Many think of the GOP as the party of business. When it came to the Latino vote however, Republicans failed to do the one thing that any businessman knows is key --- connect with the target market.
As we've heard over and over again, Gov. Mitt Romney's stance on immigration (ehem... "self-deportation") turned off many Hispanic voters and contributed to his loss. But, even some of the decisions the campaign made explicitly to draw in Latino voters fell flat.
Romney's campaign ads "Día Uno" and "Van Bien?" were clumsily translated from the English and made silly grammatical errors, including missed accent marks and incorrect Spanish capitalization.
Advertising experts like Glenn Llopis, founder of the Center for Hispanic Leadership, a leadership training organization based in California, say these were very basic mistakes in the world of Spanish-language advertising. But above all else, Llopis says that Romney failed to show that he "values the Latino voter" enough to take the time and money to figure out the community and its "cultural values."
If you watch commercials on any Spanish language network for just a few minutes, you'll find brand after brand doing their darndest to draw in the Latino consumer. And some companies have gotten pretty good at it. That's because if US Hispanic consumers were a country, their market buying power would be one of the top 20 in the world, according to a Nielsen study released earlier this year.
Here are 5 lessons those interested in our votes might learn from those interested in our money:
1. Demonstrate a true understanding of Latino experiences in U.S.
In this ad, Heineken connects with its consumer by depicting a real phenomena Latin Americans encounter in a multicultural United States; the confusion over whether to shake hands or kiss cheeks when saying hello.
Llopis says that appealing to the Hispanic experience, and stressing ideas that resonate, like the entrepreneurial spirit, the ethos of giving, and the importance of family, would be a good place for the GOP start.
"If they want to get to know us, go into the community, and learn about us, because you don't learn about who we are as a community by just reading the newspaper," Llopis said.
2. Appeal to the bilingual nature of Hispanic electorate
In this commercial, Volkswagen speaks directly to the bicultural, bilingual Latino market. While the ad can surely be understood by those who speak no Spanish at all, a bilingual consumer in particular will surely appreciate just how native the non-native speakers become after a few hours of Spanish-on-tape.
Many advertisers say one of the most obvious mistakes the Romney campaign made was directly translating a few English language ads into Spanish, rather than crafting a unique message to resonate with all Latinos -- both English and Spanish speaking.
"This is the most simple thing -- you don't translate an English language message into a Spanish language message. Meaning gets lost in translation," he noted. But more importantly, Llopis says the "messaging was not authentic" and therefore did not work.
3. Acknowledge Latino diversity
There's little Latinos hate more than being clumped together as one monolithic group (irony implied). Most individuals prefer to be identified by their countries of origin, "Mexican-American" or "Cuban-American" than by terms like "Hispanic" or "Latino," according to a recent Pew Study. Toyota's successful "Somos Muchos"sticker campaign, drives this point home. The company handed out free decals that contain the phrase "Somos Mucho" or "We Are Many," followed by country names.
Obama won re-election with a message that focused on the diversity of the electorate. Acknowledging and embracing differences within the Latino voting bloc may also be key in capturing their votes.
4. Don't underestimate star power
Burger King had the right idea when they featured Sofia Vergara, the highest-paid actress on TV according to Forbes in this commercial about their new salad menu.
President Barack Obama also caught on to the value of star power, by giving Latino celebrities key seats in his campaign. Actress Eva Longoria (despite some of her err... poor-decision making) served as a co-chair for his re-election and TV host Cristina Saralegui gave a speech at the Democratic National Convention. Rosie Perez, Gloria Estefan, Ricky Martin, John Leguizamo, and Antonio Banderas also came out in support of Obama.
But Romney found but one Latino celebrity endorser: comedian Paul Rodriguez. When asked by an Arizona newspaper if it was hard being a Hispanic Republican, Rodriguez shot back, "Oh, yeah. We have a secret meeting out here of conservatives."
5. Connect genuinely with an immigrant narrative
Chevrolet just launched a Spanish-language ad campaign, which touches on a very important note for the Hispanic community: "Todos somos importados, " or "We are all imported," the Chrysler ad says. The car ad closes with the tagline "Importado desde Detroit" or "Imported from Detroit." The ad is so new that we couldn't find it anywhere online, but the very simple statement demonstrates the brand is thinking about the immigrant experience and fitting itself into that narrative.
While the Romney campaign did their best to make it known in their Spanish-language ads that the candidate's father was born in Mexico, Llopis said it felt like his campaign thought "we weren't intelligent enough to realize" that he wasn't actually Latino.
"That was his attempt to say to Hispanics, 'I understand you,' when he didn't understand us at all," Llopis said.