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Idea in Spanish is still spelled idea

Posted by Elena del Valle on June 29, 2006

By Jose Reyes, partner and creative director, Turbulence Advertising

Jose Reyes

Jose Reyes, partner and creative director, Turbulence Advertising

Photo: Turbulence Advertising

So, a Puerto Rican, a Cuban, a Colombian, and an Argentine walk into a bar… Nope, this isn’t some cheap, tasteless joke about our newfound multiculturalism. It’s everyday at one of the top Hispanic agencies in the U.S.

Once we get to the bar, the scene’s pretty familiar. We all have high expectations, and we’re pretty hard on each other. After all, we’re all still looking for the best “idea.” Most of the creatives have been trained in other Spanish speaking countries, where production budgets aren’t great, so more emphasis is placed on creating something breakthrough. In those countries, advertising messages tend to be sophisticated with an emphasis on the creative solution without underestimating the consumer.

Unless you’ve been living in Kuala Lumpur, you know the Hispanic market has enjoyed a boom over the past few years. Clients are familiar with the research and charts all showing the growth in purchase power over the next few years coming from the Hispanic market, so most are interested in buying into this “new trend” which has been happening for the past 20+ years. Crisp new marketing plans are minted daily focusing on the “Spanish dominant” Hispanic: the consumer which apparently survives in this country while only managing to consume Spanish-language messages. A traditional, family-oriented, lower-income, conservative adult with a basic level of education, and an over-developed sense of accomplishment that manifests itself in the need for emotional comfort provided by the countless products he comes in contact with.

Really?

Well, I’m sure in some cases this might be true, but definitely not in all cases. Some agencies have clients convinced there is some unique “Hispanic language” they can use that will make all Spanish-dominant consumers loyal to their product. They’ve been successfully built on answering the question: What’s Hispanic about it? The music. The family. The soccer. I argue, just like any other market in the world, what we need is fresh ideas. (That’s the sound of all the multi-cultural agencies collectively screaming blasphemy.)

Truth is, this market is changing, and just like any other marketing environment, fresh thinking is what separates one product from another. If we aren’t willing to accept this, maybe we’re in the wrong business. Maybe we should be translating. Maybe we should simply buy Spanish media. Maybe we shouldn’t be calling ourselves agencies. We are in the business of selling ideas that sell. Just in Spanish. Of course, I’m idealistic enough to believe we, as a market, are as sophisticated as the Anglo market, and we certainly need to understand the importance of communicating a fresh breakthrough idea to consumers. As the market becomes more inundated with advertisers, the advantage of a fresh idea will be more and more important. Simply producing Spanish language advertising won’t be enough, we need to produce great ideas. Just like everyone else.

Jose Reyes is a partner and creative director at Turbulence Advertising. Founded in January 2005, Turbulence is a strategic and creative agency, focused and committed to developing breakthrough ideas and solutions to shake things up and move brands to a better place within their business category.