Diversity & Inclusion
The Incomplete and Unsuccessful D&I Execution
Indeed when asked to participate in an interview with Hispanic Market Overview, d expósito & Partners Chairman/CEO Daisy Expósito-Ulla reportedly spent hours on how to best present her responses. “Your questions were not tricky but were deceivingly simple.” she says. The result, she believes is an intellectual exercise that Expósito-Ulla believes can help our market
We wholeheartedly agree. It is a lengthy Q&A. But, after discussing with Hispanic Ad Publisher Gene Bryan, a consensus decision was made. We are running the entire Q&A, with 3.625 words in all. It is worth your time to read, and to digest. It is that timely and poignant.
HMO: We strongly believe that, given the COVID-19 pandemic and the reaction to the murder of George Floyd, the “reopening of Hispanic marketing” is vital and necessary. While Diversity and Inclusion initiatives are very important, we believe there has been an unfortunate consequence: Hispanic advertising has taken a back-seat, if you will. There seems to be less Hispanic-focused creative and messaging than ever. What is your view on this?
DAISY: This is a poignant question. I very much applaud Diversity and Inclusion to achieve a work environment where all individuals are treated fairly, respectfully, with dignity, and are able to access opportunities to contribute to the success of the organizations that employ them, and reflect the diversity of today’s consumer market. If done at all levels and enterprise-wide, this should yield positive social and business results.
It is not so much that Diversity and Inclusion initiatives are relegating Hispanic advertising to a back-seat, but rather a corporation’s perhaps incomplete and unsuccessful execution of Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. A lot of the focus on Diversity and Inclusion has been on high-profile areas such as HR, Executives and Board of Directors. If Diversity and Inclusion are truly done correctly, there should be proper representation throughout the whole organization, including marketing, and the recognition of business opportunities for areas such as the Hispanic Market would be organic. While D&I and marketing influence each other, one cannot substitute the other. Corporations need both, and they need to invest in both properly to be successful.
With that said, we also see two other forces that could be hindering Hispanic marketing at this time.
The first is anti-immigration that has led to an anti-Latino sentiment. A portion of our country has always had anti-immigration views. However, in the last several years the negative rhetoric and argumentation of these views has become more prevalent and has grown in intensity. Latinos have been front-and-center in this discussion, which has, unfortunately, let to this recent wave of heightened anti- Latino attitudes. Ironically, while may corporations have embraced diversity, several others have had lukewarm reactions or have individuals within their executive leadership or marketing organizations that simply do not see the need for Hispanic marketing, perhaps, due to their own personal biases.
Regardless, we as an industry continue aiming to justify the investment in Hispanic efforts by utilizing data to substantiate the growing diversity of the country and that Hispanics are the largest segment of that growth, and, as a consequence, highly influence the broad market. In essence, we try to demonstrate through data that a brand’s plan is incomplete without engaging the Hispanic consumer.
Over decades, we have converted many brands to being believers through effective results. However, other marketers have actually used our “new mainstream” status as an excuse to minimize Hispanic- specific efforts or to not invest at all. Then there are those marketers that have understood the demographic shifts but still have done little to seize the opportunity. Most probably, they are part of a confounding group that may be reacting to the wave of anti-immigration/anti-Latino views.
The second factor is the collateral damage of the Total Market philosophy and approach, which grew primarily as a result of the consolidation of creative and media duties and the pursuit of efficiencies. This fostered a marketing environment that tends to operate of the premise of leveraging universal insights and creative and/or media plans that are based on sameness as opposed to customizing the work to more deeply resonate with the Hispanic consumers and their lifestyles. This has created a scenario where Hispanic marketing budgets are increasingly vulnerable to cuts or being relegated to relying on transcreations or divers casting in broader mainstream campaigns.
Finally, we now have the research that shows that these tactics do not work, and that brands have suffered as a result. Let’s just say Total Market will soon be remembered as the Edsel of marketing. But, while the Edsel may be a joke, Total Market seriously affected many clients’ bottom line. It also managed to derail the evolution of an industry and the hard-earned business growth that had resulted out of decades of hard work and collaboration by Hispanic agencies, the media and visionary brands.
However, I am optimistic that this situation is about to change. Sometimes, it takes an unexpected event to alter the course of history: it’s that kinds of moment that stirs things up, makes people stop and reflect and be willing to think differently, and –almost mysteriously– things suddenly begin to shift direction. This is where we are today: We’ve experienced two seismic shifts of unseen historic proportions with the coronavirus pandemic and the tragic murder of George Floyd and others. There is a New Conversation in the sense that America may have now finally reached a point in which, as a society, we take a harder look at ourselves and learn to improve the ways we ensure justice for African Americans and other communities of color, such as ours.
It is, of course, of national interest to re-open the economy gradually –and carefully, from a public health standpoint–, but there is a new American consensus out there that will favor and tend to promote serious revision and improvement of the application of the concept of equality.
This is no less than a gigantic wave, a movement that will drive some dramatic changes in government–both local and national–and, hopefully, at all levels in Corporate America.
In this context, the “Reopening of Hispanic Marketing” is vital and necessary and it should happen with a spirit and mindset that marks a formal end to the Total Market philosophy and the introduction of a new era of marketing based on a symbiotic relationship of brands and community. This is the perfect time to reposition and refocus the way we identify business opportunities for our clients, not only as marketers but as members of the Hispanic community. This is definitely not about being “self-serving” but about being more American. It is the right time for us to re-engage in a dialogue with Corporate American so that all parties understand that “we are in this together.”
History tells us that this is the time to bring to the table a more proactive, vocal and present sense of diversity, one that builds upon decades of pioneering work from community leaders and Hispanic marketing visionaries that closely collaborated with leading marketers with the commitment of being good, responsible corporate citizens. Their work was catapulted by the results of Census 2000, a demographic milestone that was enshrined forever on the cover of TIME Magazine as the “Latino Explosion” in America.
This begs the question, after twentyyears from that TIME cover and our community’s sustained growth, why are we still in need of defending the Hispanic Market opportunity?
We need to regain that sense of identity and pride, and bring with us brands that share a sense of commitment through positive actions in our community. Let’s regain the momentum. After all, brands need our community and our consumers to grow and succeed. Can brands afford to leave $4 Trillion of purchasing power on the table?
I ask one more time, why do we still need to defend this business opportunity, again and again? Let’s put total market behind us and reset.
Will Corporate America get it right this time? I feel hopeful. In my view, we have to find a presence and a voice with Blacks, Asians and other groups to contribute effectively to the reshaping of America’s future. I know many i the corporate world get it. When I see a brand like Aunt Jemimas disappear by the decision of it’s manufacturer, we have a powerful example of a brand’s conviction to do the right thing and help build a better world. At the core of the great American Experiment, there is a willingness to embrace the kind of change that brings revision and renewal. That’s what we see with today’s societal awakening, and this can push business and society forward as one.
HMO: It has been proven that consumption of Hispanic media through the pandemic has increased, with Spanish-speaking radio and TV consumers over-indexing compared to the Total Market. How can this be converted to ad dollars -- not just today, but over the next decade?
DAISY: Indeed, conventional media, as well as digital, saw double and sometimes even triple digit increases in audience growth, but Hispanic media and English cable news led with the biggest growth.
Not only has Hispanic TV grown its audience, but it has kept meaningful increases post-COVID-19, while most English genres are starting to see audience levels similar to 2019 or even lower. The impact of Spanish-language media in effectively delivering Hispanic, and many times even leading in the broad market, has been there since the industry started to be measured, but whether due to a conscious or unconscious bias, many advertisers and their agencies have opted to ignore it. This time around, however, I feel that the impact of COVID-19 in the United States, coupled with a global anti-racism movement, can be powerful enough for those advertisers not committed to this market to finally recognize the value of the Hispanic consumer. If this happens, it will be a moral and business victory very much in the best American tradition.
To energize and keep a vibrant economy advertisers cannot flout that, time and time again, Latinos are driving the GDP growth at a faster rate that any other segment – with this year growing at 32%. They lead the growth in many important categories. They are younger and live longer, therby they represent a lifetime value of almost 20 more years over the total market. It is impressive that this year marks a historic racial shift with the population in the U.S. becoming majority-minority among people under the age of 18, and there is no surprise that Hispanics lead, representing over 52% of all multicultural persons under the age of 18.
This is huge. This market–this community–doesn’t need to ask for any charity. This market is a successful and direct representative of a community that pays its’ dues to deserve attention instead of disregard, a community that deserved real and meaningful engagement rather than lip-service or veiled racism. When we combine some of these factors with the reality that the population in North America is growing older, any advertiser that may still be a bit blind or not looking our way seriously – for the sake of their own corporations! – will see no reasonable choice but to support the Hispanic and multicultural consumers, especially if they want to see present and long-term business growth.
We are starting to see small victories after the recent announcement of the Supreme Court regarding DACA. While not the final victory, this is a good signal for the times ahead - and if I am allowed to make a prediction, I will say with optimism that America is finally heading in the right direction.
HMO: Authentic storytelling, cultural connection. We hear these key focal points of Hispanic marketing year in and year out. But, what companies get it – and stick with it? is the education process still as important as ever?
DAISY: Authentic storytelling and cultural connection are critical, but so are a brand’s actions to back them up.
We saw how some of the world’s leading brands attempted to tell positive stories about how they were supporting their customers during COVID-19, only to be called out in social media to do long-standing employee relations issues or token gestures that were deemed as disingenuous.
The education process is more important than ever because the Hispanic segment continues growing and evolving. What’s more, the education process needs to happen enterprise-wide so that everyone in a company is aware and so that their products and services have more meaningful impact in our daily lives.
Some companies now understand this and have taken to steps to evolve every aspect of their organizations so that they are set up to serve a more multicultural consumer base. However, many of them are still at an infancy stage, where we in our industry are still committed to helping them educate their marketing departments to invest wisely to better profit from their multicultural efforts.
I would like to emphasize that authentic storytelling and cultural connection cannot be achieved without embracing an honest corporate philosophy that organically spends the time, effort and money to mine for insights required to develop customized strategies and content that deeply resonate with Hispanics. And this has to happen in a consistent way with a long-term vision. Anything less is simply lip service.
With each passing day, the importance becomes more profound given the Hispanic Market’s growth in numbers and diversity. While there are still many broad truths and insights that span the Hispanic audience, there are emerging sub-segments and facets of the audience (i.e. 50+, Afro-Latino, US-born, Central American) that bring new opportunities and justify consideration in our strategies, plans and product offering. There is also the fluidity of culture going both ways.
The African American and Hispanic cultures are undeniably strong influencer’s and shapers of American culture, As such, we should not forget that Hispanic consumers are influencing the broader mainstream society, where insights and campaigns created for this audience can drive a brand’s overall business. Granted, each consumer segment needs storytelling that resonates with them. but as the fastest-growing segment of our country, our stories and vantage points have already proven to be a predictor of broader trends and behaviors.
WIth that said, I would add that Hispanic marketing still requires a dedicated team of specialists with deep insight on this diverse, multi-faceted consumer audience, and with the know-how to apply the available data and tools to drive relevant business strategies and creative campaigns. True magic only happens when there are dedicated teams of Hispanic marketing and communications specialists with address to the right tools that arm them to unearth powerful insights that lead to brilliant creative ideas. We see that clients who tap these expert teams and invest consistently over the years are winning Hispanic business and reaping the rewards through brand growth.
HMO: What’s the visibility from your perch with respect to digital versus linear initiates? is Hispanic digital in the U.S. growing, or it is fizzling? What is the big focus among your clients?
DAISY: Digital is the engine of modern marketing, regardless of language and ethnicity. It has become a must in practically all advertising plans. As a matter of fact, there are times when digital is the only platform used for an entire client campaign. Therefore, the commitment and interest is there for the broad market, as well as for Hispanics, as this group is a heavy user of technology and they over-index in may aspects of the digital ecosystem.
But based on the research companies that measure investments by medium, we can observe a wide gap between digital dollars allocated towards the broad market vs. Hispanic. For example, in 2018, digital investment commanded 42.3% of total media spend for the broad market vs 31.3% for TV, while for Hispanic this number is 25.4%, vs. 60.6% for TV. This reflects 22.9% increase for the broad market vs. 10% increase for Hispanic when compared to 2017.
This clearly means that there is room for growth in Hispanic digital media, no doubt.
The key challenge the industry is facing is the reality that online investment is dominated by the major technology conglomerates (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Google). This is an environment that is projected to become even more defiant as e-commerce starts to play an even bigger role, especially in the area of Food and Beverage – which is estimated to see approximately a 60% increase this year in online shopping.
While this has been a trend for the past few years, this behavior has accelerated due to COVID-19 and it is estimated to remain higher than pre-COVID times. Consequently, regular publishers and digital content providers do to fully capitalize from the richness that digital represents in the industry, for both the broad and Hispanic markets.
Nonetheless, the pie is still very big and Hispanic digital publishers can benefit immensely from this. Culturally-relevant content, brand safety, sophisticated advanced data targeting, and the ability to start moving in a Total Screen audience-guaranteed are critical components to increase their fair share.
HMO: Do you have a case study of client example of how they’ve stayed committed to U.S. Hispanic advertising through the bumps of 2020? We’d love to hear about how a client has not withdrawn but doubled down on Hispanic ad activity.
DAISY: The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented time never experienced during modern history, resulting in massive media shifts and cuts. At dex, however, we are fortunate and pleased to report that only one of our clients shifted media activity during this pandemic.
The industry also say increases from some categories such as in the area of health, local government and streaming services. Health and local government invested significantly across the board and the streaming players – especially those that were new entries in the market – pushed investment, as well.
In our case, I think we have a perfect example with Amica Mutual Insurance, whose main goal is to make the phone ring, drive potential Hispanic customers to their website, and. of course, gain conversions. Our approach was to shift the messaging to be more aligned with the moment but under the overall campaign “Cosas que no se pueden explicar” (“Things You Can’t Explain”). During the peak of the pandemic, we maintained our media activity and launched with both Carlos Ponce and Jorge Narváez, showcasing how they were quarantining at home with their families. To our surprise and the contrary to what the trade was stating, we saw our biggest lift in call volume and website traffic during the peak ofthe pandemic. It was quite unexpected and it made us look at the high numbers twice!
Another example is a client of ours that offers healthcare services. Realizing the grave disparities that exist in our community, they quickly shifted to promote telehealth services.
This was a human approach to help an under-served community. These clients understand this critical moment calls for brands to act with humanity. More importantly, they institute positive behaviors in society and understand the value of positive action.
HMO: In conclusion, how do you see the plight of black, and the plight of Latinos ... and where do you see advertising, marketing and brands in general?
DAISY: The fact that Latinos are more impacted by coronavirus, the fact that they represent a large portion of first responders and essential workers, the fact that the farmworkers that enable us to put food on our tables are among the most vulnerable to COVID-19, while we stay safe at home, underscores how immigrants still help America thrive–and survive.
Undoubtedly, this also exposes the divide between the haves and have-nots. On top of this, we also have a share of senseless killings, as a result of excessive use of force, with the latest two cases involving Carlos Ingram López, in Tucson, and Andrés Guardado in Los Angeles.
And let us not forget we still have people in detention centers and kids in cages on the border, so the injustices waged against some of the most vulnerable in our society are clamoring to be corrected. Just as the Black community is expecting brands to stand up and fight for corrective action, the Hispanic community should be expecting its’ fair share of the same. We have entered an entirely new era of marketing and advertising. This is a global movement. This has ramifications to business and all areas of life. Those brands that do not invest in Hispanic efforts and stay silent on issues affecting communities of color run the risk of being deemed as tone-deaf and uncaring.
This transcends optics or schrewd public relations: beyond the creation of great products, brands are expected to help create better societies. The better brands know this. This entails that they authentically embody and communicate their purpose and mission through tangible and sustainable action.
The digital conversation is wider than ever – it’s open and global and nobody can hide.
Corporations need to get in tune with the seismic shift that is occurring and act accordingly, even if met with resistance among certain facets of our society at first.
It is not an exaggeration that we may be about to witness major changes in our collective conscience, even in the middle of a global recession: this may impact how, as a society, we look at economic inequalities, global warming and the overall accessibility to democracy, education, and well-being.
As a result of all that is going on today, the Hispanic advertising industry, now more that ever, needs to embrace it own sense of community and pride and act in unity and solidarity along with other multicultural players to be community and consumer champions. The Alliance for Inclusive and Multicultural Marketing, (AIMM)is already quite active on this agenda within the ANA.
The Culture Marketing Council, (CMC), has been an ongoing champion of the Hispanic Market Industry.
Brands and Corporate America will respond positively to our efforts. But we need to behave as a unified force to truly do what’s right for our community. If we are all united as marketers and business leaders, we will be able to strengthen America’s society and America’s business.