Brand Leaders from Paramount, H-E-B and Adsmovil on Engaging and Celebrating Hispanic Culture

Last week I had the pleasure of moderating an engaging and informative panel discussion on how brands connect with and celebrate Hispanic culture. 
Reading Time: 4 minutes

September 20, 2022
Victor Paredes – Executive Director of Cultural Strategy


The conversation was very enlightening and purposely held on September 15, the first day of National Hispanic Heritage Month.

Read on and fill out the form below to watch the full presentation,
How Great Brands Are Engaging & Celebrating Hispanic Culture. 

As the Executive Director of Cultural Strategy at Collage Group, I am always looking to help our members absorb our research and findings, and then move to translate that insight into actions. With cutting edge research and analysts on our team, including trusted colleague Jack Mackinnon – Collage’s Senior Director of Product and Content – I’m perpetually armed with the latest information and data. In having our discussion, I wanted to share Collage’s findings so others may better understand how to approach and celebrate the culture.

Jack joined our panel briefly to offer a quick synopsis on modern Hispanic consumers. He first provided a bit of background on Hispanic and Latino terminology and the internal diversity within the Hispanic culture. These insights are key to any company looking to capture this audience’s attention. Jack also discussed the growth of the Hispanic community over time. One noteworthy stat he cited involved the projected increase of the population; multicultural Americans are expected to surpass the non-Hispanic White population in the 2040s.

With such growth anticipated, brands must take notice and prepare a strategy to reach these segments.

According to Collage research, 57% of Hispanics celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Not to mention just under 15% of the Black population and almost the same percentage of the Asian population also observe the month. Moreover, 91% of the Hispanic community either wants, or doesn’t object to, brands including Hispanic Heritage Month within their advertising.

Panelist Maria Twena, Chief Marketing Officer at Adsmovil, noted that 55% of U.S. Hispanics either came to the country as a child at age 10 or younger, or are a child with at least one foreign born, immigrant parent. Maria says this bilingual, bicultural segment is the largest within the Hispanic market. Brands are aware of this demographic and as one part of their approach, they have wisely started to vie for this group’s attention.

“They inform brand and product purchases at a very early age,” she said of this cohort. “We’re seeing brands focus more on that segment as a primary target – keeping the Spanish dominant as a core target, obviously, but a shift is slowly happening in terms of who the primary target is.”

Angel Bellon, Senior Director of Creative Strategy & Cultural Intelligence at Paramount, called on brands, and society as a whole, to move away from the myth that advertisements toward the Hispanic community must include Spanish speaking.

“It’s time to look beyond language,” Angel said.

“Of course, Spanish language advertising is going to be effective because its recognition of our identity as a community,” Angel continued. “However, the representation of our community is much more current when we look at English speaking.”

Angel cited that 75% of Hispanics are fluent in English and only 28% are unacculturated. Thus, a large majority of Hispanics are totally comfortable with English, according to Angel, and brands should act accordingly when looking to market to them. Angel’s point was a good one. Spanish speaking ads are indeed effective and there are certainly times and cases where the Spanish language should be used. However, as Angel also stated, Hispanics are very comfortable with English and brands must appreciate that when looking to reach out to the community.

Brands, Angel said, should celebrate Hispanics’ cultural impact, and ought to educate people on the diversity that exists within the Hispanic community. Such a strategy would be much more effective than merely concentrating on language.

Erika Prosper, Senior Director of Customer Insights at H-E-B, and the first lady of San Antonio, suggested that brands and marketers move to better understand codeswitching and thus work it within their advertising. She also instructed brands to hire more people of color, but warned against simply bringing talent aboard for the sake of diversity. “You need to make sure that you’re not just bringing them for show, but you’re following through with their recommendations,” she said.

“You have to have that inclusion at every level, not just the top of the table, and not just at the bottom, putting products on the shelf,” Erika said. “You have to make sure it’s all the way through.”

Angel agreed, saying often times when brands stumble or get it wrong, it’s usually those brands that have not had a single person of color involved in the strategizing.

“If you don’t have those people, then you shouldn’t be talking to the Latino community,” Angel said. “Targeting to the Hispanic community is a privilege, not a right.” Brands, Angel said, should ask “have we earned the right to speak to the Hispanic community?” And that benefit is earned through initiatives and recognizing that the community is there every day of the year, not just during Hispanic Heritage Month.

Erika made a point to mention her attire, a colorful outfit that displayed Hispanic heritage pride. She articulated the importance of being able to dress in a way that gave a nod to the culture, and to do so without fearing backlash or a negative response from her employer or colleagues.

One of my favorite parts of our conversation was getting a chance to hear Maria speak a bit about the children’s book she authored titled, “School Crossing.” Her own childhood was the inspiration as she, like the book’s main character, grew up in America, living with her immigrant Hispanic family.

“I always felt like an outsider at home and at school, and society didn’t reflect my life experience.” So, with that, Maria set out to create a character that was “authentically Latina, bilingual, bicultural and struggling with belonging.”

It is a very interesting, and also an important story, as there are many young people out there who share that experience and who can relate.

Again, I thought our panel discussion was fascinating! It was interesting, educational and informative, as we offer numerous tips to brands on how to better connect with the Hispanic community.

The entire conversation can be viewed by filling out the form above, and any company looking to gain further insights on engaging with the community can contact Collage Group at the form below.


Other Recent Hispanic Research Articles and Insights from Collage Group

Victor Paredes

Victor Paredes

Victor leverages his expertise in inclusive marketing and advertising in combination with Collage’s proprietary data and insights, to support clients. He is a successful marketing and advertising executive with proven experience in building practices that drive brand equity, sales, traffic, and qualified leads. His marketing experience spans sectors such as entertainment, hospitality, healthcare, consumer packaged goods, retail, and direct to consumer services.

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