There are few things more daunting than attempting to communicate in a foreign language. Case in point: Tourists who gesticulate wildly and raise their voices, hopeful to bridge the communication gap when their language is not the primary language spoken by the person they are addressing.
Parallel frustration kicks in when English-language marketers attempt to take their message to the Spanish-language community. Concepts are miscommunicated. Ideals and values get lost in translation. And millions in advertising dollars get wasted disseminating the wrong messages through the wrong channels.
“Tienes leche?” is the Spanish-language translation for “Got Milk?” It’s also a double entendre that could mean “Are you lactating?’ You can see how the California Milk Processor’s Board’s ad campaign could have gone horribly wrong.
At The Radio Agency, we sidestep such nightmares by working with Spanish-language studios, talent and producers to translate our intent – and our idioms – into Spanish language communications that deliver the intended message without embarrassment.
When it comes time to plan and place the media, it’s important to note how America’s top markets reshuffle their order when ranked by Hispanic population.
The numbers are growing. In the state of California, for example, the total number of Hispanics is projected to surpass the total number of whites in 2014. Individual markets like McAllen-Brownsville-Harlingen, TX may be the #57 ranked U.S. market, but with Hispanic residents comprising 88.9% of its population, it’s hard to overlook this – and other – local markets along the Mexican border.
And then there’s the difference between East Coast Spanish and West Coast Spanish. Some marketers learn the hard way that Southern Florida Spanish is Caribbean influenced, while Southern California Spanish is Mexican influenced. The untrained ear may not notice the difference, but if you speak the language it becomes clear that the “experts” on the radio speaking to you didn’t care enough to speak to you in your language.
Radio stations are mindful of this, programming different formats in different regions to attract the largets audience. The Top 15 radio stations in Los Angeles include three Regional Mexican stations and one Romantica. In Miami, their Top 15 include two Spanish Hits stations, one Tropical, one Spanish CHR and a Spanish News/Talk station. Two very different mixes for two very different coasts.
Even as more Hispanics cite English as their primary spoken language, it’s short-sighted to ignore the millions of Spanish-language residents who call this country home. Moving past the mystery of language, radio makes it easy to reach them effectively, once you’ve chosen to make this growing and valuable audience segment part of your marketing mix.