Culture

Hispanic Heritage Month: Many Brands Have Missed The Mark But A Few Have Done It Right

Hispanic Heritage Month is here again: it runs from September 15 to October 15 this year. The celebration of Latinidad in the US was made official when in 1968 president Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law “National Hispanic Heritage Week.” Set to begin on September 15, the week celebrated the independence of a few Latin American countries including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile. The celebration is great and perhaps originally con las mejores intenciones, but it errs in grouping a whole continent’s diversity into a single group. But well, peor es nada. 

So let’s be positive and see the glass half full. These four weeks are a great opportunity to celebrate our Latino roots. Many brands also see this month as a chance to connect with the Latino market, which is a profitable and expanding demographic in the United States. However, and this is a huge “but”, sometimes marketing people try a bit too hard to connect and end up with messy campaigns that end up just perpetuating damaging stereotypes. For every good idea there seem to be three or four that just miss the mark. 

Hey, here’s a job idea: cultural adviser! Let’s change the ratio and have most brands understand the values and issues we really care about

Credit: gabbyzapata / Instagram

Being aware of what Latinos think and want is key in the highly competitive US market, as Claudia Romo Edelman wrote in AdAge: “Hispanics by more than two to one (68 percent) feel their values are shared by other Americans. And those values are vital: family, work, education, and security for themselves and particularly for their children. They still believe in the American dream (69 percent), saying overwhelmingly that if you work hard you will get ahead (80 percent or greater across generations). Yet, barely half (54 percent) say they see their values reflected by major brands, similar to the number for media and pop culture (55 percent)”. Ouch! This speaks volumes about the lack of a true understanding of how fundamental the Latino market is for any business. 

Because some gringos just don’t get it, like Coffee-Mate branding something as Latino by adding flavors that no one associates with un rico cafecito

Credit: Digital image. Nestle marketing campaign

First of all, it is not a tradition to add Chocolate Abuelita or Lechera to your coffee. We mean, some people might do it, but it is not widespread. Second of all, what on Earth is your “inner Latino”? This campaign is just plain terrible. As Sue writesin the blog Phglesbian.com: “What the hell are you going to do to honor Black History Month? ‘Inner sassy black woman?’ What about Pride Month? ‘Inner queen? Touch your inner lesbian?’ This is a fail, Nestle, and Americans of Hispanic descent deserve better. Maybe you need to cough up some donations from a campaign that’s already on the shelves to help undo the damage”. Yes, queen!

Coffee-Mate, you are just digging a deeper grave for yourself! Yes, all Latinos are salsa-dancing sex-crazed hombres y mujeres…

Credit: Digital image. Nestle marketing campaign

Seriously, WTAF. They did just went there: sexualizing Latino culture is one of the cardinal sins of cultural appropriation and harmful stereotyping. 

And of course, Twitter got up on arms.

Credit: @artistmarclax / @cafenowhere / Twitter

We had never put the famous abuelita and the notion of a Latin lover together…. nothing against older adult intimacy… but just don’t, OK, just don’t. 

But… but… margaritas must contain tequila, right?

Credit: @Sobieski_Vodka / Twitter

Even a very inexperienced bartender or any tío organizing a carne asada knows that a margarita is made with lime juice, crushed ice, salt, and tequila, right? Well, apparently not, at least according to Sobieski vodka. Yes, according to this brand you can replace the very Mexican tequila, which has a denomination of origin, with vodka. First of all, vodka and tequila taste nothing alike. Second… why?

Bringing together family and war.

Credit: US Marines. Promotional campaign

Yes, there are many Latinos who proudly serve in the US military. However, it is a bit tricky to try to appeal to a certain particular demographic by appealing to the emotional connection that most Latinos feel to the notion of family. This is a sort of positive pat on the back that, however, is very complex given the huge life decision that enrolling in the military entails for soldiers and families. This is a borderline case of marketing that does speak to Latino values but simplifies a very intricate issue. 

Dear Macy’s, you could at least get the grammar right, perhaps?

Credit: 1567029508_HHM-Type (1). Digital image. Macy’s

Macy’s understands the importance of the Latino market not only because of local customers but also due to the huge amounts of tourists from Latin America that shop in their stores. It is all good… but they could do better with their campaign copy. “Unidos en cultura” makes no sense at all! Perhaps they meant “Unidos por la cultura”? The English slogan is “United by Culture”, so the translation feels like a half-hearted effort to appeal to “ethnic customers” (really, that is how gringo marketing lingo describes us!). Really, it is not that hard, we are sure that you have at least 50 bilingual, Spanish-speaking staff in your offices, so please do better next time. 

So to do it right why not get… I don’t know… actual Latinos to be part of the creative team? That’s what Nike did with the Los Primeros collection!

Credit: f6zulwr0fvmehebpfdb7. Digital image. Nike.

What a great way to create collection kicks while really digging deep into the Latin American soul. Nike describes this collection as follows “Honoring Latino Heritage Month, Los Primeros showcases distinct cultural expressions from four Latin American artists’ ancestry atop four iconic Nike silhouettes”. We don’t want to be puritans and say that international brands cannot celebrate Latino identity, but it is better if they do it right. Exactly what Nike did. This is the One Heart version of the classic Cortez sneaker, and it was created by Chilean artist Inti following patterns from indigenous textile art. That is how things are done, acknowledging that half of our Latino heritage derives from the proud original owners of the land that is now the American Continent. 

And look at this amazingly weird but very Latino fashion statement.

Credit: wvndm0ug4y1oehwiza71. Digital image. Nike

Few sneakers are as iconic as Air Jordans, and these beauties are decorated by Brazilian artist Pomb, a sensation in the street art world of Sao Paolo. Can we just get a pair already? We could totally rock this with a cool Mitú t-shirt!

Coca-Cola is a marketing genius… but have they done more harm than good to Latino communities?

Credit: hispanic-heritage-month-28-07PM-copy-604-337-dfbf7803.rendition.584.326. Digital image. Coca-Cola.

There is no denying that Coca-Cola has created one of the smartest and most memorable marketing campaigns in history. For Hispanic Heritage Month, they have created promotions that include creating personalized cans and bottles with Latino last names, as well as cans with temporary tattoos celebrating Latino identity. However, Coca-Cola has been linked to high rates of obesity, particularly child obesity, in countries like Mexico. We mean, celebrating a culture involves the general well being of society at large, right? 

READ: Vandals Destroyed A Hispanic Heritage Month Mural At Duke University And Here’s How Students Fought Back

Don’t Tell White Supremacists, But Latinos Are Going To Drive Most Of The US Economic Growth

Things That Matter

Don’t Tell White Supremacists, But Latinos Are Going To Drive Most Of The US Economic Growth

David Shankbone / Flickr

If it hasn’t already been apparent that Latinos are a big force in the U.S. economy, a new study argues that the group is the future for gross domestic product (GDP) growth. According to the Latino Donor Collective U.S. Latino GDP Report, which was prepared by California Lutheran University, the study says the economic contribution of the U.S. Latino community will become increasingly vital moving forward to the economy.

The study says that the GDP among U.S. Latinos made huge leaps within the last decade, up from $1.7 trillion in 2010 to $2.3 trillion in 2017. On a compounded annual basis, that’s the third-highest growth rate among all global economies in that period. GDP among Latinos also grew at a faster rate than the overall U.S. economy during those eight years. This can be mainly attributed to high labor-force participation, large population growth and increasing consumer spending.

The reports highlight the strides and economic growth that Latinos have had in recent years. More importantly, it makes the argument of how vital this population group will be to continue moving the U.S. economy as a whole. “Latinos currently are and will increasingly become a critical foundation of support for the new American economy,” the study says.

It’s no surprise as the Latino population has made an immense impact on the U.S. as a whole in the last decade, whether its through education, socially and now economically.  

Credit: Unsplash

The study, which was released last month in concurrence with the L’Attitude conference in San Diego hosted by The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, argues why these advancements are now finally being seen by Latinos. This generation of Latinos is expected to make some of the biggest contributions in the coming decades due to being well-positioned than previous generations. 

During previous waves, most notably the during the ’50s and ’60s, U.S. Latinos were more likely to be immigrants who worked in low-wage jobs in positions like agriculture and construction, according to David Hayes-Bautista, director of the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at UCLA and an author of the study. Now, as the population group has settled in and has made social advancements, the Latino workforce is expected to be very different.

As these generational gaps increase, so does the median age of Latinos in the U.S. which is currently 46 years old. While on the other hand, their children’s median age stands at 19. This essentially means that this forthcoming Latino demographic is set to enter a workforce more prepared, whether financially or educationally, than any previous one. That can be attributed to having access to better schools and being native English speakers. Latinos have also made huge leaps in the last decade when it comes to getting a bachelor’s degree as the number increased by 51% from 2010 to 2017, while the non-Latino educated population grew by 21 percent. 

“Given robust population growth, high labor force participation, rising incomes, and strong increases in educational attainment, we expect the significant growth premium enjoyed by U.S. Latinos to be maintained in the years ahead,” said Matthew Fienup, executive director of the Center for Economic Research and Forecasting at California Lutheran University and one of the authors of the study. 

One thing is for sure, any success that the U.S. economy is going to have in the near future can be attributed to the advancements of Latinos as well.

Credit: Unsplash

Latinos are contributing economically now more than ever and this growth will only continue as the population does. The Latino population in the U.S. is growing rapidly, which in return has increased the group’s economic role in the country. Between 2008 and 2018, the Latino share of the entire U.S. population grew from 16 percent to 18 percent. Latinos also accounted for about half (52 percent) of all U.S. population growth over this decade. 

With a bigger population group that also means more people at work. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates than Latinos will account for an additional 30 million workers that will enter the U.S. labor force by 2060.  

This is all amounting to even more growth, socially and economically, when it comes to U.S. Latinos. We can only imagine what impact the next generation of Latinos will have on this country and the strides our people will have along the way. 

READ: A Newly Restored Version of The 90s ‘Selena’ Classic Film Starring Jennifer Lopez Is Coming To The Big Screen Again

As Forever 21 Files For Bankruptcy, Some People Believe The Company Got What They Deserved

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As Forever 21 Files For Bankruptcy, Some People Believe The Company Got What They Deserved

On Sunday, millennial fast-fashion giant Forever 21 filed for bankruptcy, causing a stir among shoppers who have long relied on the store for cheap and fashionable clothing. The move comes at a time when brick-and-mortar retail businesses everywhere are struggling and the bankruptcy is just proof of the shifting ways people shop.

Forever 21 was founded in 1984 in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles and quickly became the go-to spot young women went to for trendy items at affordable prices. Forever 21 spearheaded the wave of giant “fast fashion” retailers like Zara and H&M. These retailers revolutionized the fashion industry by making apparel that was previously only available to fashion insiders available to middle-class women. The shop was a staple at virtually every suburban mall. 

But with the ubiquity of the internet, young customers no longer went to the mall for a dose of retail therapy–they went online. 

According to Forever 21, the chain will likely be closing 178 stores in the near future and will exit completely from Asian and European markets. Countless articles have been written about the rise of fashion-forward online retailers like ASOS and Fashion Nova and the subsequent decline of brick-and-mortar stores like Forever 21. It’s also worth mentioning that e-commerce giant Amazon has now entered the fray as a viable place for young women to buy clothes online. In other words, the competition is fierce. Forever 21 isn’t the only fast-fashion store that has faced problems in recent years: in 2015, popular retailer Deb shut its doors permanently, followed by Wet Seal in 2017.

While the popular retail chain is beloved by many young women on a budget, not everyone is mourning the loss of these locations. 

Along with the Forever 21’s immense popularity and success has come waves of criticism–much of which has come to a head in recent years. The rise of social media has given a voice and a platform to previously voiceless critics who viewed Forever 21 as a major problem. In recent years, Forever 21 has fought off scandals involving unethical labor practices, problematic and offensive designs, and recently, an incident involving the company giving diet bar samples to plus-size customers. 

Not to mention, Forever 21 part of the major environmental problems that clothing retailers are creating for the planet. Some studies indicate that the apparel industry accounts for over 8% of the “global climate impact” of carbon emissions. That is “greater than all international airline flights and maritime shipping trips combined”. For many people, Forever 21 was emblematic of face-less soul-less corporations that manipulate unknowing customers for cash and wreak havoc on the ecosystem while they’re doing it. For some people, Forever 21’s bankruptcy feels like just desserts.

Along with other early 2000s-era fashion giants (like Victoria’s Secret), it’s been hard for Forever 21 to keep with the times. 

Many people believe that Forever 21 will have to completely overhaul their approach to marketing if they want to retain old customers while building a new client base. As the tides change, millennial and Gen-Z consumers are no longer want to give money to ethically dubious and environmentally irresponsible organizations. These days, young people prefer the companies they frequent to promote messages they believe in, like sustainability, body-positivity, and inclusivity. In an era when wokeness is a social currency, companies that promote a social agenda–like Third Love and Madewell–have become popular.

As for consumers’ reactions to Forever 21 filing for bankruptcy, Twitter provides a peek into everyone’s thoughts on the matter.

As is expected, the reactions run the spectrum to sadness at their favorite store being closed, to elation at the shuttering of a controversial retailer. With any polarizing landmark in pop culture comes a lot of people ready to voice their opinions.

This woman was sad that her go-to store for cheap staples is going out of business:

Forever 21 practically invented the term “ballin’ on a budget”. Now, it’s going to be harder for lower-income women to dress themselves fashionably in the same manner as before. 

This Twitter user made a decent point about Forever 21’s hit-or-miss clothes:

We’ve all been browsing the racks of Forever 21 and thought to ourselves: who greenlit this design?

This plus-sized Twitter user has mixed feelings about Forever 21’s bankruptcy filing:

It’s true that (for good or bad) Forever 21 has been at the forefront of industry changes–like paying more attention to plus-sized customers, for one. Even if they’ve had some very public missteps.