[SPANISH] BROOKE GLADSTONE: If you didn't understand that ad for Energizer batteries, you actually are increasingly alone. In the spot, a man who's discovered he's immortal tries to find batteries that are up to the challenge of life without end. It's just one ad in a sea of pitches to Spanish-speaking consumers.
And here's why. An estimated $928 billion will be spent this year by those consumers in America. That's 200 billion more than just two years ago. And Spanish-language TV, magazines and radio are all growing in tandem with that market. It's a boom, and with it comes advertising that is more nuanced, funnier and truer to the experience of being a Spanish-speaking consumer in America.
Cynthia Gorney got the lay of the land from John Gallegos, who runs the award-winning ad agency Grupo Gallegos, and she writes about it in this weekend's New York Times Magazine. Cynthia, welcome to OTM. CYNTHIA GORNEY: Pleasure to be here, Brooke. BROOKE GLADSTONE: The main ad guy in your story, John Gallegos, talks about essentially - I don't remember the word in Spanish, I'm ashamed to say - the "grandma" ads, where if you wanted to sell - CYNTHIA GORNEY: Abuelita. [LAUGHTER]
BROOKE GLADSTONE: If you wanted to sell a product, Grandma would be there. He says he loves - CYNTHIA GORNEY: Yeah. BROOKE GLADSTONE: - his grandma but it's a very boring thing to use - CYNTHIA GORNEY: Yeah. BROOKE GLADSTONE: - the family-centered approach every time. Hispanics aren't just about family. CYNTHIA GORNEY: I heard a lot of ad people, actually, in Hispanic advertising talk about abuelita advertising. And what they mean by that is whatever your product, you figure out how to sell it in a scenario where there's a happy multigenerational family. And there's abuelita looking beatific in the corner, and she's pouring the milk or she's using the product or she's looking on as the kids use the product. And that's how you signal this is a real Latino family.
But if you stick to those clichés and assume that Latinos somehow aren't sophisticated enough to get the kind of humor that makes ads memorable and funny in other languages, your advertising becomes boring and you don't sell the product very well. BROOKE GLADSTONE: So how has the latest generation of publicistas, like John Gallegos, updated the approach? I mean, you wrote about how a simple translation of the famous "Got Milk" ad wouldn't work for a number of reasons. CYNTHIA GORNEY: Well, the people that I talked to and spent time with at the Gallegos agency, their attitude was just, look, we can't use "Got Milk" for a variety of reasons. Number one, "Got Milk" translates literally into Spanish as “tiene leche,” which may or may not be a somewhat obscene thing to say to someone [BROOKE LAUGHS]depending on the context and the countries that they're from.
More to the point, they said, look, that very famous campaign in which they made humor out of people not having milk in their refrigerators - they called it, shorthand, "the deprivation campaign" - isn't funny for a lot of the people that we're trying to reach. The notion of deprivation being funny doesn't resonate very well with somebody who's just struggled to get across the border and is struggling to make ends meet here.
They tested it out in focus groups and people were like, what do you mean, we don't have milk and that's funny? It's not clear to us.
So they went on the opposite end. They did a very funny campaign about people who have been drinking so much milk that they have excessive amounts of bone strength and hair flexibility. It's a visually very amusing campaign that goes off on a completely different tangent. And their tagline is “Toma leche.” "Have some milk." BROOKE GLADSTONE: I was fascinated with how you divided [LAUGHS] the Latino community, this market, into essentially three groups. There were learners, there were straddlers and there were navigators, and I guess different pitches would be designed for each of those groups. CYNTHIA GORNEY: Each agency has a different way of splitting these people up. But what the Gallegos people call learners are those who have been in this country less than half of their lives. For example, they use Spanish much more comfortably than English. They are still basically learning how to function comfortably and fully in English-speaking American society.
How you might market to learners, you might use, for example, sort of winking or more open references to the fact that they're just here. There was an ad I saw for beer that grabbed me because what happens in the ad is that a very hard-working, clean-cut, good-looking guy whose name is Basilio is walking around his neighborhood and all these people from different ethnic groups are trying to be really nice to him, and none of them can pronounce his name. And they say, oh, Basil. Hi, Basolo.
And then he goes into the bar. It's a Tecate Beer ad, right? So he goes into the bar, and everybody hoists their Tecate Beer and they start talking to him in Spanish, and everybody can pronounce his name right.
That's an ad aimed at people for whom being new in this country is a big part of what they experience on a daily basis, and it is a way for the Tecate company, or the advertiser, to say, we get it. That's what any advertiser does, right?
For the navigators, you might have an ad that uses a lot of English. You might have an ad that appeals much more to the fact that, yeah, we know you live in a really nice community. You have a gardener. You want to drive a really fancy car. But you're a Latino guy also, and so we're going to somehow connect these messages into one ad for you. BROOKE GLADSTONE: What led you to write about this subject now? CYNTHIA GORNEY: The truth is that I actually started watching a lot of TV in Spanish a few years ago. You would think, reading news articles, that a person who has come here who either is undocumented or is not yet really comfortable in English might have a complex or a scared look at the country around them.
And the more I started watching the American world as it appeared in advertising, it looked to me just relentlessly upbeat. What you see and what you hear is a country that is welcoming, that is upwardly mobile, where kids have cell phones and homemakers make meals in sparkling suburban kitchens.
I really had no idea of the breadth and complexity involved in this portion of American advertising, the sheer growth numbers. And when I learned how huge they were, the entire nature of the very noisy immigration debate began to look somewhat different to me, because there's a huge part of the American economy, as we know, that thrives on this constant immigration and on this rapidly expanding consumer- and work-force.
And at the same time, on one hand, that we're carrying on about needing to limit it and needing to make all these restrictions on the border, we have a whole chunk of our economy that not only depends on it but is growing rapidly because of it. BROOKE GLADSTONE: Cynthia, thank you very much. CYNTHIA GORNEY: You're welcome. BROOKE GLADSTONE: Cynthia Gorney's article, How do you Say 'Got Milk' en Espanol? is in this weekend's New York Times Magazine. [MUSIC UP AND UNDER]