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Direct translations and usage of general market strategies miss the emotional and culturally relevant elements of Latinos sensitivity.
The 2016 presidential elections in the United States will forever be remembered not just by the outlandish campaigns that preceded them. The elections will be remembered by the strength of the Hispanic American vote and the need to pay attention to this powerful ethnic group.
For the staff of Comunicando Productions, a specialized marketing and advertising that focuses on U.S. Latino audiences, the 2016 campaign and election underscore the demographic strength of this audience. It all may have started with the ill-conceived remarks by Donald Trump, which ended up costing him more than just the Miss Universe pageant; however, one of the most remarkable moments of the campaign involved Democratic candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders.
In the weeks leading to the Super Tuesday primaries, the Sanders campaign became aware of Latino voters interested in supporting El Viejito. This term of endearment, which loosely translates into that kind and wise old man, is a powerful endorsement. This is what Latino men hope to be called when they reach a certain age; they would like to know that their actions and personality evoke respect and support from their families and their communities.
In essence, El Viejito is someone who Latinos feel comfortable with, someone they can look up to and give their support. Although the Sanders campaign eventually reacted to this new signal in voter interest, the reaction may have been late and not swift enough.
For EMMY Award producer Victor Arturo Barrientos, director of Comunicando, the Sanders campaign should have gotten started with a culturally relevant campaign aimed at Latinos from early on. The phenomenon related to El Viejito was discovered by journalists conducting exit polls; perhaps the Sanders campaign should have looked into early research so that radio and television spots could have been produced.
Although the work of Comunicando reaches national audiences, the firm is based in the New York area, which could have been a great voter market for Sanders since he is from Brooklyn. For the record, Comunicando has a political background: its founder used to produce television spots for the United Nations before deciding to create a specialized agency.
The staff of Comunicando believes that 2016 has shown that Latinos are more than just a massive consumer group. There seems to be a disconnect between the corporate and political leadership of the U.S. when it comes to actually reaching these audiences.
Part of the aforementioned disconnect emanates from the fact that Hispanic Americans are only starting to emerge in corporate boardrooms and political offices; nonetheless, there is still a need to listen to Latinos before reaching out to them, and this is something that El Viejito has clearly taught us.
Is it too late for Sanders to attract more Latino voters with a carefully produced radio and TV campaign complete with jingles, translations of speeches and policy points, perhaps some enticing voice-over work on major networks such as Telemundo and Univision? Unless we are talking about a cult of personality, there is never a too late moment in politics; 2016 is just the beginning.
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