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Multi-Cultural Cause Marketing II

Cause-Marketing with a Hispanic Flavor

In Thursday’s posting we raised the question posed by Gabriel Q., who works for a notable California multi-cultural consultancy: what about cause marketing to multi-cultural audiences? Gabriel was specifically interested in cause-related marketing and Hispanic-Latino audiences.

Of course marketing to multi-cultural audiences can be damnably difficult because…just to take up just Hispanics-Latinos…Spanish speakers in the United States may come from dozens of countries. While Spanish itself is a lingua franca, there are hundreds of accents, and thousands of culturally-specific word meanings.

Considering the 1951-mile-long border between Mexico and the United States, Mexican Spanish predominates, especially in the American Southwest. But there are also 3.3 million people born in the Caribbean and 2.1 million people born in South America now living in the United States, according to 2003 survey from the U.S. Census Bureau. The 2000 U.S. Census identified 28.1 million people in the United States who speak Spanish.

If you’re a marketer (cause or otherwise) it’s not enough to simply translate campaigns or even ad copy from English to Spanish. Marketing requires not only language translation, but cultural translation.

Puerto Rican food (liked the stewed beef, fried plantains, and rice and beans platter seen above) is not Mexican food without the chili!

Case in point: I have two nephews, who along with their father, all speak fluent Spanish. One acquired his skills in Peru, the other in Uruguay and their father learned his in central Mexico. After two years in Uruguay, my nephew returned home to Arizona where he’s a construction foreman. This being Arizona, most of his crew is Mexican. Though they spoke the same language, my nephew had a hard time connecting with his crew in no small measure because they found his accent so perplexing.

But back to Gabriel’s question. If you’re a cause marketer, and Hispano-Latinos are your audience, is there some cause that a good chunk of the H-L audience have an affinity for regardless of their accent?

In an email exchange, Gabriel suggests the answer. Several companies that market to Hispanics and Latinos have taken up the cause of education.

McDonalds has a campaign called HACER which offers scholarships and college tours for Hispanics. Coors sponsored the 2004 tour of Mexican pop band Mana, and donated $125,000 towards college scholarships to kids from the U.S., Puerto Rico and Mexico. The Home Depot has partnerships with the ASPIRA Association, HACU, National Council of La Raza, and the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility. Verizon, GM, Kellogg’s, AT&T, Miller Brewing, and others offer college internships, college tours and the like to Latino students.

In June Staples Foundation for Learning granted another $100,000 to the Hispanic heritage Foundation to fund the Hispanic Heritage Teacher Award, which celebrates the contributions of “influential teachers within Latino communities across the country making a positive impact on the lives of Latino youth.”

Of these, the Coors effort is the closest to straightforward cause marketing.

So is education the one appropriate cause that generates affinity across the many Hispano-Latino cultures? Probably not. But the only way to know for sure is to conduct is research and then test your resulting campaign in the H-L marketplace.

If I were to undertake it would probably include some combination of focus groups and surveys.

In Spanish, of course.

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