Hispandering: Latino/Hispanic Market Targeted by Offensive, Insensitive Ad Campaigns
Hispandering, to some, happens to be media that's curated specifically for Latino/Hispanic consumption, to make products more desirable and "digestible" for the selected niche audience. To others, the recess marketing term is an aggressive tactic, charged with somewhat offensive content and an intention to conquer the monolithic Latino market.
Under the guise of celebration, marketers have hitched onto the "Latino bandwagon," and exploited Latinos by hawking Latino-branded toilet paper, pens, shoes, cups and computers, and anything that could be imagined. Though, this does not negate the fact that Latino consumers are a bit smarter than marketers believe.
During Hispanic Heritage Month, many companies donned campaigns that looked to tap into the Latino market. Nestlé's Coffee-Mate promoted two "steamy, new Latin flavors." The two latinized non-dairy creamers, Abuelita's Mexican Chocolate and La Lechera's Dulce de Leche. An image of the two creamers was framed alongside the phrase: "What's better than a hot, new Latin to love? Two."
La Lechera and Abuelita are very well-known in Mexico and other parts of South America, but once those comfort brands were merged with Nestlé, and the sexualized Latino stereotypes were introduced, the brands cheapened and lessened. The decision to perpetuate the "Latin Lover" stereotype, even with a product as benign as coffee creamer, shows the single-minded agenda of many companies, which cannot see beyond earning.
Google recently introduced a new domain, .soy, targeting the Hispanic community. The term "soy" is Spanish for "I am." With the development of the domain, many question the intentions behind what appears to be an unprecedented Hispandering tactic. A writer for Fox News Latino asked whether the new domain was a source of Latino pride or a code for segregation. The aforementioned argument stated that Google should look to employ more Latinos rather than looking to divide them from the general public. Likewise, Google has pandered to Japanese individuals, moms and corporations, even New Yorkers.
".SOY is the domain name for Latino identity and expression on the web. .SOY can be anything you want it to be. It's your place on the web for your voice, your business, or your bold new idea. Claim your name and join the .SOY community today," stated the website.
LATISM, Webs, Hispanic Heritage Foundation, Reuplica, Ella Institute, Pix-l Graphx, Queen of Tacos and Emprenedores are all Latino-owned, and they've decided to embrace .soy.
"I moved my site to a .SOY domain to help capture the personal nature of my site and show the world who I am - [I] am [an] ambitious Mexican-American with passions and unique things to share. Queenoftacostx.soy includes my portfolio of designs and my blog," said Isabell Ann Castro, owner of Queen of Tacos.
There are conflicting points of views on the matter, but Hispandering goes beyond brands, politicians, corporations and organizations who insensitively pander to Hispanics to gain their dollars or their votes. Politicians actively flip-flop on issues of immigration, and other matters that appear to be close to the heart of Latinos in order to win approval.
Even the term itself comes from a need to Latinize a term, to make it specific to Hispanics. The Democratic National Committee Director of Hispanic Media, Pili Tobar, once said that the phrase "Hispandering" was both "silly" and "offensive." Yet, Republican National Committee Hispanic Media Communications Director Izzy Santa, who is Puerto Rican, said, "It's a simple, popular word that is commonly used. As a Puerto Rican myself, if somebody used the term 'hispandering' to me, I wouldn't be offended."
Maria Torres, a professor of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Executive Director of the Inter-University Program on Latino Research, finds that debate futile, however: "No group likes to be demeaned or thought about just as a group to be pandered to."
"All these other types of attacks like Republicans attacking Democrats for pandering, or Democrats pointing the finger at Republicans over immigration reform-all these are sideshows that will alienate the Latino voter. There is a third option, and that's staying home. We need more than just one party correcting the other for being linguistically incorrect," she added
Hispandering proves that energies are not focused where they should be, and targeting Latinos with an agenda, rather than an understanding of culture, is problematic for Latinos and those hoping to reach them.
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