government. And while the traditional “will you marry me?” question might remain the same over decades, the composition of these new couples and families has changed dramatically since it became legal in United States in June of 1967.

According to a new Pew Research Center analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau data in 2015, 17% of all recently married couples in the U.S. had a spouse of a different race or ethnicity vs. 3% in 1967. In metro areas, almost one-in-five marriages are interracial. The number of interracial or interethnic couples is even higher for unmarried partners (18%) and for same-sex partners (21%)

Why is it taking so long for advertising campaigns to reflect the reality of American families?

Brands that are truly embracing what I call “America’s New DNA” are seeing very positive results. Cheerios, an American brand focused on family nutrition, helped pave the way for other companies to embrace the fact that interracial families are the new normal.

Tiffany’s “Will you?” ad features several couples getting ready to propose to their partners. Pretty straightforward, it shows that we all feel the same way about love, regardless of our sexual orientation, skin color or age. Even more traditional brands such as J&J/Tylenol understood the importance of inclusivity and the need to be representative of the new American DNA with their #HowWeFamily program.

This matter is by far the one that gets more visceral reactions (good and bad), but it appears that overall Americans want to see more diverse ads and campaigns that are more inclusive and relatable.

The path to becoming and being a brand that is representative and inclusive of this new America has obstacles, of course, but there are simple steps that can be taken:

  1. Be authentic.If your message and/or representation doesn’t feel real, it can backfire on your brand.
  2. Be reflective of your own consumer.You, better than anyone else, know who your consumer is. Make sure to represent them in your communications.
  3. Make sure your team and agency understand diversity from the inside out. Diverse teams have a better understanding of different types of consumers and how to approach each one of them in a relevant and long lasting way.

Your Editor is Biased:  Dieste is one of our favorite marketing sources

Spanish Thrives in the U.S. Despite an English-Only Drive

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By SIMON ROMERO The NYTimes

At Carnitas Porky’s, a restaurant in the South Valley of Albuquerque, the menu is listed in Spanish on the side of the building.

Wander into El Super, a sprawling grocery store in the same valley where fortune seekers on horseback laid claim nearly four centuries ago to one of Spain’s most remote possessions, and the resilience of the language they brought with them stands on display.

Reggaetón, the musical genre born in Puerto Rico, blares from the speakers. Shoppers mull bargains in the accents of northern Mexico. A carnicería offers meat, a panadería bread, a salchichonería cold cuts, and there’s also a tortillería — that one’s self-explanatory for many who never even studied the language of Cervantes.

“Everything I need here is in Spanish,” said Vanessa Quezada, 23, an immigrant from the Mexican state of Chihuahua, gesturing toward the branch of the First Convenience Bank, where tellers greet people with a smile and “Buenas tardes.”

Indeed, the United States is emerging as a vast laboratory showcasing the remarkable endurance of Spanish, no matter the political climate.

Drawing on a critical mass of native speakers, the United States now has by some counts more than 50 million hispanohablantes, a greater number of Spanish speakers than Spain. In an English-speaking superpower, the Spanish-language TV networks Univision and Telemundo spar for top ratings with ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC. The made-in-America global hit song of the summer? “Despacito.”

At the same time, more than 20 states have enacted laws making English the official language, President Trump won the election with a platform that included building a border wall, and his push for new limits on legal immigration would require that applicants speak English to obtain legal residency green cards.

Juan Rodríguez, 44, a Colombian immigrant who owns La Reina, a Spanish-language radio station in Des Moines, said it was an “extremely uncertain time” for some Spanish speakers, particularly undocumented immigrants who are trying to be seen and heard less often now that the president has made deportation a priority.

“But that fear doesn’t prevent us from living our lives in Spanish,” Mr. Rodríguez added. “Iowa may be an English-only state, but it’s also our state.”

Throughout the world, the position of English as the pre-eminent language seems unchallenged. The United States projects its influence in English in realms including finance, culture, science and warfare.

But on a global level, Mandarin Chinese dwarfs English in native speakers, ranking first with 898 million, followed by Spanish with 437 million, according to Ethnologue, a compendium of the world’s languages. Then comes English with 372 million, followed by Arabic, Hindi, Bengali, Portuguese and Russian.

Immigration from Latin America bolstered the use of Spanish in the United States in recent decades, but scholars say other factors are also in play, including history, the global reach of the language, and the ways in which people move around throughout the Spanish-speaking world.

Authorities in parts of the United States have repeatedly argued for curbing the spread of Spanish, like the former Arizona schools chief who said all Spanish-language media should be silenced. A judge pushed back this week against that official’s drive to also ban the state’s Mexican-American studies program, saying the ban was “motivated by racial animus.”

Linguists trace some of the coveted vibrancy that Spanish now enjoys to decisions made well before Spain began colonizing the New World in 1492.

As the Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes explained in “The Buried Mirror,” his book about the Hispanic world, the 13th-century Spanish king Alfonso X assembled a cosmopolitan brain trust of Jewish intellectuals, Arab translators and Christian troubadours, who promoted Spanish as a language of knowledge at a time when Latin and Arabic still held prestige on the Iberian Peninsula.

Alfonso and his savants forged Spanish into an exceptionally well-organized language with phonetic standards, making it relatively accessible for some learners. They are thought to have hewed to a policy of castellano drecho— straight or right Spanish — imbuing the language with a sense of purpose.

Even today, Spanish remains mutually intelligible around the world to a remarkable degree, with someone, say, from the Patagonian Steppe in Argentina able to hold a conversation with a visitor from Equatorial Guinea, one of Africa’s largest oil exporters.

Drawing on entropy, a concept from thermodynamics referring to disorder, Jean-Benoît Nadeau and Julie Barlow, the Canadian authors of a 2013 bookcharting the evolution of Spanish, describe the degree to which Spanish is spread out geographically over a wide array of countries.

By this measure, Mandarin ranks low on the entropy scale since most of its speakers live in the same country. English boasts greater entropy, but Spanish, the majority language in more than 20 countries, ranks first, followed by Arabic.

Rivaling Spain and parts of Latin America, the United States exemplifies how the movement of people throughout the Spanish-speaking world is taking the language in new directions.

In metropolitan Los Angeles, an area with more than 4 million Spanish speakers — more than Uruguay’s entire population — linguists say that a new dialect has coalesced as different types of Spanish come into contact with one another. And here in New Mexico, an influx of Mexican and Central American immigrants is nourishing and reshaping a variant of Spanish that has persisted since the 16th century.

Ojos Locos, a cavernous sports bar in Albuquerque, offers a glimpse into how Spanish is changing. Like El Super, it’s part of a chain founded in the United States aimed at the Latino market.

“What’s a sports cantina without delicious authentic Mexican comida — mas tacos, mas wings y mas cerveza,” Ojos Locos explains on its website. Such servings were in abundance on a recent Sunday when Mexico’s national soccer team played against Jamaica, and mexicano Spanish seemed to be the venue’s dominant language.

But some tables were effortlessly mixing English and Spanish, especially those where children were accompanying their parents, while others, including tables of mixed-ethnicity couples, cheered, conversed and cursed (Mexico lost, 1-0) over their frozen margaritas almost entirely in English.

The ways in which families use languages at the dinner table also show how Spanish is evolving.

In the Nava family, which moved to New Mexico from northern Mexico more than 20 years ago, the grandparents passionately debate in Spanish the performance of their football team, the Dallas Cowboys.

But when their adult children talk to one another, it’s in Spanglish. And the language of their grandchildren? Mainly English, with a sprinkling of Spanish words here and there.

“Our real communication is in Spanglish,” said Cindy Nava, 29, a policy analyst at the New Mexico Legislature who arrived in the United States at the age of 7. “But we still recognize the importance of speaking Spanish correctly.”

Irking some grammarians, Spanglish is indeed gaining ground, evident in the way characters in telenovelas are speaking, Daddy Yankee’s reggaetón lyrics or ads like the Wendy’s commercial in which sweethearts bond over bacon cheeseburgers served on buns of “pan de pretzel.”

Ilan Stavans, a professor of Latino culture at Amherst College who has translated classics like Cervantes’s “Don Quixote” and Saint-Exupéry’s “The Little Prince” into Spanglish, argues that we are witnessing “the emergence of something totally new, not in any way pure, a mestizo language.”

Long before Mr. Trump was elected, the growth and durability of Spanish had caused concerns, leading to “official language” laws that in some cases limit the use of any language other than English in government offices and documents, and in other cases are largely symbolic.

Rosalie Porter, who came to the United States from Italy as a child and is now the chairwoman of an organization seeking to end bilingual education and declare English the official language of the United States, said, “When I was an immigrant child, my language was not politically correct.”

“Today it’s different,” said Ms. Porter, whose group, ProEnglish, was founded by John Tanton, a Michigan doctor who started a handful of organizations seeking to restrict immigration. “Immigrants enjoy a lot more visibility” she added, emphasizing that she understood the business reasons behind the growth of Spanish-language media.

Even apart from political efforts, the continued growth of Spanish in the United States is not assured. Linguists have documented how new generations of Latinos around the country are steadily shifting to English, just as descendants of other immigrants have done.

But if the past is a guide, Spanish will continue to evolve and endure.

“In many places in the U.S., English and Spanish are in bed with each other, a contact that is both generative and exciting,” said Junot Díaz, the writer who masterfully explores the immigrant experience in the United States, largely through the travails of his Spanglish-speaking Dominican protagonist, Yunior.

“For many of us,” he went on, “Spanish is our path to love, and as history has proven no one can legislate away love.”

Your Editor  Loves bilinguism

The Trump Total Market Slump

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By Jose Villa , , founder and president, Sensis

We’re halfway into 2017 and the Hispanic marketing industry is in a funk.

Everyone I talk to, from Hispanic agency principals to Spanish-language media executives, keeps telling me the same thing — the rest of the economy may be humming, but spending on Hispanic marketing is stagnant. Some anecdotal indicators I’m hearing this year:

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  • Few if any Hispanic agency RFPs are being issued.
  • Hispanic media budgets are being cut or not growing.
  • Hispanic consumer purchases are down (e.g., lower sales at independent grocers).
  • New Hispanic marketing programs are being tabled.

The most common explanation I’m hearing for this slowdown is the political environment, or the “Trump Effect.” While I’ve seen this cause cited, it is more of a theme that captures multiple issues. It includes issues such as increased fear of deportation among Hispanic immigrants and reduced immigration into the U.S. from Mexico and Central America due to the building of the “wall.” These political issues are impacting the sentiment in corporate America around the Hispanic consumer market. Many companies are concerned the market is stagnant. Others might be worried about getting too much unwanted attention by making big investments in the Hispanic ma

While I do not disagree with the existence of this so-called “Trump Effect,” I think there is something deeper happening. I see this shift as “The Total Market Effect.”

I am not the first person to identify the “The Total Market Effect.” It’s the result of a more than five-year-old industry shift embracing the “Total Market Approach” by the U.S. marketing industry. Major brands have moved beyond talking about “Total Market” to implementing the broad tenets of this approach. I have often offered an alternative interpretation of the validity of Total Market approach while the industry has largely embraced a simplified version that integrates all marketing efforts, effectively reducing separate multicultural or Hispanic-only programs.

The shifting demographics in the U.S. Hispanic market have only helped to accelerate the acceptance of the Total Market Approach. According to the latest Geoscape GIS data, 46% of the U.S. Hispanic population is highly acculturated. Half of Hispanics are Millennials and Gen Z. The argument is simple: a young, acculturated Hispanic population is best reached via a Total Market Approach.

As with so many other major changes in the economy, it is the combination of the Trump Effect and the Total Market Effect that is really at the root of the Hispanic marketing slowdown we’re all experiencing. These trends are feeding off each other. Using another analogy, I think this is an over-correction. As with any challenge, this is an opportunity savvy marketers can exploit.

Your Editor Asks: Will marketers make THE difference? 

Missing Out On Trillions of Latino Dollars

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By Hernan Tagliani,  President of The Group Advertising

America is changing and becoming more multicultural. A big part of that has been due to the Hispanic market. They are not just a sub-segment of our economy anymore. They have become a powerhouse of economic and political influence. Their purchasing power of over $1.5 trillion is larger than the GDP of Mexico, which is considered one of the top 10 economies in the world.

If corporate America wants to strive for business success, it is time to reevaluate our marketing budgets and efforts to cater to this flourishing market.

Many times the excuse I receive from marketing executives for not addressing this market is that they do not have a budget for a separate Hispanic market initiative, or their current budget is not big enough to justify an ongoing investment.

Just because your company may not be performing well in the general market doesn’t mean you can’t excel in the Hispanic market.

If you want your business to succeed and attain a steady growth in the years to come, you must reallocate your marketing budget to areas or markets you haven’t reached before. Consumers are becoming more diverse and multicultural. This means your marketing approach needs to do the same. You must engage with consumers in more meaningful and culturally relevant way if you want to truly connect with them.

According to the report from Geoscape American Marketscape DataStream, minorities will constitute 80% of U.S. population growth between 2015 and 2020. Hispanics will represent 50.6% of that figure.

What does this translate to you?

Some marketing executives think it means more work on top of what they already have. That way of thinking is costing millions of dollars in lost revenue because their marketing departments are not responding to current market trends or to their consumer’s demands. All thoughts of initiating a Hispanic marketing approach are swept under the rug.

For others, it translates to opportunities to sell more product or services. To set themselves apart from their competitors and in many cases, to become a leader and pioneer in their industry by embracing a market that is one of the fastest-growing demographics in the USA.

The new America is not just a one-color nation requiring one marketing approach for everyone. We are a melting pot of different colors, nationalities, and cultures. Just look at the free market research or articles in major publications on the Internet. They will give you a sense and a macro point of view of how industries and markets are evolving. Instead of excluding and isolating, we must include and embrace if we really want sales growth and success in any organization.

Here are 6 reasons why corporate America falls short with their Hispanic market approach:

1.They don’t understand their audience. In the corporate world, there is still a misconception that since the growth of the Hispanic market comes from U.S.-born Hispanics they are culturally assimilating to the American way. So executives think their “one strategy, one message, one language” approach is good enough to reach this market. This is absolutely false. The more acculturated Hispanics are, the use of English language in your messaging is appropriate. However, whether you use English or Spanish, your execution must reflect their culture, heritage, and needs to assure brand engagement.

  1. Cultural relevancy is key. Whether they are U.S. born or foreign born, Hispanics don’t want to be sold. They want brands to embrace their cultural relevancy. So, your campaigns have to be created for and targeted to them with messages that truly speak to their needs. Only then will you achieve the level of brand engagement that generates greater return on investment and delivers the results you want. Whether you use English or Spanish, it must be culturally relevant.
  2. Testing the waters. Many companies tend to test the waters first instead of embracing the effort and getting a real taste of what this audience can deliver to their bottom-line. It is good to start slow, but you need to be committed to an ongoing effort. If you are running an ad campaign for a couple of weeks in different Hispanic media to see who you are getting more responses from, you are basically throwing your money away. You have to be consistent if you truly want to penetrate this market the same way you are doing for the general market. Allocate a reasonable budget by carving your general marketing budget. Build and develop a strong foundation and you will have an ongoing revenue source.
  3. Translations vs Trans-creations. Translations could work for specific things such as a simple collateral piece or product label, for example. However, a straight translation lacks cultural relevancy. If you are translating a message that has been created for the general market, not Hispanics, you are falling short with your execution and approach. The most effective way to engage with Hispanics is by the “trans-creation” of the campaign. This means, create a campaign message that appeals to Hispanic core values, yet still respects the overall strategy and branding position from the general market campaign.
  4. Supporting the community is not good enough. For some companies, community outreach is their overall Hispanic market effort for they year–whether they sponsor some Hispanic events or become a partner of a Hispanic non-profit organization by paying an annual trustee membership. In many cases, executives think that because of the mission of these non-profit organizations, they are reaching their customers in those specific DMAs across the nation. This is not necessarily true. It is important to sponsor events and support these organizations. However, community outreach should act as a support of your ongoing Hispanic marketing efforts, not as your annual Hispanic initiative. If you look at your overall Hispanic market DMA and you compare it with the amount of members of these non-profit organizations, you will realize that you are only reaching to a small percentage of your audience, not your overall target audience.
  5. Getting the right help. Having a strong consultant or Hispanic marketing firm that understands Hispanic culture is key to your success. They will bring smart, effective solutions to help you engage and genuinely connect with this market. Having people on your team who speak Spanish does not necessarily mean they know how to connect with this audience. I have seen the frustration of many chief marketing officers who were using their own Hispanic employees to translate their marketing materials and it was not producing good results. Plus, they had many errors throughout their marketing materials. Cutting corners will hurt your business and your end result.

The success of a business will be defined by how well companies market their products and services to all groups, not just “the general market.” It will also depend on how open-minded executives are to reacting to market challenges and trends.

It is estimated that by 2020 the Hispanic purchasing power will reach $1.7 trillion dollars. The question you need to ask yourself is: how much revenue are you leaving on the table by not engaging with this influential audience?

Hernan Tagliani is the author of the book The Hispanic Market for Corporate America: How to Make Your Brand Culturally Relevant.

Your Editor Pushes Engagement. Here, there, everywhere. 

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