Swaying the Hispanic Vote – Integrated Hispanic Marketing at Its Best

Oct 13, 2004

By Terry Soto

A recent article in Marketing to Emerging Majorities challenges marketers who are still hemming and hawing about whether or not Hispanics represent a strong enough market to warrant significant ad dollars. It asks them to note the attention being paid to this constituency by the two men vying for the job of “leader of the free world.”

Many political pundits believe the Hispanic vote will not only have a larger effect this November than it did in the past, but could actually determine the next president.

For both parties, the majority of the focus will be on Hispanics living in “battleground states” – those where the winner was decided by 5% or less in 2000. These include Nevada, Colorado, Florida, New Mexico and Arizona. “There’s every indication that both campaigns will reach record spending levels this year on Hispanic focused advertising,” says Adam Segal of the Hispanic Voter Project at Johns Hopkins University. “They’re both mounting aggressive media efforts.” And one independent political action committee will spend more than both parties combined.

The ad agency behind Kerry’s campaign estimates current spending on Spanish-language ads at about $1.5 million, but said that will go up before the election takes place. The two Spanish-language ads for Kerry entitled “Honor” and “Faith,” are airing on Spanish-language networks and local TV stations in battleground local markets. The ads highlight the moral issues important to the Hispanic community with a portrayal of Kerry, the family man, attending mass. The ads also address political and social concerns, for example, the issue of immigration is addressed in “Faith.” More television spots are planned as are print in weekly and daily Spanish-language newspapers. A radio ad entitled “Hope” is also currently airing.

A bilingual effort recently got underway on the Spanish-language Web site Unidosconkerry.com (United with Kerry). The site contains a five-minute video narrated by Henry Cisneros, former secretary of housing and urban development in the Clinton Administration. “Our community is not about language, it’s about culture,” said the agency and its strategy is to reach all of the people in the Hispanic community.

As with most well thought out Hispanic marketing efforts, the Kerry campaign also includes grassroots elements. These include volunteers from around the country throwing “house parties” for friends and family. Luis Miranda, deputy press secretary for Kerry, says the goal of these parties is to educate voters, register new voters and do low dollar fund-raising. “We send them information kits that contain bilingual flyers and video they can download to their laptops,” Miranda says. “People are taking their laptops to supermarkets and flea markets in order to show others these videos on the Kerry campaign.”

Meanwhile, the agency handling the Bush campaign says they will leave nothing on the table when it comes to targeting Hispanic voters and compared to this time in 2000, they are ahead in their spending. It has been estimated the Bush campaign has spent over $1.5 million to date. In 2000, Republicans spent $2.3 million on Hispanic advertising. When the ads began, they were translations of general market ads, but now they are producing ads specifically designed for Hispanic voters. One of the five ads currently airing plays to the “pride Hispanics feel in their countries of origin” says the agency. It shows a number of flags from different Latin American countries, followed by faces of Hispanics living in the U.S. The message of the ad is this is a country they can have pride in, as well as a place of financial opportunity and better education and healthcare for their families.

There are also 30 grassroots teams working in the U.S. and In Puerto Rico. The largest spender on Hispanic focused advertising so far, however, has been the New Democratic Network (NDN), an independent political action committee.

NDN describes its $3.5 million effort as historic for either a political party or an independent. The organization’s goal is to inform voters about the Democratic Party and to support the Democratic Party’s effort. The organization has launched twelve TV spots since March. Some feature Hispanic politicians and early ads highlighted what the Democratic Party has done for the Hispanic community. More recent ads mention President Bush and his “reneging on” promises made to the Hispanic community, but none have mentioned Kerry, nor will they. The organization’s intent is to highlight Democrats’ efforts on behalf of Hispanics, not just Kerry’s. A spokesperson for the NDN said that its aim is to demonstrate the democratic values of the Democratic Party.

Moderator’s Comments: What do these politicians understand about Hispanics and target marketing that corporate America
does not? Is the next presidential race and the future of this country truly in the hands of Hispanics? If so, what does that say about the future of many products and services
being marketed today?

Terry Soto – Moderator

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