Recently, while talking with a colleague she expressed her frustration about how Spanish translations become the default tactic to address the Latino audience. Although I can understand the efficiency justification – time and budget -a one-size-fits all strategy is a risky proposition and can produce less than expected results. Attention is waning and is more difficult to secure than ever, and the questions the Latino audience are asking- is this for me, are you talking to me? Only translating general market messages and creative into Spanish might miss the mark to connect with your Latino audience.
Spanish is important, but cultural relevancy is more important
Spanish-language is a unifying force and the minimum denominator to show relevancy. It is easy to see, like the top of the iceberg. However, what you don’t see that is deeply rooted in culture and closely interconnected to emotions, what is underneath the water has a strong influence on how Latinos perceive most aspects of their lives. Understanding how the Latino segment interpret and perceive the world, their beliefs, attitudes, values, and social norms regarding specific situations, can be the difference between connecting and engaging with the Hispanic audience or getting lost in translation. According to Felipe Korzenny, professor of Advertising and Integrated Marketing and Management Communication at Florida State University (FSU), “it is the subjectivity of the interpretation of cultural values that makes one portrayal relevant to one group and not to another”. Incorporating a cultural perspective and nuance adds intimacy to the communication strategy.
Incorporate cultural nuances into the message and creative to achieve higher memorability and likeability
According to a Nielsen Brand Effect study that analyzed ROI Spanish-language TV campaigns effectiveness compared to their English-language General Market TV ads, found that original Spanish content that is culturally tailored to the U.S. Hispanic market outperform ads that are simply translated into Spanish.
So how can you achieve stronger cultural relevancy? The following 3 questions can help you start the conversation:
- Is there a universal consumer insight we can leverage or a different understanding that will be more relevant and effective?
- What is the right motivational appeal to emotionally engage Hispanics?
- What are the cultural elements and identification (seen and unseen) that needs to be incorporated?
Spanish language is a unifying factor and effective in reaching Latino audiences. However don’t diminish the importance of developing original content, creating a narrative storyline, and making it relatable with familiar and real world settings. Incorporating the cultural perspective should not be lost on any Latino segment. Knowing how a priority group feels about life, health, the future, love, death, children, career, art, sex, etc, and how to capture the unseen cultural subtleties, empowers you to evoke emotions and tell your story in a cultural relevant way.