Hispanic TV Summit: Advice to Brands on Cultural Messaging

Sandra Alfaro, managing director of Wing, the multicultural agency of Grey Advertising, kicked off the 16th annual Hispanic TV Summit with a primer on incorporating Hispanic-influenced cultural realities into brand advertising today. She backed up her message by showing five cool commercials, only two of which were from her agency.

Alfaro urged marketers in the room (at the Marriott Marquis hotel in New York) against thinking of multicultural marketing as "incremental" or the icing on the cake. “We are not the icing: there is no cake in this country without us,” she told interviewer Court Stroud.

Immigrants don't come to the U.S. eager to abandon their former culture and assimilate into the mainstream, Alfaro said. Latinos now "are creating new mindsets and new identities," she said, with the phenomenal Broadway musical "Hamilton" perhaps the greatest example of the works being created as a result of culture evolving.

Alfaro used select TV ads to punctuate five takeaway messages:

Incorporate culture from the start: the American Express ad featuring "Hamilton" creator Lin Manuel Miranda, which ran during this year's tennis U.S. Open, was an intimate look at at an intriguing personality that didn't target Hispanics but rather was "targeting mainstream today."

Treat your target with the depth and respect they deserve:Target debuted a beauty products spot during the Latin Billboard Awards that wasn't about products so much as about loving yourself regardless of skin tone or body shape.

Take caution with your insights: make sure you are not just reflecting it back out there in the communication. "Use the insight to connect, to create empathy." McDonald's debuted during the Academy Awards a warm ad that reflected Latino family pride while delivering a message about the chain's desirability as a first employer.

Think about the who in the message: think about the who in the message. Southern Poverty Law Center took on hate speech with an ad showing armed forces veterans rebutting racist messages directly with video replies on social media.

Challenge yourself to think beyond traditional advertising:A Cannes Lion awarding commercial about "the cookbook you can cook" took an appetite for reading to another level.

The Hispanic Television Summit is produced by Multichannel News and Broadcasting & Cable.

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Nexttv.com. Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.