Sunday, September 23, 2007
From The New York Times…
How Do You Say ‘Got Milk’ en Español?
By CYNTHIA GORNEY
“That boy over there?” John Gallegos said. “Straddler. His mother is a Learner. She’s going to be talking to him in Spanish. Watch.”
Gallegos stood quietly, in the wide central part of a mall, pretending to look at nothing. The mother and son passed close by. She had dark red hair and was leaning on the boy’s arm; he was 14 or so, and in blue jeans. Gallegos was right. The mother was chatting amiably in Spanish. Gallegos tilted his head toward four teenagers shambling along. “Those kids? All Straddlers,” he said. “Well, the guy with his cap backwards — he might be a Navigator. He’s probably more English-media-consuming.”
The mall was in the city of Downey, which is part of Los Angeles. It was an ordinary California midrange shopping center: clean floors, Starbucks, hip apparel chains. Gallegos had come in to examine a clothing store he thought might become a new client. He’s a publicista an adman. He runs a 60-person agency called Grupo Gallegos in Long Beach. His agency wins awards for its commercials, which are funny, edgy and require translating into English when international judging committees study them. This particular week, in the middle of summer, Grupo Gallegos work was advertising leche, transporte de autobuses, pollo, ropa interior, servicio de Internet de alta velocidad, consultorios médicos, gimnasios and pilas that would be California Milk Processor Board milk, Crucero bus lines, Foster Farms chicken, Fruit of the Loom underwear, Comcast high-speed Internet service, Quick Health medical clinics, Bally fitness clubs and Energizer batteries, which the Gallegos people had decided to promote via a long-faced Mexican man who walks down the street explaining that as he has figured out that he’s immortal (scenes of him being mashed by a plummeting second-story sign, impaled on a spear in a museum, etc.), he requires an especially durable battery for his camera.
Grupo Gallegos advertising runs on Spanish-language television, Spanish radio, in Spanish magazine pages and on Spanish or bilingual Web sites. Some of these enterprises are housed in places you might expect them to be: New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Houston. Many are not. There’s full-time Spanish television broadcasting now in Anchorage; Salt Lake City; Little Rock, Ark.; Wichita Falls, Tex.; Indianapolis; Savannah, Ga.; Boston; Oklahoma City; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Minneapolis. The area encompassing Portland, Ore., now has 10 Spanish radio stations, while four years ago it had only 3. The July issue of ESPN Deportes, with Hugo SÃ¡nchez on the cover, had a Gallegos underwear ad inside; so did the gossip magazine ¡Mira!, with Angélica Rivera on the cover; and a People en Español with RBD on the cover; and a Men’s Health en Español, whose cover article promised that James Bond would show readers how to be an hombre de acción.
If the only name on that list that sounds familiar is Bond’s the others are, respectively, the Mexican national soccer team coach, a telenovela star and a wildly popular pop-music group then Gallegos is interested less in selling you products, since you are likely not Hispanic, than in pointing out the exploding spending power of the demographic that is. The estimate worked up by the Association of Hispanic Advertising Agencies for 2007 is $928 billion. Those are dollars spent inside this country by Hispanic consumers, American-born citizens as well as green-card residents and the undocumented, on things they want or need: batteries, iPods, laundry soap, lawn chairs, motor oil, Bulova watches, new-home loans, Volvos, takeout pizza, cellphones, power saws, swimming pools, deodorant, airline tickets and plasma TV’s. It’s $200 billion more than was spent two years ago. Propelled by continuous immigration and larger family size, the dual factors that are making the Hispanic population multiply faster than any other in the United States, the spending figure is expected to top a trillion dollars within the next three years.
In comparison with some of his colleagues in Hispanic advertising, in fact, John Gallegos runs a moderate-size shop. There are more than a hundred United States ad agencies, not including the publicistas in Puerto Rico, that now work almost exclusively in Spanish. The bigger Hispanic agencies have accounts like McDonald’s (Me encanta, which roughly translates to “I’m lovin’ it”), and Chevrolet (Súbete, “Get in”). Bounty’s slogan in English, “The quicker picker-upper,” appears in Spanish as Con Bounty sí puedes — “With Bounty, yes you can.” T-Mobile does Estamos juntos, “We’re all together.” Toyota does Avanza confiado, “Advance confidently.” Wal-Mart reportedly spends more than $60 million a year on reaching Hispanics, and for some years the Wal-Mart Spanish tag line, composed by a Houston agency called Lopez Negrete Communications, was Para su familia, de todo corazón. Siempre. Which lofted the blunt English “Low prices, always,” into a line enduring enough for a tombstone: “For your family, from the heart. Always.”
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