Ad Creative

It’s Hispanic Heritage Month—y Studio Resonate lo sabe

Natalie Leal, Senior Copywriter, Multicultural - Studio ResonateSep 25, 2023

Latino audiences never stop evolving. In this month's Studio Resonate showcase, learn how brands can keep up.

Most advertisers are aware that the Hispanic market is not a monolith. Latinos in the US don’t share a country of origin, aren’t unified by one race, and vary significantly in the Spanish dialect they speak. In more recent years, the advertising industry has finally started to recognize how much the Hispanic market continues to evolve. So, when it comes to creating authentic narratives that resonate with these audiences, it’s important to acknowledge their differences, stay flexible, and ensure proper representation within the creative team. 

Here are some tips for developing ads for the Hispanic market based on how the Studio Resonate Multicultural team approaches this work. 

Think Multicultural First

It’s not uncommon for brands to create ads for Hispanic consumers after they’ve already come up with the core concept for the general market execution. The problem with that approach is that the general market is typically synonymous with white audiences, even though it definitionally should include multicultural audiences. At this later stage in the creative process, it’s often too late to attempt a level of authenticity that will resonate. Making sure your core idea was born with Latinos in mind from the start is the best way for your work to embody authenticity. And it goes without saying that the most authentic ideas will happen when folks who represent the audience you’re trying to reach are a part of the creative process. 

Dive Deep on Audiences

In the past, if an ad was speaking to a Hispanic audience, the default was to write the ad in Spanish. But gone are the days where we can assume a Spanish-language execution is the best approach. According to the latest stats from the Pew Research Center, 67.3% of Hispanic people in the US were born here. Plus, the latest census data shows that 72% of all Latinos ages five and older say they spoke English proficiently. 

Given these numbers, it’s no wonder we’ve seen the recent rise of self proclaimed, “No Sabo Kids,” a colloquial label (and intentionally grammatically incorrect use of the phrase, “I don’t know”) used to describe Latinos who aren’t fluent in Spanish. There are so many ways to proudly embrace one’s Latinidad without speaking the language, and “No Sabo Kids” are now wearing what used to be a source of shame as a badge of honor. With the rise of this bicultural-but-not-bilingual Latino population, we need to recognize when it’s actually more effective for our ads to sound more like them, and less like their parents. 

Studio Resonate Lead Audio Producer Juan Abel Elias, who immigrated to the US from Argentina in his twenties, didn’t always accept these changes.

I felt my mission at first was to be a guardian of the language. I would huff and puff at people that would ‘dare’ to speak Spanglish. But it was time that showed me that this hybrid language serves its purpose and helps you navigate the cultural melting pot that this country is.

Juan Abel EliasLead Audio Producer, Studio Resonate

So, once you’ve established exactly who you’re trying to reach in an ad, it’s time to figure out which language choice makes the most sense for that audience. 

  • For older generations – The ad should be in Spanish since this audience is more likely to still be Spanish dominant. 

  • For specific regions in the US – Use a specific dialect (like using Cuban Spanish for an ad running in Miami, which has a large Cuban population). 

  • For Spanish-speaking audiences living in the US (vs outside of the US) – Opt for the popular, anglicized words that have been adopted colloquially in Spanish (like “streamear” for streaming or “textear” for texting) over the proper but lesser known word in Spanish. 

  • For younger generations who might be less fluent in Spanish – Opt for a bilingual ad that’s mostly in English with a few naturally placed Spanish words, or a script that’s entirely in English with subtle cultural nuances. 

In this bilingual AAA spot written and produced by Studio Resonate, two parents are having a heartfelt moment with their university-bound son. In the ad, the parents use a natural combination of Spanish and English when speaking to their son, while he, as part of a younger generation, responds to them only in English. In addition to featuring a cultural insight about a typical parent/child relationship, this approach is a great example of how to authentically incorporate both English and Spanish in a way that makes the characters relatable.

AAA Ad - Bilingual

Keep it Real

Sometimes advertisers attempt to insert Spanish words in an English script for a desired bilingual effect. It’s true that bilingual folks often weave both English and Spanish into the same conversation, but when an ad attempts to recreate that experience by trying to meet a certain quota of Spanish to English words, it’s bound to sound forced. Because it is. 

So how does one avoid making this mistake? Let’s use this ad Studio Resonate created for Gain Power Blast Dish Spray as an example. The goal of this spot was to convince audiences that the awesome cleaning power and irresistible scent of Gain dish spray makes doing the dishes not just less of a chore, but also a genuinely enjoyable task. The culturally relevant insight here was that in Latino families it’s not uncommon for older generations of women to take over the majority of the housework. That insight informed a playful scene between a suegra and her son-in-law fighting over who gets to do the dishes.

The following script used Spanish words when they fit naturally into the dialogue between two characters, while the announcer’s lines were almost entirely in English. Note that in the end, the use of Spanish is subtle, but natural. This is a great example of what an ad can sound like when creative decisions are informed by lived experiences.

Announcer: New Gain Power Blast dish spray smells so good and cleans so well, washing the dishes is going to quickly become everyone’s favorite chore.

[SFX: Water running, dishes being washed]

Male VO: No te preocupes suegra, I got the dishes tonight!

Mother-in-Law, Mature Adult: Tranquilo, Mijo. I am HAPPY to do the dishes!!

Male VO: But I insist!

Announcer: When you spray, aromatic suds blast the grease away while filling your kitchen with the irresistible scent of Gain. So put on some buena música, take a deep breath, and have some fun!

[SFX: Long Spray Sound. Sink water running + Dishes getting washed]

[MUSIC: Upbeat reggatón starts playing along with the dishwashing sounds, continues under the announcer]

Announcer: New Gain Power Blast dish spray. Cleans great. Smells better.

This ad works because it was written with Hispanic audiences in mind. When we approached a Gain ad for Black audiences, the writing was completely different while still highlighting the product’s features and benefits in the same way. Check it out here: “What Brands can do to Connect with Black Audiences.” 

While there are no hard and fast rules, often the best words to keep in Spanish are terms of endearment, phrases, and certain words that might feel more emotive when said in Spanish. As the copywriter for this script, I just imagined how I’d be having this conversation if I was chatting with my family or bilingual friends. 

Move Beyond Stereotypes

All too often, when advertisers are trying to resonate with Hispanic audiences, they default to painting a pretty stereotypical picture, with characters either eating tacos, celebrating a quinceañera, or playing soccer. 

It’s time for everyone to recognize that Hispanic audiences have full identities outside of their Latinidad. They listen to more than just Latin music. They eat a variety of foods. And they can even be single, college-educated working professionals. 

That’s exactly why we set out to find a music bed that challenged expectations in a 2023 campaign for The Advertising Council. The goal of the campaign was to discourage Gen Z and millennial men from driving while high. The protagonist in the spot is hyper-focused on the music he’s listening to, and it would have been par for the course to default to a reggaetón track for the Spanish-language ad, but the team decided to take a more thoughtful approach.

Latino culture thrives on musical diversity. We have to break free from the reggaetón cliches to make meaningful connections with this massive audience. Some of my favorite Latino artists come from indie rock, hip-hop, and reggae backgrounds! If you want to resonate with Latinos, you have to ditch the stereotypes.

Ricky Ramirez HernandezBilingual Senior Audio Producer, Studio Resonate
The Ad Council Ad - Spanish

Takeaways for Your Next Campaign 

There is no silver bullet when it comes to crafting an ad that will resonate with a Hispanic audience. But the following considerations, along with proper representation among your teams, will help you better connect with this audience for your next campaign: 

  • Think multicultural first: Making sure your core idea was born with Latinos in mind, from a Latino creative, is the best way for your work to embody authenticity.

  • Dive deep on audiences: Not all Latinos in the US are fluent in Spanish. Figure out who you’re speaking to so you can determine the best language choices for your campaign. 

  • Keep it real: Don’t try to meet a certain ratio of Spanish to English words in a script. If authenticity is your goal, the use of Spanish will always vary depending on the context.

  • Move beyond stereotypes: Latinos have full identities outside of their Latinidad; consider this diversity when making creative choices for your ad.

We can help you develop the right ad creative to resonate with your desired audiences. Studio Resonate has a multicultural creative team dedicated to helping brands develop authentic creative work for specific audience segments. Let’s talk.

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