Spanish Message With One Word That Needs No Translation
By Tanzina Vega
To get ready for the holiday season, Mattel is adding some informal Spanish language to a marketing campaign meant to reach Latina mothers. The campaign, called “ ’Toy Feliz,” or “Toy Happy” in English, is a play on the Spanish phrase “Estoy feliz,” or “I’m happy.”
It is the first time that Mattel is reaching out to Latinas with a message in Spanish for brands including Barbie, Fisher-Price and Hot Wheels. Previous campaigns were translations of English-language advertising for specific products. Other attempts to reach Latina mothers have included publications that Mattel distributes in doctor’s offices that are meant for pregnant women.
Attracting Latino customers represents a major opportunity for revenue growth.
“When we look across the toy industry, it’s been fairly sluggish for the past couple of years,” said Lisa McKnight, the senior vice president for marketing in North America at Mattel. “When we look at the Hispanic market, they represent about 15 percent of toy sales. If we spoke more directly, more deliberately and more authentically to Latina moms, we could really elevate the business and drive growth.”
The growing economic and social clout of Latinas was highlighted this summer in a report by Nielsen. According to the report, called “Latina Power Shift,” 21 percent of Latin women earned more than $75,000 a year in 2013, compared with 16 percent in 2003. Eighty-six percent of Latinas say they are the primary or joint decision maker for household purchases. In 2011, 23 percent of all births in the United States were to a Latina.
In order to reach its target audience with an authentic voice, Mattel hired the Axis Agency, a multicultural company that is part of the Interpublic Group of Companies. The campaign is estimated to cost $1.5 million to $2 million.
“The idea was to communicate to moms and to communicate at the same time to kids and to have an emotional campaign,” said Peter Sanchez, the executive creative director at Axis. “Understanding the culture is key, even more than language. It’s about the cultural insights that make you feel you can relate to them.”
The centerpiece of the campaign, which will debut on Friday, is a television commercial that features a Latino family gearing up for the holidays. The young son, bursting with anticipation, lets his family know that he is waiting for his gifts to arrive.
The ad plays on the word estoy by having the son say “ ’Toy esperando,” or “I’m waiting,” and “ ’Toy portandome bien,” or “I’m behaving myself.” The commercial then directs parents to toyfeliz.com, where they can download coupons for brands featured in the campaign that can be used at Walmart.
In addition to the 15- and 30-second television spots on Univision networks in Los Angeles, Houston and Miami, 60-second radio ads will air in those markets on Univision-owned stations. Select Walmarts will also carry in-store marketing in Spanish.
The campaign is expected to run through early January in order to capture sales from Three Kings Day on Jan. 6, which is celebrated by many Latino families.
Ms. McKnight of Mattel said the company was testing the campaign in cities with large Latino populations to see how well it did and to conduct quantitative research on Latino consumers. Latina mothers, Ms. McKnight said, spend on average about $20 more than other consumers on each toy shopping trip and are loyal to toy brands. A successful holiday campaign could have lasting implications for Mattel, she said.
“We are marketing our mainline general market items, but the potential for this target audience and the implications for product, marketing and packaging are tremendous,” Ms. McKnight said, alluding to Latino-themed toys or characters and more specific marketing in Spanish or even bilingual campaigns.
The campaign also has the potential to go beyond the Christmas season, Ms. McKnight said.
“We want to make sure we are talking to Latina moms on a regular basis and not just during the holiday period,” she said.