Apr 06, 2011

The Hispanic Perspective(s)

A weekend of immersed in the arts gave me a new perspective on Hispanic characterizations,  and a marketing “ahaa” moment of sorts.  First, I enjoyed the Broadway Across America Miami presentation of “In the Heights.”  My husband (a ‘Hispanicized’ Anglo) and I very much enjoyed the story and music, and I particularly was touched by some character similarities of my own family. Next it was a family outing with our tween (9 year old) twin daughters to see the new movie “Hop”- a story about how the Easter Bunny gets his job and delivers baskets of treats to children celebrating Easter Sunday. Aside from the obvious genre differences, the Hispanic perspectives presented in each where quite disparate.

In ‘Hop’ I was surprised to find among the lead characters is Carlos- the operations director and Top ‘Chic’ at the Easter production facilities on Easter Island. He’s the Number 2 on the island reporting directly to the current elder statesman, Easter Bunny, but turns out that he desperately wants to be the next ‘EB’ and designs an elaborate plan to overthrow the reigning Bunny family. Carlos has a heavy accent and acts like a dictator of sorts from a Central American nation. I suppose someone has to be the bad guy in a kids movie so why not a Carlos?

Moving on to the varying perspective of “Usnavy”-  the lead character from In the Heights. He’s a first-generation Dominican who lost his parents as a young child and is raised by his grandmother in NY’s Washington Heights ‘barrio.’ Initially Usnavy is searching for a way out of the barrio with a dream to return to his island roots, but in the end decides to stay and make his own mark and improve the barrio his own way.

What I take away from either characterization is that Hispanics are impacting American  culture and are really starting to be heard, felt, and counted. I believe that we’re not alone. The message of diversity and ethnic communities and their overall importance in changing or affecting American cultural change is being told in more creative ways than ever. We may not love all the story lines equally, as with my disappointment in Hop’s ‘Carlos’- but we are in the mix.

So where do we go next? This week in LA many experts are heading to the Hispanicize conference-  arguably among the marketing industry’s leading events which gathers communicators, marketers and media focused on reaching Hispanic communities nationally. Among the many planned topics, discussions and presentations will be the central theme of how the industry is addressing the changing patterns to reach Latinos online and beyond.

How are Hispanic bloggers driving change and helping brands connect, or not, with Latino audiences? How are Latina moms being reached? Considering that well known Latino actor and activist Edward James Olmos will keynote the Thursday morning session and Rosanna Fiske- the first Latina President and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America will address the luncheon session, the discussions surely will be lively and engaging.

So on the heels of the 2010 Census findings that finally confirmed what Hispanic marketing experts have been saying for several years- the Hispanic community now represents more than 16% of the US population and are 50 million+ strong and growing. How will your brands authentically connect with these consumers and build long lasting relationships?

Follow me and the conference Twitter and Facebook feeds for some good insights this week:  @latinomarketing and #hispz and #hispz11 on Twitter and the Hispanicize and PR Newswire special conference sponsorship page on Facebook.

Author Cristy Clavijo-Kish is PR Newswire’s senior VP of multicultural markets.

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