Do You Have to Be Hispanic to Work in Hispanic Marketing?
May 19th, 2008
Posted by Danny Allen
Do you have to be Hispanic to work in Hispanic marketing? Thatâ€™s a question thatâ€™s been on my mind lately.
Do you have to be Hispanic to have interesting thoughts about Hispanic marketing? Another question Iâ€™ve been thinking about.
To be honest, I donâ€™t really know the answer to either question. I have opinions, but no answers.
The reason Iâ€™ve been thinking about this is because on a couple of occasions lately, ThinkMulticultural has had other media outlets ask to re-print some of our content. We gave them permission, but when they found out it was the white guy who wrote the post, and not the Cuban guy or the Mexican woman, they killed the story.
Why is that? Are my thoughts less valuable because they come from a white guy? Did something that was intelligent and interesting one second ago suddenly become noise?
I see two sides to the issue.
You donâ€™t have to be Hispanic to work in Hispanic marketing â€“ I grew up in Texas, and not in Highland Park or River Oaks, but in the oil patch and the little goat farming towns. My friends in high school were Mexican. My sister is Mexican. My fiancÃ©e is half Mexican. I probably eat more tortillas and jalapenos in a week than most small cities do in a year. I have been working in Hispanic online media almost as long as there has been such a thing. I spend my time on Univision.com, Batanga, and Terra. I eat, breathe, live, and sleep multicultural marketing. Iâ€™m probably one of the most prolific Hispanic marketing bloggers there is, when it comes to writing original content. Some of the most talented people I work with in Hispanic marketing arenâ€™t Hispanic, and not just media buyers. Not to cause a panic, but one of the best creatives in Hispanic advertising is Korean. In fact, a lot of Hispanic creatives never stepped foot in the US until they were adults â€“ growing up in Argentina or Mexico City before being hired by a US -based Hispanic ad agency â€“ and know less about growing up Hispanic in the US than I do.
You do have to be Hispanic to work in Hispanic marketing â€“ I am white. White as Wonderbread. Iâ€™m not even cool for a white guy. Although I read and understand Spanish, my spoken Spanish sucks. I didnâ€™t grow up Hispanic. Iâ€™ve never been discriminated against by white America because of my skin color. Iâ€™ve never been called a wetback and told to go back where I belong. I donâ€™t have a shared cultural history with other Hispanics. Although Iâ€™ve been studying Hispanic marketing for several years, real Hispanics have been living it their whole lives. Itâ€™s not my culture and itâ€™s not my heritage.
So there it is. Do I have standing to work in and write about Hispanic marketing? Do other non-Hispanics?
Letâ€™s flip it around. Do Hispanics belong in general market advertising? Demographic trends notwithstanding, 2/3 of the US is Non-Hispanic White. Although multicultural ad dollars are growing, theyâ€™re still a small portion of overall ad spending. Spending power in the US is disproportionately in the hands of the Non-Hispanic White market too.
Should non-white people work in general market advertising? Of course they should. Even though white America is much bigger than the multicultural markets, everyone contributes to and grows up in the â€œgeneral market.â€
However, what if a client is trying to reach white males age 18-34? Should Hispanics work on that campaign? Should women be on the account? Not a single Hispanic or woman has ever been a white male age 18-34.
Should men work on campaigns targeting women? What guy doesnâ€™t usually feel like he understands other men regardless of race far better than he understands women?
Is there a wall somewhere built by background, culture, language, and heritage that no amount of study and hard work will ever be able to cross?
So there it is. A bunch of questions and thoughts, but no real answers. I would be grateful to hear the opinions of others on the subject, particularly if you have a different perspective on it.
In the meantime, Iâ€™ll go on working in multicultural marketing and throwing my thoughts up here from time to time.
You must be logged in to post a comment.