Authentic or Not
October 16, 2019 – So, yet another article about authenticity in Spanish-language advertising. You may wonder – what more is there to say that has not already been said? You may well be right. However – and overcoming all my cynical misgivings – I will attempt to address the subject and hopefully spark conversations about this abused concept.
First, authenticity is not gained with simply advertising to Hispanics in Spanish. We Latino consumers may appreciate the effort, but if the advertising is not talking to Hispanic consumers, but rather at Hispanic consumers, then the effect will be null. The language is important, but if the advertising lacks relevance then it will fail to motivate and will not generate the intended behavior.
Authenticity in Language
Let us say that the Spanish-language advertising is in fact empathetic and the product or service is relevant to the market. How do you ensure that the language is not stilted by trying to explain too literally the intent and meaning of original English-language copy? How do you avoid vacillating between a tone that is too familiar or not familiar enough?
The right language to cross over an ad is difficult to navigate. This is why the best approach is to use the original English copy as a guideline to ideate its Spanish-language version by native, but fully bilingual, writers with an understanding of the nuances of the market. Moving beyond the language issues, let’s not forget other critical factors such as geography (to avoid using any country-specific colloquialism, for example), or the type of product/service advertised and how to best position it to the needs of Hispanic consumers, which may differ to those of the General Market. Now you have an ad that is true to the original English-language version of the copy as the starting point to create a proper and effective Spanish-language version, which motivates Hispanic consumers by addressing their specific needs in a tone that reflects an understanding and respect of their beliefs, traditions and way of life.
Next comes the video and/or audio, which should also reflect the ideals reflected in the copy.
The Hispanic market is just as varied as the General Market. We come in all shapes, sizes and colors. We have brown Latinos, white Latinos, black Latinos, Asian Latinos. Pretty much all shades under the sun. We do speak the same language, Spanish, but with different accents and slang. This is critical to understand when casting for a commercial, be it for digital use or TV. The same care used in the writing must be used in the visuals, as that viscerally communicates an understanding, or lack thereof, of the community and its consumers and the way the brand relates to them.
Communicating Brand Values is Universal
All mass messaging, regardless of language, has to communicate brand values and benefits to individual consumers, and with a singular voice. This may sound contradictory, but it is not. Hispanic consumers do not live in a bubble, regardless of what language they may speak. The culture at large permeates to all of us. Therefore, if a brand communicates a given message to one set of consumers (i.e. the general market), that message has to be consistent to all other consumers (i.e. the “multiculturals”). It may sound different, it may look different; but, at its core, it should be the same: Coca Cola is a perfect example: Destapa la Felicidad or Open Happiness
Finally, the goal of any advertiser is to turn consumers into customers. To achieve this goal, the messaging must ring true in all and every language. It needs to appeal to the head and the heart from a cultural point of view – regardless of language. Authenticity unlocks customer engagement, sparks word-of-mouth and elicits action.
Patricia Testa- Managing Partner – D2H Partners, LLC – 2019