Alma is a Hispanic advertising agency in Miami helping Americans see Latin culture in a new light.
Consider an English-language TV commercial called Disfruta that Alma produced for McDonald’s to promote the restaurant chain’s fruit smoothie beverages: The 30-second spot shows a crowd of young Latinos and Latinas throwing paint-filled balloons at each other in a frenzy set to rock music.
“I like to say we’re Hispanic professionals as opposed to professional Hispanics,” said Luis Miguel Messianu, president and chief creative officer of Alma. “We are a Hispanic agency; that’s our core. But we handle general market accounts, too.”
Alma isn’t an isolated success story in Miami’s multilingual marketing world. As the CNC’s 16th Biennial National Conference puts a spotlight on “Hispanics in America’s Future” on May 17 and 18 in Miami, Alma and other leading Hispanic-owned marketing agencies in South Florida rank among the nation’s largest. They have grown in size and scope as corporate and institutional brands increasingly target the growing U.S. Hispanic population.
Their creative output is far from monolingual. Many of the largest Hispanic-owned agencies in South Florida reflect the area’s multilingual character by helping advertisers connect with prospective customers in English and Spanish and other languages as well.
Culture can speak louder than words in any language. Nielsen, the TV-audience measurement company, said in a report last month that “Hispanics are the largest immigrant group to exhibit significant culture sustainability and are not disappearing into the American melting pot.”
But as the Disfruta commercial for McDonald’s demonstrates, some ads aimed at Hispanics are not much different than ads meant for the general market. “The biggest trend is there’s a blurring of the lines,” Messianu said. “Hispanic advertising is starting to look more mainstream, and general market advertising needs to become more multicultural.”
Language clearly is an important component of advertising, but “the new language is culture. That’s what we’ve been preaching,” he said. “It’s not only about language. Cultural affinity is the new language.”
Lisette Hoyo, president of Accentmarketing in Coral Gables, agrees: “Hispanic marketing is more about connecting culturally, and the language is not so much the big thing.” Accentmarketing has produced content on the U.S. Navy’s website that conveys such culturally salient messages as the importance of parental involvement in a young Hispanic adult’s decision to join the military.
Founded in 1994, Accentmarketing has become more bilingual in its creative output. It handles advertising and marketing communications for such major advertisers as Dunkin’ Donuts and Farmers Insurance as well as the Navy. “Most of it is still in Spanish, but we have been doing a lot more work in English,” Hoyo said. For example, “what we do for the Navy is in English.”
Diana Brooks and Vivian Santos, both Cuban American, have taken a similarly multicultural approach at their Coral Gables agency, VSBrooks Advertising, which they started in 1996. “I don’t like to pigeon-hole us as being a Hispanic agency,” Brooks said. The agency’s clients typically require work with “a large Hispanic component. But we also do help them with the general market.”