Reaching and Representing Latino Audiences

Despite years of celebration and acknowledgement, some people still don’t know about Hispanic Heritage Month. Why is it celebrated? Why does it begin on the 15th of September? Why is all of this information important?

Your business’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month is important if you serve and market to diverse populations. It helps to be knowledgeable about the history behind the month. It also helps to be sensitive to all the nationalities, cultures and practices it encompasses.

Let’s take a look at the history of Hispanic Heritage Month, the many cultures which celebrate it in the United States, and what the two should mean for your multicultural marketing strategies. 

What’s the history behind Hispanic Heritage Month? 

Every year, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. This time is set aside to commemorate the histories, cultures and contributions of American residents whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15.

The day of September 15 is significant to Latin American countries because it is the anniversary of independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September 18 respectively. Additionally, Columbus Day or Día de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30-day period. 

How Do You Define the Latino Audience? 

There are many different forms of Latinos living, working and contributing within the United States. The Latino audience with which your business interacts is unlikely to be uniform. There are 33 Latin American countries, each one with distinct cultures, traditions and practices. To put the Latin-American audience into a single box would be ludicrous.

Consider the first-person perspective of Ariela Faulkner, a Salvadoran-American teammate of ours:

“My name is Ariela Faulkner, and I am a natural-born Salvadoran woman in marketing. I fall into a niche category within my own demographic group– I was not born in the U.S., but I was raised here as a young child. The U.S. is the only home of which I know and remember. This gives me a unique experience.This allows me to see the world from the perspective of immigrants– their plights, sacrifices, and successes. I also get to see the world from the perspective of Americans. There are lots of issues surrounding immigration– and we are not here to tackle those. The point of this series is to highlight the melting pot this wonderful country is and how to service all those beautiful flavors. Each group requires different attention, and it’s our job as marketers to ensure we appeal to the interests of each person. After all, that’s what great marketing is all about. 

“A few months ago, I attended AdWeek’s Elevate: Hispanic TV 2022 Thought Leadership panel. Obviously, the Latin community is very near and dear to me, so finding ways to strategize Hispanic advertising is crucial. Across the board, Hispanic marketing has been either overlooked, underserved, or oversimplified. 

“Latino groups comprise 2.7 trillion dollars of buying power. They’re no longer (and haven’t been for years) a group that can be bundled into a general marketing plan. 

“The main theme of this panel was “A Nuanced Approach.” The Latin community is diverse, like any other community, but the pride attached to each cultural identity makes this granular approach necessary. It requires deep dives into research and an understanding of the history and origin of these communities, the journey they took to get here and the reasons they’ve chosen to stay in specific locations. 

What does this mean for marketing campaigns targeting Hispanic consumers? 

Like with all audiences, picking the right media platforms plays a vital role when trying to reach Hispanic consumers. Younger Latin audiences lean towards digital consumption, however, this doesn’t rule out traditional media in any way. Hispanics often live in multigenerational households. Each level of a person’s integration within the U.S. informs their media watching preferences.

Traditional TV is not just a means to serve the elder or unacculturated populations of Latinos. It hits the younger audiences as well, the ones who watch telenovelas with their mom or abuelita. So traditional media is the way to let Latin audiences know that they’re important to your brands, but digital media is the way for you to impact this group and personalize ads to their identities and values. 

How can you prioritize inclusive marketing in your campaigns? 

Don’t silo your Latin audiences. Whether in language, background, college or interest, the Latin community is not a monolith. Spanish-language ads aren’t the only way to reach Latino-Americans.

The community’s demographics are incredibly versatile and the Latin community is young! The median age for Latinos is 10 years younger than the US population’s median of 37 yrs. This data supports the fact that the population of acculturated Latinos are in the majority of the Latin community. They don’t just need ads in Spanish. They need representation. They are looking for a reason to buy from your brands because your brands see them and include them. 

A fantastic example of the type of marketing that directly impacts the Latin community is a blended, acculturated approach. A great example is what the NFL and Telemundo did for a Super Bowl LVI commercial. This unification of fútbol and football is a revolutionary marketing strategy created to increase Hispanic viewership of traditional American sports. 1.9 million watched the first-ever Spanish-language Super Bowl broadcast on Telemundo. The total broadcast numbers were up 14% on the previous year, partly due to an increase in Spanish audience.

How did the NFL realize this increase? Latin inclusion. For the first time ever, the NFL offered Latinos the option to watch the Super Bowl in Spanish. More than that, they provided representation of the Latin audience in their advertising and broadcast.

You can act similarly in your business. Don’t ignore your Latino consumers or take them for granted. Avoid misrepresenting or generalizing your Latino audience. Instead, do your research and accurately recognize the role Latinos play (or that you hope they play) in your business. Representation can pay dividends.

What’s next?

If you’re trying to connect your business to Latino audiences, MHP/Team SI would love to help! Our client strategy teams have extensive experience marketing to diverse audiences and representing them in our campaigns. Fill out the form below to get in touch with us.


    Caleb Byrd